Policy 3420

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The board believes that students should progress to the next level of study only after they are proficient in their knowledge and application of the current curriculum level. To the extent reasonably possible, students should be given as much time or as little time as they need to be proficient at a particular level of study. Students will be promoted to the next level of study as described in this policy.


The superintendent shall develop (1) proposed promotion standards and (2) a process to be used in determining a student’s readiness to progress to the next level of study and shall submit the standards and process to the board for approval. The standards will be based, in part, upon proficiency in reading. The standards and process must provide multiple criteria for assessing a student’s readiness to progress to the next level of study, such as standardized test scores, formative and diagnostic assessments, grades, a portfolio or anthology of the student’s work, and, when appropriate, accepted standards for assessing developmental growth. The standards and process will incorporate all state law and State Board of Education policy requirements, including those for the assessment and promotion of third grade students as described in G.S. 115C-83.6 et seq. and State Board of Education Policies GCS-J-002 and -003.

Principals shall ensure that the promotion standards are used by teachers and school administrators in assessing each student’s readiness to progress to the next level of study. Principals have the authority to promote or retain students based upon the standards approved by the board and any applicable standards set by the State Board of Education.

To reduce the number of students who do not meet promotion standards, the board directs school administrators and teachers to use personal education plans as required in policy 3405, Students at Risk of Academic Failure, to address the needs of students who are not making adequate academic progress.


To receive a North Carolina high school diploma, a student must complete the requirements set forth in policy 3460, Graduation Requirements.


  1. Appeal to the Superintendent
    Within five workdays of receiving the principal’s written decision to promote or retain a student, the student’s parents may appeal the decision to the superintendent. The superintendent may overturn the principal’s decision only upon a finding that the principal’s decision was arbitrary and capricious (i.e., without a rational basis) or was otherwise an abuse of discretion.
    The superintendent must render a decision within 10 workdays of receiving the appeal. The superintendent may support the principal’s decision, remand it back to the principal for consideration of additional issues, or reverse the decision.
    The superintendent’s findings must be in writing and must be provided to the parents.
  2. Appeal to the Board of Education
    The superintendent’s decision to promote or retain a student may be appealed to the board in accordance with the procedures set forth in subsection E.5 of policy 1740-4010, Student and Parent Grievance Procedure.


The board will provide reading camp opportunities as required by law at no fee for students who have not yet demonstrated reading proficiency on a third grade level at the end of the student’s third grade year. To the extent resources permit, the board will offer fee-based reading camp opportunities to students who have successfully demonstrated reading proficiency appropriate for a third grade student. Annually, the board will establish criteria for priority enrollment in its fee-based reading camps and will set the attendance fee at an amount not to exceed the statutory limit. The superintendent shall notify interested parents of the application procedure for the fee-based reading camps.


To the extent possible, students with disabilities must be held to the same promotion standards as all other students. However, for students who take alternative assessments in lieu of the end-of-grade (EOG) or end-of-course (EOC) tests, promotion decisions must be based on criteria recommended by the IEP team.

All intervention strategies and other opportunities, benefits, and resources that are made available to students without disabilities must be made available to those students with disabilities who are subject to the student promotion standards. Such opportunities must be in addition to the special education services provided to the student.


Beginning with the 2014-15 school year, the superintendent shall provide opportunities for students in grades 9 through 12 to earn course credit by demonstrating mastery of course material without first completing the regular period of classroom instruction in the course. Students in grades 6 through 8 may earn credit by demonstrated mastery for high school courses offered in middle school. To earn credit by demonstrated mastery, students must demonstrate a deep understanding of the content standards and application of knowledge through a multi-phase assessment, in accordance with standards established by the State Board of Education and any additional standards established by the superintendent.


Some students may need less time to learn the curriculum. Teachers are encouraged to challenge these students by expanding the curriculum, providing opportunities to explore subjects in greater detail or providing different types of educational experiences. To challenge a student sufficiently, the principal may reassign the student to a different class or level of study and/or may identify concurrent enrollment or other curriculum expansion options (see policy 3101, Dual Enrollment).

The principal, after consulting with the professional staff and the student’s parents, may determine that skipping a grade level is appropriate.


