Nominate an outstanding educator for the Blue Ribbon Teacher Award

Metro Schools accepting nominations through Feb. 20, 2015

Blue Ribbon LogoGreat schools cannot exist without great teachers. Quality instruction and a deep caring for a child’s overall well-being are what drive student, school and community success. For the second year in a row, Metro Schools and the greater Nashville community are joining together to honor those great teachers with the Blue Ribbon Teacher award.

Blue Ribbon Teachers have proven themselves to be stellar examples of their profession. They are nominated and selected by parents, students and their peers for their successes and commitment to their students. Up to 50 of the nominees will be chosen to receive the prestigious Blue Ribbon Teacher status and a $1,000 cash prize.

“High-quality teaching is one of the foundational building blocks for great schools,” said Director of Schools Dr. Jesse Register. “The Blue Ribbon Teacher program is a signal to the rest of the city – and the country – that we take pride in our great teachers and we value the contributions they make to Nashville.”

The program is a collaborative effort between Metro Schools, the Nashville’s Agenda Steering Committee and the Nashville Public Education Foundation. The idea was championed last year by Nashville’s Agenda as a way the private sector could help recognize and support excellent classroom teachers across the district. This year will mark the second year of the awards program.

The nomination period opened today and runs through February 20, 2015. Blue Ribbon Teachers may be nominated in one or more of three categories:

  • Impressive Data
    This includes student performance and growth, but it is not limited to teachers in tested subjects.
  • Relationships with Students
    This includes transformative actions that change students’ lives, including intense dedication and even heroism.
  • Leadership
    These are teachers who engage their colleagues, are early adopters of new initiatives and strive to be building or district leaders.

“Student success is the goal, but there is so much more than just test scores that goes into that,” said Dr. Register. “That’s why we take such a broad view when assessing our schools and why we want to recognize all of the contributions our great teachers make, both in academics and in caring for the whole child.”

“Education is one of the most important issues facing our city,” said Tom Sherrard, Chairman of both the Nashville’s Agenda Steering Committee and the Nashville Public Education Foundation. “Teachers are at the heart of everything we do and every change we make. The Blue Ribbon Teacher award is a meaningful way to honor them, and to show others how their work has made an impact on Nashville students and Nashville as a whole.”

After all nominations have been received, nominees will be screened through a blind process and forwarded to a Selection Committee made up of parents, community members, and business and civic leaders. Metro Schools personnel will not help make the final selections. Winners will be announced in March and celebrated with a reception at the Vanderbilt University Chancellor’s Residence in May.

The nomination form is available online at MNPS.org. All full-time teachers on the teacher salary schedule are eligible, including all traditional, magnet and charter school teachers. Last year’s class of Blue Ribbon Teachers included 47 educators from varied grade levels, subject areas, geographic clusters and school types, representing a true a cross-section of the district.

Metro Schools names turnaround leaders for priority schools

Metro Schools today announced the status of school leaders for the district’s 12 priority schools, taking the first major step in the next phase of the turnaround process for these schools.

The announcement follows an extensive diagnostic evaluation that took place this fall, which identified each school’s greatest challenges and needs. This analysis allowed the district to develop short-term support plans for the current school year and select the right principals to lead the turnaround efforts going forward at each school. Newly-named principals will be placed in the schools starting next school year, but will begin work this spring to develop a multi-year turnaround plan specific to their school’s needs.

Five of the 12 priority schools will have new principals in the 2015-16 school year: Inglewood Elementary, Napier Elementary, Joelton Middle, Madison Middle and Neely’s Bend Middle. Two of these changes are being made based on decisions by the current principals. The current principal at Napier Elementary is retiring and the current principal at Neely’s Bend has chosen to take another position in the district, which will be announced at a later date. No principal changes will take place before the end of the current school year.

Click to read about the new leaders and the plans for each priority school.

Current principals will remain in place at Churchwell Elementary, Kirkpatrick Elementary, Whitsitt Elementary, Jere Baxter Middle and Pearl-Cohn High going into the 2015-16 school year. Principals at Buena Vista Elementary and Bailey Middle will remain in place contingent upon end-of-year results, since principals at these schools are completing three-year turnaround plans funded by a federal School Improvement Grant (SIG) this year.

