So off she went to the district office to help other principals do better.
But as we know, its easier for a school to make that first 20-point jump than it is the second one. Moving a poor school from 60 to 80 is great. Going from 80 to 100 is greater. The true test of effective leadership is the capacity and culture the departed principal leaves behind - the ability of the school to carry on. (I do not mean to impugn Jenson's work, which I thought was terrific, in any way - but only to point out how difficult sustained growth can be.)
The trick to improving schools on a community-wide basis goes far beyond any single heroic principal ao any single approach. It requires a highly-capable professional faculty to maintain whatever gains are made, and to continue that progress. Slow growth over time is best.
At the rate Jenson was going, everyone was sure that Englehard would continue to be that school that broke the mold and attained high achievement for low-income kids. It was the school that would realize the dream.
But a decade later, Englehard Elementary's scores have only progressed to the mid 80s...so today's principals are sent to visit schools in other places. The chances the Englehard will reach 100 by the year 2014 are diminishing. Jenson's gone and her innovative calendar is leaving soon. Why?
Current principal Teresa Meyer told the Courier-Journal it's because academic improvements don't justify the cost.
This from C-J:
Costs, convenience and benefits come into play
In 1994, Engelhard Elementary, an urban school with poor test scores, became the first in Jefferson County to adopt a year-round calendar to boost student achievement.
Switching to a four-day week, with academic coaching offered on Mondays, Engelhard saw its statewide test scores rise dramatically -- from 58.6 in 1999 to the mid-80s in recent years.
Seven schools eventually followed Engelhard's lead, adopting year-round schedules with shorter breaks -- 45 days of school, followed by 10 days off -- that they hoped would help students retain what they learned and get farther ahead academically.
It appears to have worked -- test scores have risen across the board, in some cases more than at schools on the old schedule.
But two of the elementary schools, Engelhard and Portland, have decided to return to regular schedules, saying recent academic improvements don't justify the cost of a year-round schedule that most parents and teachers are happy to abandon.
"We have made tremendous strides in academic achievement, but there has been less staff support," Engelhard principal Teresa Meyer said. "And when you look at the children who are in the enrichment program on Mondays ... the test scores really have not made much of a difference."
Engelhard's academic scores have hovered around the upper 70s and lower 80s for the past few years, and Meyer said her school can save about $90,000 with the switch.
So next school year, Engelhard and Portland will be back to Monday-Friday classes and a 10-week summer vacation...
...Portland and Engelhard principals say returning to a regular calendar will benefit both teachers and students.
"We felt that what is going on instructionally in our classrooms is so strong that we did not need to continue with the Monday enrichment program," Meyer said. "We will still offer extra help for our students who need it -- it just won't be during the day on Mondays."
The cost of operating on a year-round schedule has also been an issue at both schools, especially with millions of dollars in state budget cuts for textbooks, professional development for teachers and extended school services.
Meyer said it costs about $90,000 to run the Monday enrichment program.
"Our teachers are not contracted to work on Mondays," she said. "If they do work, it's extra pay for them … and many of them didn't want to work on Mondays, so we had to use a lot of substitute teachers."
Hosch said she will save $30,000 alone on professional development by switching schedules.
"Many of our teachers missed the professional development offered by the district each July because that is when we went back to school," she said. "Also, transportation costs were becoming an issue, because in order to run buses during the times that the regular schools were off, the money had to come out of our budget." ...