Students Are So Much Than Test Scores: How NC “Measures” Students VS. How Colleges Measure Them

This is what UNC-Chapel Hill looks for in a potential “college-ready” student.

There’s no specific set of qualities or accomplishments we’re looking for. Instead, we look for evidence that you are the type of person who sees opportunity in every challenge, who likes to tackle problems, and who will encourage classmates to greatness.

We don’t use formulas or cutoffs or thresholds; no one is automatically admitted or denied because of a single number. We read every application, thoroughly.


Not just test scores. lists the following on the website as the top criteria for college admission.

  • High School GPA and Class Rank
  • AP and Honors Classes
  • Challenging Extracurricular Activities
  • Volunteer and Work Experience
  • Test Scores 
  • Quality Recommendation Letters
  • A Well-Written Essay
  • Talents and Passions

And under the “Test Scores” heading, it says this:

“Not all schools rely as heavily on SAT and ACT scores as they used to, but it doesn’t hurt to take both tests and do as well as you can. Some schools don’t look at these tests at all while others may look at scores from additional tests including SAT Subject Tests and AP tests. Check with your chosen schools to find out which ones are required for admission.”

But consider what the state of North Carolina considers when trying to classify a student as “career and college ready” – test scores.

And look how schools are measured in our state’s performance grading system – test scores and algorithms.




Malcolm’s Minions – A Chance to be Ultra-Cool For a Day

This Saturday, Oct. 26th, the Down Syndrome Association of Greater Winston-Salem will be hosting its annual Buddy Walk.

For those who are not familiar with the Buddy Walk, here is the blurb from the website:

The Buddy Walk® was created by the National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS) in 1995 to celebrate Down Syndrome Awareness Month in October and to promote awareness, acceptance and inclusion of individuals with Down syndrome.

It also raises funds for the DSAGWS to help with programs and services for families who have members with special needs.

This year’s Buddy Walk will again be held at West Forsyth High School where it has been held for the last seven years.

If you want to have a great time for a great cause then come on out. And even if you can’t make it to hang out with the cutest red-head with blue eyes who just happens to be genetically enhanced, then you can still help by sponsoring.

Malcolm’s team is called Malcolm’s Minions. The link is

Thanks for considering.

And if you need a little more motivation, then:


If you do come Saturday, Malcolm will be glad to show you around West Forsyth High School. It’s his second home.


Have You Heard About Elizabeth Warren’s Plan For Public Education?


As public school teachers across the country know, our schools do not have the financial resources they need to deliver a quality public education for every child.That’s why my plan invests hundreds of billions of dollars in our public schools – paid for by a two-cent wealth tax on fortunes above $50 million – and makes a series of legislative and administrative changes to achieve five objectives: 

  • Fund schools adequately and equitably so that all students have access to a great public education.

  • Renew the fight against segregation and discrimination in our schools.

  • Provide a warm, safe, and nurturing school climate for all our kids.

  • Treat teachers and staff like the professionals they are.

  • Stop the privatization and corruption of our public education system.



This is the first plan given by a front-runner in the Democratic field of presedential candidates.

And it says a lot about the continuing trend against what many call the privatization efforts of education reformers.

She goes right after Betsy DeVos:

“We can do so much better for our students, our teachers, and our communities. I’ll start – as I promised in May – by replacing DeVos with a Secretary of Education who has been a public school teacher, believes in public education, and will listen to our public school teachers, parents, and students.”

She addresses Title I funds.

“It starts by quadrupling Title I funding – an additional $450 billion over the next 10 years – to help ensure that all children get a high-quality public education.”

She addresses the Individuals With Disablaities Education Act:

“I’ll make good on the federal government’s original 40% funding promise by committing an additional $20 billion a year to IDEA grants. I will also expand IDEA funding for 3-5 year olds and for early intervention services for toddlers and infants.”

She addresses infrastructure:

“I’ll invest at least an additional $50 billion in school infrastructure across the country – targeted at the schools that need it most – on top of existing funding for school upgrades and improvements in my other plans.”

She addresses testing:

“The push toward high-stakes standardized testing has hurt both students and teachers. Schools have eliminated critical courses that are not subject to federally mandated testing, like social studies and the arts. They can exclude students who don’t perform well on tests. Teachers feel pressured to teach to the test, rather than ensuring that students have a rich learning experience. I oppose high-stakes testing, and I co-sponsored successful legislation in Congress to eliminate unnecessary and low-quality standardized tests. As president, I’ll push to prohibit the use of standardized testing as a primary or significant factor in closing a school, firing a teacher, or making any other high-stakes decisions, and encourage schools to use authentic assessments that allow students to demonstrate learning in multiple ways.”

