Public education in North Carolina
Energy • Environment • Fracking • Public education • Higher education • School choice • Charter schools • Public pensions • State budget and finances • Taxes • Voting • Ballot access • Redistricting • Nonprofit regulation
- 1 State agencies
- 2 Regional comparison
- 3 Demographics
- 4 Academic performance
- 5 Educational choice options
- 6 Education funding and expenditures
- 7 Organizations
- 8 Taxpayer-funded lobbying
- 9 Transparency
- 10 Studies and reports
- 11 School districts
- 12 Education ballot measures
- 13 Recent news
- 14 See also
- 15 External links
- 16 References
List of school districts in North Carolina
Public education in North Carolina
School board elections portal
The North Carolina State Board of Education has 13 members, including the lieutenant governor and the state treasurer. The other 11 members are appointed by the governor and confirmed by the North Carolina State Legislature. Eight represent each of the eight education districts, and three represent the state at-large.
The mission statement of the North Carolina State Board of Education reads:
|“||The guiding mission of the North Carolina State Board of Education is that every public school student will graduate from high school, globally competitive for work and postsecondary education and prepared for life in the 21st Century.||”|
Common Core, or the Common Core State Standards Initiative, is an American education initiative that outlines quantifiable benchmarks in English and mathematics at each grade level from kindergarten through high school. The North Carolina State Board of Education and the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction adopted these standards on June 3, 2010. The standards were fully implemented during the 2012-2013 school year.
- See also: General comparison table for education statistics in the 50 states and Education spending per pupil in all 50 states
The following chart shows how North Carolina compares to three neighboring states with respect to number of students, schools, the number of teachers per pupil, and the number of administrators per pupil. Further comparisons between these states with respect to performance and financial information are given in other sections of this page.
|State||Schools||Districts||Students||Teachers||Teacher/pupil ratio||Administrator/pupil ratio||Per pupil spending|
| Sources: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Common Core of Data (CCD), "State Nonfiscal Public Elementary/Secondary Education Survey", 2011-12 v.1a.|
National Center for Education Statistics, Table 2. Number of operating public schools and districts, state enrollment, teacher and pupil/teacher ratio by state: School year 2011–12
The following table displays the ethnic distribution of students in North Carolina as reported in the National Center for Education Statistics Common Core of Data for 2011-2012.
|Demographic Information for North Carolina's K-12 Public School System|
|Ethnicity||Students||State Percentage||United States Percentage**|
|Hawaiian Nat./Pacific Isl. Students||1,293||0.09%||0.42%|
|Two or More||55,330||3.67%||2.54%|
|**Note: This is the percentage of all students in the United States that are reported to be of this ethnicity.|
Enrollments by region type
A plurality of students in North Carolina attend rural schools. This is the same for students in South Carolina and Tennessee, but students in Virginia are more likely to attend suburban schools than rural schools.
|Student distribution by region type, 2011 - 2012 (as percents)|
|State||City schools||Suburban schools||Town schools||Rural Schools|
|Source: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Common Core of Data (CCD)|
- See also: NAEP scores by state
The National Center for Education Statistics provides state-by-state data on student achievement levels in mathematics and reading in the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). North Carolina had a higher percentage of students score at or above proficient in math and reading in fourth grade and eighth grade compared to South Carolina and Tennessee. Virginia, however, had a higher percentage of students score at or above proficient than North Carolina.
|Percent of students scoring at or above proficient, 2012-2013|
|Math - Grade 4||Math - Grade 8||Reading - Grade 4||Reading - Grade 8|
|NAEP assessment data for all students 2012-2013|
Graduation, ACT and SAT scores
|Comparison table for graduation rates and test scores*|
|State||Graduation rate, 2012||Average ACT Composite, 2012||Average SAT Composite, 2013|
|Percent||Quintile ranking**||Score||Participation rate||Score||Participation rate|
| *Regulatory Adjusted Cohort Rate (except for Idaho, Kentucky, Oklahoma, which did not report “Regulatory Adjusted Cohort Graduation Rate,” but instead used their own method of calculation).|
**Graduation rates for states in the first quintile ranked in the top 20 percent nationally. Similarly, graduation rates for states in the fifth quintile ranked in the bottom 20 percent nationally.
