RALEIGH, North Carolina — North Carolina Superintendent Catherine Truitt wants your input on how to better measure the success of the state’s K-12 public schools.

The state Department of Public Instruction designed a survey alongside EducationNC, a nonprofit news and commentary website devoted to education.

The survey, accessible here, ends at 5 p.m. on October 10.

As it stands, the state uses an AF grading system that depends primarily on student test scores and, to a much lesser extent, student growth on those tests.

Some form of academic grading is required under the federal Every Student Achievement Act, although states have different ways of measuring academic performance.

North Carolina’s method is outlined in state law, set by the General Assembly as of the 2013–14 school year. Truitt plans to ask lawmakers to eventually change the law.

A press release from the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction said Thursday, “A growing consensus has led many to believe that the current model does not accurately reflect all aspects of school quality because it places too much emphasis on student achievement as determined by high-stakes tests.”

That doesn’t do enough to illustrate how schools prepare students for life after graduation, Truitt said, such as through career education or college coursework opportunities.

On Sept. 1, the state released the latest school performance scores based on spring 2022 standardized testing, showing a decline in performance since before the COVID-19 pandemic and an increase in low-performing schools.
Critics and researchers have noted that test scores correlate with students’ family incomes, suggesting systemic challenges rather than a pure reflection of learning.
Truitt is advocating for a change in school performance grades long before the spring 2022 test administration, publishing it as a stated goal in his “Operation Polaris” education plan in the summer of 2021. Truitt argues that the addition more measures to measure school accountability would improve schools, because schools use the measure of accountability to guide instruction.
Operation Polaris also calls for a report card that reflects a “strong basic education” – a proposal reflected in the comprehensive remedial plan in the longstanding education adequacy lawsuit known as Leandro. The state and the plaintiffs who sued the state agreed to this plan. The plan also calls for measures related to the provision of a “strong basic education” to be included in a revised school accountability measure.

The survey asks people to provide ‘yes’, ‘no’ or ‘unsure’ answers to several questions about how schools should be measured. Then it provides space for no more than 20 words to suggest additional ideas for state officials to consider.

Truitt’s task force on redefining academic performance ratings met for the first time recently, in a private meeting facilitated by the National Center for Educational Assessment Improvement. The group is made up of school administrators from across the state, higher education officials, and heads of nonprofit organizations.

The survey results will be posted publicly.