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Annenbert Institute for School Reform:

Central Office Review for Results and Equity:
Common Questions about CORRE

What is CORRE?
The Central Office Review for Results and Equity (CORRE) is carried out in partnership between a school district, community partners, and the Annenberg Institute for School Reform. CORRE is based on research about how district central offices can support schools so that all the district's students can achieve at high levels. CORRE is a guided self-analysis that helps identify what central offices do well, what they struggle with, and what needs to change. A CORRE Team, composed of district and community representatives and facilitated by Annenberg Institute staff, works over several months to identify high-priority issues in the district, gather quantitative and qualitative data, and develop plans and propose action for improvement.

Where have other CORREs taken place?
CORREs have been completed in urban and urbanized districts in Hamilton County, Tennessee; Portland, Oregon; Sacramento, California; Mobile, Alabama; and in three Rhode Island school districts.

Is CORRE an audit?
No. An audit is generally done to a district by an outside agency, without the involvement of those being reviewed. CORRE, in contrast, works with a district and its community stakeholders to provide a mirror for central office to look at itself and analyze how it can work better for schools and students. The final report includes findings that are co-constructed by the Institute and the CORRE Team, along with independent recommendations made by the Institute, which then works with the district to move to action steps based on the report.

Who paid for the Knox County CORRE?
In Knox County, the CORRE was funded through a partnership between Knox County Schools and the Great Schools Partnership. Expenses included the Institute's on-site staff time and travel costs for site visits to the district, and additional Institute staff time for data analysis and documentation to support on-site work. The district supplied extensive staff time of those CORRE Team members who are district employees, especially the district liaison, and provided logistical support for the CORRE Team meetings.

Where did members of the CORRE Team come from?
The CORRE Team consisted of a broad-based and geographically diverse group of twenty-five district stakeholders, including central office staff, parents, principals, teachers, community members, union leaders, business leaders, and higher-education partners. A complete list of CORRE team members is listed in the CORRE report.

What did the CORRE Team do and who else participated in CORRE?
The CORRE Team first met in the fall of 2007 to determine the areas that affect central office's work in supporting the district's schools, and prioritized those areas that would be studied as a team. The CORRE Team then visited schools so members could form a shared understanding and experience of the district. Following those visits, in late 2007 and early 2008 the CORRE Team and Institute staff convened individual interviews and focus groups with parents, students, principals, teachers, central office staff, members of the teachers and other unions, school board members, and business and community partners to talk about what central office does well, struggles with, and could do better. In the end, over 500 community members were interviewed. The Institute then analyzed the information gathered and shared preliminary findings with the superintendent and CORRE Team. The final report, including findings, analysis, and recommendations, was presented to the Knox County School Board in September 2008.

What were the findings of the Knox County CORRE?
The CORRE team found widely varying perspectives of Knox County Schools, which is not surprising given the diversity of the county. Overall, the CORRE team found several major strengths of the system – a commitment to reflective practice, constant learning, and researching best practices; a strong capacity for data collection and commitment to data-driven decision-making; a growing competency in internal and external communication and organizational collaboration; solid indicators of student achievement for portions of the student population, and an effective professional development foundation focusing on research-based best practices and embedded professional development. However, the CORRE team found several major areas to be addressed, including a lack of focus and shifting priorities that has led to program sprawl; a persistent achievement gap and lack of universal access to resources necessary for all students to succeed; a lack of coordination of offices and activities around human capital management; concerns about high expectations for all students in KCS; frustration from community members around partnering with KCS effectively; and school-based staff concerns around KCS communication. Detailed findings can found on pages 8-22 of the full report, which can be downloaded at the KCS website at http://knoxschools.org.

What did the CORRE report recommend?
The Annenberg Institute developed a set of recommendations that follow directly from the findings of the CORRE team, and reflect the Institute’s focus on results, equity, and community. The Institute has put forward six major recommendations for Knox County Schools and the broader Knox County community. The report suggests priority actions to be taken in each area.
  1. Eliminate “program sprawl” by aligning central office resources with Knox County Schools’ vision of an effective school system.
  2. Build an equitable system of supports to serve all students in Knox County Schools effectively.
  3. Prioritize human capital management as one of the district’s key functions in everyday practice.
  4. Institutionalize high expectations and provide meaningful choices to lead to post–high school success.
  5. Leverage the resources and capacity of the Knox County community (universities, businesses, community groups, etc.) through more effective partnerships and advocate for the creation of a local education fund.
  6. Increase accountability for education on the part of both KCS and the Knox County community by building a culture of communications and engagement.
How will these CORRE findings and recommendations be used?
The CORRE report is not designed to sit on the shelf after it’s been printed, but instead to become a valuable resource for strategic planning, goal-setting, and creating or augmenting Knox County Schools’ reform agenda. Specifically, the CORRE process will now move into its “Action Phase.” The Annenberg Institute will remain a partner with KCS for at least six months following the release of the CORRE report, supporting a team of district leadership and key partners to act on the CORRE recommendations and integrate them into the district's strategic plan and ongoing work. Funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation helps make AISR's participation in the post-report implementation possible.

What is the Annenberg Institute for School Reform?
The Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown University is a national policy-research and reform-support organization that focuses on improving conditions and outcomes in urban schools, especially those serving disadvantaged children. The Institute works through partnerships with school districts and school-reform networks in collaboration with national and local organizations skilled in educational research, policy, and effective practices
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