Thursday, May 13, 2010

Weakest schools: one-year limit on keeping a principal?

In recent audits of Kentucky's weakest persistently low-performing schools, four principals were found to have the strengths needed to change their high schools.   Each report has been signed by the Commissioner and the district superintendent, and the superintendent sign-offs for Caverna, Shawnee, Western, and Leslie  County include this provision:
Pending approval from the US Department of Education, the principal of [school name] may remain in this position for the 2010-11 school year.

However, after one year of implementing the intervention plan, if [school name] has not made sufficient progress toward the annual goals and implementation of the intervention plan, the principal shall be removed.
That one-year limit on keeping the principal does not appear in state law.  It was not part of House Bill 176, the intervention legislation that passed earlier this year to strengthen Kentucky's Race to the Top legislation.  There, it appears that audit approval will allow a principal to continue for many years into the future, even if the school continues to struggle.

The one-year idea also does not come from the Race to the Top models.  There, the approach that requires replacing half the staff and the approach that specifies detailed transformation rules both say the principal must be replaced--and the other two options are closing the school completely or reopening under completely different management.   Keeping the principal isn't possible under any of those options.  The federal requirements for the School Improvement Grants use matching language and, again, do not allow any added time for a principal to lead the school's improvement.

Reading those pieces, I'm puzzled.  Did KDE and USED work out a compromise, with an intervention approach that's more aggressive than Kentucky law but less aggressive than the federal grant rules? Is that where the "one more year" provision came from?   It looks that way, but I haven't yet found a source that confirms that sort of deal.

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