Summer is ending for students in Louisville and, according to reports, students return to class in the fall one month behind where they left off in the spring. The loss is even greater for low-income students.To combat summer learning loss, JCPS has invested in two online programs previously offered only to low-performing students.The programs will now be used to boost learning during the school year.Over the summer, students at St. George Community Center’s summer program would read a story and then complete a related activity, like cooking a recipe mentioned in the book, or making a poster about a major theme. Countess Williams said if she wasn’t in the program she likely wouldn’t be reading.“No,” she said laughing. “I’d be on the computer somewhere.”Summer programs like St. George’s are common, offering some academic skill building, and also fun activities. But as school districts struggle with student achievement education professionals are pushing for teachers to do more to build on the lessons that were taught in the previous school year.This summer St. George and several others offered Success Maker and Study Island, two online interactive programs made available through the school district’s summer learning initiative—Every 1 Learns.The programs are interactive, but students have to answer multiple choice questions to advance.When Study Island began in February, the lowest-performing JCPS students—those scoring novice on state tests--were the only students using it, and they were getting around a third of the answers correct, said Rebecca Doyle who oversees the district’s response to interventions.This summer, they're seeing gains, she said.“In looking at the data right now, what we’re seeing, is that those kids are now getting 66 percent of their answers correct so that’s a 31 percent increase in their content knowledge,” Doyle said.Nearly 30,000 students are enrolled in the programs, 5,000 joined in the past couple months when JCPS made the programs available to all students.“Typically what we see is that kids that are novice kids--who are further behind--they make up those skills a lot faster than the student who really is on grade level and the work their doing is at their level, so it’s a little more challenging for them,” said Doyle.The programs are interactive, maybe even a little too cute for some older students, but they respond to individual skill levels. As questions get answered correctly, they get more difficult and a teacher isn't required.That's partly why JCPS was happy to partner with several Learning Places, which are peppered throughout the city, and where employees have been trained on how to assist students in using the program.Online learning is also becoming more popular in the summer.Studies from Johns Hopkins show summer vacation can account for up to two-thirds of the achievement gap for low-income students by high school.So while schools need to improve student achievement and summer programs need to add strong academic components, programs like Study Island and Success Maker may make the most financial sense, both to districts and to parents, who may not be able to put their kids in more traditional summer programs.Countess said many of her friends do not attend any summer program, and studies show that only a quarter of parents place their child in a program during summer.“I’d rather be here because I’d stay out of trouble. Because you know how some kids, you get caught up and then you want to do what they do but that’s really not good,” she said.JCPS has spent thousands of dollars for the two programs--for Study Island its $10 per student and over 15,000 have enrolled. This summer, around 500 teachers were trained to assist in using the program, which they’ll do this fall.Whether program usage means better test scores has yet to be seen, but JCPS officials are confident the investment will pay off.To find a Learning Place for you child click here.
This fall's Jefferson County Board of Education election will have one of the largest candidate pools in recent history after eight more candidates filed before Tuesday's deadline.A total of 17 candidates have filed to run for three seats being vacated by JCPS board members this year. Five are vying in Steve Imhoff’s District 2, five in Larry Hujo’s District 7 and seven in Joe Hardesty’s District 4.The candidates run the gamut from well known public figures to a concerned parent who wants to change the district’s student assignment plan.While it’s still early in the race, some have already set up websites, some Facebook pages. But Hardesty said any candidate who wins a spot on the board must get used to being more visible.“They’ll become known in the public. They’re more of a public servant and they need to be prepared to answer and address constituency concerns," he said.Imhoff said he was surprised by the amount of time he needed to dedicate to the board.“Anybody who wants to be a good school board member needs to put in a lot of time and effort which will interfere to some degree with their home life, their employment," he said.The elections are Nov. 6.
During a meeting this morning of faculty and staff at Eastern Kentucky University, President Doug Whitlock announced his retirement. Whitlock, who's spent his higher education career at EKU, says his administration will end at the conclusion of this academic year. Whitlock has been president of Eastern Kentucky University since 2007. This is Whitlock’s second retirement. He left EKU in 2003 after a 27 year career in other positions at the school. He was recalled after then-president Joanne Glasser announced her resignation. Whitlock follows University of Kentucky President Lee Todd and Northern Kentucky University President James Votruba, who both retired in the last 18 months. In the private sector, Paul Patton recently stepped down as president of the University of Pikeville to serve in a fundraising role.
