North Carolina Intermediate Structures


The NCDPI has relied on Race to the Top and locally funded regional intermediate structures to support LEAs and charter schools to increase academic achievement and teacher leader effectiveness. With the addition of state and local funding reductions, LEA capacity and intermediate support structures vary from region to region. SECC will assist NCDPI in assessing the effectiveness of the components of the existing structures and in investigating alternative approaches for the allocation of programs and services to develop a plan to revise the current structures and sub-structures.

This project is in the following state: North Carolina.

This project relates to the following ED Priorities:

  • Turning around the lowest-performing schools
  • Using data-based decision-making to improve instructional practices, policies, and student outcomes
  • Identifying and scaling up innovative approaches to teaching and learning that significantly improve student outcomes

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Previous Work Updates

2016

September

On September 13, SECC staff contacted NCDPI staff from the division of Educator Effectiveness, Federal Programs and Monitoring, Low- Performing Schools, and Data/Research and Education Policy to invite them to participate in a T4TLA webinar to receive information about the academy and participation requirements. NCDPI staff also received information on “ESSA and What States Learn About College and Career Readiness.” Information regarding the upcoming forum titled “To Accountability and Beyond” sponsored by Brustein & Manasevit was shared on September 23, to determine if the SEA planned to participate. This forum is scheduled for November 30–December 2.

August

SECC staff worked with NCDPI staff to plan and prepare for the BSCP Center Strategic Communication Project meeting on August 16. SECC staff traveled to the SEA to participate with NCDPI staff for this virtual meeting with four other states and the BSCP Center. Information regarding a webinar sponsored by the Center for American Progress titled “Making the Grade: A Fifty State Analysis of School Accountability Systems was forwarded to the SEA on August 6. In addition, the final version of the North Carolina SEA Benchmarking Preliminary Summary by the BSCP Center was sent to the SEA on August 29 for review and feedback.

July

On July 5, SECC staff sent a Year 5 planning document to SEA staff for their update on progress and the impact of Year 4 technical assistance and to identify TA needed for the upcoming project year. SECC staff worked with Building State Capacity and Productivity Center staff and NCDPI staff to schedule a Strategic Communication Project Virtual meeting to continue discussions regarding the SEA communication plan. The potential dates for this meeting are August 18 or 19.

June

On June 9, SECC staff provided a draft survey to Martez Hill, executive director for the North Carolina State Board of Education, to collect information regarding nonacademic wraparound services that provide support to local schools and districts. This draft survey contained five questions that would inform discussion and decisions made by the State Board of Education Inter-Agency Advisory Council. NCDPI staff added a few questions to the draft survey and sent it out to local district superintendents during the week of June 20. On June 16, NCDPI leadership hosted a Strategic Communications Benchmarking site visit. This all-day meeting included scheduled interviews with the State Superintendent June Atkinson and additional meetings with Mike McLaughlin, Rebecca Garland, Phillip Price, and Vanessa Jeter and her communications staff.

May

On May 2, SECC staff met with Mike McLaughlin, senior policy advisor to the state superintendent for an update on the project and to discuss next steps. It was determined that the superintendent focus groups outlined in the Year 4 plan will likely be rolled over to Year 5 due to time constraints that would make completion difficult. On May 3, NCDPI staff submitted all components of the assigned pre-work for the BSCP Center Strategic Communication project. The required face-to-face meeting with SEA leadership is scheduled for June 16. Additionally, a conference call was held on May 3 with Martez Hill, executive director for the North Carolina State Board of Education, to discuss the development of surveys for local school districts to collect information regarding nonacademic wraparound services. These surveys will inform the work of the state board appointed Inter-Agency Advisory Council. This council is composed of nonprofit, safety, health, and other nonacademic organizations and agencies that provide support or a service to students or schools.

April

SECC staff held an internal reflection meeting with project team members on April 4 to discuss project events, progress to date, and to detail any SEA benefits. The team also discussed how SEA capacity had been built or strengthened and any possible opportunities for expanding the project. SECC staff have scheduled a face-to-face meeting with NCDPI staff on May 2, to discuss next steps in the project work plan.