Eight of the district’s 12 priority schools are eligible to receive new SIG funding from the U.S. Department of Education this year. In order to qualify for SIG funds, priority school principals must have a demonstrated capacity for school improvement. Leaders at all 12 schools have gone through an extensive application and screening process to ensure they have the unique qualities needed in a turnaround leader. Some schools would be ineligible for SIG funding without a change in leadership.

“Each of the leaders we’ve chosen is the right fit for that school,” said Director of Schools Dr. Jesse Register. “They were carefully selected using a rigorous application and interview process that looked at demonstrated successes and ideas for the future. We are confident in these decisions and know that these leaders will build collaborative cultures that will propel their schools toward rapid improvement.”

Now that school leaders have been identified, the next phase of the turnaround process involves each leader developing a long-term plan for school improvement. This extensive planning and community engagement effort will run through the spring and into summer.

The next step in the process is to allow the school principals to select a core group of teacher leaders from the MNPS Turnaround Corps. These teachers will help principals in the planning process this spring and help lead their school turnaround efforts starting next school year.

New school leaders are being named and placed now so they can start work right away, without having to wait until the summer. Principals new to the district will be paid to work this spring before their official start dates.

“Once schools start looking at SIG funding, there’s a tremendous opportunity to try new things and implement proven strategies,” said Dr. Register. “These leaders will draft excellent improvement plans that will serve as the basis of the SIG application. They can draw upon the work we’ve been doing since August. The data profiles we put together are the result of months of collecting data, listening to parents and teachers and observing instructional practice. With those diagnostics and their own expertise in education, they have a very good base to start with.”

Schools that received SIG funding in previous years are not eligible to apply again. School Improvement Grants at Bailey, Buena Vista, Churchwell and Napier will expire at the end of this school year. Rather than planning for a SIG application, these school leaders will work with the district to ensure the sustainability of strategies in their current school turnaround plans are built into their budgets for next year. Each of these schools improved to “satisfactory” on the district’s Academic Performance Framework last year and will be expected to meet aggressive academic achievement targets to stay on track to exit the state’s priority schools list.

All 12 priority schools will develop their plans for improvement in consultation with the school community through a thorough engagement process. Principals are expected to hold parent meetings and bring parents and community members into planning sessions where they can be a part of the turnaround process. Community and parent engagement will also be built into the final versions of each school’s plan, so that this critical part of school improvement is sustained and becomes an integral part of the school’s culture. The eight schools eligible for SIG funds will have planning resources available this spring for specialized parent training sessions to ensure parent engagement in the planning process and going forward.

Attention will also be paid to needed wrap-around services in these schools through the addition of the Community Achieves model. This model, now in its third year, provides schools with a framework and process to strategically align partners and volunteers to school needs and outcomes. Community Achieves, part of the national network of the Coalition for Community Schools, will leverage existing and strong school partnerships across Nashville in order to support priority school goals and student achievement. Funding for Community Achieves in the priority schools, including staffing, is expected to be part of the final budget proposal submitted to the Board of Education later this spring.

Each school is unique and is being served in ways that best fit its individual needs. Attached is a Fact Sheet outlining what will happen at each school.

Lance Forman named first principal of Smith Springs Elementary School

Experienced educator and leader to begin serving the new school right away

Smith Springs Elementary School opening August 2015

Smith Springs Elementary School opening August 2015

Dr. Jesse Register and the Metro Schools leadership team are proud to introduce the first principal for Smith Springs Elementary School. Lance Forman will open the brand new Antioch-area school in August of 2015.

Forman is currently the principal at McGavock Elementary School, where he oversees a diverse student body in a tight knit community. Under his leadership, McGavock Elementary has made progress in closing achievement gaps and shown strong TVAAS scores for academic growth. Forman now has the honor of opening a beautiful new school in the community that gave him his start.

“Lance is the kind of educator we need in a new school like Smith Springs,” said Chief Academic Officer Jay Steele. “He has ties to the community and has proven himself a capable school leader in his years of service to Nashville families. We are proud to welcome him back to South Nashville and into a brand new school.”

Forman is a product of Metro Schools and the Antioch area. He was raised there and graduated from Overton High School. He is currently the principal of McGavock Elementary School but began his career in Metro Schools teaching fourth grade at Andrew Jackson Elementary. He has since held positions as a district STEM coach and assistant principal at Julia Green Elementary.

