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Advisory Panel Recommends Ways to Improve Instructional Program at John F. Kennedy High School

July 11, 2000
An eight-member advisory panel for John F. Kennedy High School has made a series of recommendations that identify key areas where progress can be made in school leadership, administrative management, communication, evaluation of the instructional program, assessment of student progress, collaboration with staff, enhanced staff development, and safety and security at the school.

The advisory panel's final report responds to questions, issues, and concerns that have been identified by parents, students, staff, and the community regarding the continuing progress of the high school. The panel began work in December 1999.

"The report provides an extraordinary opportunity to step beyond the community and internal strife that has marked this school for the past year and establish a real basis for enhancing the educational program and academic environment of this school," said Dr. James A. Williams, deputy superintendent of schools, in a statement releasing the report today [Tuesday, July 11].

A special PTA Executive Board meeting has been scheduled on Tuesday, July 18, 2000, beginning at 7:30 p.m. at the school to present the report and discuss next steps. The meeting is open to the community and the public.

Dr. Williams said he is working with the school's principal, Dr. Sheila Dobbins, and the community superintendent, Dr. William Wilhoyte, to "seize this opportunity to establish a new beginning for Kennedy High School. My intention is to move quickly and assertively in addressing specific recommendations and making other improvements as necessary.

"I intend to encourage an open and inclusive process of decision making that will employ the best thinking of staff, parents, and students at the school over the next several months," Dr. Williams said.

The report includes 24 recommendations designed to address a wide range of issues, including community and parent relations, leadership and administrative performance, academic rigor and achievement, test scores, the Leadership Training Institute and signature programs, discipline, and central office support, among others.

The recommendations range from enacting "a more participatory and collaborative leadership style" to implementing satisfaction surveys among parents, students, and staff members "to provide baseline data on school climate and expectations."

A detailed operational and financial analysis of the panel's recommendations is under way to determine all of the necessary implications so that the recommendations can be evaluated comprehensively, Dr. Williams said. A response to each recommendation, a detailed action plan, a timeline for implementation, and a monitoring plan will be implemented to ensure continued progress.

Where possible, recommendations from the panel will be implemented immediately, Dr. Williams said. Recommendations requiring significant financial investment and/or organizational changes will be given the highest priority in terms of feasibility and appropriateness.

Recommendations that require the action of parents, students, other staff, and the community will be presented in a manner designed to encourage the greatest possible level of support and cooperation by everyone involved.

*** Note: Copies of the report are available by calling the Department of Communications at 301-279-3391.

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