March

SECC staff communicated with NCDPI staff on March 7 to determine the status of the review of information provided regarding the state specific RESA information requested. SEA staff indicated they would follow-up after spring break and provide specific next steps. SECC also worked with the BSCP Center to identify SEA staff to participate in the Strategic Communication Benchmarking Process. SECC staff facilitated a conference call with BSCP Center staff and NCDPI staff to discuss how the process might assist the SEA in restructuring the communication department, developing a timeline for the pre-work component of the process, and scheduling a face-to-face meeting with agency leadership.

February

SECC staff communicated with NCDPI staff on February 10 to determine next steps following their review of the additional information regarding RESAs from the states of Pennsylvania, New York, and Maine and the timeline for the focus group conversations with select superintendents. SECC staff also provided information regarding the BSCPC Communication Benchmarking project to determine the SEA’s interest in participating. On February 16, the Strategic Communication Pre-Work and the Communication Assessment rubric were sent to the NCDPI director of Communication and Information Services to be completed to begin participation in the project. Additionally, SECC staff participated in the BSCPC webinar series on Information Systems to Support Productivity and Making the Case for Productivity.

January

In November 2015, the SEA requested additional information regarding RESAs from the states of Pennsylvania, New York, and Maine as a part of the Intermediate Structures Project. The state superintendent provided a list of questions to be addressed with each state. Information requested included: state laws and policies, services provided by RESAs, structure and organization, and memorandums of understanding (MOUs). The document containing the requested research was forwarded to the SEA on January 28 along with a request for their review and feedback. The next step in the project is to conduct focus groups of selected superintendents to determine what services/supports they would be interested in sharing with other districts. NCDPI will provide a list of superintendents to participate in the focus groups and specific areas to be addressed. The SECC team will develop a focus group protocol and the format for the sessions.

2015

December

On December 2, SECC team members presented the findings from the RESA shared services research, surveys, and interviews to the North Carolina State Board of Education at its regular meeting. The presentation was well received, and SECC staff responded to questions from board members. SECC staff also completed research on SEA models for supporting low-performing schools from GA, KY, NY, WI, and RI and shared the information with NCDPI staff in preparation for a face-to-face meeting that was held on December 15. Tools were also developed to facilitate the completion of the tasks identified for the meeting. The meeting was designed as a brainstorming session where the service models for the identified states were reviewed and components highlighted that might be helpful in determining how best to provide services for the schools in North Carolina. NCDPI staff briefed SECC staff on the current model being implemented and shared the needs for schools not being currently served. NCDPI requested additional information regarding the PA TTAN system of support and the number of schools served in WI. NCDPI invited SECC staff to attend an upcoming Service Support Team meeting.

November

SECC staff met with Nancy Barbour, NCDPI director of District and School Transformation, to discuss a request for TA in determining an effective model for supporting 581 identified low-performing schools with limited SEA capacity. SECC agreed to research models from Georgia, Rhode Island, New York, and Wisconsin and the model used by Communities in Schools. Information gathered will be forwarded to the NCDPI team prior to the one-half day face-to-face brainstorming meeting scheduled for December 15. The SECC team held a conference call on November 20 to plan for the above meeting and to review documents to be used during the brainstorming session. Additionally, SECC team members developed a presentation for the December 2 state board of education meeting to share the findings from the RESA shared services research, surveys, and interviews completed in Year 3. This presentation will also include activities in the SECC Year 4 Work Plan.

October

The SECC project team and the NCDPI State Superintendent Dr. June Atkinson along with Mike McLaughlin, senior policy advisor to the state superintendent; Rebecca Garland, deputy state superintendent; Lou Fabrizio, director for Data, Research and Federal Policy; and Martez Hill, executive director for the State Board of Education, held a conference call to discuss the intermediate structures activities in the Year 4 Work Plan on October 23. During the call, the state superintendent outlined next steps in collecting information from states that were identified as having regional support systems that might be beneficial in assisting North Carolina to develop frameworks and policies for district shared services. The team discussed areas to be included in a state board presentation scheduled for December 4–5 that will share the results of the intermediate structures project work that was completed during Year 3 and consisted of interviews, surveys, and research on regional services agencies. The team also discussed TA for NCDPI in examining methods for meeting legislative requirements to provide assistance to an increased number of schools identified as needing support with significantly decreased capacity at the SEA level as a result of reduced staffing. The SECC team met on October 28 to discuss next steps and to make team assignments.

