Analytics Essay

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Smarter Planet Leadership Series Hamilton County Department of Education: Deeper student insights leave a deep impact — Dr. Kirk Kelly, Hamilton County Department of Education, Director of Accountability and Testing On a recent Monday morning in the leafy northern suburbs of Chattanooga, Tennessee, the executive leadership of the Hamilton County Department of Education was having its usual weekly meeting to address issues big and small. While the group of eight was there to discuss business, there was a certain levity to the proceedings that comes from hearing good news. For on this very morning, Chattanooga’s largest daily newspaper ran a front-page story chronicling a 10 percent rise in the state’s high school graduation rate—and how those of selected Hamilton County schools rose even higher. Dr. Kirk Kelly, the department’s Director of Accountability and Testing, is one of many players on the Tennessee education scene whose efforts have helped boost graduation rates over the past few years. For Dr. Kelly and the rest of his colleagues, this upbeat reaction to the news is not a “mission accomplished” moment, but rather an expression of the simple human satisfaction that their efforts—and those of the department’s 600 other employees—are having an impact that will resonate for years to come. “Keeping our kids on track academically is an ongoing challenge,” says Kelly. “We’ve seen a significant payoff from the path we’ve taken, and our aim is to push it even further.” Leadership Spotlight The signs are clear that Hamilton County’s efforts to improve student performance and reduce the dropout rate are paying off. But to Dr. Kirk Kelly, who has driven the county’s “educational intelligence” initiatives from the beginning, the best is yet to come—and he’s working diligently to get that message out to teachers, students and the community. How the Hamilton County

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