She addresses charter schools:

“To keep our traditional public school systems strong, we must resist efforts to divert public funds out of traditional public schools. Efforts to expand the footprint of charter schools, often without even ensuring that charters are subject to the same transparency requirements and safeguards as traditional public schools, strain the resources of school districts and leave students behind, primarily students of color. Further, inadequate funding and a growing education technology industry have opened the door to the privatization and corruption of our traditional public schools. More than half of the states allow public schools to be run by for-profit companies, and corporations are leveraging their market power and schools’ desire to keep pace with rapidly changing technology to extract profits at the expense of vulnerable students. “

She addresses vouchers:

“We have a responsibility to provide great neighborhood schools for every student. We should stop the diversion of public dollars from traditional public schools through vouchers or tuition tax credits – which are vouchers by another name. We should fight back against the privatization, corporatization, and profiteering in our nation’s schools. I did that when I opposed a ballot question in Massachusetts to raise the cap on the number of charter schools, even as dark money groups spent millions in support of the measure. “

What Warren is doing is defining the variables and issues that will be at the center of the public education debate in the coming presidential election: funding, testing, charters, vouchers, segregation, and strong community schools.






Sen. Deanna Ballard Says That “School Choice Segregation Is a ‘Lie'” – Well…

Much talk of late has been focused on North Carolina’s charter schools and the overall effect they have on the resegregation of student populations within the state.

In a recent op-ed, Rhonda Dillingham, Executive Director of the North Carolina Association for Public Charter Schools, defended North Carolina’s charter schools from criticism concerning perpetuating segregation.

She said,

“Since then (1996), charter schools, which will always be free and open to all, have offered exceptional student learning environments and created opportunities for all students nationwide — and especially in North Carolina. The facts speak for themselves; in three key metrics — student-family wellbeing, academic performance, and diversity — charter schools are a beacon.”

The data presented in this post say otherwise. Dillingham has yet to respond or refute.

In a recent article by Center Point, Sen. Deanna Ballard made the same assertion.

Ballard said the racism claims are the critics “last hope for killing school choice,” but she thinks it is a shot in the dark. 

Enrollment numbers in North Carolina paint a different picture from the “white flight” that Mangrum described, according to Ballard.

About 20 percent of school-aged children do not attend traditional public schools, according to state numbers. The charter schools have a higher percentage of African-American students than public schools do. 

The Center Square confirmed that 26.1 percent of charter school students in North Carolina are African-American, and African-American students make up 25.1 percent of the public school population. 

Let it be known that the Center Point is a publication put out by the Franklin Press, a right-wing conservative outlet based in the Midwest. From PR Watch:

An effort to replace local journalism with right-wing reporting has put on a new mask this month. The Center Square is posing as a beacon of the “highest journalistic ethics,” but in reality, it is a rebranding of an outlet deemed “highly ideological” and criticized for “occasional…gross distortions” of the facts.

The Center Square website purports to be “a non-profit, non-partisan, non-political, no-nonsense organization.” But its “About Us” page does not disclose that it is the latest incarnation of the Franklin Center, a media site specifically funded to have a “valuable” role as part of Wisconsin’s “conservative infrastructure.”

So, let’s revisit that 26.1 percent versus 25.1 calculation that Ballard and Center Point claim proves the diversity of North Carolina’s charter schools.

Imagine if I were to tell you that inside a banquet room you are about to enter there were 100 people; 50 were white and 50 were African-American. According to Ballard and Center Point, that would constitute perfect diversity – 50/50.  However, when you walked inside, all of the white people were seated at tables at one end of the room and the African-American attendees were all seated at tables on the other side of the room.

Would you call that “diversity?”

What Ballard is hoping is that you don’t pay attention to how the attendees are (or are not) seated.

Sen. Ballard represents parts of five counties in northwestern NC: Alleghany, Ashe, Surry, Watauga, and Wilkes. Those counties house three of the over 170 charter schools in the state. Those charter schools are Bridges Academy in Wilkes County, Milennium Charter Academy in Surry County, and Two Rivers Community School in Watauga County.

Maybe it would be a good idea to see how the student makeup of each of these charter schools compares to nearby public schools. In this post, the site was used. Each charter school in Ballard’s district was entered into the same search fields.

Here is what was found.