September

During September, the SECC team finalized a draft of the report from the superintendent and central office surveys, RESA directors’ interviews, and the research provided on RESAs. The draft report was emailed to the senior policy advisor to the state superintendent on September 7 for review and comment; feedback was received on September 10. The report was forwarded to SECC team members for quality assurance review. Following the final review and release, the report will be provided to NCDPI staff. On September 26, SECC staff worked with NCDPI staff to schedule a conference call to begin planning for the Year 4 work. The call has been tentatively scheduled for Friday, October 23. During this call, the project team will review work plan activities, confirm outputs and outcomes, and adjust timelines as needed.

August

In August, SECC staff communicated with the senior policy advisor to the state superintendent to confirm the timeline for the report on the findings from the superintendent and central office surveys, the RESA director interviews and the research information provided in the resource document. SECC staff continued to work on developing a draft of the findings document and provided the draft to NCDPI for review on August 28. After receiving comments from NCDPI staff, the document will be revised and submitted for review and refinement prior to sending the final version to the SEA in early September.

July

On July 21, SECC staff participated in a phone conference with Sam Redding, consultant with the Building State Capacity and Productivity Center, to discuss the SEA’s readiness to engage in work regarding the Strategic Performance Management process. This work is a likely next step to the intermediate structures project work done during Year 3 and would provide the SEA an opportunity to examine current work and structures to determine its ability to meet the goals outlined in the state board of education’s strategic initiatives and to make decisions based on alignment and capacity.

June

On June 15, SECC staff had a phone call with the senior policy advisor to the state superintendent to discuss the findings report from the technical assistance provided to NCDPI during the fall and spring of Year 3. The report will include research information from a resource document provided to the SEA in September 2014, a summary report of the interviews conducted with the regional education service agencies (RESAs), and analysis of the data collected from surveys completed by LEA superintendents and central office staff. During the call, it was established that the audience for the report should be the state superintendent and other SEA leadership and it should focus on services that might be feasible to be offered either regionally or shared by multiple LEAs. A draft of the report should be completed for review by late August or early September.

May

On May 5 and 18, SECC staff provided resource information to the senior policy advisor to the state superintendent, the deputy state superintendent, and the director of Data, Research and Federal Policy. The resources shared were Characteristics of State Education Service Agencies produced by the REL Midwest and the final component of the SEA of the Future produced by the Building State Capacity and Productivity Center. SECC provided a summary report of the RESA director interviews along with information from the superintendent and central office surveys to be used in preparing for the May 12 meeting with the RESA directors and the state superintendent. A conference call was held on May 29 between SECC staff and SEA staff as a follow-up to the May 12 meeting and to receive information on the audience, format, and timeline for the consolidated report of project findings.

April

SECC staff communicated with the NCDPI senior policy advisor to the state superintendent to discuss the final revisions to the interview protocol and questions for RESA directors in the eight regional service centers across North Carolina. Interviews began on April 17 and concluded on April 24. Each RESA director was interviewed by two SECC staff via telephone, and all conversations were recorded and transcripts provided. On April 28, SECC staff participated in a telephone call to discuss technical assistance needs for the May 12 state superintendent’s meeting with the RESA directors. The format for the report of the findings from the local education agency superintendent and central office surveys, the RESA director interviews, and the research was discussed. SECC staff were asked to provide a brief synopsis of the findings for the May 12 meeting and a more in-depth report later to be shared with the state board of education.

March

On March 11, SECC staff provided a draft of the RESA Interview Form and an invitation letter for the RESA directors to the NCDPI project team including the senior policy advisor to the state superintendent, the executive director for the State Board of Education, the director of research and federal policy and the deputy state superintendent for their review. The SEA team was asked to provide any revisions necessary and to consider a date to discuss the logistics for the interviews. The SECC plan for conducting the interviews was shared and questions regarding additional assistance were posed for NCDPI consideration. On March 20, NCDPI staff provided suggested changes that were incorporated into the interview form. A face-to-face meeting was conducted on March 25 with the NCDPI senior policy advisor to the state superintendent and SECC staff to discuss the revised logistics for the RESA director interviews, a regional services pilot in the governor’s budget, and the schedule for the state superintendent’s RESA director’s meeting scheduled for May 12, 2015.

