State Board of Education unimpressed
As the Courier-Journal reports today the Robert Frost Middle School in Jefferson County lost its appeal to keep its School Based Decision Making Council (often called the “Site Base Council”) self-governance authority.
This state board decision follows a March ‘Leadership Assessment’ audit that says Frost’s council, “…does not have sufficient capacity to manage the recovery of the school and recommends the council’s authority be transferred to the Superintendent.” That audit was triggered when Frost was identified as one of Kentucky’s 10 ‘Persistently Low-Achieving Schools’ earlier this year.
With its vote, the Kentucky Board of Education stood solidly behind Kentucky Commissioner of Education Terry Holliday’s earlier decision and the audit process instituted by House Bill 176 earlier this year. That was a plus for increased school accountability.
Some other news is more problematic.
Two additional pending appeals from Jefferson County Public Schools for other Persistently Low-Achieving Schools were withdrawn before the board heard them. Those appeals involved requests to keep principals in Fern Creek High School and Valley High School on board even though audits in those schools recommended their replacement.
The appeals to the board were dropped because Commissioner Holliday already granted approval for these two principals to remain for one more year while additional test and other performance data are collected.
However, the trend line of performance under these principals in these schools is already problematic. The table below shows the ACT’s PLAN test’s Composite Scores for all Jefferson County high schools that have a complete set of results for all four years listed. The negative numbers in the “Slope” column for both Valley and Fern Creek show that both schools experienced a decline in performance in college preparation between the 2006-07 and 2009-10 school years.
Thus, the wisdom of Holliday’s decision may be tested once those additional scores become available.
Note as well that overall, only 10 of the 21 Jefferson County high schools in the table have a positive trend. That is only 48 percent.
Statewide, 147 of the 222 schools that had four years of reported PLAN data had a positive trend, a factor of 66 percent.
Thus, the entire district’s performance lags on PLAN improvement.
In any event, each of the Persistently Low-Achieving Schools will have nearly half a million dollars of extra money to spend next year to try to improve things. It will be interesting to see if taxpayers and – most importantly – students get good bang for these extensive bucks.