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00000177-6edd-df44-a377-6fff43070000WUNC's American Graduate Project is part of a nationwide public media conversation about the dropout crisis. We'll explore the issue through news reports, call-in programs and a forum produced with UNC-TV. Also as a part of this project we've partnered with the Durham Nativity School and YO: Durham to found the WUNC Youth Radio Club. These reports are part of American Graduate-Let’s Make it Happen!- a public media initiative to address the drop out crisis, supported by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and these generous funders: Project Funders:GlaxoSmithKlineThe Goodnight Educational FoundationJoseph M. Bryan Foundation State FarmThe Grable FoundationFarrington FoundationMore education stories from WUNC

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

Gavel, Court
SalFalko via Flickr, Creative Commons
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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.

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