By Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal
The Tupelo school board last week received results of an audit from Phi Delta Kappa, a professional education association, to identify ways the district could improve student achievement. The audit, school officials pointed out, was designed to focus on the learning gaps and not on the district’s strengths. Daily Journal education reporter Chris Kieffer spoke with Tupelo school board President Mike Clayborne about the results and what happens next.
Q: What surprised you most about the audit’s results?
A:The finding that the district strategic plan was inadequate to promote change. The district has invested a tremendous amount of time and resources in our strategic planning. We have contracted with several recognized education experts over the last five years to design and facilitate our planning efforts. For these reasons it was a surprise to have this area found to be inadequate.
Q:How does the district begin to address the audit’s recommendations?
A:The board and administration will first look closely at the findings and recommendations to ensure we understand what is being recommended. We will look to Dr. Shaver and his administrative team to develop a plan and timetable for addressing the recommendations. The recommendations from PDK are substantial and far-reaching. We want to have a sense of urgency in making the appropriate changes and at the same time ensure that the adjustments are understood by staff, parents, students and our community.
Q:Sometimes they say, be careful what you ask for. I know it was difficult to hear the audit point out gaps within the district. Are you still glad you did it?
A:I am more convinced than ever that the curriculum audit is a valuable process. No one enjoys having their deficiencies or gaps identified. When you are committed to continuous improvement and being the best that you can be it is necessary to constantly examine your approach and make adjustments. I also am proud that we have been open and transparent with the community about the process and findings. It is important that we have community trust. Tupelo is an outstanding school district and we are committed to make it better.