Third Place, Middle Division, K-8/Middle Schools

Brian Bass, Principal
7200 Cumberland Drive
Fairview, TN 37062
Williamson County Schools
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Recipe For Success:

Henry Ford once said, “A business absolutely devoted to service will have only one worry about profits. They will be embarrassingly large.” This award recognizes the continued success of Fairview Middle School to sustain value-added achievement over a number of years. However, the chief aim of our school will never be test scores. Rather, we are devoted to providing outstanding service to our students. Specifically, this means creating a supportive, caring, collegial environment for students to learn, having high expectations for student success, and recognizing that all students don’t learn the same way and some may need additional accommodations, time, and interventions to succeed.

The prerequisite for success is setting up a culture that places student learning as its top priority and getting students to buy in to that culture. We believe there are instructional and motivational benefits that come with the effective use of assessment and grading practices. Our grading philosophies have evolved over the years in an effort to ensure that grades provide students, parents, and teachers with undiluted, accurate, feedback regarding students’ mastery of specific learning targets. Although difficult to begin, once you begin travelling down the path of standards-based grading, the flywheel gets easier to turn as you find yourself having more productive conversations about what students know and not know and fewer conversations about student behaviors.

Our teachers work in collaborative professional learning communities. They create common syllabi for each subject and grade level and then develop common summative assessments directly aligned to learning targets/standards. They then meet weekly to discuss formative and summative data and make instructional decisions to answer the following three questions:  1) What do students need to know and be able to do? 2) What do they know now? 3) How can we close the gap?  In order to answer this third question, you need to provide teachers with access to students throughout the day to provide individual remediation, reteaching, and retesting as needed.

Finally, we focus on teaching students to think and write critically and solve problems. This is akin to the adage of giving versus teaching a man to fish. We never want to teach to a test. However, by developing challenging, engaging lessons based on clear learning targets and asking students to think and write critically to solve complex problems, we not only teach standards, but also build students’ confidence and motivation.