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Values Here, Success There: Dena Dossett Presentation


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Presentation by Dena Dossett, Director of Planning in the Department of Data Management, Planning, and Program Evaluation for Jefferson County Public Schools, Louisville, KY. Presented at the Looking Back, Moving Forward Conference, Richmond, VA.

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Values Here, Success There: Dena Dossett Presentation

  1. 1. Dena Dossett, Director of Planning in theDepartment of Data Management,Planning, and Program Evaluation forJefferson County Public Schools,Louisville, Ky
  2. 2. JEFFERSON COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOLS28th largest school district in U.S.Over 100,000 students (pre-K – 12th grade)49% White, 37%African-American, 7% Hispanic, and 6% Other63%Free/Reduced Lunch StudentsESL and Homeless are fastest growing populations155 Schools89 Elementary, 23 middle, 18High, 16 alternative schools, 9specialschoolsTransportation962 buses with over 69,000 students
  3. 3. AGENDA• Historical Context• Mechanics of Plan• Outcomes• Challenges
  4. 4. HISTORICAL CONTEXT1973• Desegregation lawsuits were filed against the city and county Board of Education. Court ordered the elimination of all vestiges ofstate-imposed segregation.1975• The city and county school districts were merged into a single county-wide district and the Court ordered the Board to implement adesegregation plan.• Assignment of students to schools was based on a student’s address, grade, race and the alphabet letter of the student’s last name,which resulted in “white flight.”1978-1984• Court and board modified plan to create more stability and change the African American enrollment guidelines based ondemographic trends.1985• The Board considered district “unitary” and thus could modify the court-ordered plan without the court’s approval.1991• The 1991 plan was based on the concept of managed choice. The plan provided that students may apply for schools and programsof their choice, and may be assigned to those schools or programs subject to building or program capacity, the guidelines for blackenrollment, and in some cases admission criteria.1996• Because of concerns expressed by some African-American leaders, the Board reviewed the plan for possible changes and adoptedadditional modifications.1998 – 2000 Hampton Case• A lawsuit was filed against the Board by black parents who claimed that the 50% limit on black enrollment at Central High School --which had been a historically black school before the 1975 desegregation decree -- violated the U.S. Constitution. This casehighlighted several political and public relations issues.2001• The Board adopted modifications to the student assignment plan to exclude racial enrollment guidelines at special and magnetschools which offered programs that were not available at other schools.4
  5. 5. HISTORICAL CONTEXT2002 McFarland Case/ 2003 Meredith Case• Lawsuit claimed that children had been denied admission to “traditional” magnet elementary and middleschools for reasons of race and gender. It continued to focus on the issues that had been raised in theHampton case – the “achievement gap,” the desire of some black parents to send their children to schoolscloser to home, etc. In 2004, the Court rules the 2001 plan was constitutional.2007 – PICS case• The court ruled that there is a compelling governmental interestin maintaining diversity in public schools,but race may not be used in the assignment of an individual student.2009 – Bains Case• The plaintiffs alleged that the new elementary student assignment plan violated the U.S. Supreme Court’sdecision in the Meredith case, because the Board was using socioeconomic factors as a “proxy for race.”Judge denied the plaintiffs’ motion for an injunction in August 2009, and the plaintiffs voluntarily dismissedtheir complaint in October 2009.2010 Arnold/Fell Case• The lawsuit was filed in state court, based on a provision in a state statute. State Supreme Court ruledagainst plaintiffs.
  6. 6. DEVELOPING A PLANAfter the PICs ruling, our Board engaged in a process fordeveloping a new plan that included: public forums public opinion surveys reviews of other districts’ student assignment plans reviews of the educational research literature consultation with national experts
  7. 7. STAKEHOLDER PERCEPTIONS• Surveys JCPS parents and high school students about theirattitudes and experiences showed a very strong desire fordiverse schools and for school choice.• Students felt well prepared for the community’s diversefuture and strongly supported integration.• Parents were most concerned about excessivetransportation, and also very strongly supported the goals ofintegration.• Surveys also showed the need for improving spread ofinformation to parents about school options.
  8. 8. CURRENT PLAN MECHANICSMost recent changes were designed to make our plan moreeffective and efficient while maintaining a diverse school system.Significant Changes:• Recognizes existing diversity within smaller geographic areasusing updated census data• Expands the inclusion of students into schools’ diversityguidelines• Redesigns elementary clusters to improve transportationissues• Provides for operational enhancements
  9. 9. NEW DIVERSITY CATEGORIESDiversity Guideline: A school’s enrollment is comprised ofstudents who reside in block groups from categories 1, 2 and3. The diversity index for a school shall be between 1.4-2.5.
  10. 10. OPERATIONAL ENHANCEMENTS• On-line application process• Automate the assignment process
  11. 11. OUTCOMES• All but four schools are in compliance with new diversity guideline.• 83% of students received their first choice and 88% received their firstor second choice.• Operational enhancements have lead to improved efficiency and moredirected support for families.• The new automated assignment process increases the percentage ofstudents assigned to their resides school, assigned to schools withsiblings, and receiving their 1st or 2nd choice.• The new cluster configuration will result in reducing extremetransportation distances by 40%, eliminating 25 buses and 25‐40elementary routes, and providing more direct routes.
  13. 13. CONTINUING CHALLENGES• Defending the district against the lawsuits• Confronting “neighborhood schools” legislation• Balancing diversity and proximity• Reducing costs associated with school choice while supportingboard’s intended level of diversity• Developing magnetic magnet programs/schools• Equalizing information in applications and placements• Strengthening the academic benefits through staff training• Educating the public about the value of integrated schools• Taking on residential housing patterns