By Matthew Tungate
In the spring of 2010, Kentucky identified the first group of 10 persistently low-achieving schools to receive federal money and state help to improve after years of struggling to improve student test scores. For most of the state, it was the beginning of a new school-turnaround model. For 24-year veteran teacher Donna Asher, it was her livelihood.
“It was embarrassing,” the Leslie County High School mathematics teacher said. “It was implied that all our teachers were not doing their jobs, and this wasn’t true. We had about five who were not doing their jobs. I knew our students and staff were much better than what the test scores implied. We were capable of so much more. We just needed better leadership with a better focus on what’s most important: the best possible education for our students.”
But Asher has gone from embarrassed to appreciative after attending training over the summer for what was ahead of her and seeing those teachers leave the school.
“I was on board and wanted big changes in the school,” she said.
Big change is exactly what is expected from the persistently low-achieving schools and the new school-turnaround model, passed into law one year ago. District 180, as the model is known, provides money from federal School Improvement Grants (SIGs) and state-paid specialists for three years to help improve school performance. District 180 uses experienced teachers, called education recovery specialists (ERSs), to go into schools to help teachers improve mathematics and reading instruction. Read the full story