Monthly Archives

March 2022

Data Accrue on Pandemic Learning Loss for N.C. Students

By News

Learning loss data from the pandemic continue to accrue, providing information on impacts–and implications. WFAE’s Ann Doss Helms has written recently about the issue, for Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools (CMS) and for the state. In particular, a report shared with the CMS Board last week indicated concern is deepening about third grade reading. Those data show third-graders this year are expected to score even lower on state tests than students last year. Findings could be a bellwether for the state as a whole. Read the full WFAE article here.

More on DPI’s learning loss report

Meanwhile, the rest of this blog post provides a deeper dive on the state’s learning loss report presented to the State Board of Education earlier this month. You can find that report from the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) here and the presentation here. As I noted in an earlier blog post, data show a negative impact from the pandemic for students across all grades and nearly every subject. The only exception is English II. Especially hard-hit in terms of content: math in the middle grades. See the table from the report below:

This table and other tables are from “An Impact Analysis of Student Learning During the COVID-19 Pandemic,” N.C. Department of Public Instruction. Click on screenshot images to access the full report.

Traditional public schools and public charter schools

In March, I also shared this bar chart from DPI’s report, showing learning loss in traditional public schools and in charter schools, by effect size. Here it is again:

The report also includes a table that breaks out effect sizes, based on school model, by subject/grade:


For both school models, negative impacts were consistent for students across grades and subjects, with English II serving as the sole standout. But the magnitude of learning loss at public charter schools did appear to be slightly lower in nearly every grade and subject–except for third grade reading, where the effect size was the same. Students made more progress in English II at charter schools.

In a March presentation to the Charter Schools Advisory Board, leaders from the Office of Learning Recovery at DPI pointed to these differences as “small,” and said they do not intend to disaggregate results further.

Parent Advisory Commission Applications Close Thursday

By News

Parents have just two more days to apply for Superintendent Truitt’s Parent Advisory Commission. Truitt announced the commission on February 23, with the intention of elevating parents’ voices in education.

Commission details

What will the commission look like? It will include 48 parents from the state’s eight education regions. Each region’s representation will look like this:

  • Traditional public schools: two parents
  • Public charter schools: one parent
  • Home schools: one parent
  • Private schools: one parent
  • At-large: one parent from each education region, drawn from the largest county in each region

In total, eight charter parents will serve on the commission.

Commission purpose

Commission members will discuss aspirations and challenges for public education, according to DPI, and will share feedback with Superintendent Truitt. Moreover, they’ll have the opportunity to help shape policy recommendations.
Commission members will serve two-year terms. The full commission will meet quarterly, while regional sub groups will meet monthly.

The application closes this Thursday, March 31.

Read the release announcing the commission here. Find the application here.

A New Law in New Mexico Opens Doors and Dollars for Charter Facilities

By News

Charter advocates in New Mexico are celebrating a big legislative victory earlier this month. State lawmakers passed, and the Governor signed, legislation that significantly increases public support for charter facilities. Titled “Charter School Facility Improvements” (HB 43), the law creates a $10M Charter School Revolving Loan Fund. Charter schools may use loans for “the purchase, construction, expansion or renovation of facilities,” according to language in the bill. Loans may also be used to “pay off lease-purchase agreements.” In addition, districts must make unused facilities available to charters in the district–for lease, lease-purchase, or purchase.

The ‘biggest victory for charter schools so far this year’

Todd Ziebarth, the senior vice president of state advocacy and support at the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, calls the law “the biggest victory for charter schools so far this year.” Read the Alliance’s press release here.

Amazingly, the bill passed the state legislature unanimously.  In a recent blog post, Ziebarth writes:

The vote in the House was 64-0 and the vote in the Senate was 41-0. Every Republican and every Democrat voted for this bill—a remarkable result in this hyper-partisan moment achieved by our partners at Public Charter Schools of New Mexico, NewMexicoKidsCAN, the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce, Excellent Schools New Mexico, and Teach Plus New Mexico.

Learn how the law will affect one New Mexico charter school.

Apply for $130K in Building Hope Grants

By News

There are just a few days left to apply for a Building Hope grant award. A national nonprofit focused on building charter capacity, Building Hope is awarding grants worth $130,000 to nine public charter schools. Winners are schools that “lead the way in Student Empowerment, Community Engagement and Educational Innovation,” according to the organization.

About the awards

“One winner in each category will receive $20,000 and two runners-up will receive $10,000 for their schools,” notes Building Hope. In addition, the organization will award a $5,000 “Shine Brighter” award to two charter school volunteers. Grant finalists win a trip to Building Hope’s Impact Summit in Washington, D.C. from June 22-24, 2022.

Watch the 2022 awards promo video below

Read FAQs about the grant awards here. Submit grant applications here. Grant applications close on March 27.

New Poll Shows Rising Support for School Choice & Parent Power

By News

A new poll illuminates continued shifts in the American electorate around school choice and parent power in education. A press release, out today from the American Federation for Children, noted:

“…Support for school choice continues to soar across all party lines and demographics. Notably, Democratic support for education freedom and customizable learning now tops 70%.”

The poll, conducted by OnMessage Inc., queried 1,000 likely general election voters between February 14-17, 2022.

