School Improvement Planning and NCStar

School Improvement Planning is more than a plan, it is a framework for change. The plan, itself, is simply a map that identifies the school’s destination and requires both decision-making and action from a variety of stakeholders to reach that destination in the most direct route. As Dr. Sam Redding wrote in The Mega System Handbook, “high-functioning schools and schools cited for their effectiveness do the right things, do them continuously, and always look for ways to improve. Schools that fail with comprehensive school reform do so not for lack of resources, other than time, but for want of determination and internal discipline.”

NCStar is a web-based tool that guides a district or school team in charting its improvement and managing the continuous improvement process. NCStar builds accountability as well as helps schools track their improvement plans. NCStar is premised on the firm belief that district and school improvement is best accomplished when directed by the people, working in teams, closest to the students.

NCStar requires a "culture of candor" in which district and school personnel talk openly and honestly about their professional practices that contribute to student learning.

Since school improvement is such a unique process for each school, NCStar contains over 100 research-based effective practices (indicators) and allows schools flexibility to personalize their school improvement plans to meet their distinct needs.

NCStar brings all stakeholders into the continuous improvement process by allowing "view-only" capability and "real-time" transparency of the school improvement plan process to all staff, district personnel, school board members, and parents.

For more information, contact Alessandro Montanari, Assistant Director (District & Regional Support).

Related Information

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North Carolina Schools are required to submit a School Improvement Plan (SIP) to the local board of education for review and approval is required by state regulations, Article 8B School Based Management & Accountability Program; to improve student performance.

In planning for the School improvement plan development, please consider the following North Carolina regulations under §115C-105.27 of School Based Management & Accountability Program:

  1. School staff and parent representatives shall constitute a school improvement team and the team shall be elected by their respective groups by secret ballot.
  2. Parents shall be elected by parents of children enrolled in the school in an election by either the parent/teacher organization or the largest organization of parents formed specifically for the election.
  3. Parents serving on school improvement teams shall reflect the racial and socioeconomic composition of the students enrolled in the school and shall NOT be members of the building-level staff.
  4. Team meetings shall be held at convenient times to assure substantial parent participation.
  5. All school improvement plans shall be data-driven.
  6. Shall include a duty-free lunch period for every teacher.
  7. The principal shall submit a plan to the local board of education only if the proposed school improvement plan has the approval of a majority of the staff who voted on the plan.

School Improvement Planning Implementation Guide:  
(Last updated August 2023)

The guide offers a one-stop-shop for guidance on conducting school improvement planning. Sections include a legal overview, best-practices-based guiding principles, and a step-by-step process for planning. Several appendices are provided to offer additional details in areas where school improvement teams may wish for more information.

Personalized Education Plans (PEP) Update:

On June 2, 2015, the General Assembly enacted Session Law 2015-46, An Act to Repeal Personal Education Plans and Modify Transition Plans. S.L. 2015-46 modified G.S. 115C-105.41, 115C-83.7(c), and 115C-83.9(a).

There have been questions regarding these changes and implications for Personalized Education Plans (PEP). An explanation of the changes made by this law and options on how schools can continue to support students at risk of academic failure are provided in the PDF below. Due to these changes in the law, the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI) will provide guidance through the lens of a Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS).