NO, WE DIDN’T SAY IT (this time)!!!
This week we’ve been taking a look at a new audit on operations in the Jefferson County School District’s central office, “Final Report of a Study of the ORGANIZATIONAL STRUCTURE AND CENTRAL OFFICE STAFFING, FUNCTIONS, AND OPERATIONS.”
This shocking report outlines a host of major management problems in this clearly troubled school system, which is by far the largest in Kentucky.
Our earlier posts have concentrated on money and management issues, but we now turn to the shocking comments from the audit team about the primary mission of the school district, education of students (No, it isn’t supposed to be provision of cushy, high paying jobs to adults!).
Page 20 of the report pretty much says it all by itself:
“In recent years, achievement has declined. The percentage of students achieving the Kentucky standard of proficiency in reading in spring of 2011 was 63.25 percent, which was actually lower than the percentage achieving proficiency four years earlier in 2007, when achievement proficiency of students was 63.79 percent. By all indications, the initiatives to improve student achievement have failed over the past four years.”
As a note, the Kentucky Department of Education’s 2011 NCLB Expanded Data File (an Excel spreadsheet) actually shows the reading proficiency rate in Jefferson County was 63.79 percent in 2011, not 63.25 percent (which WAS the proficiency rate in 2010, however). However, the fact that at best there has been no improvement in reading in Jefferson County since 2007 is still depressing.
Whether stagnant or in decline, Jefferson County’s reading progress, or lack thereof, since Sheldon Berman signed on as superintendent certainly indicates no-one was paying adequate attention to the school system’s true, primary mission (which WAS NOT busing kids all over town).
By the way, this stagnant or slightly declining reading performance stands IN SHARP CONTRAST to the nonsense the Louisville school system is telling the public about the performance of its Every1Reads program. The home page for Every1Reads claims:
That is deceptive bunk. It is based on calling any kid reading above the level of Novice on the Kentucky Core Content Tests a success story.
Clearly, the auditors would not buy into this deception that there has been reading progress where it counts (getting kids to read at the proficient level).
Getting back to the audit, the report also cites these telling comments from administrators in the Jefferson County system:
• “Our scores have gone down since 2007 when we got the new Superintendent. (During the last) four years there was no focus on assessment or accountability.” (Maybe there is an update to the Excel file mentioned above)
• “In the last four years, the schools have become a distraction and a detriment to the community.”
• “The (district) failed to act (to fill the vacancy of) a Title I Director for four years which may have been in violation of Federal Law.”
• “We don’t use our evaluation process to improve student growth—we find generic evaluations, no walk throughs to monitor teaching that are specific and growth focused. No system to evaluate effectiveness of what we do.”
There is still more. If your stomach allows, you can check it out for yourself in the report, but the comments above nicely outline the problem. Jefferson County is sick academically. Even administrators in the system know it. Let’s hope that this first step, getting a hard-nosed audit of the problems, will now be translated into real action that helps Jefferson County perform its primary mission a lot more effectively (and, NO, that isn’t busing or creating a great, good old boy/girl place to work for adults!!!).
Note to Jefferson County superintendent Donna Hargens: You can generate some quick credibility by changing the deceptive progress reporting for Every1Reads. The basic idea of this program is good, but the metric is pure deception. Sheldon Berman had a chance to make this right in 2007 and flunked the test. You now have a chance to get this program on a new and more accurate footing that might also help you make the case to potential volunteers that many more of your kids need help.