Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Jefferson County: Never going to get it???

Once again, Jefferson County Public Schools have opted to use the “Staff Replacement” option to turn around Knight Middle School, the latest school in the district to join the Persistently Low-Achieving Schools list in Kentucky.

This same model is now being used in ALL 13 the Jefferson County Low-Achieving schools. However, application in Jefferson County is being corrupted with a claim that teachers who have been in the school less than three years can be counted as a replaced teacher even though they don’t leave the school.

So far, every Persistently Low-Achieving School outside of Jefferson County has selected another option, the “Transformation Option,” which requires teachers in the school to be evaluated on student performance and other measures. The hyper-aggressive teachers’ union local in Jefferson County wants none of that. The union would rather not have any members identified for poor performance. Gaming the system is a much better ‘solution’ in the eyes of these adults in the Louisville school system.

Meanwhile, limited data from fall testing with the EXPLORE and PLAN assessments in the first group of 10 schools identified as Persistently Low-Achieving indicate that the “Staff Replacement” turn-around option used exclusively in Louisville is not working as well as the “Transformation Option” being used elsewhere.

Also, Jefferson County high schools in the Persistently Low-Achieving List continue to provide dismal evidence of problems in the district, as these new, 2011 graduation rates (which I calculated from the Johns Hopkins Promoting Power Index Formula) gruesomely attest.

(Note: Calculated from School Level Growth Factor Reports from the Kentucky Department of Education which are not available on line)

By the way, Johns Hopkins says a Promoting Power Index below 60% is evidence of a “dropout factory.” Rates below that value are in red.

The red ‘digital ink’ shows two schools, Iroquois and The Academy at Shawnee, qualify as dropout factories across the board for white and black students of both sexes.

Only one school, Fairdale High, escapes the dropout factory label across all four race and sex categories. It didn’t escape by much in the white male category, however.

The Johns Hopkins formula isn’t perfect, but it is the only one available until the Kentucky Department of Education finally gets off the dime and releases better data for the first time in August. Why that better data wasn’t released earlier is a big mystery, despite some department excuses.

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