April 27, 2015 Legislative Update

In This Issue…

  1. Bill That Would Roll-Out Performance Pay Clears House Committee
  2. Duty Free Lunch and End to NC Final Exams Bills Slated for House Hearing
  3. Update to School Safety Measures Approved in 2013 Clears Committee
  4. Bill to Limit Political Speech by School Employees Under Review
  5. PENC Bill Tracking Update

Bill That Would Roll-Out Performance Pay Clears House Committee

The N.C. House of Representatives’ Committee on Education/K-12approved H 662, Elevating Educators Act, on April 23. The bill sponsor, Rep. Craig Horn (R-Union) believes this bill enables pilot programs to allow differentiated pay for educators and promotes desirable career paths for educators. PENC does not support this bill for many reasons, among them:

  • PENC sees it as a roll-out, not a pilot for a pay for performance plan – a proposal which PENC members have repeatedly and consistently opposed. The bill would allow for this scheme to be in schools in as many as 60 LEAs by 2017.
  • The bill would have the pilots run by an unidentified private third party entity put in between the State Board of Education (SBE) – a public, appointed body that is accountable to the Governor – and local school boards – elected bodies that are accountable to voters.
  • This proposal relies upon testing data to determine which educators would be eligible to participate in the pilot programs using the same high stakes tests the SBE is reevaluating. That means only about 14 percent of educators who fall into the “highly effective” category and would be eligible to qualify to participate in the pilot to earn from 3 to 30 percent raises. This scenario is similar to the Senate proposal from a couple of years ago that directed principals to select the top 25 percent of teachers in their schools to receive raises.

PENC Executive Director Carol Vandenbergh wrote to the committee members and bill sponsors conveying these concerns. You can see her message here. PENC’s position on educator pay plans and salary schedule reforms has been consistent – raise all educators’ as quickly as possible – with Cost of Living Increases or other measures – to where they ought to be. Elevate all educators with meaningful base pay increases.

PENC encourages members to communicate concerns about the bill with their House members. Please click here to do so TODAY!

Duty Free Lunch and End to NC Final Exams Bills Slated for House Hearing

H238, Duty Free Time/Lunch for Teacherswas introduced at PENC’s request by Representatives Jeffrey Elmore (R-Wilkes), Rick Glazier (D-Cumberland) and Bryan Holloway (R-Stokes) and is slated to be heard during the House Education K-12 Committee on April 28. The NC School Boards Association and the NC Association of School Administrators raised concerns about the original version of the bill and PENC representatives worked with them to address these concerns. The version which will emerge this week – and to which NCSBA and NCASA agreed – will still codify educators’ right to a duty-free lunch; but adds flexibility needed to address the volatile school environment. Instead of a set amount of time each day, the bill would require schools to provide duty-free lunch time for every teacher on a daily basis, with the goal of providing at least 75 minutes per week.

H 248, Eliminate NC Final Exams, is also scheduled to be heard on April 28. The current version of the bill requires the State Board of Education (SBE) to eliminate the use of the NC Final Exam to assess teachers’ performance in relation to Standard 6 of the North Carolina Teacher Evaluation System. Each LEA would be required to use school‑wide growth values to determine Standard 6 ratings. PENC understand that an amendment will be offered to include Analysis of Student Work (ASWs) along with the end to NC Final Exams. The End‑of‑Grade assessments and End‑of‑Course assessments would be used for determining student growth values for teachers administering those assessments. The SBE would be required to apply to the U.S. Department of Education for a waiver for this change.

