Tuesday, November 9, 2010

School and district performance shockers!

Ten more Kentucky schools named Persistently Low-Achieving

Thirteen districts tagged for low performance and targeted for intervention, as well

You know it’s a real shock because two key education bloggers who normally sing praises for Kentucky’s school system are both are carrying related stories here, here, here, and here about newly announced low-performing school systems.

As usual, a large proportion of the new Persistently Low-Achieving Schools are in Jefferson County.

But, the real shock to me was finding the Campbell County Public School District in the listing of the school districts that are targeted for assistance. This is in an up-scale area of the state, and the listing of this district shows that nay-sayers who think bad schools are only found elsewhere are seriously wrong.

Here are the districts and some of their vital statistics:

Districts shaded in pink perform the lowest in the group and will get:

• District-level leadership assessments and targeted assistance from the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE), and

• Will work in partnership with Educational Recovery Directors and other KDE staff to develop and implement corrective action plans.”

In addition, these five districts must take other actions required by all 13 listed school systems. They are:

• Develop a corrective action plan approved by KDE,

• Defer programmatic funds and develop a budget for deferred funds that will be used to implement activities in the corrective action plan, to be approved by KDE, and

• Set aside 10 percent of the district’s Title I Part A allocation for high-quality professional development to help teachers close achievement gaps.

This is all very nice, but will it work? Do our educators know how to turn these school districts around given all the red tape and restrictions of state regulations and union contracts?

More importantly, if the schools in the district don’t lose their School Based Decision Making Council (SBDM) authority, tinkering with the districts is largely a waste of time. The SBDM, not the districts, currently have the important say about what goes on in the classroom. Trying to fix school districts without taking over SBDM control is like building dams high up in the Rocky Mountains to try and control flooding on the Lower Mississippi River.

More about the schools later.

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