The Public Education Foundation and the Hamilton County Department of Education are hosting a two-day Leadership Institute this week for more than 200 principals, assistant principals and district leadership, focused on the implementation of Common Core Standards.
“It used to be that all 50 states had their own individual standards by which they measured student success. This led to severe inconsistencies in what is considered college and career ready. The Common Core provides rigorous, consistent and clear standards for every student in most states, including Tennessee,” said Ann Kilcher, PEF senior consultant for leadership development, who works with many districts in different states about Common Core implementation.
Adopted by 45 states, the Common Core Standards define the knowledge and skills students should have within their K-12 education so that they will graduate high school able to succeed in college or a career.
According to the Common Core State Standards Initiative, the standards:
—Are aligned with college and work expectations
—Are clear, understandable and consistent
—Include rigorous content and application of knowledge through high-order skills
—Build upon strengths and lessons of current state standards
—Are informed by other top-performing countries so that all students are prepared to succeed in our global economy and society
“The Leadership Institute is an opportunity for all leaders in the district to both deepen their understanding of Common Core Standards and explore their role in leading their schools through the implementation of these standards,” Superintendent Rick Smith said.
Colleagues representing districts in New York City and Cincinnati will share their early successes and challenges with implementing the Common Core Standards over the past two years.
Last week, principals, teachers, students and community members came together to celebrate the success of the Middle Schools for a New Society Program. Leaders said the program has made a substantial impact on Hamilton County middle schools over the past six years.
Like the Leadership Institute, MSNS is a partnership between HCDE and PEF. The Lyndhurst Foundation and the NEA Foundation provide support.
"Our goal is to transform every middle school," Smith said. "This means every school, every classroom and every student. That's 20 schools, over 600 teachers and more than 9,000 students."
MSNS is focused on three goals to change middle school culture: improving reading, math and the well-being of students. The result is an environment where students are engaged, teachers learn collaboratively and instruction is rigorous for everyone.
"We want our middle schools to challenge, engage and support all students, from the most challenged to the highest performing," Ismahen Kangles, MSNS director, said. "This is about a community coming together to impact middle school students not only so they are successful in high school but also in life."
In 2004, Hamilton County became one of the first NEA Foundation Closing the Achievement Gap sites. In partnership with PEF, Hamilton County schools received a five-year, $5,000 annual grant to facilitate closing the achievement gap in five of Hamilton County's most high-need middle schools. The objective was to gain additional funding to extend into all middle schools in Hamilton County. The hope was met in 2005-2006 when the Lyndhurst and NEA foundations joined forces with HCDE and PEF to provide resources that would help all the middle schools in the county.
"This has been a community partnership that has really made a difference," Dan Challener, PEF president, said.
For the past six years, each school has received grant funds based on strength of vision, the depth of their plan and the individual needs of the school. Throughout, schools have invested in people rather than things. Each school hired an instructional coach in order to ensure successful implementation and effective ongoing support.
The celebration featured students from all 20 middle schools talking about the impact of the initiative.
For more information about NES, click here.