April 15, 2020

Legislative Update

PENC has been busy tracking legislative task force, state board meetings, and following news articles to bring you the latest with our state leaders’ response to COVID-19.  Last week we saw reports that North Carolina is predicted to experience a billion-dollar-plus economic shortfall with tax collections.  Though this is certainly not good news, the state still has $1.2 billion in the rainy-day fund, and nearly $2 billion that went unspent because of the budget impasse between the governor and the legislature.  Also, the state’s unemployment insurance reserve fund has a total balance of $3.9 billion.  This should help with the surge in unemployment claims.  Hopefully, the COVID-19 situation will soon pass, but PENC will continue to share the needs the virus has created for our school systems.

PENC also reminds both the governor and the legislature that teachers and classified employees never received their raise.  We will continue advocating for you!  Below is a report of the week’s activities in state government.

The House Select Committee on COVID-19 Education Workgroup held its third virtual committee meeting on Thursday, April 9th. Representative Ashton Clemmens chaired the committee.

The meeting was for members to express their education-related concerns strictly dealing with COVID-19 and to hear relevant presentations from the North Carolina General Assembly Legislative Analysis Division.

Providing information to the committee were two legal experts from the North Carolina General Assembly’s Legislative Analysis Division, Kara McCraw and Brian Gwyn.

Several recommendations were made concerning statutory requirements set by the NCGA. First, the CPR graduation requirement for high school seniors was suggested to be waived. The passing grade requirement for seniors in the Founding Principles course has already been addressed by giving schools flexibility to deal with affected students.

Next, presenters spoke on Educator Preparation and Licensure Programs (EPPs) and how Covid- 19 closures have impacted them. The recommendations are as follows:

  1. No action needed regarding accreditation of Education Preparation Programs (EPPs)
  2. Recommends waiving the PRAXIS CORE requirement, and to waive the 2.7 GPA requirement by allowing students not meeting this requirement to do so during their senior year
  3. Required instructional time for EPPs likely needs no legislative action as EPPs are covering required instruction through virtual means
  4. Recommends waiving the clinical internship (student teaching) 16 weeks completion requirement during this spring semester, since meeting these mandates is not possible.
  5. Because of school closures, mandatory pedagogy assessments (EDTPA) and other portfolio-based assignments would need legislative action to allow student practitioners additional time to complete
  6. The suspension of the collection of high stakes performance data regarding student-teacher classroom effectiveness would need legislative action as complete data will not be available for reporting
  7. Impacts on EPPs not meeting performance standards may require legislative action, and sanctions against EPPs should not happen. EPPs should be held harmless.
  8. EPP Report Cards (performance reports) were recommended to be waived, given the incomplete data.

Regarding licensure exams and licensure renewal for teachers, the recommendations were 1-year extensions to allow teachers to fulfill continuing education (CEU) requirements.

For school administrator licensure concerns, it was recommended that legislative action be used similarly to the recommendation regarding student teachers by allowing principals to be licensed and allow them to fulfill requirements by the end of the 1st year of licensure.

Regarding teacher evaluations, the recommendation was to use previous evaluations and other artifacts to fill in the gaps. Evaluation instruments have not been validated for virtual learning, so there will be no online evaluations this spring.

Classroom observations for newer teachers will require legislative action to waive observation requirements not yet completed at the time of mandatory school closure.

In addition, legislative action may be needed regarding the offering of multi-year contracts based on proficiency of observations.

In regard to state testing requirements, the recommendation was that statutory requirements be waived as well as requesting a waiver for diagnostic testing not yet completed for the school year.

Since accountability measures (school performance grades and school report cards) could not be calculated based on missing data, the recommendation was to waive the scores for 2019-20.

For the identification of low-performance schools, it was recommended that no new identifications be made. In addition, because of a lack of data, no schools should be selected this year for the Innovative School District (ISD).

For Grade 3 promotions, the recommendation will be to base promotional decisions on principal recommendations. The required Summer Reading Camp was recommended to be waived.

Finally, regarding data collection on teacher retention and attrition, because of the lack of data, it was recommended that this requirement also be waived.

For information about specific issues, please contact lobbyist@pencweb.org.

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