ERIC Number: EJ890700
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2010-Jun-16
Reference Count: N/A
Tough Task of School Improvement Begins
Maxwell, Lesli A.
Education Week, v29 n35 p1, 18, 20 Jun 2010
Keith Look, Shawnee High School principal, must steer his 82-year-old high school on the far west side of Louisville, Kentucky, through an aggressive, federally mandated effort to reverse a decades-long decline in student achievement that has given Shawnee the label of one of Kentucky's worst schools. He is one soldier in an army of principals being tapped by state and district leaders to carry out U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan's $3.5 billion bid to turn around thousands of chronically underperforming schools over the next three years. A lot is riding on Mr. Look's efforts. Already, half of Shawnee's teachers won't be back next year. They've been transferred to other schools in the 98,000-student Jefferson County school system, which includes the city of Louisville. Mr. Look's own job is on the line: If he doesn't produce "considerable progress" in the first year, he could be removed. And then, of course, there's the imperative to increase academic proficiency, raise graduation rates, and produce Shawnee graduates who are credible candidates for college and careers. That won't be easy. Consider Shawnee's 2009 math scores: More than half the school's students scored at the lowest level, called "novice" in Kentucky. The graduation rate for the class of 2007 was 56 percent, according to district data. The class of 2008 made a modestly better showing, at 61 percent. The school serves some of the city's poorest students--white and black--who come from a community isolated in many ways from the rest of Louisville. All of which makes Mr. Look's job of selecting every teacher who will work at Shawnee this coming fall an even higher-stakes process. This article reports on how Mr. Look begins his tough task of school improvement.
Descriptors: Urban Schools, Graduation Rate, Graduation, Educational Change, Principals, Academic Achievement, Educational Improvement, High Schools
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: High Schools
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Kentucky