By Dr. Jim McIntyre, Superintendent of Knox County Schools
I recently had the opportunity to attend the 10th annual “Reach Them To Teach Them” event at the historic Tennessee Theatre. Reach Them To Teach them is an annual event focused on celebrating and recognizing the incredibly important work our teachers do every day. This event serves all levels of school personnel across East Tennessee through an evening of appreciation and personal challenge for educators. The idea of the event was conceived in the basement of a West Knoxville church from Knox County Schools middle school teacher, Amy Crawford, who felt a bit weary and began to question if she was really making a difference in the lives of children. She was inspired by an old cassette recording of Dr. Guy Doud who was sharing his insight as a National Teacher of the Year recipient. This resulted in a renewed passion for educating children and a relentless vision to inspire fellow teachers.
As I listened to Ms. Crawford address the audience at the event, she so eloquently compared teachers to ancient carpenters who built intricate churches that took literally hundreds of years to construct. This meant that the team of carpenters would never see the finished product of the work they began. Education, she said, was similar in that a teacher may have influence a student for one school year and never see the full results when the child graduates from high school. But Ms. Crawford continued by saying that this limited time in which we influence children is well worth the rigorous – and sometimes difficult – work teachers do every single day.
This conversation reminds me of how incredibly thankful I am for our teachers who work tirelessly to do what is best for students. As a result of our educators’ expertise and commitment, we are seeing terrific academic results for our students.
The Tennessee Department of Education recently released the 2015 State Report Card on pre-K-12 education, and results show Knox County Schools improved its graduation rate for the Class of 2015 to 90.0 percent, which is a significant improvement from the Class of 2014 graduation rate of 88.7 percent.
Knox County Schools also earned an A in achievement for math, a B in English language arts/reading, and an A in science respectively. In comparison, the State of Tennessee posted grades of an A in achievement for math, a B in English language arts/reading, and a B in science. The Tennessee Department of Education did not assess students in social studies. Achievement grades are based on how well students performed on the TCAP assessments against the state standards.
In overall value-added results, Knox County Schools achieved a composite Level 5 in growth, a 5 in literacy, a 5 in numeracy, and a 5 in combined overall literacy and numeracy. A Level 5 is the highest level attainable. In terms of value-added Report Card grades, Knox County Schools earned a B in math, a C in English language arts/reading, and a B in science. Again, the Tennessee Department of Education did not assess students in social studies. Due to a change in methodology of how value-added letter grades are calculated, the Tennessee Department of Education no longer posts value-added scores for the state. Value-added data measures student growth within a grade and subject and also reflects the influence of the district, school, or teacher on student’s academic performance.
This conversation reminds me of how incredibly thankful I am for our teachers who work tirelessly to do what is best for students.
Prior to the release of these encouraging Report Card results, Knox County Schools made history when it was named an Exemplary District by the Tennessee Department of Education. The Knox County Schools is the first large metropolitan school district in Tennessee to ever earn this distinction.
We have much to be thankful for in the Knox County Schools, and we are committed to collectively creating a pervasive Culture of Excellence where every school is a great school, every teacher is supported and successful, and every stakeholder – including parents – is productively engaged. Perhaps most importantly, where every student is prepared for a bright and successful future!
Thank you for all you do to help children reach their very highest potential as we strive to reach our very important goal of Excellence for Every Child.