EXCELLENT PUBLIC SCHOOLS ACT OF 2021.

View NCGA Bill Details2021
Senate Bill 387 (Public) Filed Monday, March 29, 2021
AN ACT TO MODIFY THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE NORTH CAROLINA READ TO ACHIEVE PROGRAM IN ORDER TO ATTAIN STATEWIDE READING PROFICIENCY BY THE THIRD GRADE.
Intro. by Berger, Ballard, Lee.

Status: Ch. SL 2021-8 (Apr 9 2021)
S 387/S.L. 2021-8

Bill Summaries:

  • Summary date: Apr 12 2021 - More information

    AN ACT TO MODIFY THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE NORTH CAROLINA READ TO ACHIEVE PROGRAM IN ORDER TO ATTAIN STATEWIDE READING PROFICIENCY BY THE THIRD GRADE. SL 2021-8. Enacted April 9, 2021. Effective April 9, 2021, except as otherwise provided.


  • Summary date: Mar 31 2021 - More information

    Senate amendment makes the following changes to the 1st edition.

    Part VII.

    Revises proposed GS 115C-83.7A, which establishes requirements for reading camps. Adds minimum amounts for mandated signing bonuses and performance bonuses, setting the minimum for signing bonuses under subsection (b) at $1,200, and the minimum for performance bonuses provided under subsection (c) at $150 per student. Changes the criteria for signing bonus eligibility under subsection (b) to require the teacher to have been awarded a reading performance bonus administered by the Department of Public Instruction (DPI), no longer specifically requiring the award during the current school year. Revises the criteria for performance bonus eligibility under subsection (c) to require students assigned to a teacher to demonstrate reading proficiency on an alternative assessment at the end of reading camp (replacing the previous requirement that the assigned child became proficient after completing reading camp).

    Now includes federal funds received by local school administrative units for the purpose of responding to the impacts of COVID-19 in the required funding for signing bonuses and reading performance bonuses, in addition to funds provided in Section 7A.1 of SL 2012-142, excluding reading camp funds. Revises the definition of reading performance bonus to mean a bonus awarded to 3-5 grade teachers based on EVAAS student growth index scores (previously references bonus programs in session laws applicable to 3-5 grade teachers).


  • Summary date: Mar 30 2021 - More information

    Part I. titles the act as the "Excellent Public Schools Act of 2021."

    Part II.

    Adds Science of Reading to the defined terms in GS 115C-83.3 applicable to Part 1A of Article 8, the NC Read to Achieve Program. Defines the terms to mean evidence-based reading instruction practices that address the acquisition of language, phonological and phonemic awareness, phonics and spelling, fluency, vocabulary, oral language, and comprehension that can be differentiated to meet the needs of individual students. 

    Part III.

    Enacts GS 115C-83.4B as a new statute in Article 8, establishing the Early Literacy Program (Program). Directs the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) to use the Program to build strong foundational early literacy skills using the Science of Reading for children in the NC Pre-K program. Identifies three components DPI must focus on as part of the Program, including training for educators and administrators working with Pre-K children through a third-party independent teacher training program, integration of age-appropriate resources in the Pre-K program, and administration of a formative assessment at the conclusion of Pre-K participation to be shared with the child's kindergarten teacher the following school year. 

    Modifies the requirement for elementary school teachers' continued licensure under GS 115C-270.30(b) to include three continuing education credits related to literacy which provide evidence-based assessment, diagnosis, and intervention strategies for students not demonstrating reading proficiency, grounded in the Science of Reading (previously required oral language, phonemic and phonological awareness, phonics, vocabulary, fluency, and comprehension to be addressed in literacy-related activities leading to license renewal).

    Establishes a mandate for educators working with children in the Pre-K program and students in grades K-5 to participate in training programs contracted pursuant to Section 5A(11) of SL 2021-1, as amended by Section 1.2 of SL 2021-3 (provides $12 million to DPI to contract with Voyager Sopris Learning, Inc. for Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling training for Pre-K and elementary school teachers). Provides that this training satisfied the literacy continuing education credits required by GS 115C-270.30(b) as amended. 

    Directs DPI to report to the specified NCGA committee on the Program by September 15, 2022. Lists required content of the report.

    Applies beginning with the 2021-22 school year.

    Part IV.

    Adds to the training Educator Preparation Programs (EPPs) must provide for elementary education teachers under GS 115C-269.20(a)(2) to include coursework in the Science of Reading. Similarly amends GS 115C-269.20(a)(3) to require EPPs to ensure training for elementary and special education general curriculum teachers include instruction on early literacy intervention strategies and practices that align with the Science of Reading, including instruction in appropriate application of literacy interventions to ensure reading proficiency for all students. Applies to EPPs applying for approval or renewing approval on or after July 1, 2022.

    Part V.

