JLF Research Archive

Education (PreK-12)

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(2.19.14) Common Core State Standards: The way forward

The NC General Assembly should create two permanent commissions charged with raising the quality and rigor of state standards, curricula, and assessments. Each commission should employ a large and diverse group of stakeholders and should modify or replace the Common Core State Standards, specify content that aligns with the standards, recommend a testing program, and provide ongoing review.


(9.17.13) 60 Questions About Common Core: Answers for North Carolinians

This updated primer serves to answer some of the most frequently asked questions about Common Core State Standards and tests. North Carolina taxpayers should use it as a first step in assessing the massive changes underway in our public schools.


(5.16.13) Goodbye, Grammar: N.C.’s Common Core-based English tests disregard grammar, spelling, mechanics, and usage

Contrary to the Common Core State Standards themselves, Common Core-based tests developed by the NC DPI include relatively few English language questions and no traditional grammar, spelling, mechanics, or usage questions. Legislators and the members of the State Board of Education should ensure that the state adopts a testing program that places a greater emphasis on these areas.


(4.10.13) 35 Questions About Common Core: Answers for North Carolinians

The Common Core State Standards Initiative has attracted considerable attention from the state and national media, and North Carolinians have begun to consider how these changes will affect their public schools. The purpose of this primer is to introduce North Carolinians to the Common Core State Standards by answering some of the most frequently asked questions about common standards and tests.


(3.11.13) School Vouchers: From Friedman to the Finish Line

There is consensus in the education research community that school choice raises student achievement for the average participating student. Vouchers tend to be more transparent and easier for parents to understand than other types of choice options, but require additional safeguards and protections for participating children, families, and schools.


(7.10.12) Educational Market Share: Despite the growth of school choice, public schools dominate

Private, charter, and home schools continue to be popular in many states, including North Carolina. This popularity, however, has not produced a significant enrollment shift from district schools to schools of choice – private, charter, or home schools. North Carolina and nine other states had a net increase in the percentage of students attending a school of choice between 2001 and 2010, but statewide market share increases were trivial. School choice reformers must continue their praiseworthy efforts to expand educational options for families. They must also recognize that the traditional public school system will remain the primary provider of schooling for most families.


(1.31.12) North Carolina vs. the World: Comparisons of educational inputs and outcomes

This study employs multiple studies and data sources to fill the gaps left by the state’s unacceptable omission of international inputs and outcomes. Overall, the evidence suggests that, despite ample resources, public school students in North Carolina fail to meet or exceed the performance of many of our economic competitors throughout the world. Simply put, the state has failed to "produce globally competitive students," and that failure is a cause for serious concern.


(9.20.11) High School Graduation in NC: Quantity over quality?

Between 2006 and 2009, North Carolina’s graduation rate increased by 2.3 percent. At the same time, the community college remediation rate increased by 7 percent. Significant percentages of students enrolled in remedial courses suggest that the standards for high school graduation remain alarmingly low.


(7.06.11) Virtually Irrelevant: How certification rules impede the growth of virtual schools

Teacher-certification requirements are among the most onerous rules enforced by state education agencies and have the potential seriously to limit the scope, quality, and accessibility of virtual schooling for years to come.


(2.14.11) Elective Surgery: Budget deficits require elected officials to reassess course offerings

North Carolina needs a thorough review of the number and types of courses offered in its public schools, especially during tight budget times. There is no evidence that school districts or the state has conducted an audit of the costs and outcomes or elective courses. A statewide curriculum audit would be a sound way to reduce costs and refocus our curriculum on the core skills that many of our public school students so desperately need.


(2.02.11) Just Not Worth the Gamble: The NC Education Lottery's many problems have a common solution

The North Carolina Education Lottery was sold as a way to boost education spending, but N.C. boasts the same problem found in other lottery states: a declining rate of spending for education, especially in comparison with the rest of the state budget. Furthermore, poverty, unemployment, and property tax rates remain the best predictors of lottery sales.


(11.12.10) The First 100 Days: Eleven Action Items for the 2011 Legislative Session

This report highlights eleven action items that North Carolina’s new General Assembly should seek to implement in the first 100 days of the 2011 legislative session. These items touch upon a cross section of public policy areas, including education, economic development, property rights, energy and the environment, health care, the budget, and transparency. We at the John Locke Foundation believe that these items represent straightforward actions that would greatly enhance the liberty and prosperity of North Carolina’s citizens.


(10.07.10) An Unnecessary Tax Hike: Bladen commissioners go back on their ‘No Tax Increase’ promise

Bladen county commissioners are asking voters to approve a $375,000 tax increase. Commissioners are asking for a tax increase while ignoring the county manager’s proposed fiscal year 2011 budget that fulfills the commissioners’ “No Tax Increase” pledge. Bladen County schools have adequate funding from federal, state, and lottery sources; in fact, federal funds alone bring in three times the amount received from the tax increase.


