Friday, May 7, 2010

Weakest schools move toward new intervention steps

January's new legislation on chronically low performing schools is now moving into full implementation. As noted earlier, each school will implement a major intervention: school closure, external management, restaffing, or school transformation.  Each school will also be eligible for a substantial federal school improvement grant.

At Lawrence County High School, the principal has resigned after the state leadership audit found that he lacked the skills to lead the school's turnaround.  The school council there was also found lacking, but the district's  superintendent, Mike Armstrong, is considered able to lead the needed changes change.  No word yet on which intervention Mr. Armstrong will recommend, but I'm willing to offer my hunch that closing the district's only high school is not something he'll consider. 

In Jefferson County, district leadership also passed its audit, but six councils and four principals did not.  At a specially-called school board meeting yesterday, Superintendent Berman recommended the school closure option at Robert Frost Middle School, with its 450 students moving to other schools in the district.  At the other five schools, the superintendent will recommend one of the other options.  The reporting has mentioned major staff changes for Western Middle School and Valley, Fern Creek, Shawnee, and Western High Schools, which sounds like those schools may be headed into the restaffing intervention. In House Bill 176, passed earlier this year, the restaffing option as requiring "screening of existing faculty and staff with the retention of no more than fifty percent of the faculty and staff at the school, development and implementation of a plan of action that uses research-based school improvement initiatives designed to turn around student performance."

Caverna High School, Metcalfe County High School, and Leslie County High School have also been audited and will implement one of the implementation approaches, but I have not seen media coverage of developments since those audit reports were finalized.

(Sources: Big Sandy News, Courier-Journal, Legislative Research Commission, and blog-friends Sande Shepherd and Cindy Baumert.)

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