Public Education: Preparing North Carolina Students for a Global Economy
This summer, I will work as one of four graduate student research interns within the Financial and Business Services division of the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. It is the tradition of the research internship program for staff to submit research proposals and topics to the internship coordinators within DPI, and for the research interns, with guidance from the coordinators, to select the topics that can be formulated into manageable but relevant research projects.
Over the course of the summer, the interns produce three to four policy briefs summarizing the history of the topic, the research question, methodology, findings, conclusions, and recommendations for further research or implementation. Tomorrow, I will join my fellow interns in the narrowing process, and will hopefully emerge from the brainstorming session with four definitive topics to focus our efforts towards this summer.
Monday and today, however, were quasi-orientation days, in that I spent time learning about the organizational structure of NC DPI, and I had the chance to sit and talk to the state superintendent, Dr. June St. Clair Atkinson, and the board of education chair, Dr. Bill Harrison. Speaking with Dr. Atkinson, I was able to glean the importance of customizing students’ educational experiences to fit their learning style, not solely for the purpose of meeting educational standards, but to also ensure that students are well-prepared to grapple with the demands of an increasingly dynamic economic climate. Dr. Atkinson also offered, through a useful analogy involving GPS navigation systems, the importance of an educator’s role in directing students on their paths to becoming college and career-ready, and “re-routing” those paths at the first sign of struggling in the classroom environment. Dr. Harrison also shared his perspective on school turnaround, and the multiple indicators of student success, for example, student growth versus subject proficiency. After my first two days at DPI, I am particularly interested in school turnaround as a pillar of the Race to the Top program, and how North Carolina, as a Race to the Top state, is working to achieve the challenging but immensely rewarding goals of school turnaround.
I look forward to sharing my experiences and what I am learning through my internship at NC DPI throughout the summer. Stay tuned for more posts!