By Sally Absher

Superintendent School Visits

Dr. McIntyre will wrap up his morning school visits during the week of August 24 as follows:

Monday Aug. 24 – Brickey-McCloud Elementary, Halls Elementary, Halls High

Friday Aug. 28 – New Hopewell Elementary, Bonny Kate Elementary, South-Doyle Middle.


Local High Schools Make Newsweek’s Ranking List

Last week Newsweek, in collaboration with research partner Westat, published the 2015 list of “America’s Top High Schools”—an ‘absolute’ list that ranks schools solely based on performance—and “Beating The Odds,” a ‘relative’ list that ranks schools based on performance, while also accounting for student poverty rates.

Farragut High School (# 402) made Newsweek’s “America’s Top High Schools” list, which ranks 500 public high schools across the country. Six Tennessee high schools made the list for 2015, including East Tennessee’s Gatlinburg-Pittman (# 348).

The Top 500 High Schools were ranked by their College Readiness Index scores, which measures factors including college enrollment rates, graduation rates, weighted AP/ID/Dual Enrollment composite, weighted SAT/ACT composite, student retention (change in student enrollment between 9th and 12th grades, as an attempt to account for drop-out rates), and counselor-to-student ratios.

The Newsweek High School Rankings—recognizing the achievements of the best public high schools in the United States for college readiness—have been published for more than a decade. For the past two years, Newsweek has published two separate lists in an effort to address the complexities of assessing the “best” high schools when students’ socioeconomic backgrounds are taken into account.

In the East Tennessee area, L&N Stem Academy (# 451) joined Gatlinburg-Pittman (# 70), and Pigeon Forge (# 495) High Schools in making the “Beating the Odds” list. They were three of ten Tennessee High Schools on the Beating the Odds list.

You can view the lists here:


Latest Spin on Common Core Standards

Politico reports on the latest opinion poll conducted by the journal Education Next:

Support for the Common Core standards is dropping, but it’s not in a freefall. In fact, it might even be stabilizing. Education Next’s new annual survey [ ] released with the Program on Education Policy and Governance at Harvard Kennedy School shows overall support slipped this year, falling four percentage points to 49 percent. A year earlier, however, support fell 12 points in one year.

The survey has two more key takeaways on Common Core: Democrats over Republicans favor the standards (by a 57 percent to 37 percent margin), and the standards are becoming less popular with teachers. (Seventy-six percent of teachers in 2013 said they support the standards compared to 40 percent this year).”

But as Diane Ravitch points out, “The big story here is the dramatic decline in support for the standards by teachers: from 76% in 2013 to 40% in 2015. That is a dramatic decline. Teachers know the standards. The general public does not. Pay attention to the connoisseurs.”

While Education Next says a majority oppose opting out from (high stakes standardized) tests, what is remarkable is that a third of parents and teachers support opting out. Acts of conscience do not require majority approval. If the civil rights movement and legislators had abided by opinion polls in the 1950s and 1960s, American society would still have laws requiring racial segregation.


Jeb Bush’s “Chiefs for Change” Falling Like Flies reports that Delaware Education Secretary Mark Murphy has resigned. Murphy was a strong proponent of Common Core and Race to the Top.

He was one of the few remaining members of Jeb Bush’s shrinking “Chiefs for Change.” Murphy joins former Chiefs Gerard Robinson (FL), Tony Bennett (IN, FL), Chris Cerf (NJ), Mike Miles (Dallas), Janet Barresi (OK), Kevin Huffman (TN), Stephen Bowen (ME), and Chris Barbic (TN) in stepping down amidst controversy and votes of no confidence.

Another Chief, Deborah Gist, recently moved from RI to Tulsa, where she is a district superintendent. Only two original members are left: John White and Hannah Skandera, neither of whom is popular with educators or parents.

The original Chiefs for Change was funded by Jeb Bush’s Foundation for Educational Excellence (FEE).

As the 2016 presidential election cycle is already upon us, it is important to remember that Jeb Bush was one of the biggest supporters of the Common Core. Education researcher Diane Ravitch reminds us that “when the criticism started, he defended Common Core. When the criticism intensified, he said he would not cut and run from Common Core. He stood on principle in their defense. He saw the Common Core standards as the answer to closing achievement gaps and doing all sorts of important and good things.”

She adds, “Now that he is in a hotly contested primary campaign, he forgot what the Common Core standards are. He doesn’t remember supporting them. He just likes high standards. He wants to get as far away from the Common Core brand as possible. It has become ‘poisonous,’ he said recently.”

Fifteen months until the 2016 election. Please pay attention.