The Louisville Courier-Journal reported today, “Audits: 7 JCPS low-performing schools making improvements, can keep principals.”
Well, maybe not.
I have not had time to evaluate the audits, but I know there is no requirement for the commissioner of education to follow the auditors’ recommendations. In fact, I seem to recall precedents of the commissioner not always following audit recommendations for Persistently Low-Achieving Schools (PLAs).
More importantly, the commissioner and I now know something additional that I don’t think the auditors could have known: newly released math and reading results for the latest PLAN and EXPLORE testing for these seven schools overall don’t look so hot.
Unlike most other state testing in Kentucky, EXPLORE and PLAN are administered in the fall of the eighth and 10th grade years, respectively. Because the principals took over these seven schools in the 2011-12 school year, we now have not one, but two sets of testing data for their time at the helm. Of course, the testing done in early 2011 is more like a reflection of what the previous principal in each school produced, but the 2011-12 scores provide good baseline data for the new principals, as well.
So, how do the numbers actually look? This table shows the percentages of students who scored at or above the EXPLORE or PLAN Benchmark Scores that show students are on track for college and careers.
Where the Benchmark performance declined, I show the 2012-13 scores in red.
If a school showed declines between 2011-12 and 2012-13 in both reading and mathematics, I show the school’s name in red on the 2012-13 line.
Bluntly put, when it comes to math and reading, there’s an awful lot of red in this table.
While only allowing a principal one year at the helm before pronouncing judgment might not be wise, or fair, it would be equally unfair to our kids to say these school leaders are off the hook when their first to second year test data is trending in the wrong direction.
I will try to dig into one or two of the audits over the weekend to see how well they hold together (an initial scan indicates the auditors didn’t even consider test scores).
By the way, these new audits were not conducted or reported in the same way as earlier PLAs audits, and they appear to have been completed by different group of evaluators.
Meanwhile, I wouldn’t place any bets on whether or not those principals are home free. Education Commissioner Terry Holliday has been making comments like things couldn’t get any worse and that some of the PLAs are tantamount to educational genocide. I guarantee you Holliday pays attention to test scores even if the auditors did not.