Source: United States Department of Education, ED Data Express
- See also: Public high school dropout rates by state for a full comparison of dropout rates by group in all states
The high school event dropout rate indicates the proportion of students who were enrolled at some time during the school year and were expected to be enrolled in grades 9–12 in the following school year but were not enrolled by October 1 of the following school year. Students who have graduated, transferred to another school, died, moved to another country, or who are out of school due to illness are not considered dropouts. The average public high school event dropout rate for the United States remained constant at 3.3 percent for both SY 2010–11 and SY 2011–12. The event dropout rate for North Carolina was higher than the national average at 3.9 percent in the 2010-2011 school year, and lower than the national average at 3.1 percent in the 2011-2012 school year.
Educational choice options
- See also: School choice in North Carolina
North Carolina has the second largest state virtual school in the United States. Other school choice options in the state include charter schools, special education scholarship grants, opportunity scholarships, homeschooling and private schools.
Education funding and expenditures
- See also: North Carolina state budget and finances
According to the National Association of State Budget Officers (NASBO), the state spent approximately 23.2 percent of its fiscal year 2012 budget on elementary and secondary education. This is up 0.8 percentage points, a 3.6 percent increase in the share of the budget from fiscal year 2008, when the state spent 22.4 percent of its budget on elementary and secondary education. Just over half of North Carolina's education revenue comes from state funding. Local funding accounts for nearly 34 percent, and federal funding accounts for about 14 percent.
|Comparison of financial figures for school systems|
|State||Percent of budget (2012)||Per pupil spending (2011)||Revenue sources (2011)|
|Percent federal funds||Percent state funds||Percent local funds|
| Sources:NASBO, "State Expenditure Report," Table 8: Elementary and Secondary Education Expenditures As a Percent of Total Expenditures |
U.S. Census Bureau, "Public Education Finances: 2011,Governments Division Reports," issued May 2013
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, public school system revenues in North Carolina totaled approximately $14.8 billion in fiscal year 2011. The table and chart below present further detail, including revenue sources, for North Carolina and surrounding states.
|Revenues by source, FY 2011 (amounts in thousands)|
|Federal revenue||State revenue||Local revenue||Total revenue|
|Public school revenues by source, FY 2011 (as percents)|
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, public school system expenditures in North Carolina totaled approximately $14.1 billion in fiscal year 2011. The table and chart below present further detail, including expenditure types, for North Carolina and surrounding states.
|Expenditures by type, FY 2011 (amounts in thousands)|
|Current expenditures**||Capital outlay||Other***||Total expenditures|
| **Funds spent operating local public schools and local education agencies, including such expenses as salaries for school personnel, student transportation, school books and materials, and energy costs, but excluding capital outlay, interest on school debt, payments to private schools, and payments to public charter schools.|
***Includes payments to state and local governments, payments to private schools, interest on school system indebtedness, and nonelementary-secondary expenditures, such as adult education and community services expenditures.
Source: National Center for Education Statistics
|Public school expenditures, FY 2011 (as percents)|
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the average national salary for classroom teachers in public elementary and secondary schools has declined by 1.3 percent from the 1999-2000 school year to the 2012-2013 school year. During the same period in North Carolina, the average salary decreased by 14.7 percent.
|Estimated average salaries for teachers (in constant dollars**)|
|**"Constant dollars based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI), prepared by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, adjusted to a school-year basis. The CPI does not account for differences in inflation rates from state to state."|
In 2012, the Fordham Institute and Education Reform Now assessed the power and influence of state teacher unions in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Their rankings were based on 37 different variables in five broad areas, including: resources and membership, involvement in politics, scope of bargaining, state policies and perceived influence. North Carolina ranked 24th overall, or average, which was in the middle tier of five.
