MEMPHIS, Tenn. — One of the jobs of a school superintendent is to be a cheerleader – rooting for success from students, teachers and staff. That’s just what we got Wednesday from Memphis Shelby County Schools superintendent Joris Ray. His state of the district address included plenty of encouraging words that the district is making strides toward greater student achievement.
But the facts are much more somber. The latest state department of education report card shows only 11% of MSCS students performed successfully on state tests last year. That’s noticeably lower than in 2019 when the success rate was nearly 23%.
The primary reason for such a drastic drop is obvious – COVID 19. The pandemic forced the district to hold virtual classes – which, let’s be honest, was disastrous for student learning – although it could not be helped. That’s why the state is holding the district harmless this year for the poor performance.
But the problem must be addressed. Ray said the district is exploring a year-round school year for students who need it. And let’s face it, many of them do. So I hope this is more than just exploring an idea.
Yes, the last two school years have been tough. Students have lost family members, teachers, and friends to the virus. But we cannot give in to failure.
The cheerleading is fine. Now let’s back it up with the work needed to show improvement.