JCPS High Schools Make Gains, But District Goals Not Met

by Devin Katayama on September 27, 2011

Jefferson County Public Schools Superintendent Donna Hargens says the state’s standardized test scores released Tuesday show both positive and negative results for the district.

Only 16.5 (22 of 133) percent of JCPS schools met 100 percent of goals designed under No Child Left Behind (NCLB). The goals are specific to each school and every goal must be met in order for a school to achieve the necessary progress under NCLB. But officials say the goals are partly based on school diversity. And if one group doesn’t meet its goal, the whole school fails.

Even though the district under-performed according to NCLB, there are some positive gains made, said Hargens.

“What I would say to parents is first of all every one of our schools has students that are scoring proficient and distinguished. We have many successful students at all of our schools. So any school, certainly, students can be successful at. But we’re not satisfied with the results and we want it to be better,” Hargens said.

All JCPS high schools showed gains in reading and math test scores.

One of the success stories is Western High School.  It is among the JCPS schools deemed Persistently Low-Achieving (PLA) under NCLB. Western has met all of its testing goals and increased by nearly 30 percent the number of students who performed well in reading and math.

“We utilized every tool we could in math,” said Western Principal David Mike. “We pulled kids out of their electives if they were struggling. We put everybody’s names on the wall. When you met a standard you got a dot. You got a piece of candy. That was a great tool for our kids.”

Mike said he doesn’t expect that large of a gain over the next school year, but remains optimistic. Western contributed to the largest subject increase in JCPS high schools. Math scores jumped 14.16 percent, much higher than the state, which increased 5.69 percent.

JCPS high schools on average have higher scores than the state, but elementary and middle schools fall under the state average.

State and district assessments are changing this year and a new accountability system that tests whether students are college and career ready will be implemented. The state is applying for waiver of NCLB and will hear if its application is accepted in the coming months.

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