Lexington's Bryan Station High School has joined the list of Kentucky's "persistently low-achieving schools."
The latest list of such schools, released Wednesday by the Kentucky Department of Education, includes Bryan Station and 18 other middle and high schools across the state.
Bryan Station's listing was no surprise.
Various deficiencies can land a state on the low-performing list.
In Bryan Station's case, it was being among the lowest-scoring 5 percent of so-called Title I schools failing to make "adequate yearly progress" on Kentucky's core content test for three straight years.
Fayette School Superintendent Tom Shelton said Wednesday that district officials knew Bryan Station could end up on the new poor-performing list unless it boosted scores on the 2011 content test that students took this spring. It didn't.
"When we didn't make the gains, we knew it was coming," Shelton said. "You never want to have a school with a label attached to it like this. But we're going to treat it as a positive, and approach it as a way to help us improve."
According to state education officials, assessment teams will visit Bryan Station and the other 18 listed schools to evaluate administrative leadership, staffing, instruction and other factors, then recommend remedial steps. A report on Bryan Station possibly could be ready by year's end, state spokeswoman Lisa Gross said.
Kentucky regulations provide four possible remedial steps: replacing a school's principal; reducing the site-based council's authority; replacing half the school staff; turning school operations over to an outside manager; or closing the school outright. The school district could select which step it wants, with state approval.
Shelton said he doesn't expect extreme measures. He said Bryan Station already has a new principal this year, Mike Henderson, plus some new site-based council members.
"We kind of expect them to look at what we've been doing and see that we're already in the process of turning the school around," he said.
Henderson previously worked with the state education department helping turn around low-achieving schools. What he learned doing that will be helpful at Bryan Station, he said Wednesday.
"You have to have an intentional focus on standards, you have to have research-based instruction, and you have to have a positive climate and culture in the school," Henderson said. "If you have those, achievement can't help but go up."
In the past, low-achieving Title I schools were eligible for federal School Improvement Grants to help them improve. But that might not happen this time, given federal budget uncertainties.
"Schools that already have been selected for grants will get their money," Gross said. "But there's no guarantee for these new schools."
Bryan Station is the only Fayette County school on the new list; Jefferson County has five. Other high schools listed include Fleming County, Knox Central, Lee County, Lincoln County, Monticello, Perry County and Pulaski County. None has been listed before as persistently low performing.
Nevertheless, Wednesday's list brings to 41 the total number of Kentucky schools that have been identified as low-achieving since the state began keeping such lists in spring 2010 as required under state and federal regulations.
A school can get off the low-achieving list by making adequate yearly progress two straight years, according to Gross.
Across Kentucky principals have been replaced at some low-performing schools. Site-based councils have been reduced to advisory status at some, and a few have partially replaced their staffs. No school has yet been closed or turned over to outside management.
Shelton said he'll visit Bryan Station later this week to discuss the situation with faculty, staff and students.
"I think more than anything we have to make sure we're improving the climate and structure of the school," he said.