School Choice Score: 76%
The Children with Disabilities Scholarship Grant program allows for families of a child with special needs to be reimbursed for educational expenses. Previously a tax credit program for children with disabilities enacted in 2011, the switch to a grant program allows more families access to assistance of up to $6,000 annually. The state’s Opportunity Scholarship program was passed in July 2013, with scholarship availability in the amount of up to $4,200 for the 2014-15 school year for students meeting income thresholds. The program survived a legal challenge from the status quo, and was ruled constitutional by the State Supreme Court in July 2015. The state does not permit parents to choose among traditional public schools.
Charter Schools Score: 72%
North Carolina took a step forward in removing the cap on the number of schools allowed in 2011, but a step backward in 2013 by removing language that would allow universities and school boards to be charter authorizers. The new Charter Schools Advisory Board has been overly political and has slowed down the growth of charter schools in the Tar Heel State, with only 15 percent of applications being approved recently, one of the lowest approval rates in the state’s history. The process of opening charters continues to remain restrictive and the state’s leadership has not been strong advocates for opening more charter schools.
Online Learning Score: 0%
North Carolina’s Virtual Public School is the second largest virtual school in the country. However the state earns low marks for student access and student eligibility. The state approved its first virtual charter schools in 2015, and demand is already outpacing the arbitrary cap of 1,500 students. The state has provided scalable bandwidth to K12 public school campuses and buildings at no cost to the district or charter schools since 2008.
- Source: Digital Learning Now!
Teacher Quality Score: 75%
There is no mandatory percentage or weight placed on student growth. In June 2015, the North Carolina Court of Appeals found the repeal of teacher tenure in 2013 amounted to an illegal taking of property and contract rights. North Carolina could do more to establish consequences for multiple unsatisfactory evaluations, and to make ineffective classroom performance grounds for dismissal. Performance is not considered during layoffs. The state controls teacher compensation levels, and the state salary schedule is based on seniority. Districts can authorize teachers to receive additional compensation for work experience and for working in high-need schools.