HAZARD-The Perry County Board of Education received a glowing report from the education recovery leader at its regular called meeting on Tuesday of last week.
Susan Greer, education recovery leader from the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE), was on hand to deliver the results of the school system’s diagnostic review that occurred March 23-26 this year.
The Herald reported last year in 2012, with new state accountability standards in place, Perry County Schools as a district failed to meet the statewide average, ranking in the bottom 9 percent in the state, according to figures from KDE.
As a priority district, the Perry County School System would have a review, Greer explained.
“Kentucky statute says that priority districts in schools will have some type of audit every two years to determine how it’s going, if turnaround is working, look at student data, examine the leadership, and so on,” Greer reported.
Greer said she felt that one sentence could really sum up the entire report.
“Based on the evidence, it is the determination and recommendation of the diagnostic review team that the superintendent of Perry County Schools has leadership capacity,” Greer stated.
She continued to explain that this meant Superintendent Jonathan Jett now had full administrative power where previously the state had maintained some control due to the school system’s performance.
“I want you to know that has been reinstated,” Greer said.
Greer went on to say that she was impressed by the accountability that was in place between the board, the superintendent and the schools.
“The governing body of the district holds the superintendent accountable for the day to day operation of district and student achievement results, in turn the superintendent holds each member of the district and school staff accountable for his or her specific growth,” Greer said.
Greer closed by saying that the rating that was received by the review was right on track with the self-evaluation.
“The great thing about this it that they agreed with us as to how we rated ourselves. Which tells me that we knew what we needed to do and that we were on the right path,” Greer stated.
Jett spoke further about the academic update and the diagnostic review, reading from part of the report about the shared accountability that he saw among his staff.
“Superintendent, board, leadership, and teachers share accountability for student outcome, and that’s true. Everybody understands that we’re accountable, and everybody understands that if they’re not performing to the level that we expect that there’s going to be first opportunities for improvement and then there’s going to be consequences for lack of improvement,” Jett said.
Jett went on to say that the school district was on the right path to meeting its goals. There were concerns in the report but those concerns had already been addressed and solutions were in the works.
“The concerns that they have are concerns about issues that have not been completed, but it’s not really that the work has not been started,” Jett stated.
Principal of Perry County High School (PCCHS) Neal Feltner also spoke about the diagnostic review and its results.
“The staff and the students at that high school deserve a lot of credit,” Feltner stated.
He went on to say that the school had a real culture change during this process.
“It was very pleasing to watch how hard they worked, to see the culture change, to see the conversations change from let’s smoke or skip, to meeting benchmarks and taking the ACT,” Feltner said.
Feltner said that the school was one student away from meeting the College and Career Readiness(CCR) benchmark set by the state but moments later received notification that a student had completed them, making PCCHS fully CCR ready.
Feltner continued to say that although the school has made great progress they knew they were not at the final place they needed to be.
“The work hasn’t stopped, it won’t stop. We’re dedicated to what we’re doing over there, but more so than us, the teachers and students have bought into what it takes to be a good high school,” Feltner reported.
Kristie Collett, CCR Director, spoke briefly about new exit criteria and the horizontal and vertical alignment of classroom content across grade levels and how much of that conent students have been able to retain.
There were 18 teacher leaders selected from pre-school through 12th grades to establish the guidelines which would be for all schools in the district, Collet stated.
“We wanted the expectations to be the same no matter what school you attended, no matter what grade you were in,” Collett said.
Collett explained that the exit criteria would be part of a new pass/fail system for kindergarten through eighth grade.
“Exit criteria are our expectations for each grade,” Collett said.
The goal for this process was to ensure that there was a set standard for what was taught in each grade across the district, Collet reported.
“This is the first step for setting a commonality, and saying we expect this no matter where you are, no matter who’s your teacher, no matter what part of the district you came from,” stated Collett.
She went on to say that it was important to build the students’ skills in the primary grades to help them succeed in high school and college.
“We’ve got to build a stronger foundation so when they leave eighth grade, they’re better prepared, they’re more College and Career Ready, they’re meeting those benchmarks. They can get into enrichment classes instead of us just passing along students that are less prepared,” said Collett.
Collet stated that when a student fell behind in the primary grades it was a struggle for that child to catch up.
“If they’re not reading at grade level when they come out of third grade, it is almost impossible to catch that child up,” Collet stated.
Collett continued to say that this was a long term plan for student expectations that would go into effect for next year. The teachers would make any final revisions to the standards during the five days in June for faculty when all teachers in each grade level meet.
In other business the board approved the consent item, the tentative budget for the 2014-2015 school year, approved the audit contract for 2013-2014, approved both student and flood insurance for 2014-2015 and approved the principal’s combined budgets for 2014-2015.
Gwendolyn Holliday can be reached at 606-436-5771, or on Twitter@HazardHerald.