Millenium Charter: 15.7 free and reduced lunch. Take a look at the table above of the nearest high schools – particularly Mount Airy High School which is the closest one.

Compare the percentages of student makeup.

Here’s Two Bridges compared to other close elementary schools. Again, take a look at the percentages of Free/Discounted Lunch Recipients and race makeups.


Here’s Bridges Academy.



Of the three above, two are starkly different in student makeup than other nearby schools. Only Bridges Academy seems to have the same student makeup as nearby schools. But would that have anything to do with the lack of diversity in Wilkes County? Possibly.

But two of three school in her district portray a vastly different image than the one she proffers in her words within the Center Point article.

Actually, those two schools prove her words wrong.



100 Days And Over 4 Million Dollars

Every day that the NCGA stays in session costs the state at least $42,000. That may be a conservative estimate as mileage and staffing could be altered to accommodate what is done in parts of the session.

It’s been over 100 days since Berger and Moore started stalemating budget compromise.

A full school year is usually 180 days.

100 days

Simple math puts the price tag to not negotiate at well over 4 million dollars.

Do you know how many teachers could have been funded? Reading specialists? Teacher assistants? Lunches for students who have a cafeteria debt? Bus repairs? Textbooks?

How many school nurses could have been hired around the state? Social workers?

How many school employees could have had their wages come up to at least 15$/hour?

iPads? (Just kidding – MJ seems to already have a special fund for that).

And to think that the same people who are keeping the NCGA in session to keep a budget from being passed are the same ones who pushed for a required personal finance class in our public high schools.




If NC Wants To Recruit Great Teachers, Then…

In North Carolina, we are not just losing teachers.

We are not even getting teachers to lose. Just look at the decline of teacher candidates in our schools of education.

From Fortune in the December 28th, 2018 report “America Is Losing Its Teachers at a Record Rate”:

Frustrated by little pay and better opportunities elsewhere, public school teachers and education employees in the United States are quitting their jobs at the fastest rate on record.

During the first 10 months of the year, public educators, including teachers, community college faculty members, and school psychologists, quit their positions at a rate of 83 per 10,000, Labor Department figures obtained by The Wall Street Journal show. That’s the highest rate since the government started collecting the data in 2001. It’s also nearly double the 48 per 10,000 educators who quit their positions in 2009, the year with the lowest number of departures.

According to the report, teachers are leaving for a variety of reasons. Unemployment is low, which means there are other, potentially more lucrative opportunities elsewhere. Better pay, coupled with tight budgets and, in some cases, little support from communities could also push educators to other positions.

So, what is North Carolina doing about it?

Things like this:

295 to teach3

And this (SB599):


And this:


Rather than restoring graduate degree pay and due-process for new teachers, expanding the Teaching Fellow program, and pretty much reversing all of the “reforms” enacted in the last eight years here in North Carolina, we are de-professionalizing what is arguable one of the most important jobs this state has: teaching.

Teacher recruitment through initiatives like the ones above are not working to build the teacher workforce that this state needs. What those initiatives are doing is helping create a public school system that will rely on a more temporary contractors void of extensive training and experience.

And our students, schools, community, and state will suffer from it.



10 Intentionally Cruel Ironies About Public Education in NC

  1. Mark Johnson literally sends out a statement about how he was going to “reduce” testing in a week where midterms and state exams (EOC’s and NC Finals) were being administered.
  2. Teachers fill out a working conditions survey every other year for the state that has no questions about how teachers feel the state handles public education.
  3. SAS releases EVAAS scores for a current class well after the school year has begun. In the case for high school block classes, these EVAAS scores come nearer to the end of the semester than at the beginning.
  4. Most of the exams for fall semesters take place after the winter break.
  5. The less experience one has in education magically makes that person more “appropriate” to be the state’s (or even the nation’s) highest public school official.
  6. Failed initiatives like NC’s virtual charter schools and the Read to Achieve program get added funding and more support when data shows they are failing miserably.
  7. The state spends money to hire a team to audit DPI to identify where money is being wasted and that team concludes that DPI is not spending enough.
  8. Leaders in the NCGA boasted an average teacher salary of over $53,000 in 2018-2019 when they released a salary schedule could never sustain that average.
  9. The School Performance Grading system does a better job of showing how poverty affects student achievement than it does showing how teachers help students grow.
  10. North Carolina has more NBCT’s than any other state, has arguably one of the better public university systems in the nation, and has a plethora of quality private institutions that offer teacher training, but the state has a manufactured teacher shortage.

If you can think of others, then please put in the comments section.





