By Dr. Jim McIntyre, Superintendent of Knox County Schools
Dear Knox County Schools’ Families,
Welcome to the 2013-2014 school year! The start of a school year is one of my favorite times, as I regularly visit our schools and meet students.
Results from some of our assessments during the 2012-2013 school year make me even more eager for this year to begin. We are beginning to see the educational dividends associated with the great work happening in our classrooms and at home.
The Knox County Schools saw gains in TCAP (Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program) and EOC (end-of-course) exams during 2012-2013. We met state achievement targets for nine of 11 key achievement measures, including three of four TCAP subjects for grades 3-8 (math, science and social studies) and six of seven high school EOC exams. We also achieved an increase of 2.3 percent in third-grade reading/language arts proficiency from 51.2% to 53.5%. The full report is available on our website, www.knoxschools.org, and I hope you will take time to read all of the results. Our students continue to make solid gains against universally high academic standards, but while our results are predominantly very positive, we must remember there still is work to do in order to provide an excellent education for each and every child in the Knox County Schools.
“This summer we announced that the Knox County Schools was selected as one of only four school systems in the country to receive funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to fund a ‘smart spending’ initiative.”
This summer we announced that the Knox County Schools was selected as one of only four school systems in the country to receive funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to fund a “smart spending” initiative. The financial investment for the Knox County Schools’ initiative has a value of approximately $1.2 million and will support implementation of instructional strategies, efficiency initiatives, resource alignment, student-outcome analyses and technology use to support our mission of Excellence for all Children. I’m particularly excited that the timing of this grant coincides with our development of the next iteration of our strategic plan for the Knox County Schools. You will have opportunities soon to provide input into that five-year plan.
The start of the school year also means full implementation of the Common Core State Standards. Essentially, the goal of the Common Core is to provide students with a deeper understanding of academic content and greater skills in connecting and applying knowledge so that they are better prepared for college and career. Common Core focuses on important skills such as critical thinking, problem solving, and identifying and understanding connections between pieces of information. The standards are clear and concise to ensure that parents, teachers, and students have a high degree of understanding of the expectations in reading, writing, speaking and listening, and language and mathematics in school. In today’s global economy, our graduates must be prepared to compete not only with their peers in East Tennessee, but also with those from across the country and around the world.
I encourage you to ask your principals and teachers more about Common Core and how the standards will be evident in the classroom. You also can learn more about Common Core at our website, www.knoxschools.org, or feel free to send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Traditionally, the beginning of school means the “Original Knox County Schools Coupon Book” is available for sale. This is the 25th year for our coupon book, and we’re celebrating this milestone with special anniversary offers in the book. The coupon book campaign is September 5-23.
Also mark your calendars for Thank a Teacher Week, September 30-October 4. We set aside a week each year to recognize our teachers and school staff for the invaluable service they provide children all year. Watch for more information on low-cost and no-cost ways you and your children can thank our teachers.
As students return to classrooms, parents can be assured that the intensive training our outstanding teachers and principals have undergone this summer prepares these leaders for a successful year, as we all work together to achieve our mission of Excellence for all Children.
Dr. Jim McIntyre
Superintendent, Knox County Schools