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JCPS Superintendent Donna Hargens Discusses Accountability Results

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Jefferson County Public Schools moved from the 35thpercentile to the 51stpercentile in state test results released Friday, meaning the district performed better than half of Kentucky's school systems in 2013-14.

We talked with JCPS Superintendent Donna Hargens about how the school district was able to improve and what are some challenges that continue to stand in the way.

Related: Search Kentucky's School Accountability ResultsJCPS Superintendent Donna Hargens talks with WFPL's Jake Ryan about the Unbridled Learning accountability test results.

Overall Theme of Results

“We’re moving and improving.  We are seeing improvement in all of our subgroups and in a faster rate than the year before.”

Why Middle Schools Continue To Struggle

“We’re focusing on middle schools and we’ve done some innovative things, like put a 7th and 8th grade with Valley (High) and a 7th and 8th grade in different places.  We are making some changes in middle school, but we are focusing on reading and math and those two things improved, and we are also seeing improvement in the elementary level which will serve us well as those students move in to middle school.”

Priority Schools

“We’ve made some changes with our priority schools.  That’s obviously been an area that we’ve focused on and we’ve differentiated support.  So, 12 of 18 of our priority schools met their target and nine priority schools made gains in achievement and 11 made gains in (the achievement) gap, 15 made gains in college and career readiness.  So, we are seeing arrows going in the right direction and we are seeing them lift themselves out of the bottom five percent.”

What is the district doing to Improve Math Scores

“Math is a finite amount of information.  So, what the secret to improve is to know what the target is, what students are supposed to learn and know how to assess it along the way.  But then make sure that every part of the work and every part of the teaching is directed towards helping students master.  We have great teachers doing very innovative things to help kids learn what they haven’t learned so far.”

Did the Achievement Gap Groups Make the Gains District Leaders Wanted to See?

“This year we are seeing bigger increases and that will serve us well.  Are we satisfied with the overall proficiency level of some of our subgroups? no. But are we making progress at a steady rate, yes.”

Jacob Ryan is the managing editor of the Kentucky Center for Investigative reporting. He's an award-winning investigative reporter who joined LPM in 2014. Email Jacob at jryan@lpm.org.

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