Change is already underway in the Jenkins Independent Schools System to address poor scores from last year’s school testing, said new Superintendent Freddie Bowling at Monday’s meeting of the Jenkins School Board. Bowling, who was hired in August to replace retiring Superintendent Deborah Watts, refused to make excuses, and told the board that he has already instituted several programs that should combine to lift the scores to an acceptable level.
The Jenkins System placed in the 21st percentile in the 2013-2014 School Report Card that was issued by the Kentucky Department of Education earlier this month, and was ranked at 167 out of 179 as a school district. In Accountability Performance, the district’s overall score was 58.8. The system has been placed in the category of “Focus District” and classified as “ Needs Improvement.” Bowling said that one positive from the placement is that while the system will be classified as a focus district for two years, it is not in the category that will mandate state assistance. He said that he is very aware of the district’s rank as well as what needs to be done to improve.
“We know where we are score wise,” said Bowling, “and we are focused on improvement.”
Jenkins High School had the best result with a combined score of 67.6, which placed it in the 56th percentile with a rank of 169 out of 226 high schools. The middle school had the worst results, with a combined score of 48.9, putting it into the eighth percentile, ranking the middle school at 318 out of 329. The elementary school, located at Burdine, had a combined score of 59.9, leaving it in the 30th percentile and ranking 624 out of 725.The system was classified as “Needs Improvement” in every category that was tested and failed to meet its Delivery Targets in every category.
On a more positive note, the high school improved its ranking from the 39th percentile to the 56th percentile and the elementary school went from 13th percentile to 30th. While neither result was enough to meet the goals set by the KDE, the schools did improve. The district went up by .3 points from 58.5 to 58.8. The high school also scored 90.9 in College and Career Readiness and was 2.5 percentage points from being ranked as Proficient. The middle school dropped from the 27th percentile to the eighth percentile.
Bowling said the improvements to the system and individual schools will be driven by data received from state testing and from observations conducted by staff and administrators as well as visiting educators from high performing schools.
Among the steps already underway are increased professional development to professional staff; increased district leadership involvement ; and working with high performing schools.
Board Chairman Durward Narramore said he wasn’t offering any excuses either and added that the system needs a “change of culture.” He told Bowling that he likes his approach to the situation and said he was particularly pleased that no one was blaming the students.
“I have a hard time with anyone blaming our students,” said Narramore.
“We are looking for sustained gains,” said Bowling. “We want to go up and stay up and we’re taking ownership and not passing the buck. We know how we got here and we know how to fix it.”