- North Carolina grounds its plan in robust data, which supports goals and openly points out significant areas for improvement.
- Given the relatively low baseline of achievement data for many student subgroups documented in the plan, North Carolina rightly includes strong emphasis on academic achievement indicators. The state has selected a simple list of straightforward indicators that focus on key academic outcomes for students.
- North Carolina also describes a robust intervention and support system for schools. The state documents its statewide tiered support system and a comprehensive set of resources and supports available to schools and districts.
- The state commits to continuous improvement and to monitor implementation and make adjustments as necessary, and it indicates it will consider additional indicators that may provide a more holistic view of school performance beyond test scores.
- North Carolina documents strong efforts at stakeholder engagement in the development of its plan, and this approach will benefit future efforts to revisit and revise.
- North Carolina’s plan suffers from a lack of coherence among state goals, accountability indicators, and the public accountability structure. The state’s goals focus on improving the proportion of students achieving college and career readiness, but its chosen academic achievement indicator measures proficiency at a level below true college and career readiness.
- Further, the proposed system over-weights achievement today relative to progress over time, which both encourages schools to focus narrowly on student performance around the proficiency cut score and fails to recognize low-performing schools that are making rapid, significant progress. Such high-growth schools may in turn be identified for state support, when they may not be the schools most in need of support.
- North Carolina will assign A to F grades to schools, but the plan does not always articulate a clear relationship between those letter grades and the state accountability system. The plan does not provide data on the grades of schools likely to be identified under this methodology. As a result, it is unclear whether the ranking method would capture all or only some of the schools graded F. Additionally, this disconnect between the A to F system and the method for identifying schools for support lacks transparency and may be confusing for schools, districts, and parents.
- While the state’s methodology for identifying schools with low-performing subgroups is better aligned with the A to F system, the timeline for identification lacks urgency. It is also unclear how many schools are likely to be identified.
- North Carolina also proposes weak exit criteria for support. Schools can exit comprehensive support based on purely normative criteria, making it possible for schools to exit because other schools performed worse, not because of any actual improvement.