Priority Schools No Longer a Priority?

Image courtesy of Toni Konz, WDRB.
Image and story courtesy of Toni Konz, WDRB.

Did you know that this year’s “Schools of Distinction” earned their new titles based on “locked percentiles,” but bottom ranked schools do not get to shed their “Priority” labels using those same guidelines?

According to this email Hargens sent to KDE, schools on the upper-end of the range are being awarded the title of “Schools of Distinction” based on the locked percentile (from 2013). Shawnee and Valley High Schools continue to be labeled “Priority Schools” based on the unlocked percentile, despite having met their AMO, even without Dr. Hargens’ request not to count nearly 1500 scores being honored. Hargens also identified this as an issue, but did not state what request was being made.

Shawnee would be in the 16th percentile based on locked percentiles, but instead they stayed in the bottom 5%. This was the only thing keeping the school from exiting priority status, since they met their AMO.

The percentile is a moving target, one that is not known until all scores are in. There is no way to plan for this goal.

It is a measure that is based on statewide numbers, not just peer to peer. And if Jefferson County schools in general are not keeping up with the state (which they’re not), then these schools are even less likely to receive the support they need from the district to be able to shed that status.

The only way one school can do better is if others do worse, because there will always be a bottom 5%. 

Having exhausted their School Improvement Grant (SIG) dollars, and with no SBDM in place, what is the exit strategy for these schools now?