JCPS principals celebrate small gains even as concerns expressed - WDRB 41 Louisville News

JCPS principals celebrate small gains even as concerns expressed over test results

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Test results are in for Kentucky students and the state's top educator is concerned about Jefferson County Public Schools -- but you might not know it from the celebrations that took place among principals Thursday.

The scene didn't match the headline: JCPS principals running into celebrations, pomp and circumstance as the latest state report card was released. They were celebrating, while only 66 of the 138 JCPS schools tested met their state-required benchmarks.

The number has been in steady decline for two years. In fact, tests show half the students in JCPS can't read or do math on grade level -- and the achievement gap between whites and minority students is huge. 

"The scores are concerning," said Kentucky Education Commissioner Stephen Pruitt. "They have the biggest chunk of our student population, so in a lot of ways, so goes Jefferson County, so goes Kentucky."

"Frankly we've got to have the real strong belief that the data is not good enough," Pruitt added.

But after that from Kentucky's top teacher, there were cheers and High-fives.

Here's why:

"Everyone in this room would agree that we know we have progress to make and mountains to climb, but part of that progress needs to be celebrating the things that do work," said JCPS Superintendent Donna Hargens.

Hargens says she takes pride in small gains and victories where she can find them.

"Sixty-six schools increased achievement scores," she said. "Seventy-three increased gap scores. Sixty-seven increased their growth scores. Twelve increased colleges and career readiness. Eight increased graduation rate." 

One of the biggest success stories is Fairdale High School, where students saw an eight percent increase in reading scores and jumped 21 percent in math.

"Teachers are learning to adapt to the way students learn, so it's out with the old school, in with the new school," said Cassidy Jenkins, a Fairdale High School senior. "So everything we need -- technology and resources -- is given to us."

Jenkins reminded us that behind every one of these numbers stands someone's child. 

"What we need to do is scale the things that work so that all of our students benefit from it," Hargens said.

Perhaps celebrating the small gains can bring bigger ones next year. 

The JCPS overall score was 63.1, just shy of the state's target and falling in the "needs improvement" category.

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