Policy Briefs, Presentations, Council of State Meetings, Oh My!
It’s been a busy two weeks at DPI, as my research team’s work has become more self-managed and self-directed. After the departure of an intern on our research team, we realized we had to communicate more clearly to each other about what we wanted our final products to look like by the end of the internship and also work more efficiently to ensure that we would achieve these results in the remaining time. This experience largely reminds me of the MPA consulting projects that Carolina MPA students undertake during the Spring semester of their first year, and particularly, my consulting group’s experience working with clients in the Triangle. My project team was ready to begin work on a budget reconciliation project, but later found the client had decided to hire a more experienced consultant. This unexpected news could have set our team back as we scrambled for a new project, but we were able to strategically plan how we would fulfill the requirements of our program while producing meaningful work for a local government agency.
Having had prior lessons in adaptability, I am proud to say that with two weeks remaining, not only does our intern research team have solid drafts for all three of our policy topics (District and School Transformation, North Carolina Virtual Public Schools, and Charter Schools), we are also well into rehearsing our presentations. Next week, our team will present our research findings to the staff of the division in which our internship program is housed (Financial and Business Services), and during the following and final week of the internship, we will present our findings to the State Board of Education.
What are our findings, you ask? Well, our research allows us to state with confidence the following:
- There are significant gaps in academic performance between North Carolina high school students taking online courses through North Carolina Virtual Public Schools (NCVPS) and students taking traditional courses. This achievement gap is most pronounced among low-income students and relatively more affluent students.
- District and School Transformation, specifically high school turnaround, has improved teacher working conditions and student outcomes in targeted high schools. However, graduation rates in these schools have been unaffected by school turnaround.
- There are some charter schools in North Carolina that have the capacity to effectively serve high-poverty minority students, and our research outlines the specific practices of these schools. We have identified five high-poverty charters serving predominately minority students that have managed to achieve significant growth over the past three years. At one of these schools, 100% of the graduating class gained admission to a four-year college or university.
This is a brief synopsis of our findings. The full reports will be available on the Department of Public Instruction’s website after the DPI Graphics Team assists us with formatting and gives our work their final approval.
Lastly, I had the chance to attend a Council of State meeting last week. The Council of State is comprised of elected state government agency commissioners, including DPI’s superintendent, Dr. June Atkinson. After the meeting, I met other interns working for state agencies in the area, including a few interns working for the Department of Justice. Sadly, there were no pictures with the governor (who chairs the Council of State), but the meeting was incredibly efficient and organized.
Over the next two weeks, I’ll be working on polishing my presentations and papers. My last two blog posts will share how the presentations went, as well as details from my research team’s meeting with the Lieutenant Governor.
Until next time,