JLF Research Archive
Showing items 26 to 50 of 76
In 2006, in recognition of the need to attract and retain experienced administrators and teachers who teach subjects (Math and English/Language Arts) that are part of the state and federal accountability requirements, Guilford County Schools, the third largest school system in North Carolina, initiated Mission Possible. The program offers recruitment and performance incentives for teachers and administrators who teach in the county’s low-performing and low-income schools.
During the last legislative session, the North Carolina General Assembly voted to reestablish the Committee on Dropout Prevention and add $15 million to the existing $7 million for dropout prevention grants.
The purpose of the dropout prevention grants is to raise the graduation rate. Among districts receiving grants last year, 27 of 38 had a declining graduation rate from the 2006-07 school year to the 2007-08 school year.
This report develops a system to evaluate school districts on how “parent-friendly” they are. In other words, to what extent do North Carolina’s school districts provide children a sound, basic education in a stable and safe school environment that is responsive to the needs of children and the concerns of parents?
As one of the oldest forms of school choice in the United States, education tax credits empower low- and middle-income parents to choose schools that best meet their children’s needs. Cost-effective, constitutional, and consistent with federal and state tax policy, tax credits enjoy bipartisan support among education reformers and parents; in fact, the number of states with education tax credits has tripled over the past 10 years. Tax credits create a vibrant education marketplace by making private schooling affordable for low- and middle-income families seeking a fresh start for their children.
Last year’s 5.24 percent dropout rate was a four-percent increase from the 2005-06 school year and was the highest rate in seven years. Only 70.3 percent of students in North Carolina graduate in five years. Over the last ten years, the North Carolina General Assembly has repeatedly tried to address the troubling dropout problem with no apparent success. The latest initiative, dropout prevention grants, will likely have little short-term or long-term effect on the dropout rate.
When adjusted for pension contributions, teacher experience, and cost of living, North Carolina’s adjusted teacher compensation is $55,731, which is $5,401 higher than the U.S. adjusted average compensation and $4,811 higher than the U.S. adjusted median.
The UNC system has initiated few efforts to strengthen teacher-education programs.
UNC universities should use their power as charter-school authorizers to create on-site demonstration or laboratory charter schools to improve teacher-education programs.
Every county and school district in North Carolina will accept voluntary contributions. Few people donate to Wake County schools or county programs.
Elected officials in Durham, Gaston, Macon, Mecklenburg, and Moore counties are asking voters to approve school construction bonds that will increase an already high tax burden on low and middle income homeowners in these counties. Local governments have failed to implement the full range of school facilities alternatives and strategies that could accommodate enrollment growth without imposing additional taxes and long-term debt on taxpayers.
What follows is the minority report I submitted to the Wake County Citizens’ Facilities Advisory Committee on Thursday, September 13, 2007. Although I am a member of that committee, the chairs of the committee, John Mabe and Billie Redmond, denied my request to have this report included with the final committee report.
In the era of No Child Left Behind, students have not been discouraged from enrolling in courses other than language arts and mathematics. Both the number of class periods and the number of students enrolled in most courses has increased in concert with enrollment growth. Nevertheless, elementary foreign languages and middle school health and physical education courses have been on the decline.
There is no consistent relationship between in-school instructional time in mathematics and a nation’s average score on an international mathematics test. Researchers from Pennsylvania State University concluded that there was no statistically significant correlation between instructional time in math, science, reading, and civics and test scores on international assessments of those subjects.
North Carolina faces estimates of nearly $10 billion in school facilities needs over the next five years. Since 2000, school choice saved taxpayers over $20 million a year in annual capital expenses. Over the last six years, the yearly capital savings totaled nearly $125 million.
North Carolina is among the 26 states that have a maximum compulsory age of 16. Among the 50 states and D.C., there is no consistent relationship between the maximum compulsory age and graduation and dropout rates.
For many years, charter-school research has almost exclusively focused on the issue of academic performance. While this issue deserves attention, research indicates that parents choose charter schools based, not on one factor, but on a number of factors related to the schools' social and academic environments.
North Carolina’s public schools students are falling behind, and the State Board of Education is to blame. As Governor Easley prepares to fill two vacancies on the board, it is time to appoint members who can bring fresh approaches and new ideas, not more groupthink, to the body that controls our beleaguered public school system.
Unfortunately for North Carolina’s students, most of the adult debate over schools has focused on where to find the money to build the schools to accommodate its rapidly growing student population. Last year several NC counties passed bonded indebtedness of nearly $1.5 billion and presently counties and the state are discussing more bonds totaling an additional $3.6 billion.
Adjusted for cost of living, pension contribution, and teacher experience, the state’s average teacher salary is $993 higher than the U.S. adjusted median salary and $2,733 higher than the U.S. adjusted average salary. There is little evidence that a higher average salary or better benefits will, in any significant way, improve recruitment and increase retention of teachers. A system of merit-based pay would provide an incentive for highly qualified individuals to enter and stay in the teaching profession.
Beginning in 1996, the state implemented a comprehensive program of education testing called the ABCs of Public Education. It did not take long for state leaders to declare North Carolina a national leader in implementing state-level accountability measures. In 1999, then Governor James Hunt declared that, “we’re holding our schools accountable for results. Education Week Magazine says no state is doing more than North Carolina to put in place real and meaningful accountability measures.”
The most critical challenge facing Wake County Public Schools is to find the most responsive, cost-efficient, and timely way to provide seats for a growing student population. In this regard, the school system’s proposed $1.056 billion school facilities spending plan falls short.
Contrary to the claims of school officials and community leaders in Wake County, students do not necessarily perform better in schools that have fewer mobile units or temporary classrooms, more square feet per student, and more acreage. This finding is consistent with national and international research that found no consistent relationship between school facilities and learning. The Wake County Public School System can scale back their multi-billion construction and renovation plans without harm to student learning.
The number of limited English proficient (LEP) students has been increasing for years, but the state’s public schools lack a systematic and proven program to teach English to these children. Reading scores among students who are learning English remain low, especially among high school students. The best way to teach English to North Carolina’s LEP students is through universal training in and adoption of Direct Instruction methods, which is a proven way to teach English as a second language.
North Carolina makes it very easy for illegal immigrants to obtain driver's licenses. Instead of requiring Social Security Numbers to get a license, the state accepts IRS-issued Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ITINs), even though they primarily are issued to illegal immigrants. To make matters worse, the state does not even require that people prove their lawful status in the country. In 2005, the state's own auditor warned against accepting ITINs, yet the legislature still has failed to take any action.
In spite of our state's record of commitment to education, there continues to be a significant debate as to the most effective means of providing our children the best possible education. The one point upon which a great majority agree is that, despite substantial increases in funding, public education is not meeting the needs of students. This report presents parental school choice as a promising alternative to the educational status quo. And it will show that it is consistent with NC's historical commitment to education.
Neither enrollment increases nor federal and state mandates can account for the 19 percent increase in school personnel over the last eight years. The glut of public school personnel hiring is evident in counties that have a declining student population. Despite losing nearly 10,000 students in eight years, these school districts added 819 employees. This shows that school districts actively maintain their bureaucracy even as the amount of work declines.