BEST NC Seeks Comment on Draft Vision for NC Education (Birth through Grade 12)

BEST NC (Business for Educational Success and Transformation in North Carolina) has released its Proposed North Carolina Education Vision and is seeking public comment through a short survey or by participation in a webinar. (A schedule of webinars is including at the end of this article.)

The working document leads with the vision that North Carolina provides each student with an outstanding education that helps them reach their full potential. To achieve this vision, BEST NC has adopted the following goals:

  • By 2020, North Carolina will have the highest academic progress in the nation.
  • By 2030, North Carolina will lead the nation in academic achievement, moving our state forward with greater productivity, participation and prosperity.

“We must resist the temptation to jump from potential solution to potential solution in North Carolina without a comprehensive strategy. With this Vision, we propose a new approach to educational transformation across our state,” writes BEST NC.

The vision is the result of an Education Innovation Lab hosted by BEST NC and RTI International, 17 working groups of more than 300 education stakeholders from across the state who submitted more than 600 recommendations and business member briefings. Six of the working groups focused on early learning, including:

  • Early Learning Programs, Chaired by Susan Gates, Special Advisor on Education Initiatives, SAS and Senator Tamara Barringer
  • K-3 Literacy, Chaired by Marcelle Savage, Board Member, State Board of Education and John Pruette, Executive Director, NC Office of Early Learning
  • Expanded Learning Programs, Chaired by Tricia Willoughby, Board Member, State Board of Education and Michael Willoughby, Researcher, RTI International
  • Birth-to-Age 8 Transitions, Chaired by Christopher Hill, Director of the Education and Law Project, North Carolina Justice Center and Johanna Anderson, Executive Director, Belk Foundation
  • Early Childhood Educators, Chaired by Lisa Eads, Early Childhood Program Coordinator, Community Colleges and Senator Gene McLaurin
  • Governance, Chaired by J. B. Buxton, Consultant, Education Innovation Group and John Hood, President, John William Pope Foundation

A list of working group participants is included in the Appendix.

The Proposed Vision outlines three core strategies with priorities and approaches for each. Strategies include:

  • Support Students: Early, Often & Comprehensively
  • Elevate Educators: Top Talent Preparing Top Talent
  • Raise Expectations: Leading the Next Generation of Learning

We’ve pulled out the recommendations that are related to early learning. Note that some apply to the birth-through-grade 12 period as a whole.

Support Students

  • Provide access to high-quality early learning programs that ensure students are ready for kindergarten, such as through increasing the number of seats in highly-rated programs and expanding support for low-income students to attend.
  • Support families of young children, including research-based programs to improve healthy births among at-risk mothers, initiatives aimed to improve early literacy, and other family-focused programs that help prepare students to learn.

Elevate Educators
Build a first-rate early childhood workforce by

  • Improving educator preparation and continuous development.
  • Rewarding and retaining top early learning talent, such as by committing to more competitive compensation that reflects the enormous impact these educators have on children’s future success, and helps to improve retention among the best.
  • Supporting strong early childhood administrators, such as by gathering more information about support gaps for early childhood administrators, as well as ensuring elementary school principals are highly trained in the importance of early literacy

Raise Expectations

  • Protect and maintain high P-20 academic standards through an adoption and review process that includes critical feedback from a variety of stakeholders, and ensures that our academic standards for North Carolina students are among the most rigorous in the nation and responsive to a rapidly changing world.
  • Identify efficiencies and opportunities for economies of scale, including administrative and operational systems that might be shared across district and geographic borders, consolidation of districts or other administrative units, and purchasing opportunities that would pass savings all the way to the student level.
  • Ensure clear governance for education at all levels by better understanding the connection between North Carolina’s current education governance structures and our strategic priorities.
  • Scale up (and preserve) proven educational models, practices and curricula through local or statewide systems that are more ready to recognize success and proactively scale it across a larger number of schools and institutions.
  • Improve systems for data collection and reporting to make better use of available data, cut down on unnecessary or repetitive data, and make educational results at all levels more transparent to students, educators, parents, community members and policymakers.
  • Provide increased flexibility for highly effective educators, such as classroom-level decision-making authority over curricula, instruction, and pacing; building-level authority over calendars, schedules, and staff; and system-level flexibility over school interventions and support and overall talent management.
  • Create and maintain tools to invest in high-impact programs, by approaching investments creatively and with a commitment to evidence, research, and the power of public-private partnerships.
  • Prioritize high quality assessments for students at all levels of our education system that are developmentally appropriate, measure higher-order thinking skills, are powered by evolving technologies, and provide data both to inform real-time instruction and system- and state-level accountability.

BEST NC is collecting feedback at In addition, they are hosting webinars on the Vision’s contents. Register by clicking on the date/time below.

The final North Carolina Education Vision will go live in April 2015 on an interactive web portal.