Hello, I’m June Atkinson, State Superintendent of North Carolina Public Schools. I would like to take just a couple of minutes to talk with you about the release of the test results for the 2012-13 school year. This year’s results indicate a new way of looking at the standards we have set for our students in North Carolina. The 2012-2013 scores do not have consequences for students, teacher, and schools. The standards, of course, are higher. The decision to raise these standards was made by our state Board of Education several years ago, and it has been largely supported by school boards, superintendents, principals and teachers across the state since that time. ➠ This year’s scores reflect the first year of both the new standards and new assessments. The proficiency ratings are significantly lower across the board, but this is no surprise, nor should it be of alarm to you. This is simply a new way of looking at proficiency that will, in the long run, mean that our students are much better prepared for college and the workplace. Please keep these points in mind as you review the results: This is a new baseline for measuring our progress. We have raised standards every five years or so for decades. When we do this, test scores tend to drop during the first year. We fully expected these drops, and we are prepared to do everything we can to improve them. ➠ It is important that we have a clear picture of how students are performing so that we may take the necessary steps to address students’ specific learning needs. Where are they excelling? Where do they need help? The data we now have will allow us to pinpoint answers to these questions. This year’s scores are for information only as we plan our work in this school year and those to follow. The scores will NOT have an effect on an individual student’s overall grade average. NOR will it have an impact on a teacher’s evaluation. As I stated before, it is simply a baseline for moving forward and focusing our work. Establishing the new measures of proficiency for the 2012-13 scores did not happen in a vacuum, nor was it the brainchild of a few folks in Raleigh. In fact, more than 200 teachers from across the state have worked diligently over the summer to set these new measures. ➠ The “reset” button on proficiency has been pressed across the country. Our scores are very much on par with other states that have either gone through this process already or are doing so this year. The world of today expects more and more from the young people who will lead it. It is our calling … it is our duty – all of us – educators, parents and the broader community – to provide the students we serve with the best possible education that we can give them. I encourage principals and teachers to keep the lines of communication with your parents and students wide open as the conversation around these new scores continues. Parents should, in turn, discuss these scores with their children and let them know that a lower proficiency rating does NOT mean poorer performance. It simply means that the standards are higher, as they should be, and we are going to do everything we can to help our students meet them. We will continue to work with our teachers and principals to provide the support they need to make that happen. I visit many classrooms across the state and I see teachers teaching to higher expectations and students engaged in their learning. Thank you for your dedication to students.