  1. Superintendent’s Report to the Board
    At least on an annual basis, the superintendent shall provide the board with the following information for each school:
    a. aggregate student performance scores on state-mandated tests and any other standardized tests used by a school or the school system;
    b. the number and percentage of students retained and/or not meeting the standards for their grade level;
    c. the number and percentage of third grade students exempt from mandatory third grade retention by category of exemption as listed in state law; and
    d. remedial or additional educational opportunities provided by the school system and the success of these efforts in helping students meet promotion standards.
  2. Report to the North Carolina State Board of Education and Department of Public Instruction
    Pursuant to statutory requirements and standards established by the Department of Public Instruction, all required information regarding student performance will be provided annually to the State Board of Education and the Department of Public Instruction.
  3. Publication on the School System Website
    Information about the reading performance of third grade students will be posted on the school system website in accordance with state law.


Consistent with the objective of improving student performance, the board will provide schools with maximum flexibility in the allocation of state funds. School personnel are expected to budget financial resources in a manner that will meet the standards established in this policy. The board will consider requests to transfer funds from other funding allotment categories to intervention strategies as part of the school improvement plan submitted by school officials. All funds will be used in a fiscally sound manner in accordance with policy 8300, Fiscal Management Standards.


The superintendent or designee shall provide information regarding promotion standards to all students and parents. In addition, if a kindergarten, first grade, second grade, or third grade student (1) is demonstrating difficulty with reading development; (2) is not reading at grade level; or (3) has a personal education plan under G.S. 115C 105.41, the student’s teacher shall provide the student’s parents timely written notice advising that if the student is not demonstrating reading proficiency by the end of third grade, the student will be retained, unless exempt from mandatory retention for good cause. Parents are encouraged to help their children meet the promotion standards and will have opportunities to discuss the promotion standards and procedures with teachers and the principal. Information provided to parents should be in the parents’ native language when appropriate foreign language resources are readily available.

The teacher of a student who does not meet promotion standards must notify the student’s parents that the student has failed to meet the standards for progression to the next level of study and must provide the parents with information concerning retesting, intervention, review, and appeal opportunities. When a student is to be retained, the principal shall provide the student’s parents written notice of the retention and, if the student will be retained in accordance with G.S. 115C 83.7(a) for failure to demonstrate reading proficiency, (1) written notice of the reason the student is not eligible for a good cause exemption as provided in G.S. 115C 83.7(b) and (2) a description of proposed reading interventions that will be provided to the student to remediate identified areas of reading deficiency. Teachers shall provide parents of students retained under G.S. 115C 83.7(a) at least monthly written reports on student progress toward reading proficiency. The evaluation of a student’s progress will be based upon the student’s classroom work, observations, tests, assessments, and other relevant information.


As required by the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children (G.S. 115C-407.5) and policy 4155, Assignment to Classes, school administrators have the authority to exercise flexibility in waiving course or program prerequisites or other preconditions for the placement of children of military families in courses or programs offered by the school system.

Legal References: G.S. 115C-36, -45(c), -47, -81, -83.2, -83.7, -83.8, -83.9, -83.10, -83.11, -105.21, -174.11, -288(a), -407.5; State Board of Education Policies GCS-J-002, GCS-J-003, GCS-M-001

Cross References: Student and Parent Grievance Procedure (policy 1740-4010), Goals and Objectives of the Educational Program (policy 3000), Dual Enrollment (policy 3101), Students at Risk of Academic Failure (policy 3405), School Improvement Plan (policy 3430), Graduation Requirements (policy 3460), Extracurricular Activities and Student Organizations (policy 3620), Children of Military Families (policy 4050), Assignment to Classes (policy 4155), Fiscal Management Standards (policy 8300)

Other Resources: Guidelines for Testing Students Identified as Limited English Proficient, (N.C. Department of Public Instruction), available at http://www.dpi.state.nc.us/docs/accountability/policyoperations/lep/testinglep1314.pdf; North Carolina Read to Achieve: A Guide to Implementing House Bill 950/S.L. 2012-143 Section 7A (N.C. Department of Public Instruction), available at http://www.dpi.state.nc.us/docs/k-3literacy/resources/guidebook.pdf

Adopted: January 12, 2015

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