Kentucky schools: Measuring success 1 school at a time

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by Sam Cobertt, WHAS11 Education Consultant

WHAS11.com

Posted on October 24, 2013 at 8:46 PM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Recently the Department of Education for the State of Kentucky released detailed information which measures the progress of every school in Kentucky. Based upon tests that students took in the Spring of 2013, the data showed how students are performing in math, reading, science and social studies. Each school receives a tremendous amount of information which allows them to drill down and determine how the individual student is performing. They also receive the results of a detailed survey given to the teachers working in the school. This survey addresses the school culture - what type of work environment exists in the building. Armed with this information, one is able to give a school a passing or failing grade. 

For a moment, after receiving and reviewing these test scores, let’s imagine you’re the principal, administrator or teacher of a Kentucky school. For a moment, l will appoint you to be the Principal of a high school that has been designated as a priority school, one that has been a low performing school for a number of years. Your school is located in Jefferson County, in the eastern part of the county. In the 1960’s and 1970’s your school was one of the highest rated schools in Jefferson County and the State of Kentucky. Since then, as neighborhoods changed and a system-wide student assignment plan evolved, the makeup of your school population also changed. Instead of having young people from primarily middle income families, you now have 750 children in your school, 74% of whom come from low income families. They are part of the free and reduced lunch program, a support system for people who do not make a lot of money and a way schools designate poor children.

As principal, you and your dedicated staff spend a lot of time trying to remove barriers that negatively impact student achievement. If a child is hungry, doesn’t have even the most basic clothing to comply with the dress code, doesn’t see well and needs glasses, or any number of other issues, performing in the classroom is very difficult. To add to that, the students may have arrived at your high school reading at a sixth or seventh grade level. You the principal know you are committed, and that you have a solid group of teachers and support staff who agree with your strategies. But making significant gains in a relatively short period of time is a huge undertaking.

For the next several weeks, I will explore how the real principal in this real school is working to help the students be more successful. We will learn how the staff is dealing with the challenges and why they are so committed to having every child ready for college and a successful career.

Feel free to join me in this discussion. If you have questions or suggestions for our principal, feel free to email me at schools@whas11.com. It’s part of your job as a member of this community to be part of the solution!        
 

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