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October 20, 2014

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Nevada’s interim schools superintendent to join nonprofit agency

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Cathleen Allison / AP Photo

Nevada Interim Superintendent Rorie Fitzpatrick testifies on a bill that would give tax breaks to businesses if they donate to a school voucher program at the Legislative Building in Carson City, April 9, 2013. Fitzpatrick has announced that she will retire from the state Education Department this year.

Interim Superintendent Rorie Fitzpatrick announced today she will be leaving the Nevada Department of Education next month to join a nonprofit education research agency.

Fitzpatrick will be the director of Common Core State Standards implementation for WestEd, a San Francisco-based policy implementation research group. Fitzpatrick announced her resignation from the education department last month after an unsuccessful bid for the state superintendent position.

Fitzpatrick’s last day at the education department will be Oct. 4, when the Nevada Board of Education is expected to approve new science standards for the state. She begins her new position at WestEd on Oct. 29.

“I’m honored and excited to be joining WestEd,” Fitzpatrick said in a statement. “Common Core represents a significant restructuring of our education systems, and WestEd is uniquely qualified to help states and districts achieve these 21st century expectations.”

Fitzpatrick served for four months as the acting superintendent after former Superintendent Jim Guthrie resigned unexpectedly in March. Gov. Brian Sandoval last month tapped his former adviser Dale Erquiaga to become the next superintendent.

Fitzpatrick’s short tenure overseeing Nevada’s 17 school districts caps a 15-year career with the education department, during which she served several leadership roles.

Fitzpatrick was a director of special education and federal and state school improvement efforts, leading Nevada to a successful waiver from the unrealistic standards under the federal No Child Left Behind act last year. Fitzpatrick also led the state’s Teachers and Leaders Council in developing a new teacher and principal evaluation system.

Prior to joining the education department, Fitzpatrick was a faculty member at UNR’s College of Education, where she focused on helping people with disabilities. She holds a master’s degree in early childhood special education from UNR.

In her new role, Fitzpatrick will coordinate and lead WestEd’s work to help states implement the Common Core State Standards. The Common Core standards are new, more rigorous and controversial national academic standards that govern what English and math concepts students should master in every grade level from kindergarten to 12th grade.

Fitzpatrick will work with other WestEd professionals to develop professional development services and consulting to the 45 states that have adopted the Common Core.

"Rorie is a valuable and multi-talented addition to the WestEd team," says Glen Harvey, CEO of WestEd, in a statement. "Her knowledge of and passion for aligned instruction, accountability and support systems, implementation science, and serving diverse learners makes her an exceptional leader for implementing sustained school improvement."

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