Memphis School Reforms Highlighted at Yale

Mar 24, 2011, 11:19 ET from Memphis City Schools

MEMPHIS, Tenn., March 24, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Discussing dramatic improvements made in her district's schools in recent years, Memphis City Schools (MCS) administrator Tequilla Banks will offer a national model of urban education reform on Friday, March 25. Banks will discuss Memphis' strategies and successes at Yale School of Management's Education Leadership Conference. Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, will be a keynote speaker.

Banks and fellow panelists will focus on the Teacher Effectiveness Initiative (TEI), an innovative human capital overhaul developed in partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. TEI is working to hold teachers accountable to higher standards while giving them the support and tools they need to be more effective in the classroom. The goal is to drive significant increases in student achievement.

As MCS executive director for teacher talent and effectiveness, Banks is responsible for coordinating TEI. Under her leadership—and that of Superintendent Kriner Cash and Deputy Superintendent Irving Hamer—Memphis created a prototype teacher evaluation process that moves away from an over-reliance on test scores when measuring teaching effectiveness. MCS teacher evaluations will instead look at the whole teacher: how he or she is perceived by colleagues, students and parents; his or her grasp of subject matter; how much his or her students learn from year to year; and the practices he or she puts into use in the classroom. Tennessee's new statewide evaluation guidelines are similar and were influenced by the work done in Memphis.

MCS's reform efforts in recent years are not limited to TEI. The district created a more robust curriculum, strengthened its Pre-K through third grade continuum to give students a better foundation for learning, and enhanced outreach to students most at risk for dropping out. Some successes include an 8.7 percent boost in graduation rates for the 2009-2010 school year; students earned the district's first-ever As in writing on a state assessment; and school officials, the teachers union and the local business and philanthropic communities are working together for the betterment of the schools.

For more information on Memphis' efforts with TEI, please contact Jessica Hoy at or 202-540-8823. For a complete list of panels, topics, and times, visit

SOURCE Memphis City Schools