Despite rising college enrollment rates, a new study from Louisville’s IQS Research shows many students aren’t prepared for the transition to higher education.The report released Tuesday shows while nearly every student intends on going to college, only two-thirds enroll within one year of graduating high school.Of that group, only 42 percent graduate with a Bachelor’s degree within six years.IQS Research president Shawn Herbig says the perception of college needs to change. The report shows only 11 percent of students believe college will be difficult and many others aren’t prepared for the financial, social and scholastic issues college brings.Herbig says the sooner college can be introduced into a child’s life, the better.“I would argue that it’s everybody’s job. It’s the job of the school. It’s the job within the schools, it’s not only the educators but it’s also the support staff and it’s also the job of the community and the job of the parents," he says.Herbig says there’s a disconnect between the reality and expectations that students that needs to change.Click here for a link to the report.
Jefferson County Public Schools officials will keep a close eye on school lunches this year as the district implements new federal standards that will make meals healthier.The standards approved this year by the U.S. Department of Agriculture bring school meals into compliance with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. This means more fruits and vegetables and whole wheat and less sodium and fat in school food. But students need to participate for JCPS to be reimbursed under the National School Lunch Program.To help meet these standards, the government is offering schools 9 cents more to spend on each meal for free-and-reduced lunch students, bringing the total to $2.88 per student. But JCPS nutrition director Julia Bauscher said schools won't get the money if students pass on the healthier foods.“The fact that students need to take a fruit or vegetable is very important for us to communicate that to the students, and to our staff and to parents so that they understand," she said.In the district over 60 percent of the roughly 100,000 students are eligible for a free-and-reduced meal, but only around 80 percent participate in the program, said Bauscher.Of that group, around 80 percent of elementary school students take the necessary amount of produce, but the estimate for high school students falls shorter.“The biggest challenge is going to be in high schools where the majority of students…I would say 50 percent of them take a fruit or vegetable.”JCPS has already been leading the charge in changing recipes and access to fresh produce and participation by students during this initial year would help the district continue its fresh produce initiatives, said Bauscher.In October, JCPS will submit its data to the Kentucky Department of Education and if the district is in compliance it will receive an additional 6 cents per free-and-reduced meal served. The district also receives more money than other districts for having over 60 percent of its students eligible for low-income meals.
Ten candidates are now running for three open seats on the Jefferson County School Board. The most recent to file is 29-year-old Elizabeth Berfield who moved from Illinois four years ago after working as a librarian at the University of Illinois at Urbana. Berfield is now a stay at home mother of two.To be on the JCPS board you have to be at least 24 years old and have lived in Kentucky for the last three years prior to filing.Berfield said she has anticipated running for the school board and said she'd like to see JCPS administrators adopt a frugal mindset."I think the superintendent [Donna Hargens] has set a good path to go down as far as cutting a lot of administrative spending. I think 2012 we've been off to a good start, but I would really like to take a firm hand in creating more fiscal responsibility," she said.On her Facebook page she said she’d like the district to cut down on transportation costs and high administrative pay to fund teachers’ pay and infrastructure. She could not be reached for comment.Berfield’s competition in District 2 includes local radio host Tom Mitchell, resident Melissa Rueff and the former Humana chairman David Jones Jr.Joe Hardesty’s District 4 and Larry Hujo’s District 7 seats are also up for grab this fall. The filing deadline is Tuesday.
Jefferson County Public Schools’ Georgia Chafee Teenage Parent Program (TAPP) is making further expansions to accommodate more children in its day-care program this year.The district has two schools for pregnant students or those who already have children. Last year, South Park TAPP renovated its facilities to add 10 more daycare spots.This year, Westport TAPP will follow suit, said TAPP principal Sara York. The eastern-Jefferson County facilities will replace the Head Start program with daycare space, she said.“We need more space for our childcare program and for our own children of our TAPP students,” said York.During the school year, the waiting list for daycare may have anywhere between 25 to 50 students at any given time, she said. The added space this year will allow the program to serve 130 students with children. Two years ago, the program initiated a one child per student rule, which York said has cut down on the number of child students in the program are having.Both TAPP schools serve nearly 600 students annually. Around 120 of those students graduated last year, earning nearly $800,000 in scholarship money, said York.
