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Joint | March 19, 2013 | Press Room | Berger

Full MP3 Audio File

Good afternoon, I appreciate you all being here today. The primary purpose of our being here is to announce the filing of Senate Bill 361. Senate Bill 361 is the Excellent Public Schools Act 2013. The days of accepting a broken education system in North Carolina are over. We must continue to demand better and positive change for our kids. That’s why last year the General Assembly passed major education reforms to strengthen student literacy, improve graduation rates, reward effective teachers, eliminate the cap on the number of public charter schools and give parents the tools they need to make better informed education decisions about their children. There is still work to be done, that’s why we’re introducing the second major education reform package to build on the positive changes we made last year. This Bill has five major components: The first, it will strengthen student literacy. It’s a proven fact that being able to read by the beginning of 4th grade dramatically improves a student’s opportunity and chance of finishing high school and having success in their educational career. Senate Bill 361 strengthens teacher education programs, licensure requirements and professional development, with an increased emphasis on improving student’s reading skills. Senate Bill 361 also continues our effort to increase literacy by allowing state employees to volunteer, during business hours, in public schools reading for up to 5 hours per month. The second major component is to maximize instructional time, testing is important but we must ensure that students master their subject first. Traditionally, and this is up to this school year, the last 22 days of the school year were available for end of grade testing. In the 2012-2013 year, the last 15 to 20 days are available. Senate Bill 361 reduces that to the final 10 instructional days for end of grade or end of course tests for year long courses and the final 5 days for semester long courses. There is an exception for students who have IEP requirements or for those who are taking AP or International [Baccalaureate] exams. The 3rd major component of the Bill is to increase accountability and reward effective teachers. Our current system, in many respects, rewards mediocrity, punishes excellence by granting unlimited job security to all who teach a few years. Senate Bill 361 will immediately boost accountability by doing several things. First, it will eliminate a career status for any teacher who has not yet achieved career status. Any teachers in the 1st 3 years of teaching, Senate Bill 361 will eliminate career status. The second thing that it does, is for all teachers who have taught 3 or more years, between the passage of the Bill and the end of December of this year, it will offer LEAs’ the opportunity to grant those teachers contracts of 4 year duration. The LEAs’ are encouraged to move through an evaluation process and determining the excellent teachers they have on staff and they will have the authority to offer those teachers 4 year contracts, between now and the end of the year. If a teacher is not offered a 4 year contract, then that teacher will continue in the status that they’re currently in, through the end of 2014 school year. On June 30th 2014 career status will be eliminated for all teachers and at that time the LEAs’ will have the authority to offer 1 year, 2 year, 3 year or 4 year contracts based on evaluations and based on local decisions for teachers that have taught for more than 3 years. Teachers with less than 3 years of teaching experience will still be on 1 year contract. One of the critical things that we have to do and one of the things Senate Bill 361 does is continue the work towards a comprehensive and adequate teacher evaluation tool that will provide the LEAs’, provide the teachers and provide the parents with a fair measure of whether or not a teacher is actually a success in the classroom and is improving students

performance. That evaluation tool is critical for our ability, for the ???LEA's ability, to make decisions on whether or not to award multi year contacts. That evaluation tool is also a critical component of us being able to move to a pay for excellence plan and to really reward those teachers who excel in the classroom. The fourth component of the bill is to give parents the tools to make better informed decisions. As you know, the Excellent Public School Act, or the portion of it that were enacted last year, moves the grading of schools from the system that has been in place where you have honor schools of excellence and schools of distinction and schools of progress and nobody really knows which is a good one and which is a bad one to taking the same 100 point scoring system and converting that to an A-F scale. That scoring system is in effect for the schools at the end of this year and what we do is we expand on that by also evaluating schools on whether they exceed, meet, or fail to meet student achievement growth goals. Together, those two measurements will foster greater transparency, encourage struggling schools to improve and allow parents to determine the best options for their children. The fifth component of the bill, Senate Bill 361, requires the Department of Public Instruction to review the quality and value of common core, smarter balance consortium assessments when they become available and obtain approval from the General Assembly before purchasing or implementing those common core, smarter balance consortium assessments. This could relieve teachers from the burden of learning yet another new test and also save taxpayers money. The bill was filed before the press conference. Copies will be available from the Clerk's office and should be available on the internet at this time. At this point, I would be happy to take your questions. Scott? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Couldn't hear audio??? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Well, I think this time will be different because this is a different General Assembly and the problems still exist. There are things that need to be done to deal with the tenure issue. The public wants us to address the issue; it is critically important for us to do that in order to ensure that we do everything that we can to make sure that our kids have a highly qualified teacher at the head of the classroom. We have known for years that the one thing that does the most for improving student performance is to have a high quality teacher in the classroom. It is our belief that by allowing the LEA's to offer teachers contracts ranging from one year to four years and to allow them to offer their best teachers four year contracts at the outset, will improve the ability that we have to put that great teacher at the head of the classroom. We have tens of thousands of great teachers in North Carolina and we want to make sure that those teachers are rewarded with the security of multi-year contracts and are ultimately rewarded with the opportunity to earn pay for excellence once we can get the evaluation tool where it needs to be. John. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Couldn't hear audio??? [SPEAKER CHANGES] The bill, last year, or the provisions of the budget bill last year, allowed for LEAs or DPI to come back to us with ideas and suggestions on the pay for excellence or the pay for performance and I believe that is due to come to us sometime in April of this year and we look forward to seeing the recommendations that we receive from the LEA and DPI and hope that that will help us move in that direction. I don't want you to monopolize it; okay, here we go, Kelly. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Couldn't hear audio??? [SPEAKER CHANGES] It is a very complicated process and as you know, DPI has been working for a good period of time to work on an evaluation tool and of course what you have to have in an evaluation tool, you not only have to evaluations, or peer reviews, supervisor reviews, parental reviews maybe, student reviews, but there needs to be