“Relationships play a huge role in the development of student learning,” said Forman. “I believe relationships are also at the foundation of strong schools. I worked hard to foster relationships with McGavock families and the larger Donelson community to support the academic, social and emotional needs of my students. I look forward to getting to know the people of South Nashville and building the same kinds of relationships there to give students Smith Springs Elementary the best education possible.”

Forman holds bachelor’s degree in interpersonal communications and human relations and a master’s in educational leadership, both from Trevecca Nazarene University. He is currently pursuing a doctorate in leadership and professional practice from Trevecca with an anticipated graduation in May 2016.

Metro Schools’ leaders are working quickly to identify a new leader for McGavock Elementary School so Forman has ample time to dedicate to opening Smith Springs Elementary. Between now and the first day of school, he will hire faculty, develop academic programming and start meeting with members of the community.

Change to high school math in Metro Schools will better serve students

int_math_learn
Metro Schools is set to make a major transition in math instruction. Starting in the 2015-16 school year, the district will move to an integrated math model for high school-level courses. This means Algebra I, Geometry and Algebra II will be replaced with Integrated Math I, Integrated Math II and Integrated Math III, respectively.

“Integrated math gives students a much better understanding of math as a whole and how it applies to their lives,” said Metro Schools’ Chief Academic Officer Dr. Jay Steele. “This transition will better prepare students for college-level math courses and real-world applications of math concepts. It goes beyond memorizing formulas and equations to really connect students with mathematics and show them the underlying structures of it.”

Parent Meetings

All middle and high school parents are encouraged to attend the meeting that is most convenient for them.

  • Stratford High School
    Thursday, Jan. 29 at 6:30 p.m.
  • Overton High School
    Monday, Feb. 2 at 6:30 p.m.
  • Hillsboro High School
    Tuesday, Feb. 3 at 6:30 p.m.
  • Cane Ridge High School
    Thursday, Feb. 5 at 6:30 p.m.
  • Pearl-Cohn High School
    Monday, Feb. 9 at 6:30 p.m.
  • McGavock High School
    Tuesday, Feb. 10 at 6:30 p.m.

Screen Shot 2015-01-21 at 12.00.15 PM

With integrated math, students are held to the same standards and expected to master the same mathematical concepts but in a different order. Those concepts are woven together, with more interaction between them. Rather than teaching in silos where mathematical concepts are separated into subjects like algebra and geometry, integrated math builds a progression of skills and concepts from across subjects over the course of three years. This helps students see and better understand the connections between the concepts and how they all tie together as a whole.

“Math skills do not exist in a vacuum in the real world,” said Peg Cagle, faculty member at Vanderbilt University and member of the Board of Directors for the National Council for Teachers of Mathematics. “Adults are expected to use a range of math skills to accomplish everyday tasks that are not isolated into individual subjects. Integrated math teaches mathematical coherence, where students see relationships between concepts. It also better prepares students for college-level math, where concepts mingle and interact to a much greater degree.”

The switch to Integrated Math will be phased in over three years:

  • In 2015-16, Algebra I will be replaced with Integrated Math I.
  • In 2016-17, Geometry will be replaced with Integrated Math II.
  • In 2017-18, Algebra II will be replaced with Integrated Math III.

Students who have taken or are currently taking Algebra I will not be affected by this change and will take Geometry and Algebra II. Honors versions of each Integrated Math class will be available at every high school. Advanced Placement classes like Calculus and Statistics will also be available. Middle school students will have the opportunity to take Integrated Math I and II for high school credit just as they currently can for Algebra I and Geometry.

“We are very excited for this transition because the integrated model fits so much better with the International Baccalaureate program and global approach at our school,” said Hillsboro High School principal Dr. Terry Shrader. “It elevates high school math to a new level where students feel connected to what they are learning and see how math concepts work together as a unified subject.”

Integrated math is the standard method of math instruction internationally. The United States is one of the few countries in the world to teach math separated by subject. For 40 years, school districts across the country have been studying the benefits of integrated math. New York, North Carolina, Utah and West Virginia have made the transition statewide, while many others – like Tennessee – leave the decision to individual districts. In Tennessee, several school districts have moved to an integrated approach, including Putnam, Bradley, Warren and Cheatham Counties.

