This is the first year an evaluation has been required by the state.
Although the Board of Education had conducted evaluations in previous years, the board approved a new evaluation tool to reflect recent changes in teacher evaluations.
The evaluation model gave board members a rubric to rate McDaniel as a 1 through 5 on 12 indicators, ranging from the system’s budget to school culture.
Board chairman Charlie Rose requested board members return their score sheets in a sealed envelope to the central office no later than Monday.
Rose said the evaluation sheets would be opened by him and by Sammie Humphrey, secretary for the director of schools.
“I would like this to be more of a conversation. That’s what I do with principals, that is what we do with teachers,” McDaniel said.
McDaniel said the goals of the school system revolve around Project Coach, Common Core and Leadership.
McDaniel said decisions he makes are data driven. Data teams keep track of information and interpret what it means for students. He said programs are reviewed to be sure they bring results.
“If you can catch student(s) early and get them back on track, it is better than them staying behind, and staying behind and finally they are put in special ed,” McDaniel said. “Now if the student has a real disability — some kind of a cognitive problem or a health problem — they are going to wind up in special education services. But if it is just a matter of being behind because they haven’t had encouragement … we can catch those (students up) with response to intervention.”
Response to intervention, gives struggling students extra instruction in reading and math. This year Walker Valley is testing some Pearson Education software to see if it would be better than the long-used Discovery Ed.
McDaniel said there are some areas needing improvement, such as seventh-grade math scores. However, last year showed growth at every benchmark across the school system. McDaniel said he felt the size of the middle schools, being some of the largest in the state, was having an impact on students. McDaniel said he has been in conversation with other administrators to find out what they are doing in the middle schools.
In continuing to help students be where they need to be, each principal knows where each child is academically and what they need to do to stay at the level they need to be.
He said third-grade math scores are a good indicator of how a student will do in the future.
The school system has recently expanded offerings to challenge students. McDaniel said while Cambridge had been well received at Bradley Central High School, the International Baccalaureate program at Walker Valley High School has been put on hold. Instead more advanced-placement courses will be offered to give a better foundation for the challenging program. This was deemed a cost-effective way to give more opportunities to more students, McDaniel said.
The director of schools said students learn better when they feel safe.
Each school has a safety team that addresses that school’s specific needs.
Safety is only one aspect of school culture. As part of the school system’s vision statement, it seeks to make schools welcoming to children, parents, community partners and the public.
“Our schools are welcoming,” McDaniel said.
Fairness and integrity of the school system was also looked at as part of the evaluation. McDaniel said the integrity of the school system was evident in the recent audits that had been done on the school system.
Grants received last year helped the school’s budget, McDaniel said.
“We use what we have and we really are successful with it,” McDaniel said. “We have a lot of things that are supported by grants.”
Eighty percent of the budget goes to personnel.
McDaniel said measures are taken to reduce costs on supplies.
“The return on investment, that’s a part of this rubric (evaluation). ... Is your graduation rate good? Return on investment,” McDaniel emphasized. “I think we have a great return on investment.”
Just as the system works to maximize funding, McDaniel said administrators work to maximize usage of space.
Professional development and meeting with Bradley County Schools faculty and staff is another aspect of McDaniel’s job.
This year McDaniel was named the Southeast Tennessee Superintendent of the Year and the Tennessee Superintendent of the Year.
Throughout the presentation, McDaniel emphasized the role community partnerships play in Bradley County Schools. He said they give input and support to help students.
“We have very strong community partnerships,” McDaniel said.
Each board member is given a binder full of documentation of what McDaniel has done to fulfill each indicator.