#NCED Updates: NAEP scores drop again, NCGA passes final Ed bills and teacher pay mini-budget

This installment of NC Education (NCED) covers the most recent National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) scores and the bills the General Assembly passed before adjourning last week. Also included are details about $630k in charter school grants and a recap of October’s teacher arrests.

Quick Hits & Headlines

#1 – NAEP Scores drop again

On Oct. 30, NAEP 2019 results were released by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).

Every two years 4th and 8th graders across the country take the NAEP, which is administered by NCES and sponsored by the U.S. Dept. of Education. The NAEP is often referred to as the “Nation’s Report Card.”

According to the report, the reading skills of today’s 4th and 8th graders are “comparable to their counterparts of 10-20 years ago.”

The 8th-grade reading national average score dropped by four points. Only 34% of 8th-graders were proficient in reading, down from 36% in 2017. In 2009, only 32% of 8th-graders were proficient in reading.

8th-grade national math scores were also down slightly.

4th-grade national math scores had a small increase, but 4th-grade reading declined. Only 35% were proficient in reading, down from 37% in 2017.  In 2009, only  33% of 4th-graders were considered proficient.

“Over the past decade, there has been no progress in either mathematics or reading performance, and the lowest-performing students are doing worse,” said Peggy Carr, Associate Commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics.

“In fact, over the long term in reading, the lowest-performing students — those readers who struggle the most — have made no progress from the first NAEP administration almost 30 years ago,” Carr said.

The impact and failure of Common Core cannot be denied at this point.

“For the third time in a row since Common Core was fully phased in nationwide, U.S. student test scores on the nation’s broadest and most respected test have dropped, a reversal of an upward trend between 1990 and 2015,” writes Joy Pullman at The Federalist. “Further, the class of 2019, the first to experience all four high school years under Common Core, is the worst-prepared for college in 15 years, according to a new report.”

North Carolina’s NAEP scores have declined again along with the rest of the nation. Both in reading and math, 4th and 8th graders had no statistically significant changes over the prior NAEP test year.

The scale scores discussed below have been rounded to the nearest whole number. View the data on North Carolina’s state profile page.

North Carolina’s 2019 4th-grader reading score is 221 out of a scale of 500, which is down from 224 in 2017 and is nearly the same as 2011. That translates to 69% at or above basic proficiency in 2017 to 67% in 2019. In 2011, 4th-grade reading proficiency was at 68%. In other words, no real movement.

In math, 4th-graders scored 241, which is nearly unchanged from 2017 but down three points from 2009.  Math basic proficiency rose one point, going from 81% in 2017 to 82% in 2019. While there was a slight increase, it is a 6 point drop from 88% in 2011.

In reading, 8th-graders with a basic level of proficiency dropped two points, from 74% in 2017 to 72% in 2019. In 2011, NC 8th-graders were scored at 74%.

For 9th-grade math, those with a basic proficiency rose from 68% in 2017 to 71% in 2019, however, in 2011 it was at 75%.

To recap: NC reading and math scores in 4th and 8th grades are lower than they were in 2011, which is the last test administered before NC implemented Common Core in the Fall of 2012.

In a press release, the NC Dept. of Public Instruction said that the scores “holding steady” but that “over the last 10 years, North Carolina, the nation as a whole and most states have shown little or no change in NAEP scores – either in math or reading.”

More NC Data here:

#2 – Education Bills Passed Before Adjournment

Two educator pay bills were passed,  HB 377 Teacher Step Act, and SB 354 Strengthening Educators’ Pay ActHB 377.  These bills were sent to Governor Cooper on Nov.1, but so far he has not signed them, however, he did sign the Community Colleges mini-budget.

The most recent bill summary HB 377 says that the bill establishes the 2019-2020 Teacher Monthly Salary Schedule “using amounts from the 2018-2019 fiscal year” and that the salary increases are based on years of experience.

HB 377 also includes principal increases based on school average daily membership (ADM) and school growth scores and removes the double bonus for principals in charge of schools with D or F performance grades.