Other bills slated to be heard at the April 28 House Education K-12 Meeting include:

  • H484, Home Schoolers Participate in School Sports
  • H581, Computer Coding Course Elective
  • H673, Modify Read to Achieve – The bill goes beyond other legislation that address Read to Achieve’s reading assessments. The bill would require the SBE to complete the annual review of alternate assessments annually by Sept. 15. The bill would address Student Reading Portfolios, which would be used as a measure of students’ reading proficiency rather than reading ability. The bill would reduce the number of student work samples in the portfolio to two and would use them to evaluate reading standards. Further, it would provide that if a student responds correctly to 80% of the comprehension questions about one reading passage, then that one work sample would be sufficient to demonstrate student reading proficiency on the standards covered in that sample. The bill would require compiling a student portfolio only when it is determined that administration of a standardized test of reading comprehension is unlikely to yield positive findings of a student’s reading proficiency. The bill would require parents who elect not to enroll their child in a summer reading camp in an effort to improve reading proficiency to notify the school if the child attends other reading programs to address deficiencies. It would further require students who attended at least 64 hours of reading camps to be placed in a transitional 3rd and 4th grade combination. The bill would also require at least one informational session about reading proficiency requirements for parents of 3rd graders within the first 30 days of the school year.
  • H687, Public Schools/Testing Schedule
  • H803, School Performance Scores. – The bill would change the weighting for determining school grades. Currently, the grade is based 80 percent on school achievement scores and 20 percent on student growth. This bill would change that weighting to 50 percent achievement and 50 percent growth. PENC advocated with others in the education community for this scale last year. PENC understands that the only change to school grading that is agreed to is the maintenance of the 15 point scale for two years.

Update to School Safety Measures Approved in 2013 Clears Committee

The House approved H380, Statewide School Safety Management, on April 22. Sponsored by Rep. Bryan Holloway (R-Stokes) and Rick Glazier (D-Cumberland), the bill is a follow-up to the school safety improvements approved in 2013 on the heels of the school shootings in Sandy Hook, Connecticut in 2012. Incorporating many recommendations of the Department of Public Safety, the bill would make a number of changes, including:

  • More coordination between DPS and DPI to provide recommendations to LEAs on the hazards to plan and respond to threats, including intruders on school grounds.
  • Directs LEAs to require each school under its control to hold a school-wide tabletop exercise and drill based on procedures documented in its School Risk Management Plans (SRMP), including a practice school lockdown due to an intruder on school grounds. Schools are also encouraged to hold additional exercises and drills for other hazards.
  • Regional and charter schools are encouraged to adopt such plans and procedures, but are not required to do so. Such plans of regional and charter schools would not be deemed to be a public record as is the case for traditional public schools.
  • Create a dedicated center within DPS to better focus resources on this issue, including management of an anonymous tip line for the reporting of suspicious activity.

The bill was approved by a vote of 114 to 1 and awaits consideration by the Senate.

Bill to Limit Political Speech by School Employees Under Review

The Senate Education Committee approved S480, Uniform Political Activity/Employees, on April 22. In an effort to mirror state laws covering other state employees, the bill would prohibit school employees from using public property or supplies for partisan political purposes. The restrictions would extend to employees of charter and regional schools. The bill would allow certain types of political speech under certain condition, such as if a school employee were invited to speak on a matter by local, state or federal officials. Questions emerged during the discussion in the Senate Education Committee about political issues that arise on school property during meeting held by other groups, such as PTAs and PTOs. The bill awaits consideration by the Senate JII Committee.

PENC Bill Tracking Update

Click here for a list of PENC-tracked bills that progressed through the legislative process last week or are scheduled for action during the upcoming week. Crossover day – April 30 – is the date by which bills must be approved by the chamber of origin in order to be eligible for consideration throughout the rest of the two year session. Bills that are excluded from the crossover deadline are bills that are considered “money bills” or bills that are subject to consideration by the Appropriations Committee, the Finance Committee or both. Many PENC-tracked bills are considered money bills.

What do you think?

If you have questions or concerns, please share your thoughts and ideas with us.
Contact us at penc@pencweb.org.

Submitted by Evelyn Hawthorne

For more information about the North Carolina General Assembly, click here.
To identify and contact your legislators, click here.

For information about specific issues, please contact PENC government relations consultant Evelyn Hawthorne at lobbyist@pencweb.org.