Saturday, October 04, 2014

Time for Accountability

It's time for school accountability in Kentucky. Every fall the state releases its academic performance data and school boards reflect on the state of affairs in the district. Factors other than student achievement also enter into that calculus, as board members must assess whether the schools are meeting the expectations of the public overall.

For 2013-2014, the lowest ranked elementary school in the state, according to KDE's accountability system, is the William Wells Brown Elementary School in Fayette County. This could not have been good news for Superintendent Tom Shelton who is still dealing with the fallout from a State Auditor's report that was highly critical of district leadership.

There were places where Fayette County shone, but overall the district missed its goal and slipped into the "Needs Improvement" category.

As if the revelation of difficulties at Brown came as a surprise, the district swiftly promised a big response. District Chief Academic Officer Lu Young told the Herald-Leader that for the next three years, "every single day, every week," specialists from Fayette County Public Schools main office will be there.

In August, a confident FCPS Superintendent Tom Shelton asked the Board of Education to delay his evaluation until State Auditor Adam Edelen released his report of the investigation into allegations of financial mismanagement. Board Chair John Price agreed, because he didn't think irregularities or mismanagement had occurred. But the Auditor found numerous, long-standing, unremediated, and significant shortcomings which he collectively called "chronic mismanagement." Oops.

Following the disappointing report, Price promised to support Shelton anyway.

Shelton says that the expected standard of performance in Fayette County is "world-class." But Shelton and Price set the bar for world-class extremely low.

No missing money + 
No criminal wrongdoing = 
World-class business practices

The public is about to find out what kind of standards the board of education really believes in when it comes to adults. It now falls to the FCPS Board to evaluate the superintendent's work as he nears the end of his contract. Is it enough that Shelton is a great guy, or should he be evaluated on the results?

It is generally believed that Shelton will have two Yes votes - for just about anything he proposes. And it has recently become clear that he has lost two votes for his continuation as superintendent. Somewhere in the middle - perhaps only slightly less certain - is Daryl Love. Love is described by those who know him (I do not) as a sharp, insightful guy. They say they would be surprised if he simply followed along with the traditional majority, but at present, that seems to be where he's headed. Is the recent uptick in public discontent from the FCPS Equity Council indicative of some movement?

I wondered (above) what a school report card might look like if the Auditor's report was combined with the state's actual School District Report Card. Not pretty.

Selections from the district's Equity Score Card

College/Career Readiness:
Staff Diversity:

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