What We Do
Great Schools Partnership Work Plans for 2010-2013
The mission of the Great Schools Partnership is to serve as a “think-tank, catalyst, incubator and start-up funder for making Knox County Schools globally competitive.” Being a “think-tank” suggests that we will always be engaged in parsing educational data, researching best practices and thinking critically about how best to improve our schools. Being a “catalyst” suggests that we are also a do-tank. Part of our job is to get things done. And, getting things done oftentimes requires advocacy. Therefore, the development of a strong grassroots network of education advocates will also be part of our overall strategy.
As the Great Schools Partnership moves forward, we will continue to maintain our existing programs such as Birth to Kindergarten, Targeted Pre-K, TAP, AVID and New Teacher Mentoring and Induction In addition, the Great Schools Partnership will initiate a series of new programs and partnerships to assist our schools. Each of these programs should meet the four criteria established by the board for determining its priorities. That is to say, each program should be:
- Something KCS could not do on its own
Great School Partnership Programs & Initiatives:
Birth to Kindergarten – Since 2005, GSP has funded this program that recognizes that the earliest years are critical for a child’s development and lays the foundation for success in school and in life. Birth to Kindergarten gives parents the support they need to promote their child’s healthy development by having parent educators visit the home. The educators work with parents on ensuring they have the necessary tools for teaching their child. The educators model, consult and coach on the best parenting practices. Due to the programs proven success – 100% of the graduates scored proficient or above on the Kindergarten Literacy Assessment Test, compared with 63% across Knox County – GSP is expanding the program in 2011. Click to learn more about Birth to Kindergarten.
Targeted Pre-Kindergarten - The Knox County Schools voluntary Pre-Kindergarten program is offered at 22 sites in Knox County. This program uses purposeful play to teach children before they enter Kindergarten. Each Pre-Kindergarten class is taught by a certified early childhood teacher and a paraprofessional. The curriculum is geared toward the interest levels and needs of each child. The students are provided with developmentally appropriate tasks and a stimulating environment. Reading and math readiness are built into all aspects of the Pre-Kindergarten experience. Click to learn more about KCS Pre-Kindergarten.
Teacher Induction & Mentoring Program – This program strives to aid new teachers in being successful during their first few years of teaching. New teachers are provided with an orientation, mentors, and workshops on becoming an effective teacher. A University of Tennessee study shows that the program has decreased the attrition rate of teachers by more than 40% during their first 5 years. Click to learn more about Knox County Schools’ Teacher Induction Program.
TAP (Teacher Advancement Program) – Great Schools Partnership has funded TAP in four Knox County Schools. The program uses teacher collaboration and mentoring to improve the instructional ability of teachers. Through weekly cluster meetings, intense study of data, and a system of mentor and master teachers, TAP has proven successful in fostering a climate that emphasizes constant improvement. As schools show progress, the entire staff of a school is able to receive incentive pay. The effectiveness of the TAP program enabled KCS to receive a $26.5 million grant that will expand the program into 13 additional schools during the 2011-2012 school year. Click to learn more about TAP.
AVID – AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) is a middle school and high school intervention program whose mission is to close the achievement gap by preparing all students for college readiness and success in a global society. It is a college-readiness system designed to increase the number of students who successfully enroll in four-year colleges. AVID targets students in the academic middle –students with a 2.0 to 3.5 Grade Point Average- who have the desire to go to college and the willingness to work hard. AVID is a regularly scheduled elective class which meets during the school day empowering students to achieve academic excellence. GSP funds AVID at 4 KCS middle school, but due to its success it has expanded to 5 additional schools. Click to learn more about AVID.
First Grade Literacy Intervention - To further support the literacy efforts already funded by GSP, a 1st grade reading intervention program will be piloted during the 2011-2012. The goal of this program is to increase the literacy skills of the first grade students with the long term goal of having all children reading on grade level by the third grade. This reading intervention program is multi-faceted and includes literacy instructional coaches, continued professional development for elementary school staff, small group instruction and parent engagement. The goal is to further expand this program into 11 schools during the 2012-2013 school year.
Pilot ELL Summer School – This was the 2nd year of thes piloted program at Lonsdale Elementary. Rising kindergarten students who do not have English spoken at home are the target for this program. During an intense 8 week session, these students focus on the skills included in the Knox County Targets for Kindergarten Entry. A small teacher to pupil ratio allows for mastery of the English alphabet and its sounds, along with basic math fluency like counting to 20; sorting by color, shape and size; and understanding positional, directional and quantity words. The progress of these students will be tracked over the next couple of years.
Middle School Summer Bridge Program – This program is an intensive eight weeks of instruction designed to enable students to demonstrate mastery of essential concepts in reading/language arts and mathematics necessary for success in high school. Students who successfully complete the program will be promoted to 9th grade and will earn one elective school credit in Academic Success. The targeted student for this program has failed reading/language arts and mathematics in 7th and/or 8th grade, has not demonstrated proficiency on the TCAP, and/or has significant attendance issues.
Distance Learning – Through a partnership with UT-Batelle, each Knox County High School will be equipped with distance learning capabilities within the next 3 years. Distance learning labs will allow Knox County to offer high end STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) instruction despite a statewide shortage of STEM instructors. In addition, the network will enable Knox County to take advantage of its new STEM Academy partnership with UT-Batelle and the University of Tennessee. With the most talented faculty and most rigorous and relevant course offerings, the new academy can offer many of its courses to students at surrounding high schools in real time via distance learning. Each school will have a classroom equipped to send and receive interactive videoconferencing instruction.
STEM Academy – The Great Schools Partnership is aiding the Knox County Schools System on obtaining private sector funding for the initial opening of the new Knox County STEM Academy. Click to learn about the Knox County STEM Academy.
Project GRAD Knoxville – The Great Schools Partnership is aiding Project GRAD in its ongoing fundraising efforts. Project GRAD is a partnership between the Knox County Schools and the private sector and currently is in 14 KCS schools. The goals of Project GRAD are to increase academic achievement, increase high school graduation rates, increase the number of students attending college, and aiding students in their college success. Click to learn more about Project GRAD Knoxville.
The Children’s Reading Foundation of Knox County – As part of our early literacy campaign, GSP has partnered with The Children’s Reading Foundation to have a chapter in Knox County. The goal of the CRF is to promote reading. The campaign focuses on having parents or caregivers read to children for at least 20 minutes a day from birth. Click to learn more about CRF of Knox County.
Principals’ Awards Ceremony – The GSP believes schools need great leadership. To recognize the efforts of principals, a reception was held to honor the 10 elementary school principals who achieved the highest academic growth.