Great Teachers and Principals Key Ingredients to Student Success

Teachers and principals across the state began preparing for the 2012-13 school year long before many of them welcomed students to their classrooms this week. Thanks to North Carolina’s READY initiative, many educators have gone through extensive training and received new tools to help them transition to the state’s new Standard Course of Study. In addition, aspiring teachers and principals now have two innovative new programs to help them take the next step in their careers in education.

“Qualified, knowledgeable and committed teachers and principals play a critical role in how successful our students will be in achieving their goals and reaching their full potential,” said State Superintendent June Atkinson. “The most important investments we have made as a part of our READY initiative are in training educators in the new curriculum, developing stronger school and classroom leaders, and providing new technology tools to help schools run smoothly. These investments are important because they directly support teaching and learning.”

With support from North Carolina’s $400 million Race to the Top grant, the NCDPI has spearheaded the following efforts geared toward preparing teachers and principals to better engage students in a more relevant and rigorous curriculum:

  1. The Professional Development Initiative provides training and support to educators as schools have shifted to a new curriculum. Summer Institutes for leadership teams of teachers, principals and central office staff from every local school district and charter school were held in 2011 and 2012 to focus on developing a deep understanding of the new content standards and helping educators to reach every learner. Over the past two summers, approximately 3,000 educators attended at least one of these Institutes. Training sessions also have been held in the fall and spring while continuing fidelity checks are conducted throughout the year to help meet local districts’ specific needs. Additionally, NCDPI staff and external partners developed a set of online professional development modules to address transitioning to new standards, data literacy, designing local curriculum and other educator learning goals.
  2. Three Regional Leadership Academies were developed to offer professional development and alternative administrative licensure to aspiring principals who will lead low-performing and high-needs schools in districts across the state. Each year, the Academies enroll a cohort of at least 20 aspiring principals who will focus on a case-study curriculum. Programs include a full-time, year-long clinical residency experience and weekly continued learning sessions during the residency year. Graduates could earn credit toward a Master’s of School Administration. Academies also serve as demonstration sites for additional principal leadership academies and provide support for program development and improvement in other university-school district partnerships.
  3. The North Carolina Teacher Corps (NCTC) was developed to recruit, select, develop and retain recent graduates of in-state colleges and universities with degrees in areas other than education – along with mid-career professionals who have established success in other fields – who aim to expand the educational opportunities for students in high-need school districts. In the first year of the program, NCTC will partner with 12 school districts and will identify additional districts that could benefit. The target for this first year is to place cohorts of four or five teachers in each district for an internal network of support. While target degree areas include math, science and areas related to special education, recruitment efforts will focus on areas of need identified by partnering districts.
  4. The Instructional Improvement System (IIS), which is still in the development and design phase, will provide a portal for teachers, parents, and school and district administrators to access data and resources to support teaching and learning. These include tools for attendance records, grade keeping, lesson plans, student assessment, professional development and parent outreach. Teachers also will use the IIS to supplement their teaching with individualized educational materials and to view a detailed diagnostic breakdown of each child’s performance including knowledge and skill areas that require extra attention. Parents will be able to track their child’s performance according to instructional goals set by the teacher, district and state. The IIS will be completed by 2012, with some functions coming online throughout 2013.

Please visit the READY site for more information about these and other READY initiatives.