North Carolina Superintendent of Public Instruction Catherine Truitt has released an update on Operation Polaris, a four-year plan for strengthening student outcomes across the state.

Operation Polaris was initially released in September 2021. The “north star” of the plan is that “every student deserves a highly qualified, excellent teacher in every classroom.” In an update announced Jan. 10, Truitt outlined accomplishments and revisions to the plan.

A key update centers on progress around literacy instruction. A core part of Operation Polaris is to “equip all pre-K through fifth grade teachers, literacy coaches, and administrators with early literacy instruction methods grounded in the body of research known as the ‘science of reading’ to ensure all children are reading to learn before the fourth grade,” according to the report.

Based off legislation okayed by the General Assembly in 2021 and using both state and federal COVID relief funds, the N.C. Department of Public Instruction has overseen the training of more than 44,000 kindergarten through 5th grade educators across the state in the Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling — or LETRS — professional learning curriculum.

Accountability and testing is also emphasis with a focus on “preparedness for the workforce, higher education, and robust civic participation” among students. Another focus is to remedy pandemic-related learning loss — to “develop and curate programs, policies, and interventions related to learning recovery to provide a menu of solutions for districts and schools.”

“Operation Polaris continues to serve as a long-term, proactive and forward-thinking vision for education in the state and one that evolves to fit the challenges and changes facing the state’s public schools,” said Truitt in a statement. “Many initiatives outlined in the first iteration of Operation Polaris are well underway and others, such as strengthening literacy and workforce development, have been enhanced or added as our work to date has led us to new solutions.”

“There is still much work to be done,” Truitt added, “but Operation Polaris is helping us chart a steady course to continued improvement of North Carolina’s schools and to improved outcomes for all students.”