TIP develops initiatives that are based on our mission, vision, beliefs, and theory of change. TIP currently has five major initiatives- projects lasting year to year that take an investment from our districts and the project team. We closely scrutinize these initiatives for the benefit they provide to each district relative to the use of resources (both people and funds), their potential in helping us reach our goals, and the need for iterative design to continually readjust the “hows”.
Each major initiative is evaluated at least every two years, with the TIP board making the decision whether to continue, discontinue, or modify the initiative. TIP also will have action plans that identify and track progress on key elements of each initiative.
RESTART SCHOOLS COLLABORATIVE
Continually low-performing schools may apply to the State Board of Education to be designated as Restart Schools, which continue operating under their local boards while receiving most of the operational flexibility of charter schools. TIP’s Restart Schools Collaborative serves as a resource, supporting schools and districts as they redesign learning environments and district processes, providing coaching to restart school leaders and their teams, and facilitating opportunities for participants to network with and learn from one another.
VIRTUAL ACADEMY COLLABORATIVE
Through the Virtual Academy Collaborative, TIP districts participate in the development of online supplemental materials to be used for online and blended learning. Our course module development is especially adaptive to the needs of students who struggle or are absent for extended period. The focus is on beginning to develop modalities of learning that work for students rather than fitting students into a uniform system. The Math I and III, English I and II, and Biology resources are complete and in use. Math II is currently in production.
RE-ENGAGING HOMESCHOOL FAMILIES
Within the increasingly complex world of education, we see homeschool families as a part of our community with whom we should better connect. The relationship starts by better understanding their needs and learning how we can better work with them. We have developed creative approaches to re-engage and involve homeschool families with TIP districts, conducted training sessions with district staff, and produced written materials and guides for homeschool initiatives. The work challenges us as we consider redesigning schooling and learning and the role of the school system as the hub of the community.
Similar to the nationally-recognized Classrooms of Tomorrow program developed in Union County, the Innovative Classrooms program creates flexible learning environments that take a “my size fits me” approach to identifying and responding to students’ varying needs. We begin by understanding the current constraints of classrooms know that students need more: they need classroom settings that engage them and foster particular learning approaches, such as inquiry or project-based learning. We help TIP districts create these 21st-century classrooms and bridge connections between our teachers.
TIP NCSU TEACHING SCHOLARS
To address North Carolina’s pronounced teacher shortage, TIP is working with North Carolina State University’s College of Education to establish a new scholarship program for future teachers, especially in STEM and Special Education. Recipients will agree to serve in specified rural or semi-rural TIP districts for two years following graduation, in exchange for which they will receive $10,000 scholarships. To support and encourage these teachers to stay in TIP districts, TIP is developing cohort activities, enrichment and support opportunities, and a vision of teaching that leads to the next level of scholarship and leadership. As an initial step, we are also developing further strategic alliances that will expand our work.
LEADERSHIP AND STRATEGIC ADVISING SERVICES
Upon request, TIP assembles and deploys teams of experienced superintendents and others with relevant expertise to provide counsel and assistance on district-defined areas of need, with a focus on “outside the box” solutions that are transformative, yet practical and realistic.
PRINCIPAL LEADERSHIP STUDY
EdLabs at Harvard University, a prominent national center for research in economics and education policy, is conducting a study in more than 90 TIP-district schools to assess the educational impact of principal pay incentives to assure implementation by the principals of selected research-proven “best practices” to advance student academic attainment.