District-Wide Improvements That Align Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment
A conversation with Dr. Ebony Lee of Georgia’s Clayton County Public Schools
Dr. Ebony Lee, the recently appointed Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum, Instruction & Assessment in School Leadership and Instruction with Clayton County Public Schools (CCPS) in Georgia, recognizes the importance of a clear alignment between curriculum, instruction, and assessment. She believes that all students deserve a clear path to success in education that accounts for their diverse needs. Dr. Lee looks at available resources and asks, "Are they diverse? Are they grade-level appropriate? Are they culturally relevant? Are they rich with learning experiences?"
Once resources are aligned, Dr. Lee shifts focus to instructional delivery practices. She makes sure that a proper mapping of learning experiences takes place and that all students have equitable access. Diversity is crucial, and the intentionality of cultural relevance becomes a driving component. She points out, "Within our district, our superintendent Dr. Morcease Beasley has been very strategic and intentional in making sure that our training reflects cultural diversity preparation. Our vendor partnerships understand that resources need to be varied. Also, the learning experiences our teachers create [are important]. Are we inviting students into the conversation? Are we creating learning tests that reflect if they're interested? If that is not done with intentionality, it just will not be done."
The intentionality of partnerships within the district is critical to not only instructional assistance, but also maintaining consistent assessment practices. Since 2018, i-Ready from Curriculum Associates has been an important tool for Clayton County in both supporting curriculum and helping personalize student learning to close achievement gaps. Dr. Lee adds, "By engaging leaders and teachers early on ─ we're seeing success with i-Ready. It is a great tool for making sure that learning is transparent for our students so they can see where they are and receive personalized instruction."
A few years ago, Dr. Beasley and other members of Clayton County leadership developed a clear strategic approach to bring about district-wide improvements. The summative results are impressive when compared to other districts. "The State of Georgia released the comprehensive school improvement list, and we didn't have any school on that list. Graduation was at a first time high. Out of our 11 high schools, seven are at 80% or higher, and all of them were 70 or above," details Dr. Lee.
Tools like i-Ready allow for accurate snapshots along the way to assess teaching and learning before the summative measures take place. This increase in accessible and useful data supports further improvement. "This year, when we looked at end-of-year findings from i-Ready, they correlated well to our Georgia Milestones findings. We appreciate the validity and reliability of a tool [during] the early conversations," says Dr. Lee
The future certainly looks bright for the Clayton County School District. With leaders like Dr. Lee enthusiastically committed to education efforts, it appears more and more students are finding themselves prepared for the complex world that awaits them.