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< Table of Contents

Strategic Plan: Goal I: Focus On the Student

Objective II:
Individual Student Learning
 All students learn at different rates and in different ways.  Therefore, the Knox County Schools must enhance its use of data and research-based methods for delivering individualized instruction to each student.  This does not necessarily mean more work for teachers and principals.  Instead, it means working smarter using technology and collaboration to more effectively educate children.

                                                                     STRATEGIC INITIATIVES                                                                                 

Individual Learning Plans for Middle and High School Students
Developing a plan for individual student academic success can be very powerful because students learn in different ways and therefore have different needs.  We will begin to develop an Individual Learning Plan (ILP) for a specific population of students, and refine the process over time.  Individual instructional needs for general education students at the elementary level are normally met through differentiated instruction or various interventions as agreed upon with a student’s parents.  As capacity for individual planning is built, middle and high school students will work with teachers, counselors and parents to develop a plan that acknowledges academic strengths and opportunities and incorporates goals that will challenge the student and prepare them for the future. 

The development of the ILP at middle and high school will be tied to EXPLORE and PLAN results, as well as other experiences and assessments taken by the student.  ILPs will provide each student with a roadmap to successful completion of their academic requirements, and will support increased student achievement and preparation for their future.   
 
•    Transition Strategy for Every Student 
The supports currently in place to transition students through the Knox County School’s various levels are limited.  Individual learning plans will be instrumental in easing these transitions, but we must do more.  An intense effort will be made to examine transitions in the KCS, and develop strategies to address the shortfalls.
  
“Success Card” Report for All Secondary Students 
Each secondary student will have access to a real-time progress report, including his or her individual student information, course requirements, enrollment, and fulfillment of requirements, EXPLORE/PLAN/ACT scores, attendance, suspensions, and other pertinent indicators of whether a student is on track to graduate.  Success Reports will be customized communication tools that address unique elementary, middle, and high school requirements, especially with respect to a student’s progress toward the various transition points.

•    Middle school student reports will include: TCAP scores, EXPLORE scores, and reading and math benchmark scores.

•    High school student reports will include: progress toward graduation, EXPLORE, PLAN, and ACT scores.

Establish Multiple Pathways and Strategies to Success
A single pathway to graduation, built upon a single or limited instructional strategy, can present many students with barriers to high school graduation. The Knox County Schools will develop and provide students with multiple pathways to succeed in school.  These pathways will be designed to meet not just the needs of struggling students but also those who excel.  The KCS will ensure all students have appropriate access to Advanced Placement (AP) and honors courses, dual enrollment and dual credit experiences, and other specialized programming.  The International Baccalaureate (IB) program and its possible implementation in Knox County will also be explored.

•    Small Learning Communities
 
Small learning communities (SLCs) are an organizational structure used to divide large populations of students into smaller, groups.  The primary purpose of SLCs is to create a more personalized learning environment to better meet students’ needs, and foster enhanced student achievement.  Typically, each small learning community shares the same group of teachers and students as they progress through the school. 

•    Freshman academies
 
Freshman academies recognize the need for additional support for many students entering high school, as well as the fact that the transition from middle school to high school represents a critically important and formative period in the academic life of a student.  The academic performance of high school freshmen in core courses is highly predictive of the likelihood they will graduate on time.  The intent is to involve the students in the life of the school early, keep them in school, and intervene immediately once a student is identified at-risk. Freshman academies are currently in place in a number of our high schools, and while the initial experiences appear promising, their effectiveness will be closely monitored.
 
•    Alternative scheduling / Additional Time
 
The Knox County Schools will examine how alternative scheduling may be used to meet student learning needs.  Additional hours and/or flexible schedules may be utilized, especially at the high school level, to accommodate different student learning styles and preferences, thereby expanding the number of viable learning options available.  
•    Alternative schools
 
Alternative schools are currently where disciplined and non-traditional students can go to learn in a radically different structure from the traditional education model.  Additional capacity must be developed to accommodate all students who are suspended or expelled, but also those who might benefit from a very different learning structure.

Alternative schools offer a variety of programs, including Adult Basic Education (GED), CTE and skilled trade training, credit recovery, e-learning, and the arts.  An Adult High School, offering both day and evening programs, is available for those who have dropped out and want to come back and earn a regular diploma. 

While high schools have multiple alternative programs, these supports and pathways are lacking for middle and elementary students.  For middle schools, the KCS will seek to move the evening program to a day program located at two sites (The Richard Yoakley School and Ridgedale School).  The Knox County Schools will also develop plans for elementary alternative programs to be offered at multiple sites.  Both the elementary and middle school alternative programs will focus on providing directed behavioral support in addition to the academic program.

•    AVID
 
Advancement via Individual Determination (AVID) is a middle and high school system to prepare students who fall in the academic middle ground for four-year college eligibility.  It enables disadvantaged and underachieving students to succeed in rigorous curricula, enter mainstream activities in school, and increase their opportunities to enroll in four-year colleges.  AVID students learn organizational and study skills that enhance learning and are provided with time and tutorial support each week to ensure success in challenging course work. 
 
