Learning Communities in Action at Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools

Consortium1 Consortium2

Serving nearly 150,000 students with more than 18,000 teachers, North Carolina’s Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS) is the second largest school district in the state and the 18th largest in the nation. 

A three-time winner of the Broad Prize for Urban Education, a prestigious honor that is bestowed on a large, urban school district that has shown the greatest student academic gains nationally, CMS hosted the fall meeting of the Large Countywide and Suburban District Consortium.   

“It’s a great opportunity for leaders from across the United States to come together to be a community of sharing best practices and pushing each other in terms of what we’re doing to serve each and every one of our students,” said Ann Clark, superintendent, CMS. “It’s also a great opportunity for us to have a coast-to-coast perspective as we try to influence federal and state policies.”  

AASA, The School Superintendents Association, and EducationCounsel provide policy, advocacy and organizational support to the Consortium and its members. The Consortium is a unique group of the nation’s most highly-regarded, large-district leaders, all of whom are committed to world-class learning for students.  

As part of their three-day meeting, members of the Consortium had the opportunity to get a firsthand look at CMS’ Instructional Leadership Team (ILT)—a group comprised of teacher leaders and principals representing the district’s 170 schools focusing on instructional improvement and creating student centered cultures. The ILT’s primary role is to help lead a school’s efforts at supporting the improvement of teaching and learning of literacy.  

“What we’re seeing in Charlotte-Mecklenburg is the fact that they’re doing some things that ensure effective instruction is going on in every classroom across the district,” said J. Alvin Wilbanks, superintendent, Gwinnett County (Ga.) Public Schools. “We’re learning some things that we can do in our districts.”  

The Instructional Leadership Teams train with CMS staff six times a year and then each ILT facilitates grade level or department meetings in their individual schools in order to effectively implement the training. The team is required to implement systems for regular data review as part of the “ILT” learning. 

“One of [the Consortium's] pillars is a learning community for superintendents,” said Tim Mills, superintendent of the Bellevue (Wash.) School District, and chair of the Consortium. “This is an opportunity for us to go into a district that has a best practice in place and observe in real time how they do the work, specifically around the Instructional Leadership model.” 

Other matters the Consortium discussed in Charlotte included implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act, the upcoming presidential transition and the unique challenges facing each of the member’s respective school districts.     

“Our Consortium is made up of superintendents whose districts have large, diverse student bodies,” said Jeff Rose, superintendent, Fulton County (Ga.) Schools. “For us to come together, there is a synergy that takes place. Being part of that and being able to contribute to that makes a dramatic difference in our ability to lead back home in our own district.” 

“Some of the best professional development for me is in the Consortium,” added Clark.  

This month’s meeting was graciously sponsored by AXA.  

The Consortium will next convene at AASA’s National Conference on Education in March 2017 in New Orleans, La.  

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