In 2012, Knox County Schools (TN) superintendent of schools James McIntyre did something surprising in this era of diminished education budgets: he asked the community for $35 million in additional funds to support the school system. After several years of district improvement efforts, Knoxville students were showing significant gains. But McIntyre was not satisfied: too many students still were not meeting college readiness benchmarks – and achievement gaps by race, income, language, and disability had emerged.
AISR had a unique opportunity in 2006-2008 to observe, facilitate, and document the early stages of Knoxville's comprehensive and successful districtwide reform effort. We convened a community-wide group of stakeholders – central office staff, principals, teachers, parents, and community members – to examine central office functioning, culture, and collaboration with the broader community. AISR researcher Jacob Mishook recently followed up with Superintendent McIntyre to learn about the evolution of Knoxville's reforms since then.