8 – Morcease Beasley

David & Goliath
Index – 2014 Summer Leadership Conference

Dr. Morcease Beasley – Executive Director, Curriculum & Instruction
Mr. Thurmond, y’all made a mistake today. You have me a mic, you gave m a theme about David & Goliath, and you gave me a great year to talk about it. Give yourselves a hand.
Someone may ask the question, what led to the success. Johnathon basically highlighted a little bit of the success, but honestly there was success in every region, at every school across the board. Give yourselves a better hand than what you’ve given yourself. As I often hear Mr. Thurmond, if you don’t tell your story, don’t expect anybody else today. Today is an opportunity to tell the story.
What led to our success. As many of you know, this year in the state of Georgia, we had a weather crisis that facilitated a lot of online and over the phone conversations while everybody was trying to stay warm and at home etc … Well, in the midst of those conversations, growth and achievement was born, conceived in the mind of our superintendent.
So, while I was at home trying to relax, thanking god I didn’t have supervision of schools and all that stuff, I was still pulled into the frey along with everyone else. Mr. Thurmond put the problem out there and had the team come up with a solution. Well, you all know, improving student achievement is not an area … now I tell folks we have some deficits, but improving student is not one of them. So, when we had the opportunity as a team to come together, it was natural for us to come up with a model to ensure every school in our district experience growth.
So, what you see on the screen are the six components of that model. Some of the components, I’ll start at parent and family engagement, we had started that component at the start of the school year. So, it was a natural continuation of what we had already started. With all the conferences, opportunities, bringing in our international parents, the district did a phenomenal job last year of engaging every community.
But, going back to the topic, we recognized that the first thing we’ve got to do is teach … everybody say teach … “teach”. I don’t care how you look at it. If you don’t teach the curriculum, you’re not setting the kids up to pass. You’ve got to teach the curriculum. So, the first component is, you’ve got to teach the grade level content standards. We’re going to talk more about this when we do the GAM session and during the concurrent sessions, but the bottom line is this. You principals work with your teachers to teach DeKalb’s curriculum … give yourselves a hand for getting it done.
Number two, assessment. I have to recognize our board. For many years Mr. Thurmond, we’ve been trying to get a universal screener. This was the first board to understand that in order to help teachers identify what student’s need, in order to improve, they’ve gotta have a tool. Our board did that in August of last year, they approved the purchase for the Renaissance Learning, Star Reading, Star Math, Star Early Literacy, Universal Screener. All of our schools use the screener throughout the year to identify weaknesses that our students may have in math and reading. That data was used to improve every student, in addition to teaching the curriculum. We called it our dual approach. Teach the curriculum, improve the deficit. You’ve got to do it at the same time. It’s hard work, but hey, we all decided to be educators. We bought in to the hard work when we signed up to be educators. And you as principals led the charge.
Additionally, Mr. Thurmond decided last year to not only calls me to be responsible for curriculum and instructions, but he said, Beasley, go ahead and do federal programs too. It doesn’t matter that you have a lot to do, just go ahead and get it done. So, we took on Title I and Title II and of course we already had race to the top. But, it gave us a unique opportunity to align the resources. So, it was about $80 million dollars that we had access to. Race To The Top being over 4 years. But, in particular, last year we were able to provide resources to our schools that possibly didn’t have Title I funds. Raise your hand, any non Title I school that benefited from Race to the Top resources last year. Give them a hand … give them a hand.
We appreciate what HR did with the student success tutors. These initiatives provided additional support to our students. Raise your hand if your school used the student success tutors. Very good.
Our superintendent made sure that the resources were aligned to support our schools. That is so important, that is why we have fiscal alignment in there. Even this year, we’ve already begun the process of preparing communications to begin that additional support. Not as we did last year around February, but starting in August. We will be providing that additional support. And also we provided professional learning. Many of your teachers, I remember one Saturday in particular, we had over 1,300 teachers to come out and talk about growth and achievement. We had principals, we had all of these individuals as we rolled this out, everyone bought into the model. Everybody bought in to the model. Everybody was clear as to what the expectation was and what their role was in improving student achievement.
So, we provided professional learning …
[00:06:16] … 4 minutes left …