Rep. Wray’s Raleigh Report

I shared some information with you last week about North Carolina’s education budget, pointing out the areas where we made significant investments and those areas where we had to cut back to balance the state’s budget.

This week, North Carolina officials learned that the state had won up to $400 million through the federal Race to the Top program. North Carolina is one of just 11 states that have received grants through the competitive program so far. The money will be used to finance the governor’s Career and College: Ready, Set, Go! program, with half of it going directly to the state’s 115 school systems. This is an exciting step forward for our state and I have more information about this new initiative below.

If you have any questions or if I can be of service to you, please contact me. Thank you as always for your interest in North Carolina and state government.


The Ready, Set, Go! program has three main goals:

1. Increase the number of students who can read, write and do math at the end of 3rd grade

2. Increase the number of students who perform at or above grade level

3. Increase the number of students taking college credit courses while in high school; graduating from high school; going to college; and completing a degree from community colleges, colleges and universities.


The Race to the Top grant will help pay for some of the programs intended to help North Carolina reach its goals. These include:

  • Updating the state’s Standard Course of Study and school accountability system to reflect internationally benchmarked standards and assessments that prepare students for success in college and the workplace
  • Establishing and increasing the use of robust data systems that measure student success and inform teachers, principals, and policymakers about how to improve services for students
  • Increasing teacher and principal effectiveness, so that every student has a great teacher and every school has a great principal
  • Turning around our lowest-achieving schools, so that all students get the support they need to be successful. The goal is to bring all schools up to at least a 60 percent performance level by establishing a network of coaches and support personnel who will work closely with lagging schools. The grant will pay to increase the size of North Carolina’s Teach for America program from 367 to 550 teachers, expand the number of low-performing students who have access to high-quality teachers online by 500 and provide a “boot camp” for lateral entry and out-of-state teachers hired at low-performing schools.
  • Professional Development

    Much of the success of this plan relies on strengthening professional development and training opportunities for education professionals. Our teachers and principals are critical to the success of our schools and they need to stay current in the best ways to teach a changing student population and to incorporate evolving technology. The Race to the Top grant will allow the state to:

  • Create, train, and support teacher and principal professional development leaders who will establish sustainable professional development capacity statewide
  • Develop resources (for workshops, professional learning communities, virtual courses, webinars, etc.) to support effective professional development, with the capacity to create additional resources as needed
  • Expand the online professional development capabilities to provide accessible and high-quality online professional development for educators
  • Evaluate professional development activities to determine the impact on teaching practices and student achievement.
  • These efforts will be supported in a number of ways, including developing regional leadership academies for principals, strengthening the network of professional development experts in the state and creating online professional development modules.


    The state Department of Public Instruction will oversee and implement the programs funded by the Race to the Top grant, but many other organizations will play key roles in their work. Some of their collaborators include:

  • The University of North Carolina (UNC) General Administration. UNC will lead the effort to reform teacher and principal preparation programs and individual UNC Colleges of Education and research units will be involved in many of the program’s initiatives
  • MCNC, which manages the NC Research and Education Network and plays a central role in the School Connectivity Initiative, will lead development of the technology support components
  • The NC Professional Teaching Standards Commission will play a major role in the continued development of the teacher and administrator evaluation processes
  • The NC New Schools Project and NC STEM Community Collaborative will support the development of four additional STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) high schools. These schools will also serve as training and development centers.
  • Notes

    North Carolina also recently received an unexpected $300 million from the federal government to help keep teachers in our classrooms. Some of this money will be spent this year to rehire teachers who were laid off, but much of the money will be used to augment education spending in the next fiscal year.


    I plan to attend the following meetings/events:

  • Seaboard Fire Department/New Town Hall Groundbreaking, Seaboard-August 30
  • NCCAR Site Visit-August 30
  • Roses Ribbon Cutting, Roanoke Rapids-September 2
  • Lake Gaston Festival, Littleton-September 4
  • Please invite me to attend your county, city, community or civic, etc. meetings or events.

    As I’ve said many times before, I hope you will continue to let me know how you feel about the issues that are being debated by the North Carolina Legislature and the challenges you and your family are facing each day.

    By working together, we can make Northampton, Vance and Warren Counties and all regions of North Carolina a better place to live, work and raise a family.

    Please remember that you can listen to interim committee meetings and press conferences on the General Assembly’s website. Once on the site, select “Audio,” and then make your selection — House Chamber, Senate Chamber, Appropriations Committee Room or Press Conference Room.