A state review of Fayette County Public Schools has found that, for the second year in a row, the district isn't doing enough to help Bryan Station High School.
Bryan Station High is the only school in the county that the state designates as a priority or persistently low-achieving school.
State education department spokesman Nancy Rodriguez said the district has the resources, leadership and staff to improve Bryan Station but lacks the "policies, procedures, monitoring and intentionality."
In March, a team from the Department of Education came to Fayette County to review whether the district was doing enough to improve Bryan Station High. The answer, according to the April report, was that in many cases, the district is not.
A year earlier, state education officials arrived at the same conclusion.
Another review will be conducted next school year, associate commissioner Kelly Foster said.
Fayette County school board chairman John Price said the board had not reviewed the report but was likely to hold a work session on it.
For now, Price said, the search for a superintendent is the top priority. The next superintendent "will help us address the student achievement issues at Bryan Station High School and across the district," he said.
District officials told the Herald-Leader in February that they were making significant efforts to turn around Bryan Station High School.
In a report that Foster presented to the state school board Feb. 4, Bryan Station was among 28 high schools that showed a big gain — more than 20 percentage points — in students graduating from college or being career-ready over the past four years. Bryan Station was among 12 priority schools that had double-digit gains in the percentage of students meeting the ACT math benchmark from 2010 to 2014. The school has closed student achievement gaps over the past three years, and that's notable because it has more students who are eligible for free and reduced-price lunch than other high schools in the district.
But some efforts need improvement, according to the April 16 Diagnostic Review Team report.
After 94 observations of classes, the team saw clear differences between the opportunities provided to students in grade-level core courses and those in advanced courses such as calculus and advanced-placement history, the report said.
The review team cited several instances of student behavior affecting learning. Several students were observed not attending classes, using cellphones, listening to music during class, and disengaging from the lesson. Teachers' attempts to redirect students were often met with ambivalence or initial compliance followed by students returning to the inappropriate behavior, the review found.
On a 4-point scale, the district received ratings of 1 or 2 on several fronts.
The Digital Learning Environment was rated 1.48 on a 4-point scale. There was little student use of technology tools to conduct research, solve problems or create original works for learning, or opportunities for students to communicate and work collaboratively for learning. Students were often observed using digital devices, but usually not for learning.
The state team observed that use of digital devices for learning occurred most often in the accelerated core classrooms, highlighting again the discrepancies between the learning environments of average or low-performing students and of those in the advanced classes.
One person interviewed by the state team questioned the district's ability to bring about change to Bryan Station High.
The district has the benefit of a multitude of community partnerships, including nearby universities and colleges, businesses, and faith-based organizations, the report said. But there was no formal structure for organizing and using these benefits.
Some of those entities expressed frustration over failed attempts to get their services to students and families. Comments indicated a desire to improve Bryan Station High, but a lack of clearly defined procedures for assistance might be impeding improvement.
The report also said that evidence suggested school board members aren't in agreement about how to execute their duties. Board members weren't able to articulate a clear understanding of the board's role in the district and school improvement processes, they were inconsistent in how they address complaints or issues, and individual members varied in how they thought they should hold one another accountable.
The report cited other problems:
■ There is no system for reviewing and updating the district's mission, and all stakeholders aren't represented.
■ There is little evidence of efforts to monitor and adjust annual goals.
■ There is no process to help schools develop or implement an improvement plan.
■ Staff at the district and school level were unable to articulate the mission, purpose and goals of the school, and there were no records to indicate whether goals are monitored.
■ The site-based decision-making council governing policies lack specificity to address the needs of Bryan Station High.