Leaderships audits conducted for seven of Jefferson County Public Schools’ 18 lowest-performing schools were presented to the district Wednesday and the results show principals in those schools have the capacity to continue leading their turnaround efforts.
The Kentucky Department of Education’s leadership audits are performed every two years for the state’s 41 “priority” schools, which are schools that have persistently performed at the lowest level statewide.
There have been three cohorts of schools that were named persistently low-achieving. This week’s audits were for Cohort 2 schools, which includes seven JCPS schools. Principals at all seven schools–Doss High School, Fairdale High School, Iroquois High School, Knight Middle School, Seneca High School, Southern High School and Waggener High School–were found to have the capacity to lead their school.
Education Commissioner Terry Holliday previously said more state intervention may be necessary in certain JCPS priority schools pending the outcome of the state’s leadership audits and future assessment results.
In a statement sent to media late Wednesday night, Superindendent Donna Hargens said “The Kentucky Department of Education’s assessment supports our belief that the strategies and interventions we’ve put in place will result in increased achievement for students. We will continue to work collaboratively with KDE recovery specialists to ensure our students are receiving the rigorous and engaging learning experience they deserve.”
Further, JCPS officials sent these highlights from the assessment:
Doss High School
• Doss has established a systemic continuous improvement process that provides a clear purpose and direction for students.
• Doss has focused efforts to improve student behavior and foster a sense of responsible citizenship.
Fairdale High School
• The assessment found “the principal has [led] the implementation of powerful change to curriculum and assessment,” which “have moved the school in the direction of more student-centered instruction.”
• The assessment team recognized the work of Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) and gave high marks for the support they’re providing students in order to help them meet their academic and emotional needs.
Iroquois High School
• Iroquois has taken steps to positively affect “the climate, culture, and organizational effectiveness” of the school.
• Iroquois has created an improved learning environment by reducing suspensions, increasing attendance, and implementing programs to respond to student misconduct.
Knight Middle School
• KDE found Knight is fostering a culture of high expectations and an equitable learning environment.
• The assessment noted “the principal has created a framework to improve organizational efficiency and accountability for all stakeholders.”
Seneca High School
• The assessment team noted “the existence of a well-managed learning environment was in evidence throughout all classrooms and school observations. In general, the team found students across the school to be orderly and well-behaved.”
• The principal touted as “a visionary leader.”
Southern High School
• The assessment found Southern “embraced and continues to promote a culture of collaboration and openness.”
• KDE found that Southern has “begun to engage students in the oversight of their own learning” through such practices as using student data scorecards to communicate higher expectations to students.
Waggener High School
• The Leadership Assessment noted that the improvements Waggener has made thus far have “built a foundation for pride and an attitude of success that is substantial.”
• Waggener’s initial steps “to help students to believe they can be successful, and then incorporating the programs and activities that can ensure that success, combine for a great beginning to a new Waggener High School.”
UPDATE, 1:15 pm: In a written statement to WFPL, Commissioner Holliday said, “I encourage every parent and interested community member to read the audits. The audits very clearly indicate signs of progress, but there is still a lot of work to be done. The Kentucky Department of Education and I will continue to monitor these schools, and will look next to Unbridled Learning results from the end of this school year, including proficiency, growth and gap data, as well as graduation and college and career readiness rates. I will be meeting with district leadership in a few weeks to discuss how the department can support the district, and how the district can support the schools to ensure all students reach proficiency and graduate college and career ready.”
Mayor Greg Fischer sent this response to the media:
“I’m pleased to see that these seven schools are making strides and that the state has confidence in their principals. JCPS leadership continues to assure me of their focus on achievement and accountability—and it’s up to the entire city to provide assistance to ensure JCPS is successful. Our goal remains firm: to create the best urban school district in the nation.”