This Veteran Teacher Would Never Vote For Rep. Craig Horn As The State Superintendent For MANY Reasons


From Kelly Hinchcliffe at WRAL today:

A Republican lawmaker who chairs several education committees in the North Carolina General Assembly says he is considering running for state superintendent of public instruction in 2020.

Rep. Craig Horn, R-Union, has been thinking about joining the race for several weeks, he said, after educators and community members from both sides of the aisle approached him and asked him to run. If current State Superintendent Mark Johnson, also a Republican, decides to seek re-election, Horn said he probably won’t compete against him, but he won’t rule it out either.

And in his comments concerning a possible run for the office he stated, “I’m not a teacher. I’ve never been a teacher,” he said. “But people pointed out, superintendents don’t teach, superintendents manage.”

One just has to look at the rather ignorant comments made by Horn in the last few years concerning issues affecting public schools or his voting record since 2011 to see that his possible term as a state superintendent would be nothing more than a rubber stamp of the very policies that have hurt our state’s public school system.

In response to what he called “overblown fears” concerning the new principal pay plan implemented for the 2017-2018 school year:

“Legislation is not an exact science. We do things that we think will help solve an issue.”

In a statement about the class-size mandate in early 2018:

“The gap is closing. There are folks that are working on a reasonable solution with the session coming as quickly as it is next week.”

In using per-pupil expenditure as a measure of the state’s commitment to public schools:

“As the teaching corps matures, the per-pupil expenditure — same number of students, same number of teachers — the PPE will go up,” Horn said. “I have a hard time, personally, using PPE as a benchmark of much of anything, quite frankly.”

“Involved in PPE are the fixed costs of running your school,” he said. “Well, if a school is built to hold 1,000 students and holds 700, your PPE is X. Just do the math. If your student population happens to go up to 800 or 1,000, your fixed costs are the same. Your PPE has gone down. But nothing’s really changed with regard to quality.” 

In a statement concerning why charter schools in NC are not required to conduct lockdown safety drills like traditional public schools:

“I’m glad that you brought it up. There are lots of things we do that we don’t even know that we did,” said Rep. Craig Horn, R-Union, who serves as house education committee chair.

In a statement about the Rowan-Salisbury district becoming a pseudo-charter district:

“If you are looking at the state to be innovative, you’re looking in the wrong place,” state senator Craig Horn, R-Union, told a group of educators gathered at a NCICU Digital Learning and Research Symposium. Horn then pointed at Moody. “That person,” he said, “is innovative.”

Concerning Apple’s treatment of NC officials prior to a surprise multi-million dollar purchase of iPads in 2018:

““I don’t expect to be put up at the Waldorf Astoria, but I don’t expect to be put up at the Red Roof Inn either,” said Horn. “Also, I don’t expect to be eating at McDonald’s. I expect to be treated as an adult and as a professional.” 

And in a statement concerning why low-performing virtual charter schools should continue unabated in NC:

To take a snapshot in time I think is unfair as well as inappropriate,” Horn said. “We should allow the virtual pilots to continue, allow parents to see whether or not this works for them.

Concerning’s (Channel 9) recently updated investigative report on broken air-conditioners on many CMS buses:

“That’s a simple place to hide,” state Rep. Craig Horn, R-Union, said. “’Oh, they don’t give us enough money, not my fault.’ It seems to me that we’ve got an accountability issue here.”

“If not, someone is going to, I am sure, introduce a bill that will require some type of penalty for those school districts that don’t meet minimum maintenance standards on their buses,” Horn said.

According to Rep. Craig Horn, our North Carolina General Assembly is full of lawmakers who look at legislating as an inexact science that comes up with unfunded and phantom solutions, that considers per-pupil expenditure as a bad measure of funding, that often forgets what it does, looks at educators as innovators yet does not invest in them, but wants to be treated as a body of professionals and adults.

Oh, and they favorably treat charters and virtual charters differently than traditional schools.


And just to be certain, the principal pay plan has still not been refined, the class-size mandate still has not been funded, there has been no transparency in how the state got money for iPads, the salary schedule for veteran teachers is still horrible, and the favorable treatment of virtual charters in NC is laughable.

