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Judge To Examine If NC Schools Providing 'Sound, Basic Education'

Gavel, Court
SalFalko via Flickr, Creative Commons

A North Carolina superior court judge will hold a hearing Wednesday on whether the state is providing every student with the opportunity for an adequate education.

Judge Howard E. Manning Jr. is in charge of making sure the state hasn't forgotten about the Leandro case,  a decades-old landmark lawsuit that says all children - regardless of their socioeconomic backgrounds - deserve a 'sound, basic education.'

At the hearing, Judge Manning wants state officials to explain why they changed standards that determine whether students are performing on grade level. Last March, the State Board of Education expanded the number of student achievement levels from four to five, arguing that it would give them a better sense of how students are performing.

Those changes made it easier for students to pass end-of-year standardized exams.  In an order scheduling the hearing, Manning writes that the new standards allow the state to consider students as ready for the next grade level, when they're simply not.

Under the new scale, students who score a level three on achievement exams are considered to be "prepared for the next grade level, but are not yet on track for college-and-career readiness without additional academic support."

Manning argues that the new level three means that children are "NOT solidly at grade level and are NOT well prepared for the next grade level which is the Leandro definition of obtaining a sound basic education at grade level."

"In short, if it looks like a pig, smells like a pig and snorts like a pig - it's a pig," he writes.

The hearing is expected to last two days.

Reema Khrais joined WUNC in 2013 to cover education in pre-kindergarten through high school. Previously, she won the prestigious Joan B. Kroc Fellowship. For the fellowship, she spent a year at NPR where she reported nationally, produced on Weekends on All Things Considered and edited on the digital desk. She also spent some time at New York Public Radio as an education reporter, covering the overhaul of vocational schools, the contentious closures of city schools and age-old high school rivalries.
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