Friday, October 7, 2011

Progress in Persistently Low-Achieving Schools

At the Kentucky Board of Education meeting this week, Associate Commissioner Dewey Hensley and the District 180 team provided an update on the persistently low-achieving (PLA) schools identified in 2010.

We are very excited to see excellent progress in year one. While one year of data does not make a trend, we are anticipating a more detailed evaluation report from the University of Kentucky in coming months. These data suggest that the districts, schools, principals, teachers and students are dedicated to improvement in student learning outcomes. These data also suggest that Kentucky and districts stay the course in working with PLAs.

Our No Child Left Behind (NCLB) waiver request must address the issue of “priority schools,” which are defined the same as the PLAs, so I anticipate that the Kentucky waiver request will have an excellent story to share with the reviewers.

Here are some highlights from the report on PLA schools.

Data Summary: 90 percent of the schools identified as “Persistently Low-Achieving Schools — Cohort One” demonstrated statistically significant increases in the percentage of students scoring proficient or distinguished in math. Ninety percent of the PLA Cohort One schools also demonstrated statistically significant increases in reading.

* The average gain for all the PLA Cohort Schools combined in mathematics was 16 percent.
* The average gain for all the PLA Cohort Schools combined in reading was 10.33 percent.
* The combined average growth for all PLA schools was 13.16 percent.
* Kentucky’s overall math proficient/distinguished percentage stayed statistically the same.
* Kentucky’s overall gain for reading proficient/distinguished was 1.06 percent.
* Averages and gains disaggregated by turnaround model employed:
o Schools using the Transformation Model posted average increase of 14.43 percent in math and an average increase of 7.02 percent in reading.
o Schools using the Re-Staffing Model posted average increases of 16 percent in math and an average increase of 12.27 percent in reading.

Data Inferences

* Although the overall gains were larger in mathematics, that content area lags behind literacy across the state.
* The present Educational Recovery system, with a team of three Educational Recovery Specialists and an Educational Recovery Director in each region, seems an effective means for increasing achievement due to the fact that 100 percent of schools showed improvement in at least one of the two content areas.
* Rapid rises in achievement are possible in larger schools.
* The “team approach” to support PLAs has paid dividends for our investment in achievement.
* There is much to do — some schools gained, but had fewer students tested due to dropouts and enrollment changes.
* Focus on achievement — whether internally or externally motivated — is a good trait.

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