North Carolina

Academic Achievement

Student performance in North Carolina is middling. The state ranks just around the national average in the percentage of 4th and 8th graders at or above the proficient level on the NAEP reading and math exams.

Academic Achievement of Low-Income and Minority Students

North Carolina earns a solid grade on academic achievement for low-income and minority students. Thirty-five percent of Hispanic 4th graders score at or above the proficient level on the NAEP math exam.

Return on Investment

Student achievement in North Carolina is very high relative to state spending after controlling for cost of living. 

Truth in Advertising: Student Proficiency

North Carolina posts mediocre marks on the credibility of its student proficiency scores. The grade is based on the difference between the percentage of students identified as proficient in reading and math on the 2011 state exams and the percentage identified as proficient on the 2011 NAEP reading and math tests.

Postsecondary and Workforce Readiness

North Carolina earns an average grade preparing its students for college and careers, with 19 students out of 100 passing an AP exam.

21st Century Teacher Force

North Carolina does an average job of creating a strong teacher workforce. The state is particularly weak at removing ineffective teachers.

Parental Options

North Carolina does a mediocre job providing parents with strong school choice options. Despite a new private school choice program, its charter school law is middling, having only recently removed a cap on charter school expansion. 

Data Quality

North Carolina earns a very good grade collecting and reporting high-quality education data. The Tar Heel State links student performance data with teacher data and provides public reports on high school performance.


North Carolina receives an average grade employing technology to provide quality instruction and personalized learning. Students have some access to high-quality digital learning options, but the state could improve its funding policies to better incentivize performance and innovation.

International Competitiveness

North Carolina earns an average grade preparing its students to compete in a global economy, with almost 11 students out of 100 passing an AP STEM exam.

Fiscal Responsibility

North Carolina receives very high marks on fiscal responsibility. Ninety-five percent of its pension is funded, and the state’s most recent pension contribution was 100%.