NCGA Week in Review

February 7, 2020

Pardon Our Dust

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Even with the North Carolina General Assembly out of session for the next few months, it was still a busy week in Raleigh as legislative interim committee meetings kicked into gear. The State Board of Education held their monthly meeting this week, as did the Department of Transportation. A few surprise announcements were also made this week, including Jim Trogdon’s announcement that he will be retiring from his role as Secretary of the Department of Transportation at the end of the month. Current Secretary of the Department of Information Technology (DIT), Eric Boyette, will fill Trogdon’s role beginning in March. Boyette will be succeeded by Tracy Doaks who currently serves as the Deputy State CIO and Chief Services Officer at DIT.

Education Oversight Committee

Members of the Joint Legislative Education Oversight Committee made their way back to the legislative building this week to dive in to the implementation of recent Educator Preparation Program (EPP) legislation. Legislative Analysis Division staff began the meeting with an overview presentation highlighting some of the substantive statutory changes that have been made to EPPs in recent years. Session Law 2017-189/SB 599: Excellent Educators for Every Classroom established the Professional Educator Preparation and Standards Commission (PEPSC), created standards to align with those of the Council for Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP), and set mandatory sanctions for EPPs that do not meet performance standards, among other provisions. From the most recent session, Session Law 2019-149/HB 107: PED Oversight/EPP Changes directed the State Board of Education to develop a performance-based weighted model of assessment, and adopt a rule creating a small group reporting exception, and made changes to the criteria by which an EPP can be sanctioned.

Department of Public Instruction (DPI) staff, Dr. Tom Tomberlin, Director of Educator Recruitment and Support, and Dr. Andrew Sioberg, Director of Educator Preparation, were in attendance to present about the implementation efforts following the passage of SB 599. During the presentation, Dr. Tomberlin spoke about the upcoming roll-out of an online dashboard that will give public access to information on how EPPs are doing. However, Dr. Tomberlin noted that because the General Assembly has not passed a 2019-2020 budget, the dashboard is currently unfunded. Originally, the funding to create the dashboard came from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and a partnership with the SAS Institute. In order for the dashboard work to continue, Dr. Tomberlin and his staff will need funding from the legislature. 

DPI’s presentation also included four legislative suggestions for lawmakers to consider as they head into the short session, including:

  • Exempt DPI from legislative rule requirements to allow for more flexibility and responsiveness to the needs of the districts.
  • Adjusting the annual reporting obligation deadlines to April 15 rather than the current December 15 deadline.
  • Licensure – incorporating multiple pathways to establish competency to teach.
  • Re-evaluate need for static performance reports in light of interactive dashboard. 

State Board of Education

The North Carolina State Board of Education met for their monthly meeting Wednesday and Thursday of this week. On the agenda for the Board this month was a review of a handful of reports soon to be sent over to the General Assembly. 

The Educator Preparation Program Weighted Model Proposal will have to make a few more stops before heading over to the legislature. Session Law 2019-149/HB 107: PED Oversight/EPP Changes requires the State Board, in partnership with the PEPSC, to develop a performance-based weighted model for EPPs, provide recommendations for the use of the weighted model as well as a timeline for implementation of the weighted model, and any legislative changes that would need to be made in order to implement the model. The PEPSC approved a three-domain weighted accountability model during their December meeting before bringing it before the State Board for approval. The three domains include EPP Performance, which is weighted most heavily at 55%, Retention, weighing in at 10%, and Stakeholder Perceptions making up the remaining 35% of the total score. 

While this version of the model was headed in the right direction, members of the State Board wanted to make a few tweaks before sending the proposal to the General Assembly. The Board voted to send the proposal back to PEPSC requesting the following revisions:

  • Include diversity in the accountability model to account for the context of individual EPPs,
  • Establish a threshold for survey responses to ensure valid and generalizable results for each individual EPP,
  • Differentially weight the four elements – educator evaluation, EVAAS, proficiency, and pedagogy assessment – that make up the EPP Performance domain, and
  • Extend the duration of the current sanctioning period.

Once PEPSC revises the model, the State Board of Education will have to vote to approve the report before it is sent over to the General Assembly. The proposal is due by February 15. 

The Board also reviewed the 2019 Annual Charter School Report and voted to send it over to the Joint Legislative Education Oversight Committee. However, not all members were on board. Statute requires the report to discuss the impact of charter schools on the services provided to traditional public schools, student academic progress at the charter school, best practices resulting from charter school operations, and any other information the State Board deems appropriate for inclusion. Several board members expressed concern that the report did not cover the statutory reporting requirements thoroughly – specifically the impact of charter schools on the services provided to traditional public schools in the area as well as a discussion about best practices of charter school operations. The report was ultimately approved in a 7-3 vote with Jill Camnitz, Vice Chair Alan Duncan, and Chair Eric Davis voting against the report’s approval. 

The State Board also approved three other reports that will be sent over to legislative committees, including: 

Board of Transportation

The North Carolina Board of Transportation and the North Carolina Turnpike Authority Board of Directors both met on Thursday this week.

Following his announcement earlier in the week that he would be stepping down from his role as the Secretary of DOT, Trogdon addressed both boards to express his gratitude for all of the work that they have done over the years. Members of both the Board of Transportation and the Turnpike Authority Board of Directors assured Trogdon that they would continue to work to innovate transportation across the state. The Board of Transportation unanimously voted on all action items during their meeting and delegated items for the Secretary’s approval one last time. 

During Secretary Trogdon’s tenure, DOT faced a number of setbacks due to unprecedented storms, rising construction costs, and large-scale projects that consumed a majority of the budget. Trogdon was praised not only by members of the transportation boards, but also by legislative leaders, industry stakeholders, and the Governor for his willingness to help guide the Department back to financial stability.

The Turnpike Authority met immediately after the Board of Transportation to swear in two new members. Chief Justice Cheri Beasley was in attendance to swear in Mary Clayton of Charlotte and Sam Hunt of Burlington. The nine-member Turnpike Authority Board of Directors consists of the DOT secretary, four members appointed by the governor, two appointed by the President Pro-Tempore of the state Senate, and two members appointed by the Speaker of the state House.   

After the swearing-in, the Turnpike Authority conducted an introductory meeting to get the new members up to speed on current projects, including the $2 billion financing to complete 540, $1.2 billion for the completion of I-77 South, and the $500 million Currituck Bridge project. Members discussed how the implementation of revised toll rates will help supplement the costs of these major projects.

Upcoming Legislative Meetings

Monday, February 10

1:00PM: Child Fatality Task Force – Perinatal Health Committee

Tuesday, February 11

9:30AM: Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Health and Human Services

1:00PM: Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Medicaid and NC Health Choice

Wednesday, February 12

9:30AM: Revenue Laws Study Committee

1:00PM: Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Capital Improvements

2:00PM: Joint Legislative Study Committee on Small Business Retirement Options (2019)