    Directs the State Board of Education (State Board) to develop literacy instruction standards to ensure that instruction methods throughout the State are consistent and closely aligned with the NC Read to Achieve Program, Part 1A, Article 8, GS Chapter 115C, incorporating only the most effective literacy instruction methods aligned with the Science of Reading. Directs the State Board to report to the specified NCGA committee on the standards developed by May 15, 2022, and provide the standards to local boards of education by June 30, 2022.

    Directs DPI to develop a literacy implementation plan to implement the standards developed by the State Board. Requires DPI to provide local boards, by June 30, 2022, a model literacy implementation plan and an example of a literacy implementation plan that would not implement the standards with explanatory guidance. 

    Requires administrative units to evaluate and modify its literacy curriculum and instruction methods to adhere to the standards developed by the State Board and align with the model implementation plan of DPI. Requires administrative units to submit an explanatory report of its curriculum and instruction to the State Board by December 15, 2022. 

    Directs regional case managers and other DPI staff to review curriculum and instruction methods of, and consult with, administrative units to ensure the State Board standards are implemented. Requires review and modification of all literacy instruction statewide to be complete by November 15, 2023. Directs modifications to be implemented as soon as possible, and mandates all curriculum and instruction modified to be in place beginning with the 2024-25 school year.

    Part VI.

    Modifies and adds to the defined terms set forth in GS 115C-83.3, applicable to Part 1A of Article 8, the NC Read to Achieve Program. Replaces the term instructional supports and services with the term literacy interventions, defined to mean intentional strategies used to facilitate reading development and remediate difficulty with reading development, grounded in the Science of Reading, including individual or small group instruction throughout the school year, reduced teacher-student ratios, frequent progress monitoring, tutoring in addition to the regular school day, reading camps, and extended learning time before or after the school day. Makes conforming changes. Adds the term Individual Reading Plan. Modifies the term reading camp to require the program to be offered to second and third grade students, and permitting the program to be offered to first grade students, demonstrating difficulty with reading development (previously, limited first and second graders offered participation in the program to those demonstrating reading comprehension below grade level). No longer provides that the 72 hours of reading instruction under the reading camp program must be offered over a period of at least three weeks for students on a traditional calendar. Makes conforming changes. Eliminates the defined terms reading deficiency and reading interventions. Makes conforming changes.

    Now requires addressing difficulty with reading development identified through grade K-3 student assessments with literacy interventions outlined in the student's Individual Reading Plan. Makes conforming changes to conform to the Part's defined terms, as amended. 

    Enacts GS 115C-83.6A to require administrative units to annually submit to DPI a plan for the literacy interventions it will offer in the following school year by October 1, with content as specified. Encourages partnerships with other administrative units and community organizations. Directs DPI to review and approve plans that comply with Part 1A and the literacy intervention standards published by the State Board. Requires DPI to notify each unit of plan approval or denial and report to the specified NCGA committee on plans decisions by February 15. Provides for amended plan submission by March 15, with DPI required to approve or deny the amended plan by April 15. Withholds State-provided literacy intervention funds for units who have not received DPI plan approval by April, thereby requiring the use of local funds to fulfill the requirements of Part 1A.

    Enacts GS 115C-83.6B, requiring the development of an Individual Reading Plan (IRP) for any K-3 student demonstrating difficulty with reading development based on either the first assessment of the school year or the first assessment of the second semester of the school year. Provides six required components of IRPs, including growth goals and benchmarks and literacy interventions to be used for specific reading skill deficiencies, and provides for continual adjustment of IRPs based on DPI-prescribed data sources. Establishes notice requirements for student parents or guardians regarding IRPs. Permits multi-tiered approaches that comply with IRP requirements. Directs DPI to develop a model of an IRP checklist and an alternative document for multitiered intervention systems. 

    Makes conforming and clarifying changes to GS 115C-83.7, GS 115C-83.8, and GS 115C-83.9 regarding student retention. 

    Adds to the content of annual reports by local boards under GS 115C-83.10 to include the number of K-3 students with an IRP. Adds a new reporting requirement, mandating that local boards annually report to the State Board by November 15 the number and percentage of retained third grade students placed in an accelerated reading class or transitional third and fourth class combination in the prior school year who were promoted mid-year or promoted directly to fifth grade for the school year following retention. Adds these reports to those which the State Board must annually compile and submit a summary to the Governor and specified NCGA leaders and committee by December 15. Makes conforming changes.

    Amends GS 115C-83.11 to permit parents or guardians of third grade students demonstrating reading proficiency or second grade students demonstrating appropriate developmental abilities in reading comprehension to choose to enroll the student in a reading camp, subject to an attendance fee. Additionally allows for parents or guardians of first grade students demonstrating appropriate developmental abilities in reading comprehension to choose to enroll the student in a reading camp, subject to an attendance fee, if offered by the local board (previously, included with the provisions related to second grade students). Replaces reading camp priorities to provide priority for students offered a reading camp as a literacy intervention. 

    Makes the above provisions apply beginning with the 2022-23 school year.