the component where objective data is available. Everyone needs to have confidence that the evaluation tool is one that's fair to the teachers, fair to the kids, fair to the administration, fair to taxpayers. We've not gotten there yet. A lot of states are struggling with exactly the same thing. I think that the tool that DPI's currently using is better than what they've had in the past, but it still isn't quite there. Barry. [SPEAKER CHANGES] ?? [SPEAKER CHANGES] There are some funding, some expenses for these provisions. I don't know that I have the costs that I can tell you now. As you know, we're hopefully later this week going to hear from the governor as to his budget proposals, and we'll be working through the budgetary aspects of this and everything else as we go through the next weeks and months. [SPEAKER CHANGES] ?? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Basically we're looking to continue to work on that particular issue. Presently, we have as I said, a tool that's better than what we've had in the past. One of the struggles we have at this time, as I understand it as part of the arrangements that were made by Gov. Perdue and DPI to draw down some rates to the top dollars. Any modifications to the tool will require approval or at least a signoff by the Federal Government, and that's one of the challenges we're going to have modifying or at least making improvement. Go ahead. [SPEAKER CHANGES] ?? he asked about more money ?? [SPEAKER CHANGES] It would be my understanding, and my thought that to the extent that we're paying for excellent, that it would be additional dollars for that and I don't see there being any push for actually reducing the dollars the teachers are currently making. Gary. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Can you envision a situation where the days of flat raises for everyone would be gone ?? other teaches who are doing well get more? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Now I would, this is just my thoughts on it, what I would say is a pay scale that would be similar to what we have now in terms of paying folks for the length of time that they've been serving as teachers, there being some sort of a structure for a bonus a salary supplement or something of that nature based on teachers who are actually performing above and beyond. Now that's my thought of it, but how we get there from here is a path that's not quite at the present time fully mapped out. [SPEAKER CHANGES] ?? do you also see ?? now I want you ?? getting teachers to ?? [SPEAKER CHANGES] I think it can be. You know what, teaching is a profession but like a lot of other jobs, human nature will work its way into any dynamic. And what we're concerned about is the incentives that are out there, and trying to make sure that we have incentives for folks to excel as much as possible. The first part of your question, the perception of problems, I can just tell you the feedback that I'm getting from parents, feedback I'm receiving from school personnel, feedback I'm getting from volunteers who want to work in schools about the continuing problem of there being teaches that really are not helping students, and we need to have teachers who are helping. Now is that a large number of teachers? I don't think so. I think it's a very small number of the teachers that we have. But if it's one teacher, and it's a teacher that's teaching you child, it's a huge problem.

?? [SPEAKER CHANGES]You know, when we introduced the Excellent Public School's Act, Senate Bill 795, last year, once of the things we did, we sent requests for information, sent packages of information to the superintendents all over the state, requesting feedback. We got some feedback from some. We, individually, the members of the pro tem staff, individual members of the Senate, have spent a good bit of time talking to our local school teachers, our local administrators, administrators from various districts around the state. It's been more of an informal process as opposed to any kind of day for this, or day for that. Question? You can quote me on that. [SPEAKER CHANGES]Anything else? [SPEAKER CHANGES]Yes. [SPEAKER CHANGES]?? [SPEAKER CHANGES]You know, we all have a deep concern for the safety of the kids and the professionals at our schools, and we want to do everything we can to make sure the schools are a very safe place for students, for parents, and for employees. I have not had an opportunity to review that proposal. Obviously that, as well as everything else in the budget will be looked at, but we are interesting in taking steps to the extent that steps are needed to make our schools safe, and it may be that the Governor's proposal is something that we'll find common ground with. [SPEAKER CHANGES]?? [SPEAKER CHANGES]It should be in the Education Committee within the next couple of weeks, I would think, but it may take a little longer for us to get there. [SPEAKER CHANGES]?? [SPEAKER CHANGES]There are some fiscal implications to it. There should be some data we'll get to you soon as we have the numbers. We may have it now. I know that I've seen some information but I don't have it in front of me, it's not part of the packet that we've released. [SPEAKER CHANGES]?? [SPEAKER CHANGES]I think the first thing is, it depends on what he recommends. But we are interested in the suggestions and the proposals that Governor McCrory will make. Does he offer some structural changes in terms of how we build the budget? Does he offer some different ways to move money into places of need? what does he do with Medicaid, because that's something we've struggled with a number of years? So, we are interested in what he has to say. Obviously like anything else, once it gets to the Senate, we will put our print on it, and whether or not that changes it a lot, or leaves it pretty much as it is, sort of depends on how the members feel about some of the proposals that the Governor makes. [SPEAKER CHANGES]?? [SPEAKER CHANGES]I have not. Our appropriations folks have had an opportunity to speak with the Governor's people over the course of the last months, since the beginning of the year. Those discussions, I would describe as more 'where are you', scheduling kinds of things, but I do think that there have been some substantive 'we're thinking about doing this', 'what did you all do about something else'. There's been some exchange of information, but nothing that I would describe as writing the budget in cooperation at this time, with the Governor. We hope that that''s what the will be the case as we move along.

Okay. Any other questions? And thank you for being here.