February

On February 6, SECC staff and Tracy Weeks, chief Academic Services and Digital learning officer at NCDPI, participated in a conference call to discuss the plan for a meeting with the Academic Services and Digital Learning Area scheduled for February 11. The NCDPI requested SECC to facilitate a conversation and provide tools that would allow the area team to examine its current mission, vision, and services for alignment with the state board of education strategic goals and the goals of other divisions within the area. On February 11, SECC staff led a face-to-face meeting with the chief Academic Services and Digital learning officer and directors for K-12 Instruction, Career and Technical Education, Special Education, Digital Teaching and Learning, North Carolina Virtual Public Schools, and the Policy and Planning analyst, which yielded a draft vision, mission, reflection process, and documents for the team to use to continue their area examination. On February 12, the SECC team provided an analysis of the Superintendent and Central Office Intermediate Structures surveys to the senior policy advisor to the state superintendent, the executive director for the state board of education, the director of Research and Federal Policy, and the deputy state superintendent for their review. The NCDPI project team was asked to request any additional data needed from the surveys and to begin to consider any questions from survey results that might be included in the RESA interview questions and/or protocol.

January

On January 5, 2015 invitation letters and survey links for the Intermediate Structures surveys for North Carolina Superintendents and central office personnel were emailed to individuals on contact lists provided by NCDPI. A reminder email was sent on January 12, 2015. The extension email scheduled to be sent on January 20, 2015 was delayed until January 21, 2015 to allow a request for participation to be included in the State Superintendent’s weekly memo to LEA superintendents. This delay was discussed during a phone call with the Senior Policy Advisor to the State Superintendent. It was decided that if responses were not adequate a final attempt would be made on January 26, 2015 by sending the superintendents another letter with both links asking them to complete the survey and forward the central office link to the appropriate staff. On January 29, 2015 the response rate for superintendents was 37% and about 15% for central office personnel. A preliminary report will be provided to the NCDPI project team during the second week in February. The survey results will be used to further refine the upcoming RESA interview questions and protocol.

2014

December

SECC staff continued to work on the superintendents’ and central office surveys for the Intermediate Structures project. A second set of revisions was received from the senior policy advisor to the state superintendent on December 2, 2014. SECC staff reviewed the revisions and went through the entire survey on December 3 to ensure readability and consistency of format. A list of questions was generated for the SEA project team. After addressing revisions based on the SEA responses, the surveys, invitation letters, and a timeline were sent to the SEA on December 12. On December 19, during a phone call with the senior policy advisor to the state superintendent, additional minor revisions were recommended. At the completion of these revisions, the survey was scheduled to be released on January 5, 2015. The contact information for North Carolina superintendents and central office personnel were provided by the communication and information services director for the department.

November

SECC staff continued to work on the superintendents’ survey for the Intermediate Structures project and provided the first draft of the survey to SEA staff for their comments and revisions. SECC staff also requested responses to questions regarding distribution of the survey, the potential timeline, and whether other stakeholders should be interviewed. On November 20, the SEA provided revisions and comments to the survey from the senior policy advisor to the state superintendent, the executive director for the State Board of Education, the director of Research and Federal Policy, the deputy state superintendent, and one state board member. The SECC made revisions to the survey and began to work on a survey for central office personnel, interview questions for regional education service agency (RESA) directors, and an interview protocol.

October

On October 8, SECC staff had the initial conference call with the senior policy advisor to the state superintendent, the executive director for the State Board of Education, the director of research and federal policy, and the deputy state superintendent for NCDPI. During this call, specific activities outlined in the Year 3 work plan were discussed, expected outcomes clarified, and next steps outlined. NCDPI staff agreed to provide broad topic areas to be included in a superintendent survey and subcategories that should also be considered by October 20 to assist SECC in developing a draft survey for review. The team also discussed how best to communicate the project goals to stakeholders and how to facilitate face-to-face interviews. In addition to developing the surveys, SECC will develop interview protocols. NCDPI and SECC contacts were also identified.

September

On September 1, SECC staff provided a resource list for Implementing Intermediate Structures and Regional Service Centers to the senior policy advisor to the state superintendent, the executive director for the State Board of Education, and the director of Research and Federal Policy at NCDPI. This resource list provided relevant information to help identify and define structures, functions, and policy considerations related to improving efficiencies in the delivery of programs and services. Registration information for the BSCP Center webinar, Funding for Students’ Sake: How to Stop Financing Tomorrow’s Schools on Yesterday’s Priorities, was sent to the above NCDPI staff for their consideration on September 17. The initial conference call for the project team was held October 8. During this call, the SECC team and NCDPI staff discussed the activities outlined in the work plan and the time line, and begin determining assignments for work to be completed.