The main unions related to the North Carolina school system are the North Carolina Association of Educators (NCAE), an affiliate of the National Education Association (NEA), and AFT North Carolina, an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers. NCAE is the largest education association in the state.
List of local North Carolina school unions:
- North Carolina Association of Educators
- AFT North Carolina
- AFT Pittsboro
- AFT Kure Beach
The main education government sector lobbying organization is the North Carolina School Boards Association.
On January 12, 2009 Governor Beverly Perdue signed North Carolina Executive Order No. 4 (2009) (dead link), which mandated the creation of NC Openbook, a website where information about state grants and contracts would be made available to the public. The site is managed by the Office of State Budget and Management and the Office of Information Technology Services.
Studies and reports
Quality Counts 2014
- See also: Quality Counts 2014 Report
Education Week, a publication that reports on many education issues throughout the country, began using an evaluation system in 1997 to grade each state on various elements of education performance. This system, called Quality Counts, uses official data on performance from each state to generate a report card for all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The report card in 2014 uses six different categories:
- Chance for success
- K-12 achievement
- Standards, assessments and accountability
- The teaching profession
- School finance
- Transitions and Alignment
Each of these six categories had a number of other elements that received individual scores. Those scores were then averaged and used to determine the final score in each category. Every state received two types of scores for each of the six major categories: A numerical score out of 100 and a letter grade based on that score. Education Week used the score for the first category, "chance for success," as the value for ranking each state and the District of Columbia. The average grade received in the entire country was 77.3, or a C+ average. The country's highest average score was in the category of "standards, assessments and accountability" at 85.3, or a B average. The lowest average score was in "K-12 achievement", at 70.2, or a C- average.
North Carolina received a score of 75.7, or a C average in the "chance for success" category. This was below the national average. The state's highest score was in "standards, assessments and accountability" at 92.8, or an A average. The lowest score was in "school finance" at 67.0, or a D+ average. North Carolina tied for the 10th highest score in the country in the "standards, assessments and accountability" category. The chart below displays the scores of North Carolina and its surrounding states.
Note: Click on a column heading to sort the data.
|Public education report cards, 2014|
|State||Chance for success||K-12 achievement||Standards, assessments and accountability||The teaching profession||School finance||Transitions and Alignment|
|North Carolina||75.7 (C)||69.8 (C-)||92.8 (A)||77.8 (C+)||67.0 (D+)||85.7 (B)|
|South Carolina||72.6 (C)||62.6 (D)||94.4 (A)||89.0 (B+)||68.7 (D+)||71.4 (C-)|
|Tennessee||73.9 (C)||68.8 (D+)||90.0 (A-)||80.3 (B-)||64.5 (D)||92.9 (A)|
|Virginia||84.8 (B)||74.2 (C)||93.3 (A)||81.9 (B-)||76.1 (C)||85.7 (B)|
|United States Average||77.3 (C+)||70.2 (C-)||85.3 (B)||72.5 (C)||75.5 (C)||81.1 (B-)|
| Source: Education Week, "Quality Counts 2014 report cards," accessed February 18, 2015|
A full discussion of how these numbers were generated can be found here.
ABCs of School Choice
The Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice publishes a comprehensive guide to private school choice programs across the U.S. In its 2014 edition, the Foundation reviewed North Carolina's special education scholarship grants for children with disabilities and the state's opportunity scholarship program. The special education scholarship grants program was launched in 2014 to give vouchers to students with disabilities to attend private school. The Foundation found that though the program was "somewhat strong" on eligibility, funding for the program was "relatively weak," as each student could receive only $6,000 in funding, which was lower than the average per-pupil spending statewide. The state's opportunity scholarship program was also launched in 2014, in order to give private school vouchers to students whose household qualified for the federal free or reduced-price lunch program. The Foundation found that the program could be improved in both student eligibility and funding, but the Foundation said that as the program grows, both of those had the potential to grow. The full Friedman Foundation report can be found here.
