Southern High School has an uplifting, role-modeling culture where students see teachers and staff as mentors, leading to positive growth in terms of annual measurable objective (AMO) each of the past four years, according to a state audit report made available earlier this week.
The Kentucky Department of Education Two-Day Progress Monitoring Review looked at multiple reports and data, in-school observations and interviews to give the priority school feedback on improving student performance over the preceding two years. The report also outlined strategies to raise student achievement and improve conditions that support student learning.
“Southern has an amazing culture, one in which the students feel truly cared for by the teaching and administrative staff,” Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS) Superintendent Dr. Donna Hargens. “That environment will help Southern build on its progress as it strives to continue moving forward.”
“Southern has a theme of ‘Our House,’ and I’m proud that emphasis is evident to visitors to our school, including the audit team, which gave us high marks for school culture, great relationships, teachers that care and respectful students,” said Southern Principal Bryce Hibbard. “We are proud of the work being done at Southern and remain focused on continuous improvement so that students have opportunities to be successful.”
The review team gave the school high ratings for teachers participating in collaborative learning communities and for the school adopting a formal structure ensuring that each student is well known by at least one adult advocate.
“It is exciting that the team recognized Southern’s willingness to embrace change and cultivate a climate that promotes school pride,” said Assistant Superintendent Paige Hartstern, whose achievement area includes Southern. “This is a direct result of engaged, visible leadership and a staff that believes in advocating for students.”
The report notes that even though Southern has been focused on instructional strategies and planning, there is still work to be done in that area.
The report cited two areas as improvement priorities – monitoring and adjusting curriculum to ensure all students have opportunities to learn in a culture of high expectations, and implementing a school-wide process to ensure all teachers use high-yield instructional strategies.
The report also indicated the school had partially addressed the only improvement priority identified in its 2014-15 Internal School Review, related to the implementation of strategies to ensure a high culture of expectations for students.
“Southern continues to show progress,” said Dr. Marco Munoz, director of Priority Schools. “There is always room for growth in the instructional progress, and I think this report clearly shows that Southern has the leadership and dedication of staff to make that happen.”
Schools in priority status are reviewed every two years by KDE. Southern received the shorter, two-day review which focused on the AdvancED Standard 3, Teaching and Assessing for Learning, because of its positive gains in recent years..