Parent Power in Education

Three in four, or 75%, of voters agreed with the following statement:

“Parents should be in charge of decisions regarding their child’s education. It is not fair that only wealthy parents truly get to decide where their child goes to school.”

Among all voters, 86% of Republicans agreed with this statement. So did 65% of Democrats and 74% of Independents.

Just 20% of voters opposed giving parents choice and decision-making power in education.

Escaping Failing Schools

More than 8 in 10, or 83%, of voters agreed with this statement:

“Parents should have the right to remove their children from a failing public school and enroll them in a school that is succeeding academically.”

Among all voters, 75% of Democrats and 84% of Independents agreed. So did 91% of Republicans.

Only 13% of voters opposed this concept.

Read the AFC/Invest in Education press release here.

Congress maintains $440M in funding for the federal Charter Schools Program

By News
Last week, Congress passed a 2022 appropriations bill that maintains $440 million in funding for the federal Charter Schools Program (CSP). Fortunately, the final bill did not include language threatening federal funding for charter schools that contract with for-profit entities. An earlier version, passed by the U.S. House of Representatives this summer, included the concerning language.

Statement from the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools

National charter advocates are celebrating the bill’s passage. But they’re also urging more funding to meet charter demand nationwide. In a statement, Nina Rees, CEO of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, said:
The FY 2022 Omnibus Appropriations Bill provides level funding for the Charter Schools Program (CSP) at $440 million for the fourth year in a row. While we are pleased funding was not cut for these unique public schools, we are concerned that the continued level funding does not appropriately respond to the current demand for high-quality charter schools … We look forward to working with Congress and the Administration to increase CSP funding for FY 2023 to better meet the needs of students and families who want more high-quality options in public education.
Read a summary of the legislation from the Penn Hill Group.

School Resource: Visit The Wall That Heals

By News
At the March State Board of Education meeting, SBE member Amy White announced that The Wall That Heals (TWTH) will be coming to North Carolina. A “touring wall replica” of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC, TWTH exhibit also features a mobile education center.

A school resource aligned with the state’s Social Studies Standards

White encouraged schools to visit and to let their families and students know about the exhibit, which aligns with North Carolina’s Social Studies Standards.
TWTH will be in Garner between March 31 and April 3; learn more here. The exhibit will return to Charlotte this fall on October 20. Find more information about TWTH’s 2022 touring schedule here.
Watch the video below from the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund to learn more.

MINA Charter School Celebrates Expansion

By News
Congratulations to MINA Charter School of Lee County! A Coalition member school in Sanford, MINA recently celebrated completion of its new school building serving K-5 students.
State lawmakers were on hand to celebrate the milestone: Both Representative Sauls and Representative Reives spoke at the ribbon-cutting. Coalition Executive Director Lindalyn Kakadelis also attended the event.

Photo above: Lindalyn Kakadelis at MINA Charter School with founder and lead administrator Dr. Shawn Williams.
MINA Charter School is named in honor of Dr. Williams’ mother, Wilhelmina Williams. MINA also stands for More Is Now Achievable.
Read more about the event here.

DPI Releases COVID Learning Impact Study

By News

This week, the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) released a long-awaited study evaluating pandemic impacts on learning. DPI partnered with SAS to conduct the study, required by statute.

In order to estimate impact, researchers projected how they expected students to perform and compared that to how students actually performed in 2020-21. Data confirm negative impacts in every subject, at every grade level.

The Office of Learning Recovery shared the findings at the State Board of Education’s March meeting. Click on the screenshot below to access the presentation.

Presentation from DPI’s Office of Learning Recovery to the State Board of Education

A breakdown of key findings

  • During the pandemic, students made less progress at all grade levels and in all subject areas, with the exception of English II.
  • Moreover, middle grades science and math sustained the greatest negative impacts (5th-9th grade math and 8th grade science).
  • Students learned better when they were on site. For instance, those students who returned for face-to-face instruction, and with supports, did better than students who only learned virtually.
  • Student impacts spanned racial and ethnic groups. Gaps grew based on income and race.
  • Learning progress among students with disabilities and English learners tracked more closely to projections than it did for the general student population.

What about charter schools?

Data show some slight differences between charter schools and district schools. Here’s the screenshot from the report table comparing effect sizes.

DPI will release a final report in December.

Find DPI’s press release here. Read more from EdNC here.

Read more

Support for school choice grows across political groups, new polling shows

By News

School choice is growing in popularity nationwide, new polling shows. In fact, support for choice is increasing across political affiliation and demographic factors. The largest uptick in support is among Democrats.

The new poll, released yesterday by the American Federation for Children (AFC), queried more than 2,000 registered voters between February 5-9.

Overall, 72% of voters say they support the concept of allowing parents to choose where their child attends school. Just 18% say they’re opposed.

Support for choice has risen across the board during the pandemic

The rise in support for choice has coincided with the pandemic. Overall, support has increased 8% overall since April 2020. The largest increase in support, 9 points, has been among Democrats. Support for choice has increased by 7 points for Republicans and for Independents alike.

AFC CEO Tommy Schultz noted:

These poll numbers are stunning. The past two years have exposed to the world what many in the parental choice movement have known for decades: no single educational environment is right for every child. As the battle over educational freedom continues, party affiliation is secondary to ensuring all families are empowered to choose the best educational setting for their children.

Read more about the poll here.