Over the next year, University of Louisville professors will work with JCPS principals of persistently low achieving (PLA) schools to educate them on ways to manage issues PLA schools face.
A total of 13 Jefferson County PLA schools are part of 22 schools on the state’s watch list. Seven were added this past year. Schools remain on the list until they make adequate yearly progress (AYP), according to the No Child Left Behind Act, said Lisa Gross with the Kentucky Department of Education. But this school year, AYP will be partly determined from the new state standards that have been enacted.
“It’s a whole different accountability system. It’s a whole set of standards that are new,” said Joe Burks, assistant superintendent of JCPS high schools.
Part of the JCPS plan for its PLA schools is to educate the principals. But the seven schools began making key changes when they overhauled their staff before the school year began, said Chris Perkins, principal of Iroquois High School.
“The people that are still on board and the people that have been hired since that was one of those intangible qualities that we looked for: Do they have this belief that regardless of our label, regardless of our history and the test scores in years past, do we have the capacity to improve and to get to that level,” said Perkins.
The staff overhaul brings fresh faces and ideas to the table, said Sam Stringfield, professor in the Education Leadership, Foundations, and Human Resource Education department at the University of Louisville. But the new principals will also be responsible for knowing what goals and initiatives are appropriate for their individual school, he said.
“We can say that we can bring in national and international research and that can matter, that’s valuable. But the world’s leading experts on these schools are in these schools,” said Stringfield.
Stringfield’s colleague Dr. Craig Hockbein agreed and said what the University can provide are examples and research regarding how schools might manage their issues. But it’ll be a team effort lead by the principals and leaders of the schools.
“We would want the specifics to come from the principal. That’s the problem often times when you see professional development especially in the education world. We like to come in, researchers sometimes, and provide information to these individuals who are actually experts in their schools,” said Hochbein.
The University of Louisville will work with JCPS throughout the year. JPCS officials said details for when and where they meet are still being worked out.