Steps suggested to improve education

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — The education system in North Carolina faces unprecedented challenges that demand action from grantmakers and legislators, says a study by the North Carolina Network of Grantmakers.

The state’s population has increased 13 percent since 2000, flooding the school system with new students, says the “North Carolina Education Report 2008.”

At the same time, the state has grown more diverse, with the Hispanic population surging by 596 percent and the Asian population by 194 percent.

The state’s education system also suffers from a wide achievement gap.

During the 2006-07 school year, only 44 percent of African-American students passed their end-of-grade tests, compared with 75 percent of white students.

At the same time, the job market is demanding more diverse and advanced skills from high-school graduates, who now must compete with candidates from abroad.

In order to address these and other challenges, grantmakers and legislators should take steps to ensure that North Carolina students are prepared to compete in the global economy, the study says.

Priorities include:

* Developing leadership in schools by promoting high-quality training and a performance-based compensation system for principals, supervisors and teachers

* Boosting performance by including more than test scores in student assessments and supporting efforts to improve low-performing schools

* Increasing support for early-education, after-school and summer programs to ensure learning continues after school hours

* Integrating government activities for best results

* Engaging communities in the push for better education

The North Carolina Network of Grantmakers includes more than 80 foundations, corporate-giving programs and donor-advised funds that support charitable causes.

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