Putnam County School System Invests in Children’s Future

On a quest for improved student achievement in mathematics, Putnam County School System in Cookeville, Tennessee took its mission to task. They looked for experience, knowledge, toughness and fit. They found it all by partnering with Evans Newton.

Denying there was a problem wasn’t an option. Either was backing down on devising a solution. It was the 2009-2010 school year and the state had just implemented its new Tennessee Mathematics Curriculum Framework. The teachers faced new, more rigorous standards that required increased coverage and depth than the previous standards. Transformation was inevitable.

“We finished the 2008-2009 school year with one set of standards and began the next school year with the new standards. This created academic gaps, some of which were quite significant in math.” –Denette E. Kolbe, Assistant Director of Schools for Teaching and Learning

Before working with Evans Newton, each middle school had its own curriculum. But the latest research showed that the best results come from common curriculum and pacing, particularly if you have a lot of transition in the schools. Clearly, standardization was a key objective, but the teachers and the team had neither the time nor the expertise to tackle such a daunting job.

Through a highly collaborative process of goal setting, standards alignment, curriculum and assessment development, professional development and coaching, Evans Newton empowered the teachers and school leaders to transform their schools and get results. In the area of standards alignment, Evans Newton field teams worked side-by-side with the district and its middle schools to fully align their instructional materials to state standards and tests, as well as the CCSS. The process allowed Putnam to identify the gaps, secure the right instructional materials and bring confidence to teachers who knew without a doubt that their teaching tools were meeting the state requirements.

“The partnership with Evans Newton is one of best we’ve ever had. It wasn’t about them coming in to change us, or to make us conform to their products or services. It was about meeting our needs and our students’ needs.”

Putnam found that many of their current Tennessee standards were embedded in the Common Core standards, so teachers knew they were teaching to the current state standards while they prepared students for what’s coming with the CCSS,” said Kolbe. Putnam would not have to perform two standards changes in two years. “Before partnering with Evans Newton, we were doing a lot of things right. Now, we’re doing a lot of things great. Our data shows we’ve really transformed.”