•    Honors and Advanced Placement (AP)
 
Advanced Placement courses offer the intensity of a rigorous national standard, while continuing a proud tradition of academic excellence.  AP and honors courses offer challenge and rigor, and students master both content knowledge as well as 21st century skills such as critical thinking, problem solving and strong communication skills.  In 2008, 1,326 students in Knox County took AP courses.  Greater numbers of AP and honors courses will be offered in the Knox County Schools. Access to these high level courses will be broadened, and participation by every student will be strongly encouraged.

•    Dual Credit and Dual Enrollment
 
Dual credit and dual enrollment courses are excellent opportunities for high school students to begin earning college credit while being challenged in high school.  Currently Knox County students take advantage of courses offered at Pellissippi State Technical Community College and Walters State Community College.  The University of Tennessee and other colleges are other possibilities to obtain this dual credit.  Ideally, every student should take at least one AP or dual-credit course at some point in their high school career.

•    E-Learning
 
E-learning opportunities will be available for high school students in combination with regular classroom instruction.  A balance of online learning and regular classroom instruction will be sought as both are important parts of a student’s educational experience.  Computer based assessments and the Florida Virtual High School will undergo continued consideration by the District.  Online courses will serve students seeking both recovery and new credit. 
 
•    Talented and Gifted (TAG)
 
The Knox County Schools will examine and reform the Talented and Gifted Program (TAG) model to be a more consistent and quality program that challenges participating students.  Criteria shall be established for students entering the program and will be uniform throughout the district.  The KCS will identify a student’s particular gift and work to enhance that gift.

Develop the Whole Child
The Knox County Schools recognizes that many students become more deeply engaged in their school work when they are engaged in the life of the school and activities of interest to them.  KCS will continue to provide students with access to a wide variety of curricular and extra-curricular outlets including athletics, JROTC, art and various music programs.  These experiences lead to more, well-rounded, critical thinking young people who are prepared for many facets of life.
 
•    World Languages
 
The study of world languages offers multiple advantages to students in terms of critical thinking, intellectual discipline, and the richness of exploring other cultures in their native language.  The KCS will explore offering world language courses in middle schools, and perhaps even some elementary schools.  In middle school, world language could be offered as an elective.
 
•    Character Development
 
Developing the whole person, improving each student’s capacity to succeed in the workplace and contribute to society is a key element of educational success. The goal of character education in the Knox County Schools is to raise expectations for personal interactions, to improve the school climate, and to positively impact moral decisions of students and staff.  Character education shall continue to be implemented and promoted system-wide.  There are excellent research-based programs such as

CHARACTER COUNTS!, which can be used by both teachers and parents.  Regardless of which program is used, it will be embedded in the daily curriculum. 
 
•    Behavior liaisons

Behavior liaisons look strategically at the cause of student behavior issues and how to address them.  The long-term goal is to expand the number of liaisons with training for all students, pre-K through high school.
Academic Interventions and Supports
The Knox County Schools will ensure appropriate interventions and academic supports are available to facilitate the scholastic success of each student.  Teachers and other school personnel will use student data and careful progress monitoring to determine which students require intervention in order to cultivate their academic achievement. 
 
•    Recovery Credit
There is support available, based on individual student needs, to help students recover credits in core subject areas.  Multi-grade advisories can help with this using data and advising students of the options available.  This applies to both middle and high schools. Recovery credit may be earned through E-Learning, Computer-based assessment tools, summer and school day programs, summer school and High School Learning Centers.
•    Response to Intervention (RTI) 
All elementary schools use the Response-to-Intervention or RTI, process for identification of students with special needs.  The program’s primary goal is to provide research-based interventions to academically struggling students.  Students are identified through universal screening early in their education so that progress can be frequently monitored, academic skills increased, and the negative effects of academic failure lessened.  The district will support and provide resources for implementation in all schools, including personnel, training, district-wide expectations, and intervention mentors.  More professional development is needed for teachers, as well as a systematic way to address fragile students not necessarily identified. While standards-based system-wide norms will be established to equalize interventions and maintain high expectations across the district, the KCS will evaluate, on an individual school basis, how students are identified for interventions and learning disabilities. 

•    Kindergarten Intervention
Kindergarten Intervention is a successful program employed in every elementary school to identify at-risk students within the first six weeks of the Kindergarten year.  Mid-year and end of year assessments are administered, student progress is tracked, and system-wide reports are generated.  See Kindergarten Intervention (Goal 1, Objective V.

•    Language! 
Language! is a literacy intervention program for students in grades 6-12 identified as reading two or more grade levels below their grade.  See Literacy and STEM (Goal 1, Objective 1.)
 
Early Warning System 
One-hundred percent of the Knox County Schools’ students are expected to complete high school, and at least ninety-percent are expected to earn a regular diploma.  The KCS will assess the needs of students who fall short of expectations and analyze why they drop out of school.  Data analysis methods to identify potential dropouts as early as possible will be implemented so intervention can get them back on track toward graduation.  Systemic technology and data tools will be utilized to develop an “early warning system” to identify those students most at risk of dropping out.   


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