SPF and the process of progress
Last week, the District unveiled our 2011-12 School Performance Framework (SPF) rankings. Although I was ill and unable to attend the unveiling event at the Las Vegas Mini Gran Prix, a minor bug and some antibiotics were not nearly enough to dull my enthusiasm from home.
The results speak for themselves: our District is making progress. While the number of 4- and 5-Star schools has increased, there are still many areas where we can improve. As I said last year, and say again, the SPF will help us get better, faster. The SPF has helped us get better, faster.
While this is no time for a victory lap, I do want to say I am proud of all of our schools - every teacher, student, support staff member, and building leader who took last year’s SPF rankings and worked hard to improve. We are well on our way to being the fastest-improving district in the nation. It will not happen overnight, but it will happen.
I’d like to take a moment to address some skepticism of this year’s rankings. There are some who questioned our decision to hold schools harmless the first two years of SPF, while we take the time to perfect the system and help school leaders and teachers understand the system that will help hold ourselves accountable.
The recommendation came straight from the Technical Advisory Panel (TAP) that oversaw the design and implementation of SPF and was comprised of teachers, principals, parents, business leaders and community members. When it came to officially lowering a school’s ranking, the panel decided to err on the side of caution and give a school two consecutive years of low performance before lowering a star ranking during this "hold harmless" phase. Too often, people accuse those at the top of not listening to the individuals doing the actual work. I listened to the people doing the work on the ground who decided that lowering a star ranking for one year of lower performance would have a punitive effect on schools.
I stand by the Technical Advisory Panel's decision.
On the SPF Web site, we have transparently listed each school’s official ranking, along with its current rank and last year’s rank. The SPF is still in its infancy phase. There will be issues anytime a new system is rolled out. There will be kinks to work out and conversations to be had. We will never make 100 percent of the people happy, but I am happy to report that 90 percent of the teachers we surveyed believe the SPF is a step in the right direction.
I welcome the input of supporters and critical friends alike. Yes, I am the superintendent of the Clark County School District, but this District – and the mandate to improve it – falls on the shoulders of all of our staff and our community. If you’d like to participate in the conversation, I invite you to make your voice heard; email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact me on Twitter @dwightdjones.
Dwight D. Jones
Superintendent, Clark County Schools