Our Schools

School Report Card


Dr. Michael L. Murray, Superintendent

Dear Partner in Education:

Jackson County Public Schools has made significant progress in many areas in the past year. As you view the North Carolina State Report Card for our school system, allow me to highlight some of our successes.

We have been analyzing both our hard and soft data from multiple sources. Through an AdvanceEd accreditation recommendation, our district formed a Data and Assessment Review Team (DART) to promote and support data driven practice in the classroom and improve student outcomes. In looking at our hard data we not only focus on the performance of our students but can begin to review other external effects such as attendance, suspension/dropout rates, teacher credentialing, etc. However, other soft data is typically internal and is most often identified within the district e.g., teacher surveys, instructional strategies, etc. Administrators often collaborate with professional learning communities (PLCs) to develop initiatives for addressing student learning. These initiatives are designed to build successful classroom environments and use instructional strategies to provide instructional support. It is so important that we look at the whole child when data is analyzed.

Our district works on a continuous improvement model and we will use this data to continue providing curriculum support and on-going professional development. Using this data is critical to targeting specific areas in different schools to ensure that we make consistent gains in all areas system wide. There are many additional key factors that go into judging the quality of a school. We are proud that we have some the absolute best teachers in the state and we will all continue to prioritize the classroom and work hard for improvement in all areas.

Jackson County has increased its 4-Year Cohort Graduation Rate from last year. These are our highest reported rates for our secondary schools. Blue Ridge Early College and Jackson County Early College both had a greater than 95% four year cohort graduation rate. Smoky Mountain High School increase to a 90% four year cohort graduation rate this year. We are extremely proud of this gain toward a goal of 100% graduation rate.

Our school system is pleased to offer a one-time $1,000.00 signing bonus for classroom teachers. This recruitment initiative has been supported by our Jackson County Board of Commissioners and we are grateful for the endorsement of this recruitment best practice. A comprehensive recruitment and retention plan is in place in Jackson County Public Schools. The plan focuses on early recruitment, signing bonuses, marketing strategies, and beginning teacher support. These efforts will assist us recruiting highly qualified, caring teachers. Our state Teacher Working Conditions Surveys are among the highest in the state with an excellent return rate of 97%. Jackson County Public Schools' educators are considered highly qualified (HQ) by all definitions. The latest data available is a 98% HQ rating as of 2013. HQ ratings are determined by licensure appropriate to teaching assignment and completion of coursework as determined by the Department of Public Instruction and the degree granting institution. Each and every one of our staff are important to the education of our children and we consider our staff members our greatest strength.

We have excellent opportunities available in our schools including a Freshman Academy, Early College Experiences, Health and Wellness Initiatives, Child Nutrition activities and programming, Multi-systems approach to academic and behavior interventions and enrichment, athletics, clubs, after-school programming, academic events and competitions, STEM and Arts opportunities, and Career Technical Education Programming, to mention a few.

Additionally, Jackson County Public School prides itself in maintaining safety as is demonstrated by our comprehensive District and School Level Safe Schools' Plan.

We continue to offer a wide range of opportunities for students, while attending to the individual child's needs. We have an excellent collaborative relationship with Western Carolina University and Southwestern Community College. We are continually working with our higher education partners in projects, grant writing, sharing resources and research. Partnerships with our stakeholders and our families are critical to the success of our students and our community.

We are privileged to live, study and work in the most beautiful place on earth. It is important that we recognize and encourage our students to embrace a sense of place. We honor our mountain traditions, history and culture.

Please feel free to review our data and contact me with any questions you may have. Thank you for your support of Jackson County Public Schools.

Dr. Michael Murray

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