Wake County Superintendent Tony Tata is getting a lot of credit for AdvancED upping the accreditation status of the school district's high schools.
As noted in today's article, AdvancED said in its new report that the school system has made "significant" progress to address the issues it had raised in its March report. Throughout the report, AdvancED cites Tata as being a major factor for the change.
"A common theme during interviews was the significance of the Superintendents’ influence on the direction of the system in providing governance and leadership focused on student learning and system effectiveness," according to the report. "Described as a 'calmer' Board, stakeholders attributed this change unequivocally to the Superintendent’s leadership."
The report also notes Tata's role in developing the new student assignment plan.
"The change from Board leadership to the Superintendent and staff implementing the Student Assignment Plan represents a significant shift in procedures," according to the report."However, this change was more widely accepted because of the Superintendent’s focus on “student achievement.” Reportedly, he seems to be active throughout the community and focused on communicating the Student Assignment Plan."
The report goes on to note how Tata formed the student assignment task force.
On the issue of improving the way board meeting agendas are set: "One board member was clear when alluding to some initial mistakes with the approach used, but the Board has begun moving in the right direction with the Superintendent being a stabilizing force."
Tata is also getting credit from school board members.
“The last six to nine months, the board has been working better together,” said Republican school board member John Tedesco. “A lot of the credit for that goes to the superintendent. We made lemons out of lemonades.”
Sutton also credited Tata, both directly and indirectly, for helping bring about the change since his hiring.
“When we changed the direction of the (student assignment) plan, I think it helped things,” he said. “It took it out of the hands of the board members and back in the hands of the superintendent and staff."
Sutton also pointed to Tata's work getting them to develop a strategic plan.
Sutton also said that the fact that Tata was new to his job caused board members to rally around him, which helped improve the climate too.
Tedesco and Sutton disagreed though about whether the review, which was prompted by a state NAACP complaint, was politically motivated.
"It was a political stunt by Rev. (William) Barber and the NAACP and AdvancED jumped in," Tedesco said.
"I don't think it was politically motivated and the report shows evidence of that," Sutton said. "The report was fair and objective. I know some may disagree with that. I do think it was helpful for the system. I think it made us as a system peel back the onion and see how we're governing."
Tata tried to deflect the credit on Thursday, talking about how it was a team effort.
“If you look from really a year ago, the board has been more cohesive, and dating back to February, we have been working very hard to become a cohesive team that inspires confidence in stakeholders,” Tata said.
The AdvancED report essentially bookends Tata's first year on the job. Soon after Tata started Jan. 31, he found himself being interviewed by AdvancED and then dealing with their report. Nearly a year later, Wake appears to be moving toward getting back full accreditation without any strings attached.