State Budget Solutions education study
State Budget Solutions examined national trends in education from 2009 to 2011, including state-by-state analysis of education spending, graduation rates and average ACT scores. The study showed that the states that spent the most did not have the highest average ACT test scores, nor did they have the highest average graduation rates. A summary of the study is available here. The full report can be accessed here.
- See also: School board elections portal
North Carolina has three types of school districts: county school districts, county school administrative units and city school administrative units. County school districts have elected school boards, and most county and city school administrative units have elected school boards as well. Some city administrative units, however, have school boards that are appointed by the city council.
|Student enrollment, 2011-2012||Per-pupil spending, 2012-2013|
|1.) Wake County||1.) Hyde County|
|2.) Charlotte-Mecklenburg||2.) Tyrrell County|
|3.) Guilford County||3.) Weldon City|
|4.) Cumberland County||4.) Jones County|
|5.) Winston-Salem/Forsyth County||5.) Asheville City|
|6.) Union County||6.) Pamlico County|
|7.) Durham||7.) Northampton County|
|8.) Johnston County||8.) Washington County|
|9.) Gaston County||9.) Dare County|
|10.) Cabarrus County||10.) Warren County|
School board composition
School board members in North Carolina are generally elected by residents of the school district, although in certain cases school board members may be appointed. School board elections must be nonpartisan, and school boards must consist of five members serving four-year terms.
North Carolina does not impose term limits on school board members.
- See also: North Carolina school board elections, 2014 and North Carolina school board elections, 2015
A total of four North Carolina school districts among America's largest school districts by enrollment will hold elections for 15 seats in 2015. All of the districts will hold their elections on November 3, 2015.
Here are several quick facts about North Carolina's school board elections in 2015:
- The largest school district by enrollment with an election in 2015 is Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools with 141,728 K-12 students.
- The smallest school district by enrollment with an election in 2015 is Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools with 12,092 K-12 students.
- Cleveland County Schools has the most seats on the ballot in 2015 with five seats up for election.
- Burke County Public Schools and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools are tied for the fewest seats on the ballot in 2015 with three seats up for election each.
The districts listed below served 183,553 K-12 students during the 2010-2011 school year, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Click on the district names for more information on the district and its school board elections.
|2015 North Carolina School Board Elections|
|District||Date||Seats up for election||Total board seats||Student enrollment|
|Burke County Public Schools||11/3/2015||3||7||13,504|
|Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools||11/3/2015||4||7||12,092|
|Cleveland County Schools||11/3/2015||5||9||16,229|
Path to the ballot
In order to be run for election to a school board in North Carolina, a candidate must by at least 21 years old. If the candidate is employed by the school district that he or she seeks to represent, the candidate must resign from that employment before taking office. To get on the ballot, candidates must file with their local municipal elections office and pay a filing fee.
Candidates must file a Statement of Organization, a Certification of Treasurer, a Certification of Financial Account Information and periodic financial disclosure reports with their local municipal elections office. Candidates who do not intend on receiving or spending more than $1,000 on their campaigns can file a Certification of Threshold instead of the disclosure reports.
Education ballot measures
Ballotpedia has tracked the following statewide ballot measures relating to education.
- North Carolina Department of Education Amendment (2016)
- North Carolina Higher Education Improvement Bonds, Question 1 (2000)
- North Carolina Public School Maintenance, Amendment 2 (2004)
This section displays the most recent stories in a Google news search for the term "North + Carolina + Education "
- All stories may not be relevant to this page due to the nature of the search engine.
- North Carolina state budget and finances
- North Carolina Department of Education
- List of school districts in North Carolina
- School choice in North Carolina
- Charter schools in North Carolina
- North Carolina
- Education Policy in the U.S.
