A diverse group of community leaders and national education experts released a report with over 100 recommendations to improve the work of Metro Nashville Public Schools.

The recommendations come from the 47-member Transition Team appointed by Dr. Shawn Joseph last July to help him assess the current state of the school district. The work was done through four committees focused on Student Achievement, School Choice, Human Resources and Talent Management, and Communications and Community Engagement. The Transition Team committees conducted thorough reviews by poring over data, interviewing staff and researching best practices.

Each committee identified four priority areas of need and then specific short- and long-term recommendations to address those priorities. Short-term recommendations range from conducting a compensation study to help the district more strategically recruit and retain high quality staff to increasing advanced academic course offerings in all middle and high schools.

“Several themes emerged out this deep analytical work that we also saw emerge from the broad community input we sought during my first 100 days, such as equitable access to academic programs,” Dr. Joseph said. “What this tells me is that the community’s desires are aligned with our students’ needs. That type of synergy gives us tremendous momentum for moving quickly on substantive changes. I expect both our district’s strategic plan and the operating budget for next year to address several of the recommendations in this report.”

The Transition Team was led by co-chairs David Williams II, professor of law, vice chancellor for athletics and university affairs and athletics director at Vanderbilt University, and Dr. Betty Molina Morgan, president and CEO of the Morgan Education Group and the 2010 National Superintendent of the Year.

“On behalf of all the committee members, we were honored to have the opportunity to assist Dr. Joseph with his transition into MNPS,” Mr. Williams and Dr. Morgan said. “Each student in MNPS deserves a high quality education and to graduate prepared for college and career. The challenges Dr. Joseph faces in achieving that goal are multi-faceted and addressing them will require a great deal of concentrated effort with the help of many partners, as well as strategic use of time and resources. That said, we feel Dr. Joseph’s collaborative, focused style will lead to success.”

The Transition Team findings were presented to the Board of Education this evening at a special called meeting. The full report of recommendations is available online, along with appendices of the individual committee reports.

Student Achievement Priority Areas:

Academic Priorities and Goals: Agree on a broad academic plan, work together on implementing that plan, and stick with it over a sustained period of time.

Instructional Tools and Instructional Coherence: Address the quality and focus of the district’s instructional tools for raising student achievement.

Professional Development: Build the capacity of the district’s people to perform higher level of work through the establishment of clear structures and expectations for professional development at the school and system levels.

Assessments and Data: Revamp the district’s system of assessments to ensure alignment and support schools in reviewing, interpreting, analyzing, and discussing data.

School Choice Priority Areas:

Choice programs: Analyze and improve the structure and function of choice programs in the district, including program features, curriculum, and administration consistent with district strategic plans.

Diversity: Demonstrate a commitment to diversity through continuous improvement in processes for placement, data analysis, and student services regarding its choice options.

Transportation: Prioritize transportation as a function to ensure school choice options are available to all students through clear communication and ongoing analysis of transportation and school choice patterns.

Outreach/Recruitment: Leverage and extend existing marketing/outreach/recruitment efforts to ensure information is readily available and easily understood by all families.

Communications and Community Engagement Priority Areas:

Communication of Vision: Articulate a clear vision and put in place a framework for consistently, transparently communicating it.

Customer Service Culture: Build a stronger internal culture that is customer-centered.

Parent/Family Engagement: Reimagine parent/family engagement, and better leverage and coordinate community partners.

Organizational Structure: Strengthen the organizational structure for communications & engagement.

Human Resources and Talent Management Priority Areas:

Human Resource Processes: Refine and streamline all HR processes to ensure MNPS can think about human capital in a strategic way.

Customer Service: Improve customer service to ensure Human Resources is supporting the human capital needs of schools and worksites.

High Quality Staff: Retain high quality staff by providing staff with multiple opportunities for growth and recognition.

Performance Management: Develop and implement a performance management system to articulate performance standards for every role and to provide supports to help employees grow.