Once again, the Knox County School system has come under fire by the Kentucky Department of Education. An April 3-6 on-site review of the school district’s instructional performance saw the administration lacking in several areas.
The Kentucky Department of Education and AdvancED review included a five-member team of distinguished education professionals who were following up on a previous district diagnostic held in 2014.
The report identifies six improvement priorities for Knox schools, representing the systems necessary for the school district to achieve quality student performance results and organizational effectiveness.
According to Commissioner of Education Stephen L. Pruitt, “Specific attention must be focused on developing a district-wide instructional plan and monitoring system for all Knox County Schools. This should include a laser-like focus on closing the achievement gap, providing effective professional learning opportunities for teachers and administrators, and continuing to establish district level systemic approach to support and monitor the continuous improvement of all schools in the district.”
Knox County Schools Superintendent Kelly Sprinkles said the school district’s leadership team has already begun the process of addressing the improvements needed, and that they are focused on curriculum, instruction, evaluation and assessment.
“As a school district, we must not let the report overshadow the progress that is being made in the school district,” said Superintendent Sprinkles. “With one distinguished school and four proficient, it is evident that our focus on teaching and learning is resulting in student achievement.”
Sprinkles said instructional design work has been an emphasis for the past two years, as teachers have collaborated to develop units of study that are now being used throughout the district.
“We will continue to work collaboratively together to ensure full development, implementation and monitoring in order to provide a high quality academic program to all students in all schools,” he said.
Areas of improvement since the last review did not go unnoticed by the review team and were included in the report. Their findings include evidence that:
• The District has begun to involve and engage more stakeholders (parents).
• The District has revised its mission and vision statements and is beginning to intentionally tie decisions and discussions around each.
• The District has implemented the Professional Growth and Effectiveness System (PGES) process of evaluation of professional staff.
• The District has adopted policies aligned with the Kentucky Framework for Teaching.
• The District is utilizing the Continuous Instructional Improvement Technology System (CIITS) for curriculum planning.
• The District has created a walkthrough observation/evaluation process.
• The District has defined job responsibilities and roles and is working as a team to address supporting school needs.
• The District has assembled a Strategic Plan task force that will guide the school district in planning for continuous improvement.
KDE staff will offer guidance and support to the school system while it addresses the issues listed in the report, however, the work is to be undertaken by the school district.
KDE plans to return in a year to follow up on the recommendations and assess where the district is regarding the improvement priorities.
See the complete report at www.mountainadvocate.com.