Why does NC insist on telling 75% of its students and teachers they’re not good enough?

Completing college application materials is a stressful time in the lives of my 12th grade students. It’s a mix of excitement and anxiety. They need us to write recommendations, offer feedback on their applications, and give pep talks to encourage them to have faith in the work they’ve done.

I couldn’t let the piece of paper with state test results undermine their confidence as many planned to finish their admission essay that weekend in Fall 2019.

So it stayed on my desk just a few more days.

Because I knew they were college and career ready even if a piece of paper didn’t.

Because I knew a piece of paper telling them otherwise would unnecessarily shake their confidence.

Because I knew these kids and their preparedness for their next chapter better than that piece of paper.

Why did NC design feedback that limits a “college and career” readiness label to only 25% of students?

Are 75% of North Carolina’s high school graduates neither working nor in college to validate setting this bar at the fourth quartile?

How can a student be labeled “on grade level” and also NOT “on track for career and college?”

If there is apparently such low confidence that only 25% of students are ready for their own career per this test report, why is the current teacher licensure proposal being shared tomorrow with the State Board of Education empowering students with control over their teachers’ careers?

In order for a teacher to receive a “competitive, professional” salary of $56,000 ($10,000 below national average) this proposal would have a teacher in NC demonstrate EITHER

  1. Effectiveness via test results like the one reported at the start of this piece using a formula originally created to measure growth in plants and dairy (EVAAS)


2. “Accomplished” ratings as determined by trained school administrators and colleagues AND finish in the top 25% of student surveys

Based on this draft model, a teacher could receive all “accomplished” and “distinguished” ratings from their trained supervisors, but if the teacher falls in the 30th percentile on student responses they receive frozen pay (because our NCGA is not known for cost of living adjustments for current or retired employees) followed by losing their teaching license if they still miss the 25% worthiness bar set by the state and evaluated by students.

Student feedback is part of best practices of teaching, but should it outweigh the evaluations of trained supervisors?

State test results insist only 25% of our students are “college and career” ready yet state education powers market a plan that grants these same students power to determine which 25% of their teachers are worthy of maintaining their teaching license.

Let that sink in.

To be clear, these assessments are sending the wrong messages to students and their teachers by saying only 25% of each group are worthy.

I am as disgusted when I first noticed this message imposed on my students as I am seeing our state’s 25% worthiness test resurface in the teacher licensure proposal.

My frustration with my students receiving this message manifested as a mock college application essay.

My frustration with a counterproductive teacher pipeline proposal manifested in this solution-oriented counter proposal.


When something isn’t whispered into existence it shouldn’t expect whispered resistance

The latest “southern strategy” on teacher licensure is worth noting – here’s a similar proposal for Mississippi

More than 25% of my own children’s teachers are worthy.

More than 25% of my colleagues are worthy.

More than 25% of my students are worthy.

Let’s have 100% of folks who read this tell education policymakers we can’t refill a teacher pipeline and inspire students with an arbitrary 25% worthiness test that creates a revolving door.

State Board of Education

NC General Assembly

5 thoughts on “Why does NC insist on telling 75% of its students and teachers they’re not good enough?

Add yours

  1. Keep up the great work! I love reading the posts that explain the actual impact on educators and students. Education is truly at a crossroads in NC.


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