Dr. Heath E. Morrison arrived on the doorstep of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg County School system July 1, 2012 from the Washoe County School District where he was the previous superintendent for their division. Dr. Morrison came with staggering statistics, an optimistic outlook, and one universal goal in mind that would help Mecklenburg County to improve the overall organization of the school from one district to the next.
Dr. Morrison was the community superintendant for Down County Consortium in Montgomery County Public Schools in Maryland before joining the WCSD. The Nevada Association of School Superintendents as well as by the Nevada Association of School Boards named Dr. Morrison Superintendent of the year in 2011. The American Association of School Administrators named Dr. Morrison national superintendent of the year in 2012. Dr. Morrison holds a doctorate in educational policy and planning as well as a master of educational administration from the University of Maryland. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in government from the College of William and Mary. His feats are broad, and he is utilizing each of these instructive attributes in an effort to build a better tomorrow for our youth. Dr. Heath comes to us with a steadfast aim to improve our schools with hands on training. He has set the district’s five-year course with a strategic plan titled Envision WCSD 2015 – Investing in Our Future. Under his leadership, the graduation rate has increased from 56 percent to 70 percent throughout the areas. Test scores have risen abundantly, narrowing the attainment difference. There is an increase of students taking more courses in Advanced Placement and algebra classes. With such proliferate in the numerical values in less than a year, we look to see more graduations, and less dropouts in the following months to come.
UT: How do you plan to improve the parent teacher relationship?
DHM: What we are doing right now is creating a department of family and community outreach. We are looking at all the resources that we are currently putting into our schools and making sure that there are more systems put in place to better collectively outreach to parents. We are looking at a parent university to make sure that it’s doing what we need it to do. It’s a really good model and it’s a really good system. I don’t know if we’ve updated it the way that we need to. I don’t know if we are outreaching at the level that we need to with families that have felt this from franchise from our school districts. We are looking at all of those things right now and trying to create frame work for parent engagement that’s consistent so that we can measure it, and when a school is doing really well; we want to lift up the positive model when the school is not having a successful engagement, we want to provide important assistance. So, that’s all going to be charged to my new assistant paneling community and partnerships. I’m pretty excited where that’s going to go.
UT: We still have 20-year old students that are trying to gain their high school diplomas, what are your age ranges for the new CHS drop out plans?
DHM: The age range is the opportunity to be proactive versus the opportunity to be reactive. We do a better job with early childhood, and we do a better job at the elementary level. If kids are reading by grade three, there is a very small percentage or chance that they will drop out. By doing better with early child hood, you actually create fewer hikes per dropouts.
Dr. Heath Morrison and his views on zoning:
There is a difference when we offer choice programs, if you choose to go to a new school where that extracurricular activity isn’t offered, or that particular series of courses are not offered. Then that becomes a choice. If we are zoning you because this is your home school we have created a lack in opportunities. Then, that is concerning to me. I don’t quite know the intent for that but I am sure that there was a compelling reason behind the decision. I just have yet to hear something that I am comfortable with. One of the parents here was nice enough to say “you’ve only been here since July; my concern may not be your issue”. But, they are my issues.
Dr. Heath Morrison and his views on defining success:
I’ve had a lot of opportunities to go to a lot of schools across the country and try to hear what they are doing and try to hear out what their plan is to make things better. The commonality that I’ve found out all across the country is that a school district is struggling amongst many reasons, but the number one reason is that they have never defined what success is. They will throw up some targets, they will throw up some litigators and they will tell you what someone else said, but they really can’t tell you, “This is what we are trying to do with our students.” What I want to make sure that we do with Charlotte Mecklenburg schools is that we create an amazingly fair tactic. If our ultimate goal is to graduate every single student and to have that student college and or career ready then what does that look like. How do we measure that? What are ways that you will know as a parent that your child will be walking across the stage and getting a diploma and they are at that level? Once we define what level they are on, one of my task forces can help us come up with a Charlotte Mecklenburg definition for that based on national research. The key part becomes what I call reverse engineering. So, once we define what success looks like, how do we reverse engineer? By the time a student enters the ninth grade, we know what they need to be doing. By the time a student enters middle school, we know what they need to be doing. By the time a student enters elementary school, we know what they need to be doing even before they enter. Along that way, we have what we call calculated leverage points. So, you as a parent know that my child needs to be at this level of reading by the end of kindergarten. They need to be at this level of reading by the third grade. They need to be taking algebra by no later than the eighth or ninth grade year and this is what defining success is on that measure. We look at those important things.
• Eligibility requirements for children entering NC pre-kindergarten programs have been changed.
• The NC Division of Child Development and Early Education (DCDEE) must now require that families who seek to enroll their children in a NC Pre-K program must not have incomes above 75 percent of the State median income.
• A caveat in this law, however, is that up to 20 percent of children enrolled may have family incomes in excess of 75 percent of median income if they have other designated risk factors.
• Children of active or reserve military members who have served in the last 18 months, or who expect that they will be ordered to serve in the next 18 months, are
School Performance Grades:
School districts’ annual report cards must now contain both a number grade on a scale of 0-100 and a corresponding letter grade of A-F.
