Education
6:00 am
Sun February 10, 2013

Jefferson County's 'Priority' Schools Struggle the Most

A majority of Kentucky’s priority schools—formerly known as persistently low-achieving—have not made adequate progress for turning around student achievement, according to a report presented to the Kentucky Board of Education this week. And Jefferson County is being singled out.

Of the 41 schools that have been deemed priority schools only 18 have made acceptable progress, said the education department's Susan Allred.

When asked by Education Commissioner Terry Holliday whether there is one district or region that sticks out from all the others in not making progress, Allred said, “Sure. And that, of course, would be Jefferson [County].”

Jefferson County Public Schools has 18 of the 41 priority schools in Kentucky. These schools were determined to be in the bottom five percent of all schools not meeting their objectives statewide. Kentucky has named three separate cohorts that range in terms of amount of funding and time spent turning around their efforts.

Only one school in the first cohort—which has had three years of turnaround efforts—has made adequate progress, according to education department data.

That school is Fern Creek High School.

In cohort two, which includes seven priority schools, only Fairdale High School has made adequate progress. In cohort three—which was most recently named—none of the five schools listed made adequate progress, though some schools have made progress in certain areas.

Allred says “one of the things I have learned from education recovery in Kentucky is leadership, leadership, leadership, leadership, leadership, leadership and then focus.”

She suggests that JCPS’ recent superintendent change in 2011 could have caused some of the delays in student progress.  She also says it’s been difficult getting district leaders and state officials together to begin a dialog around improving turnaround efforts.

Further, she says districts must have a willingness to accept state assistance and says cohorts one and two have been more welcoming to state help.

Finally, the ability for the state’s education recovery team to work together could be a cause for delays in some areas of the state, she says.

As WFPL reported “KDE has contracted with the organization AdvancEd, which for $200,000 will send its leadership teams to schools after priority school principals have performed a self-evaluation.

The biggest savings come from AdvancEd’s volunteer staff that is trained to administer the assessment, said Allred, who said despite the smaller on-site presence, the changes will result in a more comprehensive assessment by using a continuous improvement model.