At the request of MDE staff, on July 17, SECC staff drafted questions for a panel of administrators who presented at the 2014 Summer School Improvement Conference on August 1, 2014. On July 18, SECC and MDE staff participated in a planning meeting for the School Improvement Conference that was held July 31 and August 1. The conference agenda was finalized, including the outline of the sequence for presentations, work sessions, and networking activities. The teams also developed seating arrangements for the conference attendees. On July 22, SECC staff developed a list of online resources and publications that conference attendees could access for information on school turnaround practices and research. The resources included links to websites and publications developed by SECC, Texas Comprehensive Center, SEDL, and the seven national Content Centers. During the conference (July 31–August 1), SECC staff assisted MDE by managing an “Ask the Expert”/Resource table, where SECC answered conference participants’ questions and provided handouts and resources (including the resource list mentioned above). On August 1, a SECC staff member facilitated a panel consisting of a district superintendent and two school administrators (principals).
Also on August 1, SECC staff met with Marcus Cheeks, MDE Office of Federal Programs, Adrienne Williams, office director of Program Development, Focus Schools and other MDE staff from the Focus Schools and School Recovery offices. During the meeting, training of district staff who work with Focus Schools on Indistar/MS SOARS and other school turnaround practices was discussed. SECC staff will begin collaborating with the MDE Focus Schools staff on planning Indistar/MS SOARS training sessions in the near future.