This week, we unfortunately had to report that the Kentucky Department of Education issued a second scathing report related to testing in the Floyd County School District.
This report, focusing on issues found at one school, said that, although this investigation was at Betsy Layne Elementary, “some findings related to district-wide practices.”
It is disheartening, to say the least, especially since we’ve reported about some of these same problems in the past.
It’s disheartening not only because this — yet again — shows how some Floyd County teachers and administrators allegedly placed the value of test scores over a student’s education, but also because of the picture this paints for the school district. It paints a picture of a district where district leaders “created a culture” that pitted schools against each other for higher test scores; where schools were “scrutinized” and “intimidated” if they did poorly and rewarded when their test scores shined.
The most powerful part of this report defined what the intimidation was like for Floyd County teachers and staff.
“Most staff feared questioning the district’s assessment practices and scores,” the report said.
It also noted, “Under Superintendent (Danny) Adkins, there is no longer extreme pressure related to test scores. However, although (Dr. Henry) Webb and (Tonya) Williams are no longer supervisors, there continues to be fear in the district that these individuals will return to power.”
Politics is full of that way of thinking, and that, to us, appears to be the trouble in all of this.
It has to stop.
We know that the school district’s current leadership appears to be working from a different direction, and it appears to be taking the right steps to move the district forward with the proper focus in mind. We know, also, that it’s going to take time for all those bad actors and bad habits and mindsets to be weeded out of the district, and we remain concerned that this report on Betsy Layne Elementary won’t be the last one we see related to former testing troubles in Floyd County schools.
What Floyd County students deserve and need is a good education, first and foremost.
They also deserve and need a voice. They need people who are willing to stand up and shed some light on all of this.
We are thankful for Adkins’ transparency in this matter and for his declaration that the school district is moving in a new and better direction now.
We’d also like to hear, however, from all members of the Floyd County Board of Education — those members who are elected by Floyd County voters to represent their interests and spend their tax dollars.
Several members of the current board celebrated along with the former superintendent when test scores topped the charts. They attended the special dinners held to honor administrators at schools with high test scores and the school-wide celebrations that rolled out the red carpet — literally — for high-performing schools. From their board seats, these board members praised schools about their test scores, asked questions about steps taken to improve them and they also repeatedly gave Dr. Webb glowing reviews during his annual evaluations.
If what the KDE says is true, and Dr. Webb and others created this “culture” of opposing teams in Floyd County, to the point that a year after he’s gone, district staff are still in “fear,” then it is also true that students — and Floyd County taxpayers — need and deserve to know where these board members stand on everything that has transpired, and how these things apparently transpired under their watch as board members.
Dr. Webb spoke on behalf of the Floyd County School District for many years, and we’re sure that Adkins will speak on behalf of the district for years to come as well.
But in this matter, one that started long before Adkins arrived on the scene, it is time for us to know what our elected officials think about it, and more importantly, what they plan to do to address it.