– Jefferson County – you did it to yourself
We have written plenty over the years (such as here and here) about the “lowball” reading performance target the Jefferson County Public School System set for itself several years ago with its “Every1Reads” program.
The district took it upon itself to change the Kentucky Board of Education’s real reading performance target in the CATS assessments to something much lower – apparently just to look better.
Just after his appointment as superintendent in Jefferson County, I took time to personally caution Dr. Sheldon Berman that Every1Reads set deceptive targets that would lead to trouble.
Those cautions didn’t work, and the district’s reading program is now in trouble.
November ninth found the Jefferson County Board of Education wringing its hands over the grim fact that reading performance in the district actually declined in the past few years. The Courier-Journal says the recently released Kentucky Core Content Test results showed, “At every level, student reading skills were slipping backward.”
In a remarkable bit of candor, the school district’s director of literacy told the newspaper, “The way instruction is being delivered now, it’s at a superficial level.”
Just now, we are told, Jefferson County is going to start requiring teachers to track their students’ progress and change strategies if kids are not learning. That’s absurd! This was supposed to have happened from day one of KERA back in 1990.
In fact, tracking student performance is such basic education “stuff” that one has to question who stood idly by in Jefferson County – and in Frankfort, too, for that matter – these past 20 years while these basic education approaches apparently were not being followed.
Well, when you set superficial goals, that sort of thing happens.
But, what is inexcusable is the fact that the “lowball” reading targets in Jefferson County have been obvious since at least 2005. What is it going take to wake our school leaders up?
I can’t help recalling, once again, recent comments from the State Board of Education Chair, Joe Brothers, on October 8, 2009. He was being briefed on more of the “same old, same old” stuff to fix the state’s low education performance. Brothers interrupted, saying,
“I came on the local board (his local board in Elizabethtown) in 1987. What you just said to me is no different than what I heard in 1987. So why should I be hopeful?”
I’ll echo Mr. Brothers’ comment. Jefferson County Board of Education, after you ignored the obvious dangers in your Every1Reads deception for four years, and after you ignored basic education concepts like properly tracking student performance and making adjustments for two decades, why should I now be hopeful that you are going to do better?