Schools should always be an important consideration when considering where to live and raise a family. Memphis is on a serious journey to improve its school system and showing real improvement. Emphasis has been placed on more parent involvement with students, schools, and community resources. The overarching goal is for students to graduate from high school prepared to either enter college or post high school career development.
By the year 2025, the Shelby County School System is committed to ensuring 80 percent of seniors graduate prepared for college or to be career-ready. Also, that 90 percent of students will graduate on time and that 100 percent of graduates who are college or career ready will enroll in a post-secondary opportunity. The priorities for moving towards those goals are:
- Priority 1 – Strengthen early literacy.
- Priority 2 – Improve secondary readiness.
- Priority 3 – Develop teachers, leaders, and the central office to drive student success.
- Priority 4 – Expand high quality school options.
- Priority 5 – Mobilize family and community options.
The school system has achieved the highest improvement rate in the state by doubling math proficiency since 2010 and is recognized as a national model for education policy and practice through the district’s teacher and leader effectiveness work. Still, the superintendent and school board don’t see this as being enough and continue setting stretch goals to achieve more and faster improvement.
Signs of Improvement
Of course, goals are only visions until reality defines achievement. One such achievement is seen with six seniors being named 2015 U.S. Presidential Scholar Candidates by the United States Department of Education and the White House Commission on Presidential Scholars. This is recognized as one of the nation’s highest honors for high school students and each of these students represents “excellence in education and the promise of greatness” in America’s youth.
Each year, no more than 141 students are named as Presidential Scholars. Scholars qualify based on superior academic and artistic achievements, leadership qualities, strong character, and involvement in community and school activities.
Another notable national accomplishment is that Cummings School has been named a 2014-15 National Title I Distinguished School by the National Title I Association and represented the state of Tennessee at the National Title I Conference in Salt Lake City, UT. Cummings, a preK-8 school, is being recognized for its hard work in closing the achievement gaps between students and its innovative programs that have resulted in achievement gains. One of these programs is Parent Power.
Parent Power involves community stakeholders, parents, and teachers attending 10 weeks of classes. Participants are able to collaborate to address misconceptions and the needs of the students. Community stakeholders are able to make sure parents are aware of community services that they otherwise wouldn’t know about. Teachers and parents engage in open conversations to establish mutual goals that all fully supported.
Cummings’ administration also attributes its student achievement to tutoring programs. Students have several opportunities to participate in tutoring sessions that focus on reading and math. Cummings even has a Saturday school program, which is used to target skills and standards that are typically difficult areas for students to master.
The Memphis school system may not be the best in the country but it is showing real and sustainable progress. In the upcoming years, Shelby School System can be expected to continue increasing student achievement and operate with the belief that every student can and should learn.
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Author bio: Brian Kline has been investing in real estate for more than 35 years and writing about real estate investing for 10 years. He also draws upon 30 plus years of business experience including 12 years as a manager at Boeing Aircraft Company. Brian currently lives at Lake Cushman, Washington. A vacation destination, a few short miles from a national forest. With the Pacific Ocean a couple of miles in the opposite direction.