Principal bonus language was changed to exclude principals who are no longer employed as a principal or whose last workday is prior to Nov. 1 instead of Oct. 1. Bonuses also must be paid no later than Nov.30 whereas before the text said Oct. 31.

SB 354 has two parts and part two would only take effect if there is a veto override.

The main thrust of SB 354 is an average increase of 3.9% over the biennium for teachers.  If Governor Cooper’s budget veto is overridden, SB 354 kicks in a 4.4% total pay increase over the biennium instead of the 3.9% increase in the vetoed main budget.  More details from DPI:

SB 354 Details via DPI - 2019 teacher pay
It’s worth noting that the majority of House and Senate Democrats voted no on both SB 354 and HB 377.

Also passing this week was a bill that makes changes to the laws regarding the Innovative School District (ISD). See SB 522 Low-Performing Schools/Adv. Teaching Roles.

View the full list of bills with activity here.

#3 – $630,000 In Grants Announced By Challenge Foundations

Challenge Foundation Properties (CFP) awarded over $630,000 in grants among 14 Legacy schools during the week of October 14th.

From the press release:

John Bryan founded Challenge Foundation Properties (CFP) for a simple purpose: to provide resources to schools so they can provide the best education possible to children. Since its inception in 2005, CFP has been involved in a variety of charter school building projects. We know the processes that take charter schools from the dream stage to long-term success. Our hands-on approach puts a wide range of relevant skills and expertise in the hands of charter school stakeholders. We have worked to fulfill the vision of Mr. Bryan and are continually looking for ways to improve education value and efficiency.

A major part of fulfilling John Bryan’s mission is providing resources so that students and teachers have what is needed to succeed. The financial commitment to these schools is an important part of providing needed resources to the schools. The $630,215 awarded in grants is an investment in the future of students.

“Mr. Bryan had a clear vision: provide resources to our schools so that they can go about the important work of educating students. Providing these resources honors our founder’s legacy. We look forward to the upcoming school year and all the possibilities it holds. We will continue our work by making sure that our schools have the necessary resources to continue educating students at a high level.” – C. Philip Byers, President, Challenge Foundation Properties, Inc

According to their website, Challenge Foundation Properties (CFP) has completed projects with 13 charter schools, 8 of which are in North Carolina.

There are currently 18 Challenge Foundation Academy legacy schools; 16 of them are in NC and four are in Arizona.

Unsurprisingly, NC Policy Watch’s reporting on CFP and CFP have turned the organization and it’s founder, John Bryan, into some kind of alt-right school take-over conspiracy theory.

Particularly nutty and smacking of SPLC bias in the Policy Watch reporting is the section they claim as “proof” that CFA is an evil plot by conservatives to  improve take over education.

Included in that section are these two amusing bits:

“Grants of $10,000 to $50,000 to conservative think tanks like the Cato Institute, Americans for Prosperity, the Heritage Foundation and the Federalist Society.”

“$10,000 that went to produce “The Cartel,” a documentary criticized by many movie reviewers for its anti-public education slant. The Challenge Foundation described the project as exposing “corruption, waste and intimidation in the nation’s public schools,” according to a 2009 tax filing.”

#4 – Quiet Epidemic Updates for October

SB 199, Child Sex Abuse/Strengthen Laws, also passed both houses and was sent to the Governor for signature. (Summary here.)

Two sections will have implications for K-12 employees and teachers in terms of requirements and penalties for failing to report abuse and training to spot it:

§ 14-318.6. Failure to report crimes against juveniles; penalty.
§ 115C-375.20. Child sexual abuse and sex trafficking training program required.

The most recent Quiet Epidemic articles are first in the list below.

Related Reading:

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About A.P. Dillon

A.P. Dillon is a reporter currently writing at The North State Journal. She resides in the Triangle area of North Carolina. Find her on Twitter: @APDillon_ Tips: APDillon@Protonmail.com
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