The Kentucky Board of Education has approved regulations strengthening its policies around restraining misbehaving students.Over the past several years, officials have considered changing the state's education department policies. Several states have laws on the books that regulate restraint. Kentucky is not among them, leaving the education department to set regulations on restraining students.“There’s going to be a training component behind it, that would certainly be welcome, so that you know exactly what you can and cannot do, rather than just trying to interpret a policy, training will be able to assist in implementation of that," said director of Kentucky Center for School Safety Jon Akers, who was involved in early policy discussions.Several organizations and other constituents—including parents—were involved in the change and were part of a early task force that studies the issue and provided suggestions. Under the new policy, all school staff would soon receive annual basic behavioral training. The stronger policy would also limit the use of restraint and seclusion only to situations in which someone is in imminent danger, which wasn't immediately clear under current policy.The new policy has been aligned with recommendations released this year by the federal government.The policy will have a public hearing soon and it needs final approval from the state’s Legislative Research Commission.It would likely be implemented during the 2013 school year.
While Kentucky students as a whole made small gains in graduation rates during the 2010-2011 school year, Jefferson County Public Schools students fell slightly backwards in most major categories.In all major categories--including gender and race-- JCPS continues to fall at least 7 percentage points behind the state. This has been consistent with the four previous years the Kentucky Department of Education has provided.The JCPS total graduation rate dropped from 69.3 percent in 2010 data to 67.8 percent in 2011 bringing the number closer to its 2008 rate of 67.7.For females, the highest performing group in JCPS, the number dropped to 73.7 in 2011 from 74.7 percent the previous year. JCPS females still fall behind the state’s female rate of 81.8.For males, the 2011 rate fell to 62.4 in 2011 from 64.1 in 2010. The district’s white students were the highest performing at 71.8 percent in 2011, falling from 73.4 the previous year, but still fell well behind the state’s 79.1 percent.Other data provided by the Kentucky Department of EducationWhite:2011: 71.82010: 73.42011 (KY): 79.1African American students were the lowest performing of the race group:2011: 62.7 percent2010: 64.2 percentJCPS Hispanic students made no gain, the state’s rate jumped:2011: 73.22010: 73.32011 (KY): 83.62010 (KY): 74.7Asian:2011: 90.92010: 98.42011 (KY): 98.12010 (KY): 100
A diverse pool of candidates has filed for Jefferson County’s three open school board seats. The most recent is local radio host Tom Mitchell, who plans on running an anti-student assignment campaign, according to reports by the Courier-Journal.As the deadline to file nears--Aug. 14--some are hoping interest in the races increases. That idea was included in former Courier-Journal editor David Hawpe's opening speech at the Louisville Forum Wednesday afternoon."In my humble opinion, no institution has as much impact on the quality of life in this community as Jefferson County Public Schools," he said.But Hawpe said he’s disappointed by the lack of local interest in Jefferson County school board races."Down through the years a few board members have been impressive and effective public servants. But in my view, the number major civic figures on the board has been pitifully small," he said.This year, four are vying for Larry Hujo's District 7 seat covering eastern parts of the county; two are competing for Steve Imhoff's District 2 (after one candidate dropped out), and two have filed for Joe Hardesty's District 4 seat in southwestern Jefferson County.The candidates range from concerned parents to prominent public figures and former JCPS staff.But getting people interested in past Jefferson County school board races has been difficult and that can be seen in the amount of money going into the races, said Hawpe.He argues tens of thousands of dollars may go toward a school board race while it's not uncommon for state political races to rake in over $150,000.Most of the money being spent in Jefferson County school board races comes from the Jefferson County Teachers Association, said Hawpe.“The teacher’s association does spend large amounts of money but that’s about the only large spending that goes on in a school board race," he said.This dwarfs personal contributions. While Hawpe said the JCTA doesn’t always get its way, it is a major factor in school board races.JCTA president Brent McKim told WFPL it’s too early to back any of the eight candidates vying for seats because the deadline to file is days away. The union is expected to meet August 29th to decide which of the candidates, if any, it will back.
