News: CJ News Service

State superintendent launches #NC2030 plan to improve education, promote teaching profession

N.C. Superintendent of Public Instruction Mark Johnson, pictured here in his office. (CJ photo by Don Carrington)
N.C. Superintendent of Public Instruction Mark Johnson, pictured here in his office. (CJ photo by Don Carrington)

State Superintendent Mark Johnson has a brand new plan to make North Carolina the best state in which to learn and to teach by 2030.

He unveiled the #NC2030 plan Tuesday, Feb. 19, at the Innovation and Leadership program, an invitation-only event for school and district leaders, educators, lawmakers, and business and community leaders.

“By 2030, North Carolina can be the best place to begin school, the best place to learn, and the best place to teach,” Johnson said. “Today we present an ambitious but achievable plan to get there.”

The multi-step plan aims to have 4-year-olds engaged in high-quality kindergarten readiness programs, to have fourth -graders reading at grade level, to ensure students are on track to a fulfilling career, and to recruit more people to the education profession and then retaining them in N.C. public schools.

#NC2030 starts from early childhood with a plan to expand high-quality preschool opportunities for 4-year-olds and provide kindergarten-readiness tools for children on waitlists for N.C. Pre-K and other pilot kindergarten-readiness camps. Johnson hopes to improve the implementation of the state’s reading program, Read to Achieve, by focusing on professional development, a high-quality curriculum, and on-the-ground support for evidence-based reading instruction.

#NC2030 has several plans to improve students’ academic performance and career readiness:

  • Implement personalized-learning opportunities to improve student proficiency, reduce burdens on teachers, and eliminate high stress over-testing
  • Through a pilot study, allow a working group of districts to opt out of the N.C. Mathematics Standard Course of Study
  • Prepare students for careers in skilled trades, military, and other high-demand career fields through the SkillsUSA Career Essentials program
  • Allow districts the flexibility to align calendars to meet community needs and partnerships
  • Provide innovative school choices to families while holding them accountable for results
  • Continue lottery funding to assist lower-wealth counties with their critical public school building capital needs

The education initiative also looks to improve teacher working conditions and provide more competitive pay and benefits for educators. Here are a few ways the initiative plans to accomplish those goals:

  • Provide all teachers with a salary increase of at least 5 percent
  • Create a professional teaching cohorts for the entire state by adding time and compensation at the beginning of the school year for all first- through fourth-year teachers for professional and cohort development
  • Scale the Advanced Teaching Roles pilot to meet demand
  • Recruit and retain teachers through a multi-faceted teacher recruitment and appreciation campaign
  • Expand the N.C. Teaching Fellows Program
  • Raise principal pay to compete with neighboring states and reward principals for taking on more complex schools
  • Increase funding for textbooks and digital media
  • Empower teachers with direct control over the use of state funding for classroom supplies
  • Continue the current 15-point grading scale for consistent evaluation of performance and growth
  • Allow a waiver for class size in the cases where a local district can sufficiently demonstrate they are unable to meet the requirements
  • Support and enable policymakers, local districts, and educators to make data-driven decisions using modern systems and state-level data analytics personnel and resources

Johnson announced two new initiatives to work alongside #NC2030. One is the N.C. Leadership Dashboard. The Wallace Foundation is supporting the development of the online tool, which will allow superintendents and charter school directors to support their employees with real-time data. The dashboard is supposed to launch in time for the 2019-20 school year.

The second initiative is TeachNC.org, an online campaign aimed at promoting the teaching profession and developing a statewide teacher-recruitment system. The teacher appreciation campaign will be the product of collaboration among the Department of Public Instruction, Teach.org, and BEST NC. The Belk Foundation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and Coastal Credit Union also provided support. TeachNC.org is supposed to launch this spring.