“Math is already taught in an integrated fashion in kindergarten through eighth grade,” said Dr. Steele. “First graders don’t go to ‘addition class’ or ‘subtraction class.’ They go to math class. In high school, math class suddenly becomes separated into teaching just one concept per year. Integrated Math gives students a consistent teaching and learning style from kindergarten to graduation.”

If traditional high school math is taught like this…

Traditional Math Progression

…integrated high school math is taught like this.

Integrated Math Progression

“We wouldn’t expect language arts to be split up in such a way,” said Cagle. “Separating algebra from geometry makes as much sense as separating reading from spelling. They are different skills, but they are so closely connected that it makes much more sense to teach them side by side and let students see how they work together.”

The Tennessee Department of Education does not officially advocate for integrated math, but does offer it as an option for districts to use. Now is the ideal time to make the switch because:

  • full implementation of new standards is complete;
  • new statewide assessments are in development; and
  • new math textbooks will be adopted for the 2015-16 school year.

After on-going discussions among some of the district’s best math teachers – called numeracy coaches – Metro Schools’ curriculum leaders decided to take advantage of this confluence of circumstances and make the switch to integrated math. They are working closely with the Tennessee Department of Education and the higher education community to ensure a smooth transition and provide the best professional development for high school math teachers. Numeracy coaches will work throughout the rest of this school year to develop materials for integrated math classes, and the math textbook committee is expected to adopt integrated math textbooks very soon.

Frequently Asked Questions on Integrated Math

Math teachers will have extensive professional development opportunities to prepare for this change, including a two-week summer institute. Professional development is paid for through a grant from the Tennessee Department of Education totaling nearly a million dollars. There will also be resources readily available in schools for classroom teachers and numeracy coaches. Professional development will be conducted in partnership with Vanderbilt University, Tennessee Tech and the University of Tennessee at Martin. Math professors from these schools will give Metro teacher guidance on instruction.

“The success of moving to an integrated model will depend on how well we prepare teachers and parents for the switch,” said Dr. Steele. “We are very fortunate to have partners like UT Martin, Vanderbilt and Tennessee Tech to help us through this transition. Their expertise will be invaluable.”

Parents will have many opportunities to learn about integrated math and what it means for their children. There will be six cluster-based parent meetings throughout the city for middle and high school parents where parents can ask questions and see examples of what their children will learn in integrated math classes.

Antioch High School opens student-run youth court

Students sworn in as officers of the court, will hear real cases for Juvenile Court Judge

Today at Antioch High School, newly elected Juvenile Court Judge Sheila Jones Calloway swore in 30 students to the school’s newly installed youth court program. This marks the culmination of a yearlong effort to add three new youth court programs inside Metro Schools. Judge Calloway has played a pivotal role in implementing and expanding the youth court program in the district.

Youth court programs provide a second chance for juvenile first offenders who admit to the charges against them. In youth court, students assume roles as court officials. They hear and decide cases involving other young people who are first time offenders and have been cited for low-level offenses like vandalism, shoplifting and truancy.

“Youth courts have proven very successful in other communities, and we are excited that we will now be operating four youth courts in Davidson County,” said Judge Calloway. “As the Judge of Juvenile Court, I have personally learned a great deal from the students in youth court and their ideas about justice. Young people understand how other young people think and act better than adults do, so it makes sense for them to be involved in resolving these cases. Programs like youth court enable us to work together to develop fair and restorative solutions to the problems we face in our community.”

The youth court program in Metro Schools is the result of a partnership between Metropolitan Nashville Davidson County Juvenile Courts, Metro Schools and the Tennessee Youth Court Program. The Tennessee Youth Court Program is an initiative of the Tennessee Bar Association.

Cane Ridge High School served as the pilot program in October 2013. After successful implementation at Cane Ridge, the partnership worked quickly with a goal of adding courts in three more schools. Youth courts at Whites Creek and McGavock High Schools began hearing cases in February 2014. After hearing about the program and its successes from her colleagues, Antioch Executive Principal Dr. Adrienne Koger secured the opportunity for her students.

“This is a chance for our students to learn about responsibility on a societal level,” said Dr. Koger. “They are not just taking responsibility for themselves, but also helping their peers and others of their generation. There are very few programs that so perfectly combine public service and experiential learning. We are lucky to have the youth court program here at Antioch.”

