Department of Education:
Deeper student insights leave a deep impact
— Dr. Kirk Kelly,
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.”
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
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
Department of Education
For Hamilton County, the essence
of educational intelligence is...