(10.05.10) Orange Crush: Tax hike would crush taxpayers and county economy

Orange County commissioners are asking voters for a $2.3 million tax increase at a time of high unemployment. Since the special county taxing authority was established by the legislature in 2007, voters have turned down 68 of 85 requests for tax increases, sending the message that county commissioners must be more responsible stewards of taxpayers’ hard-earned money.


(8.18.10) Boone-Doggle: Watauga County’s proposed $1.9 million tax increase

Watauga County commissioners want voters to approve a $1.9 million sales tax increase to build new recreational facilities. If past is prologue, this new money will not be spent wisely. Watauga County commissioners recently approved the most expensive high school ever built in the state, and they did so without a vote of taxpayers.


(8.16.10) Good Classroom 'Disruption': Use the Internet to expand educational options in rural school districts

North Carolina has the infrastructure to expand online course offerings significantly. Districts that enroll few students in online courses generally have a higher per-pupil expenditure than those that enroll a higher number of virtual school students.This report offers several recommendations, including introduce virtual charter schools; expanding online course offerings from private and for-profit companies, community colleges, and universities; and developing off-site high school campuses.


(7.06.10) Survey of End-of-Course Test Questions: Many college and university faculty are concerned about the quality of state standardized tests

Between February and April 2010, the John Locke Foundation asked over 500 college and university faculty to evaluate selected test questions from North Carolina’s 2008-2009 end-of-course high school civics and economics and U.S. history tests. This study provides an overview of the responses from both the mailed and online surveys.


(5.20.10) Charter School Diversity: Too black, too white, or just right?

A state law that mandates racial/ethnic balance for charter schools contradicts another law that requires charter schools to use an enrollment lottery when applicants outnumber available seats. It is impossible for charter schools to use random (lottery) and non-random (affirmative action) student selection mechanisms simultaneously.


(2.03.10) Zero Tolerance for Charter Schools: The State Board of Education should regard all public schools as equals

Under the new “Revocation of Charter for Lack of Academic Performance” policy, only low-performing charter schools are subject to closure by the NC State Board of Education. There is no equivalent policy for district schools. This study asks the question: How many public schools would close if the state instituted the policy three years ago and applied to charter and district schools alike?


(11.30.09) Parent-Friendly Schools, 2009: How ‘parent-friendly’ are school districts in North Carolina?

North Carolina’s school districts are not parent-friendly organizations. While a handful of school districts fare reasonably well in the final ranking, the highest score was a 3.4, or a B+.
School districts in western North Carolina generally fared very well in the ranking, while the Triad, Triangle, Charlotte, and northeastern regions fared poorly. Seven of the top ten school districts are located in western North Carolina.


(9.03.09) Crucial Questions: A Checklist for School Board Candidates and Citizens

According to the North Carolina General Statutes, school boards have three broad functions: 1) to maintain general control and supervision of all matters pertaining to the public schools, 2) to enforce and execute the school law, and 3) to ensure that the administration of schools is efficiently and more economically accomplished. To simplify the process of understanding the work of school boards, the John Locke Foundation has developed a checklist for school board candidates and citizens.


(7.30.09) Ten Myths about North Carolina’s Private Schools: A Parent’s Guide

This guide is a first step in a larger effort to correct decades-old misconceptions about North Carolina's private schools. In the spring of 2009, the John Locke Foundation conducted a survey of all private schools in North Carolina. Much of the information below comes from responses to the questionnaire.


(6.29.09) Building a Case for School Choice: Initial Results from a Survey of North Carolina's Private Schools

Better information about North Carolina’s private schools is the first step toward persuading legislators and policymakers to increase educational options for North Carolina families. To this end, the John Locke Foundation conducted a survey of North Carolina’s private schools to gather and analyze data on private schools generally not available to the public. This policy report provides a descriptive overview of questionnaire results of North Carolina’s private schools, focusing on private school academics, students, personnel, finance, and attitudes toward school choice.


(5.28.09) No Bureaucrat Left Behind: N.C. public schools add staff at a much faster rate than enrollment

North Carolina’s public schools continue to add administrative, non-instructional, and instructional support positions at rates that far exceed enrollment growth. Since 2000, North Carolina’s public school student enrollment (Average Daily Membership) has increased by approximately 13 percent, while school personnel has increased by nearly 18 percent.
North Carolina’s pupil/staff ratio decreased from nearly 8:1 in 2003 to just over 7:1 in 2006.


(3.24.09) Dropout Prevention Grants: Legislators need to rethink their approach to the dropout problem

Only 14 of the 100 schools that received services from dropout prevention grant recipients had substantially lower dropout rates and higher graduation rates from the 2006-07 to the 2007-08 school year. Of the five types of recipients awarded grants, grants to non-profit organizations appeared to have the most success.


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