RALEIGH This month thousands of high school seniors are preparing college applications. Millions of parents are sitting down to help with homework and making life-changing decisions about how to educate their children from kindergarten to college. This week the North State Journal met with teachers, parents, students and leading-decision makers in N.C.’s education system to find out how the system is evolving. N.C. has shown national leadership in digital K-12 classrooms, parental choice options, community college innovations, and world-class universities. The public primary and secondary schools have worked hard to keep up, but high national rankings continue to elude the Old North State’s public school system. According to the U.S. Department of Education, North Carolina’s public school students are above the national average in elementary school standardized tests, but fall below the national average in middle school.North Carolina spends $18.66 billion on education, 43 percent of the total state budget. The three components of the N.C. education system are the N.C. Department of Public Instruction, the N.C. Community College System and the University of N.C. System. Out of the state education budget, 2,524 primary and secondary schools costs $12.72 billion serving 1.5 million students. The 17-campus university system costs $4.46 billion serving almost 225,000 students, and the 58-campus community college system costs $1.48 billion serving 441,000 students. In 2015, the state’s graduation rate was 85 percent, up from 63 percent in 2006. While North Carolina continues to debate the best paths forward in K-12 education, one thing is certain voters, businesses, politicians and government officials are focused on education.
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