This is the latest accolade for Antioch High School, which earlier this year was named a Reward School for academic growth by the Tennessee Department of Education.

The training and expansion of the youth court program in Metro Schools is a continuation of the collaboration with the Tennessee Bar Association, Metropolitan Nashville Juvenile Courts, Metro-Student Attendance Center (M-SAC), and the MNPS Student Services Division.

The Metro-Student Attendance Center (M-SAC) is a program operated by the Metro Nashville Juvenile Court in partnership with Metro Nashville Public Schools and the Metro Nashville Police Department with the goal of decreasing truancy rates in Nashville schools by addressing the root causes of truancy.

The Tennessee Youth Court Program is a youth-driven delinquency prevention/intervention program that has spread to 16 communities throughout Tennessee. Ninety-three percent of the youth participating in the program do not re-offend. The Tennessee Youth Court Program is an initiative of the Tennessee Bar Association with funding from the State of Tennessee.

Follow the Tennessee Youth Court Program – Friends of the Court on Facebook.

UPDATE: Issue in school selection process identified and resolved

Selection results are now online.

After working through the weekend, a team from the Metro Schools Student Assignment and IT departments have identified the error in the optional school selection process and have implemented a solution that is transparent, fair and maintains the integrity of the selection process.

Families who applied through the School Options Process need to know:

  • No one will be negatively affected by this error.
  • There is no need to re-run the lottery
  • The lottery worked as intended and was not compromised in any way.
  • The error occurred after the lottery was run in the “opt-out” process, which runs separately from the lottery.
  • 539 students were offered a seat at multiple schools, resulting in 147 students not being pulled from the waitlist. The resolution will mean good news for these families.
  • Selection results are back online.
  • The response deadline of Jan. 30 will remain in place as scheduled. 

The school selection results were temporarily taken offline over the weekend, removing the ability for families to see or accept school selections, after an error was identified late Friday, Jan. 8 – the day the results were released. The results gave some students a seat at the highest choice where they were selected but also, by mistake, other schools lower on their priority list as well. The error has been identified and has been corrected.

The district’s IT team determined that 539 students were offered a seat at multiple schools due to the error. An additional 147 students were not pulled from the waitlist as a result. If the opt-out process had worked correctly, these students would have been offered a seat at a school higher on their priority list when the results were released.

The lottery itself worked as intended. Every student was randomly assigned a place in line at the schools their family selected. The random selection process was not compromised in any way.

The opt-out process happens after the lottery and is separate from the lottery itself. When the opt-out process works correctly, students are offered only a seat at the highest priority school where they are selected in the lottery. The opt-out failure occurred due to a programming error. Schools new to the optional schools process this year did not have the opt-out code when they were run through the system. District officials took the system offline to fully analyze the issue and ensure that families didn’t inadvertently enroll in multiple schools for the same child. Only one family enrolled in multiple schools before the system was taken down, and district officials have reached out to that family directly.

There is no need to re-run the lottery. Students have their place in line, which has not changed and will not change when this issue is corrected. This error has impacted a small percentage of applicants and a fair solution can be provided without disrupting the entire system.

The solution was to run the opt-out process correctly and repost the results. Selection results are now back online. No one will be negatively affected. Consistent with our school options policy, every family will be given the option of accepting a seat at the highest priority school where they were selected in the lottery. As a result, more families will get to attend a school higher on their priority list rather than being on a waitlist, which is good news for these families.

The response deadline of Jan. 30 will remain in place as scheduled. Acceptance letters will be mailed out this week as scheduled.

We sincerely apologize for this disruption to our schools selection process and for the concern it has caused. We will send an update to every family who submitted an application explaining how this system error is being corrected. As previously stated, in addition to correcting this problem, the district will evaluate the technology and staff required to process a rapidly growing volume of applications in future years.

Parents who have questions or concerns are encouraged to view an online list of Frequently Asked Questions below or contact Customer Service, Monday-Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at (615) 259-INFO(4636), in person at 2601 Bransford Ave, 37204, or e-mail CustomerService@mnps.org.

Frequently Asked Questions

What happened to cause some students to be selected for multiple schools?

