LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The principal of Moore Traditional School does not have the capacity to lead the school's turnaround efforts at the middle school level, according to a state diagnostic review.
Vicki Lete, who has been the principal at Moore since 2008, could not immediately be reached for comment on Monday. Moore Traditional serves both middle and high school students in grades 6-12. It was Moore's middle school that was identified as a persistently low-performing school in 2015.
Meanwhile, the diagnostic reviews conducted by the Kentucky Department of Education earlier this year at the Academy @ Shawnee and Roosevelt-Perry Elementary and Byck Elementary found that principals at each of those schools do have the capacity to continue to lead those schools.
State officials delivered the reports to Jefferson County Public Schools Superintendent Donna Hargens and her staff on Monday.
"I appreciate the thorough review of four of our schools by the Kentucky Department of Education,” Hargens said in a statement sent late Monday. “We are a school system, and we strive every day to learn and improve. Internal and external assessment gives us new perspective on our strengths and challenges, and we welcome the input as we strive to create an optimal learning environment for every student in our school district.”
The district has 30 days to appeal the decision, if that is something the school board decides it wants to do.
It was not immediately clear Monday night if JCPS will allow Lete to stay on to oversee Moore's high school students.
Over the past five years, 21 schools in Jefferson County have been identified as priority schools for having chronically low test scores. During that time, the district has received more than $38 million in federal grant money to help turn them around. Only two schools -- Waggener High and Fern Creek High -- have exited priority school status.
Under the law, the range of interventions the district can choose from include: replacing the principal and site-based decision-making council, replacing more than half the faculty, closing the school and transferring its students to higher-performing schools or restarting the schools under the management of a private or nonprofit operator.
According to Moore's diagnostic review, the team observed 28 middle school classrooms. Overall it found "inconsistent use of instructional strategies that required student collaboration, self-reflection and development of critical thinking skills."
- Students seldom had opportunities for differentiated learning and/or alternative lesson content and activities and students typically were not provided feedback.
- The lack of connection between classroom instruction and students' daily lives and backgrounds was a theme prevalent across many classrooms
- Classroom observation data indicated inconsistent use of instructional strategies that required student collaboration, self-reflection and development of critical thinking skills
- Few students used any type of technology for their learning.
State auditors indicated that Moore middle school students "interacted respectfully with their peers and teachers and demonstrated knowledge of classroom rules and routines and demonstrated positive attitudes."
Survey data revealed that 18 percent of teachers agreed strongly agreed with the statement, “Our school's leaders engage effectively with all stakeholders about the school‘s purpose and direction.”
Roosevelt-Perry and Byck were also named priority schools for the first time in 2015.
Tammy Darden has been the principal at Byck since 2007, while Nichole Marshall is in her first year as principal at Roosevelt Perry.
The most recent test scores show that only 9 percent of students at Roosevelt Perry were proficient in reading, 12 percent in math and no students were proficient in writing. At Byck, 26 percent were proficient in reading, 25 percent were proficient in math, 19 percent were proficient in writing.
The assessment team at Roosevelt-Perry praised the school's faculty and staff saying, “they truly care and are deeply concerned about the welfare and academic progress of all students.”
Some details of the Roosevelt-Perry report:
A review of documents revealed that a consistent lesson planning format did not exist.
- The school has not established a system to provide feedback to teachers on the importance of designing lessons that include high yield instructional strategies.
- Although the school has documented evidence of continuous assessment practices, classroom observation data suggested that only a few staff members analyze data or differentiate or change instruction in response to data.
- Equitable and rigorous instruction was limited.
- School leadership, in particular the principal, has made a concerted effort to leverage improvements around academics and instruction this school year and has aspirations to revise the school's mission statement to focus on improving teaching and learning.
- The school's site-based decision making council was found to have capacity to lead.
The assessment team at Byck praised the school's community partnerships that "expand student learning and extended school services for after-school learning opportunities."
Some details of the Byck report:
- Student performance data, as detailed in the attachments to this report, did not suggest that school personnel use data to monitor continuous school improvement, student learning, instructional practices and programmatic/organizational effectiveness.
- Classroom observation data also revealed that highly effective instructional practices were not consistently implemented across the school.
- Therefore, the school will need to align its instructional, supervisory and evaluation processes to provide relevant professional development to instructional staff members.
- The current spirit of collegiality represents a general shift in organizational attitude from previous school years.
- The review team determined that the Byck Site Based Decision Making Council (SBDM) does not have the ability to continue its current roles and responsibilities. The KDE Commissioner will appoint an advisory council to work with the principal.
Shawnee also serves middle and high school students; it's high school has been in priority status since 2010 and has struggled with low student achievement for decades.
However, Shawnee has met its annual goals for the last two years and is on track to no longer be labeled a “persistently low-achieving” school, depending on how well students do on state tests in May.
Venita Benboe was named Shawnee's new principal in August. She was previously the assistant principal of Moore Traditional School.
The assessment team at Shawnee noted “a focus on developing a college mindset with students was evident,” and that “the Academy @ Shawnee has a friendly, nurturing, and caring community of adults to support students.”
However, it noted several areas of concern:
Of concern to the Team were the following learning conditions, which were detected infrequently or inconsistently: 1) well-managed environments through consistently enforced, school-wide positive behavioral and intervention supports, 2) differentiated instruction that met the needs of all students, 3) exemplars and available technologies as instructional tools and 4) authentic student engagement
Some other details of the Shawnee report:
- The team found very few instances in which students were provided differentiated learning tasks and ongoing activities to connect classwork with their own and others' backgrounds and real-life experiences.
- Interview data revealed that teachers generally did not implement an instructional process that informed students of learning expectations and standards of performance
- A review of documents and artifacts revealed that the vision/mission of the school was revised in 2015; however, stakeholders were unable to articulate the overarching theme, beliefs, mission or goals for the school.
In January, Stuart Middle principal Renee Bledsoe was found to no longer be able to lead the school after a state diagnostic review determined she does not have the capacity to continue the school's turnaround efforts.
Priority schools are required to receive a diagnostic review every two years and are completed by a team of current and former educators, parents and others trained in the process.
Reporter Antoinette Konz covers K-12 education for WDRB News. She can be reached at 502-585-0838 or @tkonz on Twitter.
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