LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – With its first school year under a corrective action plan with the state days from concluding, Jefferson County Public Schools has established less than half of the fixes the state says are needed to turn around Kentucky’s largest school district.
But both JCPS Superintendent Marty Pollio and Kentucky Education Commissioner Wayne Lewis said Wednesday that they’re pleased with progress demonstrated by the district thus far.
“Making sure that all of these things are happening at 156 schools continues to be a challenge, but we’re confident we’ll be successful,” Pollio said after updating the Kentucky Board of Education on its progress in implementing the corrective action plan.
Pollio and his staff have been busy addressing numerous issues detailed by the state after a 14-month audit of JCPS that ultimately resulted in Lewis’s recommendation in April that the state manage operations at the district. Both sides reached a settlement before the Jefferson County Board of Education’s appeal could be heard by the state board.
The corrective action plan is a primary product of that settlement. Pollio informed the state board that JCPS has established systems in 43% of that plan, up from 26% in his April update to the board.
He told reporters after his presentation that he expects to reach 100% by the 2020-21 school year, noting that his team and the local board have made “significant progress” on implementing the corrective action plan.
“What we’ve taken on in JCPS, and I’ve said this in several outlets, I’d put it up against any other large urban district in America,” Pollio said.
Lewis declined to comment on the district’s pace in implementing aspects of the corrective action plan, but he said he’s been happy with the progress shown at JCPS. Pollio, he said, “is pushing as hard as he can” to address deficiencies raised in the audit.
“A lot of the things that he’s pushing on, to be frank, are things we should have done a long time ago, but you know, there’s nothing you can do to change that,” Lewis told reporters during a break in Wednesday’s state board meeting. “He’s making good progress, and I’m encouraged by what I’m hearing from him.”
In his presentation to the state board, Pollio highlighted headway made by JCPS in two areas of the corrective action plan: planning and finance.
He also touted the district’s use of Measures of Academic Progress, or MAP, testing to monitor student progress throughout the year. While 50% of JCPS students hit their benchmarks in reading and 44% met their benchmarks in math in the last round of MAP testing, more than half of all tested students reached their expected growth scores in each subject, Pollio said.
“We’re going to continue to monitor that to make sure that we make up that ground when students are behind,” he said.
The specter of a state takeover continues to loom over JCPS, but Lewis said he believed his recommendation has yielded positive outcomes for the district. The state is set to audit the district again in October 2020 and may push again for state management of JCPS depending on the outcome.
“I would say that my recommendation that JCPS become a state-managed district has yielded positive results in the district,” Lewis told reporters.
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