Eight UNC campuses proposed to operate lab schools

The UNC system has announced the eight campuses likely to establish K-8 lab schools at the direction of the legislature.

The schools are proposed at Appalachian State, East Carolina, N.C. Central University, UNC Charlotte, UNC Greensboro, UNC Pembroke, UNC Wilmington and Western Carolina University. The UNC system’s General Administration submitted a plan to the legislature’s Joint Legislative Commission on Governmental Operations.

A provision in this year’s state budget required that UNC establish lab schools – which are essentially charter schools that could test new techniques and train future teachers and administrators. According to the legislation, the schools must be in public school districts where at least 25 percent of schools have been classified as low performing based on state test scores.

“I view this project as an opportunity to redefine how universities partner with public schools to improve student outcomes and provide high quality teacher and principal training,” UNC President Margaret Spellings said in a news release Tuesday. “Through these lab schools, we’ll be able to partner directly with local school districts to promote evidence-based teaching and school leadership, all while offering real-world experience for the next generation of teachers and principals. These schools will meld every part of our mission – teaching, research, and public service.”

Some schools will start operating in 2017-18, but so far it’s unclear which local districts will be chosen as sites. UNC leaders have expressed concern that the timetable for the lab schools was too aggressive and that school districts were skeptical about the arrangement.

Jane Stancill: 919-829-4559, @janestancill