NC DPI Rolls Ou⁠t⁠ Shor⁠t⁠ Sess⁠i⁠on Plan ⁠t⁠o Improve Ma⁠t⁠h, L⁠i⁠⁠t⁠eracy, School Suppor⁠t⁠

March 13, 2024

Kayla Maloney

CALN Project Manager

Students Raising their Hands in the Classroom

With the legislative short session’s April 24 start date just around the corner, the NC Department of Public Instruction has presented their priorities for the coming year. 

The three main tenants of DPI’s priorities are to reform math, improve literacy in later grades, and support low-performing schools. The plan is to provide professional development for early and middle-grades teachers, implement and improve early math and literacy screeners, and reform early instructional methods to provide students with a better foundation before entering into high school. 

EdNC breaks down DPI’s framework: 

Reforming Math 

For the first time since the implementation of Common Core, the NC Board of Education is (actually) open to hearing recommendations for revising current K-12 math standards and reforming the way it is taught. This change of pace is partially brought upon by DPI’s “comprehensive math reform package” presented in November of last year. 

That package will include an early math screener for elementary grades, policies detailing guidelines for best instructional practices, support and professional development for K-8 math teachers, and policies for comprehensive math intervention programs. 

These programs aim to better prepare students for Math I (Algebra I) and foster more student interest (or, at least, confidence) in math. 

DPI Deputy State Superintendent Dr. Michael Maher shared additional initiatives during last week’s presentation, including legislation to increase participation in advanced math classes and an element of parental notification of student progress. 

Improving Literacy in Later Grades 

Amy Rhyne, Director of DPI’s Office of Early Learning, explained DPI’s efforts to expand literacy, specifically for students in grades four through eight. Where it was previously taken for granted that literacy efforts stopped after third grade, Board members and the DPI are now expanding support. The Excellent Public Schools Act of 2021 marked the early stages of transition into the science of reading, and now that method of instruction would be implemented in later grades. 

On top of furthering literacy support in later grades, initiatives also include expanding upon what is already outlined in the Excellent Public Schools Act. Similar to the math reform, DPI aspires to implement professional development for teachers, update Literacy Instruction Standards, push formative diagnostic reading assessment through grade five, and update Literacy Intervention Plans and Individual Reading Plans to include grades four through eight. 

Supporting Low-Performing Schools 

According to a report from this past November, there were a total of 804 low-performing schools and 25 low-performing school districts in North Carolina for the 2022-2023 school year. This is a small improvement from the year prior.  

DPI would like to continue the CARES program, which was passed in 2021 and is the most rigorous intervention model for low-performing schools to date. Funding for CARES runs out at the end of September. If a grant to continue the model is approved, it will be renamed “Thrive,” which Deputy State Superintendent of District and School Support Services, Dr. Jeremy Gibbs, says will be a fitting title that summarizes the department’s goals. DPI is asking for $4.5 million to continue the effort. 

Gibbs explained, “The definition of the word is… to grow vigorously and flourish, to make progress, or realize a goal, despite the circumstances.” 

DPI expects that Thrive will bring about those very results. 

When the 2025 long session comes around, DPI will roll out further plans for low-performing school support.