Oh, and look at his voting record concerning:

  • revamped teacher pay scale
  • removal of due-process rights for newer teachers
  • removal of graduate degree pay for newer teachers
  • bonus / merit pay
  • uneven “average” raises
  • elimination of longevity pay
  • removal of retiree health benefits for new hires after 2021
  • HB17 that gave state superintendent new powers
  • financing a lawsuit between state superintendent and state board
  • per-pupil expenditures
  • removal of class size cap
  • instituting of a school performance grading system
  • cutting teacher assistants
  • creation of a voucher system
  • deregulation of charter schools
  • removal of charter school caps
  • virtual charter schools
  •  ISD
  • elimination of the Teacher Fellow program and reviving it as a small version of its former self
  • allowing a municipal charter school bill to pass



Look What Is Happening in Chicago – Remembering May 1st

From NPR on October 16th concerning the Chicago Teachers Union:

The union has yet to accept the school district’s salary and benefits offer, but the bargaining team has not been voicing major objections to the mayor’s proposal for teachers, which would provide 16% raises over five years and only minimally increase health care contributions.

When it comes to salary, it has focused on getting more money for veteran teachers and for office clerks and teacher aides, known as PSRPs.

However, the union’s most contentious asks have to do with creating better working environments for teachers and learning conditions for students.

The union sees this as a moment to win battles it has been fighting for years.

Since the current leadership took over the CTU in 2009, it has been pushing a focus on social justice issues, moving far beyond the traditional union bread and butter concerns. The idea of using teacher contracts to push for so-called “common good” issues has taken hold around the country.

In 2012, the union published a manifesto called the Schools Students Deserve that detailed the need for lower class sizes and more staff, such as librarians, social workers and counselors.

In the last two contract fights, the union brought up these issues, but they also had to concentrate on protecting their members whose jobs were being threatened by school closings and the opening of charter schools. The school district also had a budget deficit that made it difficult to argue for more resources.

Social justice issues. Lower class sizes. Better working environments and learning conditions for students. More support staff like social workers and counselors.

Sound familiar?

Like something happened this past May 1st when thousands descended upon Raleigh, NC.

5 issues

What teachers and public school advocates in North Carolina called for is not an isolated list of demands. Like Chicago (home of Arne Duncan), what has been fought for and continues to be fought for are issues surrounding the









So, Is This For-Profit Charter Chain Leaving North Carolina? Then, Good!

As reported to today by the News & Observer,

An organization that helped set up charter schools in North Carolina and Arizona has lost several of its leaders and cut back on its work, leading two N.C. schools to drop the organization’s services.

Now, those schools — which represent about 11,000 students — are wondering what to do next.

The turnover at TeamCFA has created uncertainty around the Charlotte-based nonprofit that provides financial, instructional and management support to 17 charter schools in North Carolina and four schools in Arizona.

That report also mentioned its TeamCFA’s founder, John Bryan. If you have forgotten who this man is then be remembered.

TeamCFA was launched by retired Oregon businessman John Bryan, who has used his wealth to promote school-choice causes and to give generously to Republican political candidates and GOP-run political action committees. He helped pass the law creating the Innovative School District, which allows low-performing schools to be turned over to outside groups, such as charter school operators.


Team CFA is based in Oregon. John Bryan, the founder of the Team CFA, has donated money left and right to specific politicians and PACs here in North Carolina to extend the charter industry including Lt. Gov. Dan Forest (through a PAC). He spear-headed the effort to win the contract of the ISD school in Robeson.

You might want to see who all has received political contributions from John Bryan. All one has to do is look at

Among the other North Carolinians John Bryan has donated to include:

  • Chad Barefoot
  • Phil Berger
  • Tim Moore
  • Ralph Hise
  • Jason Saine
  • David Curtis
  • Jerry Tillman

That’s quite the list of privatizers.

Southside-Ashpole Elementary in Robeson County still is the only school in the new Innovative School District and is run by a for-profit charter school company – Achievement for All Children.

It’s first year under TeamCFA did not go well.

Achievement For All Children was among the groups who applied for state approval to run struggling schools that will be chosen for the Innovative School District. Achievement For All Children is heavily connected to Oregon resident John Bryan, who is a generous contributor to political campaigns and school-choice causes in North Carolina.

Those political contributions to Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, who is advertising his own run at the governor’s mansion seem to point to some rather seedy underpinnings. And it’s no secret that Forest loves charter schools. That is well known among public school advocates.

Back to today’s report:

But over the last several months, much of the leadership of TeamCFA left the organization.

Tony Helton, who had been chief executive officer of both TeamCFA and Achievement For All Children, resigned both positions and started a new education consulting firm. Helton did not return The News & Observer’s telephone call and Facebook message requesting comment.

So, what’s happening?

A win for public school advocates.

And maybe no more John Bryan money in NC elections?