When I first started my internship with SCORE, I remember hearing a lot about SCORE’s commitment to “sharing best practices.” At the time, I knew very little about what that meant, or what that would look like. Over the course of the semester however, I became familiar with what some of the best practices throughout the state are, who is doing them, and how to share them. Interning with SCORE has taught me how important it is to share best practices, because the commitment to sharing success with others is a vital part of the commitment to improving education in the state of Tennessee.
These past few months I have gotten to know a lot about effective teaching in the state of Tennessee, especially through assisting with the annual SCORE prize, which awarded $10,000 dollars each to one public elementary school, one middle school, and one high school, and $25,000 to one district in the state of Tennessee with outstanding growth in student achievement. SCORE spent months identifying schools with high growth through data such as test SCOREs, as well as evaluating schools through interviews and site visits. The final winners were Norman Smith Elementary, Frank P. Brown Elementary, Covington High School, and Trousdale County Schools.
As part of my internship, I was tasked with combing through all the video footage that was taken of the winning schools and districts. What might sound like a monotonous task was actually a refreshing and thought-provoking project as I was able to see commonalities and differences that led each of the winners to the SCORE prize. By listening to first-hand accounts from principals, teachers, parents, and students, I was able to learn about what aspects of cultural, academic, and procedural changes took place in each of the schools to bring about transformation and success. As I listened to their stories and some of the great ideas that schools had implemented, such as the family reading nights with free pizza that took place at Norman Smith Elementary, I realized the power of sharing best practices.
While there were some programs that were obviously tailored to the specific communities served, other broad ideas, like actively seeking community engagement and using student data intelligently are best practices that can be implemented all over the state. Seeking out and sharing these best practices, in order to ensure that every student in the state of Tennessee graduates ready for college and the workforce, is an important goal and part of the mission of SCORE.
I encourage superintendents, principals, teachers, and anyone interested to look through the SCORE Prize website for resources, to look at past winners of the SCORE prize and at the publications that detail their success, and to be on the lookout for the next set of publications for the 2013 winners as they are released. I promise you will be inspired by some of the best practices of the winners that SCORE has identified. For my own part, I intend to reach out to my former principal, as well as a family friend on the school board, and talk to them about what I have learned this semester as well as alert them to resources that are available through SCORE.
Great ideas do not belong in a vacuum. I encourage you to reach out and share what works. Through conversations, social media, and news media, sharing best practices is important. Only through continuously striving for excellence, and sharing excellent ideas with others, will Tennessee be able to reach its goals of having every student ready for college and the workforce.