- North Carolina Public Schools
- North Carolina State Board of Education
- North Carolina School Report Cards
- North Carolina Reports and Statistics
- North Carolina State School Ratings by PSK12
- North Carolina School Ratings by Great Schools
- National Center for Education Statistics, "Table 2. Number of operating public schools and districts, state enrollment, teacher and pupil/teacher ratio by state: School year 2011–12," accessed March 18, 2014
- ED Data Express, "State Tables Report," accessed March 17, 2014 The site includes this disclaimer: "States converted to an adjusted cohort graduation rate [starting in the 2010-2011 school year], which may or may not be the same as the calculation they used in prior years. Due to the potential differences, caution should be used when comparing graduation rates across states."
- United States Census Bureau, "Public Education Finances: 2011," accessed March 18, 2014
- United States Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, "Common Core of Data (CCD); Table 2.—Number of operating public schools and districts, state enrollment, teacher and pupil/teacher ratio by state: School year 2011-12," accessed May 12, 2014
- United States Department of Education, "ED Data Express," accessed May 12, 2014
- North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, "Organization," accessed June 2, 2014
- North Carolina State Board of Education, "About Us: Board of Education," accessed June 2, 2014
- North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, "Mission Statement," accessed June 2, 2014
- Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
- Common Core State Standards Initiative, "Core Standards in your State," accessed July 12, 2014
- United States Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, "Common Core of Data (CCD), State Nonfiscal Public Elementary/Secondary Education Survey, 2011-2012," accessed May 7, 2014
- United States Department of Education, ED Data Express, "State Tables," accessed May 13, 2014
- ACT, "2012 ACT National and State Scores," accessed May 13, 2014
- Commonwealth Foundation, "SAT Scores by State 2013," October 10, 2013
- United States Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, "Common Core of Data (CCD), State Dropout and Graduation Rate Data File, School Year 2010-11, Provision Version 1a and School Year 2011-12, Preliminary Version 1a," accessed May 13, 2014
- National Association of State Budget Officers, "State Expenditure Report, 2011-2013," accessed February 21, 2014
- National Association of State Budget Officers, "State Expenditure Report, 2009-2011," accessed February 24, 2014
- National Association of State Budget Officers, "State Expenditures Report, 2010-2012," accessed February 24, 2014
- National Association of State Budget Officers, "State Expenditure Report, 2009," accessed February 24, 2014
- National Association of State Budget Officers, "State Expenditure Report, 2008," accessed February 24, 2014
- United States Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, "Revenues and Expenditures for Public Elementary and Secondary School Districts: School Year 2010–11," accessed May 13, 2014
- Maciver Institute, "REPORT: How much are teachers really paid?," accessed October 29, 2014
- United States Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, "Table 211.60. Estimated average annual salary of teachers in public elementary and secondary schools, by state: Selected years, 1969-70 through 2012-13," accessed May 13, 2014
- Thomas E Fordham Institute, "How Strong Are U.S. Teacher Unions? A State-By-State Comparison," October 29, 2012
- Center for Union Facts, "North Carolina teachers unions," accessed April 30, 2010
- NC Openbook, "About NC Open Book," accessed 2009
- Education Week "Quality Counts 2014 report cards," accessed February 19, 2015
- The Friedman Foundation for Education Choice, "The ABCs of School Choice," 2014 Edition
- United States Census Bureau, "North Carolina," accessed July 9, 2014
- Public Schools of North Carolina, "Data & Reports - Student Accounting," accessed August 12, 2013
- Public Schools of North Carolina, "Statistical Profile - Table 24 - Per Pupil Expenditure Ranking," accessed August 12, 2013
- North Carolina General Statutes, "Article 5: Local Boards of Education," accessed July 9, 2014
- North Carolina Constitution, "Article VI, Section 6," accessed July 10, 2014
- Randolph County Elections Department, "2014 Candidate Filing Schedule," accessed July 10, 2014
- Randolph County Elections Department, "Candidate Filing Information," accessed July 10, 2014
State of North Carolina
|State executive officers||
Governor | Lieutenant Governor | Attorney General | Secretary of State | Treasurer | State Auditor | Superintendent of Public Instruction | Commissioner of Insurance | Commissioner of Agriculture | Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources | Commissioner of Labor | Chairman of Utilities |