The opt out process failed due to a programming error. Schools new to the optional schools process this year did not have the opt-out code when they were run through the system.

The lottery itself worked as intended. Every student was randomly assigned a place in line at the schools they selected. The random selection process was not compromised in any way.

The opt out process happens after the lottery runs. It is separate from the lottery itself. When the opt out process works correctly, students are offered a seat at the highest priority school where they are selected in the lottery and opted out of the schools listed lower on their priority list.

Who did this impact? (How many students?)

An analysis of the data discovered 539 students were offered a seat at multiple schools when they should have been offered a seat at only one school. An additional 147 students were not pulled from the waitlist as a result.

How did this impact student’s school choices?

Students were impacted by either being selected for more than one school or unnecessarily waitlisted as a result of more than one seat being reserved for a single student.

The solution is to run the opt out process correctly and repost the results. The results are back online now. No one will be negatively affected. Consistent with our school options policy, every family will be given the option of accepting a seat at the highest priority school where they were selected in the lottery. As a result, more families will get to attend a school higher on their priority list rather than being on a waitlist, which is good news for these families.

Will the deadline to accept school selections be extended?

The deadline to accept selected schools is Jan. 30 and will not change. Acceptance letters will be mailed out this week as scheduled.

Was the delay on the release of the preschool and pre-K results for Hull-Jackson and Stanford related to this issue?

No. The technical problem that caused the delay in the release of the preschool and pre-K results for Hull-Jackson and Stanford is a separate issue. Those selection results are now available online.

Will this change my child’s selection results?

No. Every student was randomly assigned a place in line at the schools they selected, which has not changed and will not change. Consistent with our school options policy, every family will be given the option of accepting a seat at the highest priority school where they were selected in the lottery. As a result, more families will get to attend a school higher on their priority list rather than being on a waitlist, which is good news for these families.

What should parents do now?

We will be sending a communication to every family who submitted an application (using the contact information submitted on their application), updating them on how the system error is being corrected. Now that the system is back online, parents are encouraged to view their results. They should see the option to accept a seat at the highest priority school where they were selected in the lottery. Families will be mailed an acceptance letter this week, as scheduled. Parents who have questions or concerns are encouraged to contact Customer Service, Monday-Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at (615) 259-INFO(4636), in person at 2601 Bransford Ave, 37204, or e-mail CustomerService@mnps.org.

What is the district going to do to make things right?

The solution is to run the opt out process correctly and repost the results. Selection results are back online now. No one will be negatively affected. Consistent with our school options policy, every family will be given the option of accepting a seat at the highest priority school where they were selected in the lottery. As a result, more families will get to attend a school higher on their priority list rather than being on a waitlist, which is good news for these families.

How will parents be communicated with?

Parents will be called and e-mailed using the contact information provided on their child’s application. We will be sending a communication to every family who submitted an application, updating them on how the system error is being corrected.

What is the district going to do to prevent this from occurring in the future?

We will evaluate the technology and staff required to process a rapidly growing volume of applications in future years.

How can we trust the integrity of the system?

The lottery itself worked as intended. Every student was randomly assigned a place in line at the schools they selected. The random selection process was not compromised in any way.

The opt out process happens after the lottery runs. It is separate from the lottery itself. When the opt out process works correctly, students are offered a seat at the highest priority school where they are selected in the lottery and opted out of the schools listed lower on their priority list.

Will you consider re-running the lottery?

There is no need to re-run the lottery. Everybody has their place in line, which has not changed and will not change when this issue is corrected. This error has impacted a small percentage of applicants and a fair solution can be provided without disrupting the entire system.

Why did you have so many more applications this year?

For the first time, we offered open choice to all incoming ninth and tenth graders. They were able to not only apply for a school, but also to apply for an area of study within that school. This is largely why we saw our application numbers triple over last year. But in general, we see increased volume every year as more and more Nashville families look for school choices.

What will happen to the staff / vendors who run the lottery?

This issue underscores our need to evaluate the technology and staff required to process a rapidly growing volume of applications.

We sincerely regret that this programming error was made. It was identified shortly after the results were released. We took immediate action to notify the public, especially all families who had applied, and district staff worked over the weekend to develop a solution. The error is being fixed and no one is being negatively impacted by it.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 721 other followers

%d bloggers like this: