JCPS celebrating small gains despite state concerns - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

JCPS celebrating small gains despite state concerns

JCPS teachers and administrators celebrated the gains made in the K-PREP testing. (Source: Michael Williams, WAVE 3 News) JCPS teachers and administrators celebrated the gains made in the K-PREP testing. (Source: Michael Williams, WAVE 3 News)
Dr. Donna Hargens (Source: Michael Williams, WAVE 3 News) Dr. Donna Hargens (Source: Michael Williams, WAVE 3 News)
Kym Rice (Source: Michael Williams, WAVE 3 News) Kym Rice (Source: Michael Williams, WAVE 3 News)
Dr. Stephen L Pruitt (Source; Kentucky Department of Education) Dr. Stephen L Pruitt (Source; Kentucky Department of Education)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Student test scores may not have met state averages, but the Jefferson County Public Schools are celebrating the small gains.
 
"We know that we have progress to make and a mountain to climb," said Dr. Donna Hargens, JCPS Superintendent, "but part of that progress needs to be celebrating what works." 

Schools like Western Middle, Jacob Elementary and Fairdale High scored above the state average for their schools. According to Western Middle School principal Kymberly Rice, these scores are not something that happened on accident.

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"Everything we did was very intentional there was a purpose for doing it," Rice said. "We looked at the data and thought how can we do this differently. And how can we focus on each kid?"

The same 19 schools remain in priority status. But a JCPS spokesperson said Valley High School plans to fight their priority status.

According to JCPS, Valley High has met target goals the past four years and it's graduation rate is just decimal points from making the grade.

JCPS sent a statement pleading their case:

"JCPS will seek an appeal to KDE (Kentucky Department of Education) to consider exiting Valley from priority status. In order to exit priority status, schools must (1) meet AMO goals for three consecutive years, (2) no longer be identified by the applicable percent calculation of being in the lowest five percent and (3) score at or above an 80% graduation rate for three consecutive years, according to 703 KAR 5:225 which went into effect in June 2015. Valley has met their AMO goal for four consecutive years, is out of the lowest five percent based on their overall score, and has a graduation rate of 79.8. 

"We are asking KDE to consider using the same criteria for exiting that was in place when schools entered priority status, which is 70% graduation rate. This was the same criteria that was applied to Fern Creek HS, who entered priority status the same year as Valley, but exited one year earlier."

Commissioner of Education Stephen L. Pruitt said schools are welcome to file an appeal.

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Every group - from gender, race or income - increased their reading and math scores with one exception. The scores for limited English speakers were flat.

"Non-English speakers are out fastest-growing group and so what we saw from last year," said Hargens. "So what we saw last year was a drop in achievement, now it's just a leveling off so we're glad about that."
 
The graduation rates are encouraging said Pruitt, but in a virtual press conference on Wednesday he was concerned because the JCPS scores that are below average.

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"The scores are concerning, they have the biggest percentage of our population," Pruitt said. "We are currently going into a review with Jefferson County. We've got to make sure we have an eye toward transparency and opportunity. We frankly have to have strong belief that the data is not good enough."

Responding to Pruitt's concerns at a news conference today, Hargens said she understands and agrees. However, Hargens said she wants to focus on the methods that are working within JCPS and apply those to every student so that every student has a chance to succeed.

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