Former Indiana Supreme Court Justice Randall Shepard will lead a task force looking into the state of legal education across America.The panel was appointed by the American Bar Association. Shepard says it will examine the way schools prepare their students to practice law, and the economic state of the profession."We are at the moment graduating more people from law schools than there are law-related jobs in the country," Shepard told WFPL. "And while part of that may have to do with the current state of the economy, not everyone’s convinced that this will all go back to the days of yore when the recession is over."Shepard says the panel will hold a series of public hearings and at least one conference to hear from law school students, faculty and administrators.Shepard retired from the Indiana Supreme Court earlier this year after a 27-year career on the bench and has since joined Indiana University’s Public Policy Institute.The legal education task force is expected to complete its work in 2014.
Alcohol awareness programs at the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville will continue to receive financial support from two Kentucky distilleries. Jim Beam and Brown-Forman are giving a combined $600,000 to the schools to bolster efforts to combat underage and binge drinking across the Commonwealth. “So that those students who don’t know how to use alcohol responsibly, who are using it irresponsibly, and are using it not to enjoy themselves but using it in ways that harm themselves and harm their campuses can learn how to both not use it if they are underage, and to use it responsibly if they are of an age that they are able to drink,” U of L Provost Dr. Shirley Willihnganz said at a press conference announcing the renewed support.It continues a relationship that started back in 2008. Since that time, Beam and Brown-Forman have given more than $1 million for alcohol awareness programs at the two institutions.
The University of Louisville's College of Arts and Sciences Dean, J. Blaine Hudson, is taking a leave of absence following cranial surgery.Hudson sent a message Monday night [below] through assistant dean John Ferre. The e-mail, which was forwarded to college staff, said Hudson had undergone cranial surgery and will now take time to rest. The prognosis remains positive, he wrote, but officials expect him out indefinitely.“We don’t know how long he’s going to be gone and let me be really clear, we are expecting him back," said U of L provost Shirley Willihnganz.Ferre and other school staff will cover his duties in his absence.Hudson is also chairman for Louisville's Violence Prevention Task Force, but a mayoral spokesman said he will step down from his duties to focus on his health.Hudson is a lifelong Louisville resident and has been the college's dean since 2005, according to U of L's website.The following message was sent to college staff last night:Dear colleagues, Currently, I’m dealing with serious health problems (cranial surgery, etc.). Prognosis is good; all marbles are still there. However, I’m taking a leave from U of L and will need a lot of rest. My future status will be a matter for the MDs—and me. I’m not taking visits or phone calls, but am interacting by e-mail.Please know that John [Patrick Ferre], the associate and assistant dean, Pam and the chairs are the best—here and anywhere else and have all A&S business well in hand. And we have Shirley’s full support. Second, also know that I deeply, deeply appreciate the cards and other expressions of concern. All of you are the best, too.Finally, what makes us most special “is us.” I plan to be fine and know that A&S will be so, too.Take care.
Jefferson County Public Schools is one of 107 Kentucky school districts that will use screeners this year to improve education for their youngest students.The state adopted the BRIGANCE kindergarten screener offered by Curriculum Associates, which is being piloted this school year and planned to be implemented in all districts by the 2013-2014 year.Director of products Katie Nicholson says local districts could use the data to help parents understand their child’s skill level entering kindergarten and state leadership could use the screeners to help make policy decisions.“If they have a sense for, here are the biggest needs for our entering kindergartners then that helps them to inform the curriculum they develop or purchase," said Nicholson.Over the next few weeks, JCPS is planning to train their kindergarten teachers in screening students, said Dewey Hensely, JCPS's chief academic officer. The screening process should take 15 minutes per student, but should offer a useful snapshot of the student body entering kindergarten, he said.That information could be used by local districts, said Hensley.“We also hope to triangulate our own pre-K programs or daycare centers that are in Jefferson County that serve our children," he said.The screener is only an assessment. State law says any child five years of age by October is eligible to be taught in the Kentucky school system.