As befits a former chemistry teacher and assistant football coach, Paducah Independent Superintendent Donald Shively is adept at using numbers to gauge the progress of the district. In looking at the big picture, Shively likes the progress that’s been made toward students being college- and career-ready when they graduate.
“We’ve gone from having 34 percent of our graduates college- and career-ready in 2011 to 68 percent of graduates college and career ready in 2012,” Shively said. “This year we will be right at that or we will top last year’s percentage. If the gauge by which you measure schools is whether they have students ready to be productive members of society, I think we are being successful.”
For Paducah Independent, three factors are critical to the success of the district as it attempts to build on the positive momentum that has been generated:
Focus on each and every child.
“In our district SACS accreditation visit last year, one of the key points made in their evaluation of our district was how we are focused on each and every student,” Shively said. “As we evaluate each student we want to continue to focus on what we can do to help them not only meet their potential but exceed their potential.”
Making sure students are ready for key transition points in their education.
“For example, as we look at our middle school students, we know that as freshmen some of them will be taking AP Human Geography. So the question becomes ‘What do we need to do at Paducah Middle School to make sure those students are successful as they begin ninth grade taking an AP class?’ The same principle applies to the transition from elementary to middle school. As principals and teachers at our various buildings collaborate to prepare students for the next level, our solutions become stronger.”
Creating a culture of educational innovation.
Shively believes that the need for employees who are equipped with the skills required for a 21st century global economy calls for an educational system that is nimble, adaptable and innovative.
“When you look at a classroom and think about the jobs that our kids need to prepare for now, compared to 1960 or 1970, the skills required are vastly different. So we’ve got to be innovative as a district to continue to progress in the right way.”