U of L researchers work with JCPS on failing schools - WDRB 41 Louisville News

U of L researchers work with JCPS on failing schools

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Louisville, KY (WDRB-TV) -- The University of Louisville is intervening when it comes to failing JCPS schools. Researchers from U of L held their first of six meetings with principals Wednesday with advice on how to turn around those failing schools.

Jefferson County Public Schools says it's spending $4,000 hiring two men they hope can help improve failing schools. JCPS says researchers Sam Stringfield and Craig Hochbein are each being paid $2,000 for their expertise this school year.

They're meeting with one middle school and six high school principals on how to turn their failing schools around.

Sam Stringfield says, "The first thing you do is you settle on very few goals and say these are the things we are going to do. The state and federal No Child Left Behind law makes clear what those things have to be. Then, we work with the teachers and the schools on some kinds of reforms, but none of them will work if outsiders try to implement them."

On the list of Persistently Low Achieving Schools: Knight Middle, Southern, Iroquois, Waggener, Doss, Fairdale, and Seneca High Schools. Principals say there is no one reason why their schools are low-achieving.

Doss Principal Ken Moeller says bringing in a large percentage of new teachers is helping. He says with retirements, "Right now, we have 30 to 35 percent of teachers that are new to the building, but not all are new at teaching. I've been successful at acquiring teachers that have a lot of experience."

Craig Hochbein, a U of L researcher, says, "Teachers that are hired tend to be younger, they tend to be less experienced. What we see is what is important in the classroom is experienced talented teachers. So, a wholesale change, just for wholesale change may not be the answer."

The researchers also say just throwing money into failing schools is not always successful at improving scores.

With the pressure on, Moeller has outlined some goals for Doss. He says, "This year it better be 40 percent of our kids be proficient or distinguished in math and they better have 50 percent proficient or distinguished in English or in reading. Anything less will be unacceptable and the teachers knew that going in."

A new round of test scores are expected to come out at the end of the month.

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