Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday says he has more confidence in Jefferson County Public Schools than he did earlier this year.
Holliday was joined by Superintendent Donna Hargens and Mayor Greg Fischer at Fern Creek High School (which made significant gains this year) in celebrating the district's improvement Friday.
Holliday used the words “academic genocide” earlier this year while referring to some of the district’s worst performing schools in an article in The Courier-Journal.
Now he says his tone has changed and he urges the community to continue pushing forward.
“Parents don’t let up. Community leaders don’t let up. Support these teachers. Support these principals. Support this district board and superintendent and I’ll be happy to come back every single year and congratulate you on the work you’re doing,” he says.
Hargens says the community won't let up—and that the district would continue looking for what's working and apply that to other schools around the county. She adds there will be a special “academy” for leaders from struggling schools next month that will be led by Chief Academic Officer Dewey Hensley.
Hargens says the district still needs to work on some indicators at the middle school level, and still needs to improve results for students in the “gap” group that’s made up of minority, low-income and other vulnerable student populations.
“I can tell you that no one in this room is satisfied with that level of proficiency for our gap students,” she says.
Holliday and Hargens agree that JCPS middle schools are also a concern. Of the 75 schools that met their annual goals, only nine were middle schools. And out of any grade level, it’s middle schools that lag the most behind state averages.
Check back on WFPL.org this Sunday for more conversation with JCPS Superintendent Donna Hargens.