The five persistently low-achieving (PLA) Jefferson County public schools may soon have more options for turning around student performance.
Congress is proposing amendments to the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act, which would give states more flexibility in turning around schools. The changes also scrap the adequate yearly progress (AYP) standards, which many educators say are difficult to meet.
Last week Kentucky released 19 more PLA schools per NCLB; five schools are from JCPS.
PLA schools choose one of four turnaround models to increase student performance: re-staff, close, handover management, or a school transformation model. JCPS has chosen to re-staff its teachers for the first two cohorts of PLA schools. Superintendent Donna Hargens has not yet announced what she plans for the third group, but changes to NCLB could affect her decision.
One amendment that was approved allows states to propose their own turnaround model to the U.S. Secretary of Education. Some committee Democrats were concerned a state model wouldn’t be stringent enough, but the amendment gained support from Republicans and the National Education Association.
Allowing states to propose their own methods could leave behind some low-performing students, said University of Louisville’s Craig Hochbein who has been working with JCPS principals in PLA schools. Some states perform well on proficiency tests but fail to reach out to all students across the board, he said.
“I think it can be beneficial. But in states in which there has been resistance in types of change, sometimes a lack of accountability can be a problem,” he said.
Kentucky has been proactive in trying to increase student performance. It was the first state to accept the Common Core State Standards and its new college-and-career accountability system mirrors standards supported by the federal government.