Education

‘This is not about shaming schools.’ Some test scores in Lexington are lowest in state.

‘There’s a sense of urgency.’ Fayette superintendent reacts to new round of test scores

Fayette Superintendent Emmanual Caulk explains how he plans to implement additional support to Fayette County public schools categorized with CSI and TSI.
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Fayette Superintendent Emmanual Caulk explains how he plans to implement additional support to Fayette County public schools categorized with CSI and TSI.

Seven Fayette elementary schools are among the lowest performing in Kentucky — the bottom 5 percent — and will be required to get help from the state to improve, according to 2017-18 accountability results released Wednesday by the Kentucky Department of Education.

The schools, which are among 33 in Kentucky that have been given the state’s new low-performance designation Comprehensive Support and Intervention, are: Arlington, Harrison, Mary Todd, Millcreek, William Wells Brown, Yates and one of the district’s newest, Coventry Oak.

“Being on this list means a significant shift must be undertaken to better address student learning,” said Kentucky Interim Commissioner of Education Wayne Lewis. “This is not about shaming schools, leaders or teachers, but these schools can neither continue doing what they have always done, nor make only minor adjustments.”

As a result of the low scores, the decision making for these seven CSI schools will be shifted from the school’s site-based council composed of staff and parents to the superintendent. The schools will be audited and state staff will work in the buildings.

A council of community and school leaders will be convened to address the problem, said Fayette Superintendent Manny Caulk. The approach is much like Caulk took with the issue of school safety.

( Look up your Kentucky school scores to find out how students performed on state tests.)

Caulk said there would be efforts to reimagine not just the schools, but the neighborhoods where the schools are located with the help of the local government, community leaders and others.

“That will be part of the transformation process,” said Caulk, who noted that some of the neighborhoods are in high poverty areas.

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Students Dillon Jenkins, left, and Eshaal Tatla, right, worked together in teacher Missy Wright’s fourth grade social studies class Tuesday afternoon at Rosa Parks Elementary School, 1251 Beaumont Centre Lane. The school is one of the top 10 elementary schools in the state in student performance in reading and math. Charles Bertram cbertram@herald-leader.com

The seven schools are not performing significantly different than in the past, Lewis said, but the state is putting more emphasis on low-performing elementary schools this year.

“I look at this as an opportunity,” Caulk said.

Fayette County had no CSI middle or high schools. In all, 51 schools were given the designation in Kentucky, including 12 middle schools and six high schools.

Twenty-five Fayette County Schools were given another new designation called Targeted Support and Intervention which means they are receiving early warnings because at least one student group performed as poorly as schools in the bottom 5 percent. If a school remains a Targeted Support school for three years, it becomes a CSI school.

Five out of six of Fayette’s main high schools — all but Lafayette — will get targeted support from the district and some help from the state because at least one student group — black, Hispanic, disabled, or low income — performed poorly compared to other students. So will 10 Fayette middle schools, and 10 elementary schools.

Being identified as TSI will allow 418 schools in Kentucky to focus on raising achievement for groups of students who have been underserved and may have previously been hidden by overall school achievement data, Lewis explained.

Otherwise high-performing schools — Morton Middle and Henry Clay High School — were among those that received the TSI designation because of the performance of disabled students. Winburn Middle School was designated as a TSI school because of the poor performance of multiple student subgroups.

“It is an imperative that we ensure every group of students is performing at high levels. We can’t leave groups of students behind,” Lewis said.

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Adwik Gunjan, front, and Lee Chappell, back, worked in teacher Tara Vincent’s third grade class Tuesday afternoon at Rosa Parks Elementary School, 1251 Beaumont Centre Lane. The school is one of the top 10 elementary schools in the state in student performance in reading and math. Charles Bertram cbertram@herald-leader.com

There were some bright spots in Fayette County. Rosa Parks Elementary was in the top 10 elementary schools in the state in terms of how well students were performing in math and reading, according to a Herald-Leader analysis. SCAPA at Bluegrass placed first in proficiency in math and reading among middle schools in the state. Lafayette was in the top 20 among the state’s high schools, according to a Herald-Leader analysis.

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