    Directs the State Board and DPI to conduct an analysis of literacy interventions provided in the State to determine which activities and instructional methods are most effective. Directs the State Board and DPI to develop literacy intervention standards that incorporate the most effective activities and instructional methods, with the State Board reporting to the specified NCGA committee by December 15, 2021, on the standards developed and legislative recommendations. 

    Directs administrative units to submit to DPI the literacy interventions to be offered by March 1, 2022, with specified content. Encourages partnership with other local administrative units and community organizations. Directs DPI to review plans and provide feedback regarding compliance with Part 1A and the literacy intervention standards published by the State Board by May 15, 2022. Allows DPI to provide a form for plan submission. Applies to the 2021-22 school year. 

    Part VII.

    Enacts GS 115C-83.7A to establish requirements for reading camps identical to the requirements set forth in the term's definition in GS 115C-83.3(4a). Makes conforming changes to delete the language from the term's definition in GS 115C-83.3. Mandates administrative units to provide a signing bonus to teachers associated with high growth based on EVAAS data, who are awarded a reading performance bonus by DPI during the current school year, and who accept employment to provide instruction during a reading camp. Grants local boards discretion in determining the bonus amount. Additionally mandates administrative units to provide a reading camp performance bonus to teachers who provided instruction at a third grade reading camp in a per-student amount determined by local boards for each student not demonstrating reading proficiency assigned to that teacher who became proficient after completing the reading camp. Specifies that bonuses awarded are not compensation under the Teachers' and State Employees' Retirement System (TSERS). Deems teachers who have earned a reading performance bonus and who provide instruction throughout a full reading camp to have completed two of the continuing education credits related to literacy under GS 115C-270.30(b), as amended.

    Adds to the requirements of reading camps under GS 115C-83.7A, as enacted, to require the camps to be provided as outlined in the administrative unit's literacy intervention plan. Effective July 1, 2022, and applies beginning with the 2022-23 school year. 

    Requires funding signing bonuses and reading performance bonuses from funds provided in Section 7A.1 of SL 2012-142, excluding reading camp funds. Defines reading performance bonus, applicable to 3-5 grade teachers as specified. Encourages DPI to maximize the use of funds under Section 7A.1 of SL 2012-142 each year. Restricts funds provided for reading camps under SL 2012-142 to that specific use. Requires funding signing bonuses and reading performance bonuses, and other literacy interventions described in a unit's literacy intervention plan, from funds provided in Section 7A.1 of SL 2012-142, excluding reading camp funds, applicable beginning with the 2022-23 school year.

    Explicitly mandates administrative units to carry out the elements of Part 1A, Article 8, GS Chapter 115C, as amended by the act, within available funds, including the federal funds received for responding to COVID-19. Deems teachers who earn a reading bonus and provide instruction throughout a full reading camp corresponding to the 2020-21 school year to have completed two education credits related to literacy under GS 115C-270.30(b), as amended. Applies beginning with the 2022-23 school year. 

    Unless otherwise provided, effective July 1, 2021, and applies beginning with the 2021-22 school year. 

    Part VIII.

    Directs DPI to develop a Digital Children's Reading Initiative (Initiative) to increase the percentage of school children who are reading proficiently by the end of third grade. Requires alignment with the Science of Reading and K-3 instruction standards. Provides for further design requirements. Allows for the provision of links to resources reflecting the appropriate standard for each grade level, available to the public on DPI's website homepage without a required login. Charges DPI with frequent monitoring of the resources linked. Identifies six literacy skills for which the Initiative is required to make home activities, printable, and games available. Directs DPI to disseminate the Initiative to all administrative units by January 15, 2022. Directs administrative units to make the Initiative's resources accessible directly though the homepage of the unit's website by July 1, 2022. Allows administrative units to compile and add appropriate resources. Requires the provision of printed resources to students who do not have digital home access and permits the provisions of printed resources to all students to supplement digital access.

    Part IX.

    Further amends GS 115C-83.3 to require the State Board to provide the valid and reliable alternative assessment of reading comprehension to administrative units upon request and establish achievement level ranges for the approved alternate assessment (currently requires provision of several alternative assessments). Applies beginning with the 2022-23 school year.

    Directs the State Board to analyze the passage rates for alternative assessments to compare the utility of each. Directs the State Board to report to the specified NCGA committee by October 15, 2021, on the results and the one recommending alternative assessment. 

    Part X.

    Directs DPI to create a uniform template for all data collected under Part 1A, Article 8, GS Chapter 115C, beginning with data collected during the 2013-14 school year. Requires numerical values for data components, with suppression where student privacy is a concern. Directs DPI to compile the data for each school year, beginning with the 2013-24 school year, in the uniform template for the specified NCGA committee by April 15, 2022. 

    Makes conforming changes to incorporate this directive regarding the use of a uniform data template into statutory law under GS 115C-83.6

    Applies beginning with the 2021-22 school year, and requires inclusion of that school year's reported data. 


  • Summary date: Mar 29 2021 - More information

    To be summarized. 


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