Jerry D. Weast is a 35-year veteran of education leadership. Dr. Weast led Montgomery County Public Schools—16th largest school district in the nation—to achieve both the highest graduation rate among the nation’s largest school districts for four consecutive years and the highest academic performance ever in MCPS at a time when the non-English speaking student population more than doubled and enrollment tipped toward low socioeconomic demographics. Montgomery County’s high schools consistently ranked among the nation’s best according to US News and World Report, the Washington Post, and Newsweek, based variously on student participation and success in Advanced Placement courses and exams and on the particular success of African American, Hispanic, and economically disadvantaged students on state mandated assessments. Additionally, MCPS high schools comprised nearly three percent of those schools nationally ranked by US News and World Report for the excellence of their STEM education programs (Classes of 2009, 2010, and 2011).
Students enrolled in the primary grades at the beginning of Dr. Weast’s tenure in Montgomery County set district—and even national—records as they benefited from the curriculum alignment and high academic standards institutionalized during those 12 years. The Schott Foundation finds that the African American male graduation rate (2009) was highest in Montgomery County (74 percent) among the nation’s large school districts, 22 percentage points higher than the national average; and highest, too, among large districts for White students at 91 percent.
During Dr. Weast’s leadership in Montgomery County, students set district records on the SAT. The average score of 1651 set by students in the Class of 2012, who were kindergarteners in 1999 when Dr. Weast became superintendent, is 153 points higher than the national average. Students in this class also set enrollment and performance records in Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate classes. Fifty percent of MCPS graduates in 2011 received at least one college-ready score of 3 or better on an AP exam, compared to only 18 percent of graduates nationwide. In 2012, 76.7 percent of students who took AP exams scored a 3 or better on at least one exam. These scores are significant in and of themselves, but even more when considering that “Montgomery graduates earning a score of at least 1650 on the SAT or a 24 on the ACT went from 37.6 percent in 2008 to 51.9 percent in 2012” [Washington Post, 1/22/13], remarkable by any standard.
Dr. Weast has published in professional journals including Phi Delta Kappan and has authored a chapter on the Achievement Gap for the book Improving the Odds for America’s Children: Future Directions for Policy and Practice. (2014, Harvard Education Press) acknowledging the 40th anniversary of the Children’s Defense Fund.
During Dr. Weast’s tenure Montgomery County Public Schools was a 2010 winner of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award for management excellence and a 2010 finalist for the Broad Prize in Urban Education. In the book, Leading for Equity: The Pursuit of Excellence in Montgomery County Public Schools (Childress, Doyle and Thomas, 2009), Harvard educators describe the process Dr. Weast led to ensure opportunity for every MCPS student. Dr. Weast’s leadership is analyzed in the book Team Turnarounds: A Playbook for Transforming Underperforming Teams (Frontiera and Leidl, 2012); and the success Montgomery County Public Schools achieved during Dr. Weast’s tenure is held as a model in the book Renewal: Remaking America’s Schools for the 21st Century (Kwalwasser, 2012). The successful strategies undertaken in Montgomery County to close the achievement gap and provide equitable access to advanced courses are discussed in David Kirp’s book, Improbable Scholars (2013), and the early childhood program in MCPS is discussed in Gene Maerhoff’s book, Building Blocks (2006).
Dr. Weast was named superintendent of the year in two states. He has twice been awarded North Carolina’s highest honor, the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, for his work on behalf of the state’s children, received an award from the Yale School of Child Development for his support of initiatives in early learning, the C. Jackson Grayson Award for managerial excellence, has been named a Washingtonian of the Year, and received awards from the Schott Foundation and the American Educational Research Association acknowledging his leadership in developing strategies leading to improved student achievement across all racial and socioeconomic groups.
Dr. Weast has served on the boards of policy, educational, business, and community organizations including the Peabody College (Vanderbilt University) National Ed.D. Advisory Board and the Junior Achievement Worldwide Education Group; and as a trustee of the Committee for Economic Development. Currently he is a board member of the Institute for Educational Leadership; board member and treasurer of Editorial Projects in Education (Education Week); member of the National Education Foundation Senior Fellows Advisory Group; member of the Opportunity to Learn Advisory Board (Schott Foundation for Public Education); member of the National Advisory Board of the P3 Leadership Institute at the University of Washington; and of the advisory boards of America Achieves, the Principal’s Exchange through its partnership with THINK Together, and of TeachersConnect. In furtherance of his work in educational leadership development, he is founder and president of the Partnership for Deliberate Excellence, LLC, through which he is working with school districts and foundations across the country to improve the quality of public education.
Dr. Weast is engaged as a national consultant to improve public education, including advising (Consortium for Educational Change) on implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act and on bettering student outcomes in inner city schools (Yale University). Dr. Weast has presented extensively in the U.S. and internationally, including at the European Council of International Schools and through Fulbright-funded travel to Northern Ireland to consult on school integration. He has twice been invited to the People’s Republic of China, has spoken to educators in Near and Middle Eastern countries, and was a guest of Japan’s Ministry of Education, speaking on the topic of school reform. He has addressed audiences at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, international audiences convened by the US Department of State, the National Governors’ Association, education journalists meeting at Columbia University, professional negotiators, and dozens of other groups on topics as various as leadership, early childhood education, systemic change, and union/management relations. He holds an Ed.D. in Educational Administration from Oklahoma State University, where he was named to the College of Education Hall of Fame.