JCPS Board Approves “Transformation” Model For Turn-Around Schools

by Devin Katayama on January 10, 2012

The Jefferson County Board of Education says they’ll support teachers and staff of four persistently low achieving (PLA) schools that have chosen a new turn around model.

The board approved use of the “transformation” model, which offers incentives to school staff for meeting certain growth goals.

Olmsted Academy North, Westport, Stuart, and Myers middle schools were all deemed PLA last fall. A state audit of the schools allowed them to help choose one of four turn-around models to receive federal School Improvement Grant (SIG) support. The previous 18 JCPS PLA schools have all used the re-staffing method, which includes replacing 50 percent of the staff.

Now four schools and the JCPS board have approved the transformation model, which evaluates success by student performance. It also encourages keeping and developing successful teachers.

The Jefferson County Teacher’s Association approved the decision, though the union was against previous transformation model agreements.

“We more explicitly agreed to look at student performance information in a low stakes way for the growth and improvement of teachers…not for high stakes decisions like employment,” said JCTA president Brent McKim.

Teachers will work with principals to identify the growth goals of the schools and the entire school will be rewarded if goals are met. Board member Linda Duncan said that’s one reason she was not a fan of the transformation model last year.

“This year that is not the case with this. We’re doing school wide rewards, school wide scores, that’s an entirely different creature as far as I’m concerned,” said Duncan.

What the incentives and rewards will look like is still undetermined and will be worked out at a later date.

The board voted independently for each of the four schools. Olmsted Academy North, Westport and Myers all had unanimous support. Stuart passed 5-2, with opposition from board members Steve Imhoff and Larry Hujo.

Hujo brought introduced allegations that Stuart’s school council, which met and approved the transformation model, may have violated the state’s open meetings law.

“Again, these are allegations, but they’re serious. There’s not way I can approve Stuart Middle School tonight,” he said.

Board members ultimately decided to move forward with the turn-around plan for all four schools. The board requested Superintendent Donna Hargens investigate the allegations.

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