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Dade County Schools ::
Race to the Top (RT3)

View Georgia's Race to the Top (RT3) Plan on the Georgia Department of Education web site.


Overview

The Dade County School District is a Race to the Top federal grant recipient based on educational reform that is focused on improving TEACHING AND LEARNING for the students of Dade County. Dade County is one of twenty-six school districts in Georgia selected to be a part of Race to the Top.

The Race to the Top initiative includes:

  1. Recruiting, Preparing, Rewarding, & Retaining Highly Effective Teachers & Principals
  2. Adopting Standards & Assessments that prepare for Success in College & the Workforce.
  3. Building data systems that measure student growth and success to inform Instruction.
  4. Turning around the Lowest-Achieving Schools.

The Dade County School System is deeply involved in each of these initiatives.

Dade County has contributed through the state advisory committee to the construction of the IIS Instructional Improvement System. The IIS houses teaching and learning data which can be used by districts throughout the state of Georgia to improve instructional planning and assessment. The State of Georgia has implemented the LDS Longitudinal Data System as the first phase of the IIS Instructional Improvement System. This system has earned national recognition for the state of Georgia and Bob Swigum who heads the project for the state educational department.

In an effort to provide a commonality of rigorous curriculum and prepare students for success, Georgia joined forty-seven other states in adopting the Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts and Mathematics. This collaborative effort is a national reform to bring about consistency in education throughout the United States. The goals of the initiative are centered on improving student learning and global competiveness. A secondary benefit is that it could possibly provide a true comparison across the states which could spotlight areas for improvement and accountability. Dade County has participated in district wide professional development for our English Language Arts and Mathematics teachers K-12. As part of the Race to the Top initiative, Dade County will continue to provide ongoing Common Core Curriculum training.

The first of the four initiatives for Race to the Top has brought about a national reform in the teacher evaluation process. In the past teachers were evaluated on a single data perspective (teacher observations), with 98% of teachers receiving superior scores. The evaluation system was very subjective and in most cases not directly related to student achievement. The national movement and research has lead to the development of an evaluation system from three data perspectives (teacher observations, student achievement, & student surveys of instructional practice). Each of the three perspectives sheds light on the effectiveness of the teacher. The data which is collected from multiple sources provides the teachers with a chance to display their knowledge and skills from different viewpoints. This system also provides specific information for targeted professional learning to help individual teachers grow. This is a major change from the fish net approach professional learning has utilized in the past. Measuring teacher effectiveness, holding teachers accountable and helping teachers grow in the profession are complex tasks; but ultimately our responsibility is to the children. Initially Dr. Goodroe attended a conference with other participants from the Georgia Department of Education. The conference which was held in Washington, D.C. and sponsored by the Gates Foundation and Aspen Institute highlighted the effectiveness and reliability of the multi-data teacher evaluation system. Twenty-two of the states represented at the conference embarked on this evaluation reform. During the 2011-2012 school year the Race to the Top districts of Georgia piloted the Georgia version of a teacher evaluation system called the Teacher Keys Evaluation System (TKES). Following the pilot, the state worked with the districts reflecting on concerns, issues and strategies to improve the process.

A leader evaluation system was also piloted in Georgia during the 2011-2012 school year. The Leaders Keys Evaluation System (LKES) focused on the effectiveness of leaders in relationship to student achievement and school performance. This system mirrors the teacher evaluation system from a school perspective. Mr. Billy Hooker and Dr. Jody Goodroe attended training and development sessions with the state to prepare for this pilot. During the 2012-2013 school year, all Dade County district and school administrators were trained and credentialed on the TKES and LKES processes. A Race to the Top implementation team made up of teachers and leaders within the Dade County School System, met during the 2011-2012 school year to prepare teachers and leaders for the pilot and eventual full implementation process. Dr. Goodroe and Mrs. Swader, Dade County district administrators have also served on the State Advisory Committees in the development of the evaluation systems.

As one can see Dade County is at the forefront of the educational reform taking place in our state and across the nation. We believe the initiatives of Race to the Top and this national reform will improve TEACHING AND LEARNING for the students in Dade County and across the nation. As with any reform there is some apprehension about the changes and even as we enter the full implementation process there remain difficult questions to answer, procedures that need to be developed or adjusted and issues that need to be addressed. There continues to be a sense of apprehension, but also guarded excitement within the school district as the initiatives unfold and the processes are put in place. However, the ultimate goal is to improve instructional practices focused on “what is best for students” and helping them to achieve in a competitive, global society. This can be a challenge in these difficult economic times, but The Dade County School District is committed to leading the way in our state and nation, but more importantly for our students in Dade County.