With the close of his first 100 days as the Director of Metro Schools, today Dr. Shawn Joseph presents his 100 Day Report to Nashville and the Board of Education. His first 100 days were guided by a comprehensive entry plan that mapped out goals and priorities – all of which were or are being addressed – for his transition into leadership.
The report will explain how the work accomplished to date – which included gathering a significant volume of community input – will be used to develop a new strategic plan for Metro Nashville Public Schools.
“I have never lived in a place that is so pro-education, where there are so many people cheering for the system and ready to give all kids a world-class education. Together, we accomplished a lot in a short amount of time. I had to be ambitious in my first few months, and now we as a city must be ambitious in where we go from here. This is a moment when urgency is needed, and that deeply felt commitment and passion from the community must keep growing. Our kids deserve everything we have.”
The transition process followed two parallel paths: action and analysis.
Dr. Joseph immediately went to work laying the foundation for district transformation with a focus on changing the leadership culture and system-wide expectations.
That began with members of the Board of Education, with whom he worked diligently to develop a positive and productive working relationship. It extended to beginning the work needed to change the district-wide culture to one of service and collaboration. It also set a new norm for district-wide expectations – for leadership, central support and teachers – of high accountability for performance coupled with high levels of support.
At the same time, Dr. Joseph prioritized community and employee engagement and created a process for deep research and analysis of the district’s current status, its strengths and its challenges.
The ongoing review included 74 school visits, a dozen Listen & Learn community forums, 30 Parent & Teacher Voice sessions on specific topics, five deep discussions on Board strategy and multiple meetings with all principals and central leadership. Dr. Joseph also assembled a 47-member Transition Team – made up of local leaders and some of the nation’s top education experts – who spent the entire 100 days poring over district research in four key areas in order to develop a set of recommendations expected in early 2017.
“When I came here, there was a lot going on throughout the system, and many disparate programs and initiatives, and I didn’t see the capacity to execute them at the highest level of quality or to coordinate them in a cohesive manner,” said Dr. Joseph. “I had to ensure that I was able to learn everything I could about the district while also starting to take steps toward the quick wins that would not only bring immediate improvement but also give us the groundwork for long-term goals and strategies.”
Each of the many accomplishments achieved during his first 100 days are in direct service to one or both of these two paths – action and analysis. Together they will help Dr. Joseph, his team and the entire Metro Schools community develop a new strategic plan to guide the district to its ultimate goal of being the fastest improving district in the country.
What did we learn?
The result of all this action and analysis is a set of conclusions on which Dr. Joseph wishes to take significant action through a new strategic plan.
“Our strategic plan will be bold in its approach to achieve high academic standards more quickly,” said Dr. Joseph. “But I didn’t want to come in with a bunch of new initiatives and programs without knowing where we are from all perspectives.
“Now I have a good sense of where we are as a district, and we must prioritize the steps to take to move forward. We will take a multi-year approach while also finding the actions we can take this year that will let people feel a difference in the quality of our services.”
The next job is also the most important: writing the map that will take Metro Schools along the road to improvement. There are two phases to this process: actions to be taken this year and compiling a long-term strategic plan for the years to come.
Looking at what can be done this winter and spring, Dr. Joseph and his team will continue to monitor the work already underway, including culture, literacy, assessments, work with priority schools and discipline disparities. The deep budget analysis will also conclude, allowing for next year’s budget to be built and a multi-year budget to begin development.
There will also be quick action taken in the areas of:
- Instructional rigor
- Advanced academic options
- Middle school programming
- Employee pay
- Parent engagement at the school level
- Facility planning
- Performance monitoring and management
All the while, Dr. Joseph and the district chiefs – with frequent discussions with the Board – will immerse themselves in long-term strategic planning. This process will play out over the next three to four months, with frequent opportunities for additional community and employee input throughout.
In January, the Transition Team is expected to turn in a report of recommendations for improvement. Combined with the report from his first 100 days, ongoing Board collaboration, continuous community engagement and other external reports, audits and sources of information, district leaders will be armed with everything they need to plan for the coming years of Metro Schools’ journey to excellence.
“I am humbled and appreciative to be in Nashville at this time in our history because I know we will get it right,” said Dr. Joseph. “There are so many people who are passionate about helping, and we must continue to collaborate with and listen to them. We cannot be the fastest growing urban district in America without them."