The Floyd County Board of Education agreed to provide a "Turnaround Team" at Duff-Allen Central Elementary this week.
During a meeting on Oct. 28, the board approved allowing the Kentucky Department of Education to provide a "Turnaround Team" at DACE, and they also approved allowing the KDE to provide an audit team to conduct a diagnostic review of the school.
Superintendent Danny Adkins reported that KDE has been monitoring instruction in the school's elementary grades for about three weeks. The agreements were required because DACE was ranked in the bottom 5 percent of all Kentucky schools when test results were announced this year.
The school is federally required to be placed on a Comprehensive Support and Improvement plan.
The ranking made Duff-Allen Central eligible for additional funding and resources to support improvement efforts.
Adkins described the "Turnaround Team" as "almost like mentoring" at DACE. He reported that KDE staff will offer suggestions about ways to improve instruction there.
On the state assessment, proficiency at DACE was rated "low" (59/125) and it also got "very low" ratings in separate academic indicators (48.4/125) and growth (27.5/300).
In 2016, the school ranked 15th in the state on the assessment, the previous administration reported, and it was categorized as a School of Distinction.
Under Adkins' leadership, the district's emphasis on test scores has shifted — something Board Chairperson Sherry Robinson commended Adkins for at Monday's board meeting.
Under the prior administration, the school district hosted meals to honor staff of high-performing schools at meetings that were promoted to serve as "district/school data review" sessions and, in 2016, a celebration that brought thousands of students, staff and community members to watch schools of distinction carry banners down a red carpet for an "assessment presentation."
After test results were released this year, however, Adkins asked all schools to host in-house "data review" days, during which staff reviewed the assessment data with a goal of finding ways to improve instruction. Adkins said he visited each school on data review day, and he also met individually with all principals about the assessment results.
Floyd Central High School Principal Greta Thornsberry emphasized how the data review is helping her staff improve instruction. She said the school is focusing on improving proficiency in reading, math and science as well as transition readiness.
"After our data day on Oct. 7, everybody, all of our team members knew, every student, where the student was and, I know, realized what we need to do to get them where they need to be (so they can be) successful," she said.
The school added a life skills programs to its list of offerings this year to teach students how to do simple things like wash clothes, change tires or sew a button. She said the school is also allowing students to open a store, the Jag Shack, which will be set up in the school, and she reported that 595 of 674 students at the school are enrolled in one of five career pathways: administrative support, JROTC, allied health, biomedical sciences and cinematography and video. She said the school is tracking students in these career path to ensure they stay on the pathway of their choice.
She said FCHS students chose a pathway when they are freshmen, and they have the opportunity to change that pathway when they become sophomores, but, in order to meet state guidelines for transition readiness, students cannot change their chosen pathway after their sophomore year.
In talking about visiting the schools on data day and meeting with principals afterwards, Adkins told the board of education Monday, "I want them to know that the work we do is not based on test scores. What we're doing in Floyd County is bigger than test scores. We are taking that data to change these students' lives. We're going to eventually change the culture here and the economy here by what we're offering these kids and the pathways they choose to take. We've got big work ahead of us, but it's not just about test scores."
Robinson commended him for trying to change the district's culture.
"I'd just like to say thank you to Mr. Adkins for everything that he does do," she said. "I feel like that since, in the last year since we've hired him, I feel like the atmosphere, the attitude, the camaraderie, has all changed, just not in individual schools, but throughout the entire county. And, I just want to say thank you for that."
Thanking her for the comment, Adkins said, "I tell everybody I'm not going to come to work and have this drab face about me and not be able to smile and enjoy my job. So, you might as well, you're either going to get on board with me and let's do what's best for these kids or let's go on down the road. That's just the way it is."