Grades must be calculated as follows:
• Grades K-8 Schools
• One performance point for each percentage point of students at or above grade level on English Language Arts, math, and science assessments.
• Points are converted to a corresponding 0-100 point scale by the State Board of Education, which then determines the school’s letter grade as follows: A = 90-100 B = 80-89 C = 70-79 D = 60-69 F = 0-59
• Schools will also receive separate literacy and math school performance scores that align with the percentage of students scoring at/above grade level on those assessments.
• Grades 9-12 Schools
• These schools will receive performance points as follows: • One point for each percentage point of students who: – Score at/above proficient on annual math assessments – Score at/above proficient on annual English assessments – Score at/above proficient on annual biology assessments – Complete and pass a higher-level math class – Score at/above a level showing college readiness on a nationally normed test of college readiness – Graduate within four years of entering high school – Demonstrate workplace readiness on nationally normed test of workplace readiness
NOTE: The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education is required to: • Ensure that each performance score and letter grade earned by every CMS school for the current and previous four school years is prominently displayed on the CMS website, and • Provide written notice to parents/guardians of all students at schools that earn a grade of D or F.
Please also note that the General Assembly states through this bill that it intends to add a student-growth component to the school performance grades. There is no student growth component in the current grading system, as you can see above.
Legal Protection for School Employees (Student Altercations) :
• School employees who take reasonable, good faith action to end an altercation between students are now shielded from both criminal and civil liability, starting with this 2012-2013 school year.
• So long as a CMS employee’s actions are consistent with CMS policy, school employees may not be reprimanded for acting or failing to stop or intervene in a fight.
Criminalizing Student Cyber-bullying of School Employees:
• Starting December 1, 2012, it will be a criminal offense for any student to cyber-bully a school employee.
• Acts of cyber-bullying include using a computer or computer network with the intent to intimidate or torment a school employee by doing any of the following:
• Building a fake profile or website.
• Posting (or encouraging others to post) private, personal, or sexual information about a school employee on the Internet.
• Posting a real or doctored image of the school employee on the Internet.
• Accessing, altering, or erasing any computer network, data, program, or software, including breaking into a password-protected account, and stealing passwords.
• Using a computer system for repeated, continuing, or sustained electronic communications, including email or other transmissions, to a school employee.
• Making any statement, regardless of the truth of the statement, intending to immediately provoke and which is likely to provoke, any third party to stalk or harass a school employee.
• Signing up school employees for pornographic Internet content.
• Signing up school employees, without their authorization, for emails or other junk email and instant messages.
• Copying and disseminating unauthorized copies of any data pertaining to a school employee.
Mandatory Reporting Requirements:
• Principals are now only required to report violent acts if they have personal knowledge or actual notice of the incident. (NOTE: This used to be a “reasonable belief” standard.)
• Supervisors who have actual notice of a school employee being a victim of an assault by a student that results in physical injury must immediately report this to the principal.
• “Actual notice” means direct knowledge or actual awareness of a certain fact.
• Principals, superintendents, and supervisors are prohibited from trying to intimidate school employees from reporting such an incident to law enforcement.
• NOTE: There is no longer any language stating that a principal who willfully failed to report violent acts to law enforcement may be subject to demotion or dismissal.
Third-Grade Literacy :
• Starting with the 2013-2014 school year, a new statewide reading program, The North Carolina Read to Achieve Program, will replace the State Board’s existing program.
• The stated goal is to ensure that all students are reading at or above grade level by the end of the third grade, as failure to achieve this goal is linked to high school dropout rates.
• Students entering kindergarten will be required to receive a developmental screening within 30 days of enrollment and a kindergarten entry assessment within 60 days.
• Eliminates social promotion of third-graders.
• Requires retention of third-graders who perform below grade level on end-of-year reading assessment, with exceptions for some ESL students, some students with disabilities, students who have demonstrated reading proficiency on an alternative SBE-approved assessment, and for students who have received reading intervention and who have previously been retained more than once in any K-3 grade. (Superintendent has ultimate authority to determine whether one of these five exceptions applies.)
• Requires CMS to provide summer reading camps to students who perform below grade level on their third-grade reading assessments prior to retention, unless parent(s) opt out.
• Allows students who successfully complete reading camp and who demonstrate third-grade reading proficiency to be promoted to fourth grade.
• Written notification to parents will be required in three areas, which are generally as follows:
• Notification that the student will be retained unless exempt for good cause, if the student does not demonstrate reading proficiency by the end of third grade.
• Notification of why a student is ineligible for an exemption (if that is the case), including a description of proposed reading interventions to remediate identified areas of reading deficiency.
• Monthly reports on the retained student’s progress towards reading proficiency.
CPR Training Required for Students to Graduate:
• Starting with the 2014-2015 school year, the State Board of Education will require CPR training as a high school graduation requirement
.For more information please visit: http://www.cms.k12.nc.us/superintendent/Pages/LegislativeUpdate2012.aspx