LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- JCPS has a new tool to track students' progress when school is back in session, and officials say it will also help the district catch those who are falling behind. 

At Tuesday night's school board meeting, the district introduced its new "Backpack of Skills" initiative for every JCPS student. It's another tool to help improve the achievement gap. 

"At the heart of it all is really ensuring that every kid has the skills they need to be successful once they graduate," JCPS Superintendent Dr. Marty Pollio said. 

JCPS admits it needs to do a better job with the achievement gap in the district, which is why they're rolling out the new initiative. But Pollio explains it's not a traditional backpack. 

"All students will still have their traditional report cards, or progress reports as we call them, that go home to parents with traditional letter grades," Pollio said. "But we will also have an online digital backpack, or platform, where students, and teachers and parents will be able to see those skills we want a student to have."

The "Backpack of Skills" focuses on reading and math readiness, but also skills like communicating, working with others and innovating ideas. It's a way for teachers to better track students' reading and math literacy, instead of only relying on state test scores.

"The kids are here today, and we don't have time to wait, so we have jumped in head first," JCPS Chief Academic Officer Dr. Carmen Coleman said.

Coleman helped develop the initiative, which teachers will have to learn before school starts. 

"I will promise you that the outcome will be well worth any tough spots along the way," she said. 

Students will upload projects and have to defend their work to teachers at the end of 5th, 8th and 12th grade. 

"We have to make sure it's going to be compatible with any number of different technologies that our students are going to use," JCPS board member Chris Brady said. 

Pollio says it will also force the district to improve technology for students across the district.

"We believe this will be the difference maker in ensuring that every student has those skills necessary to be successful," he said.

The initiative is expected to be ready by the first day of school, which is about two months away on Aug. 15.

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