Jacksonville Ranks in Top 5 Best Cities for School Reform
Jacksonville, FL – According to a recent study released by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, Jacksonville is the 5th best city in the country for school reform based on a variety of indicators.
“This study proves how hard the School Board and our partners have been working to improve the rigor and academic success of all of our students,” said Duval County Public Schools’ Superintendent Ed Pratt-Dannals. “The district continues to be open to new ideas and reform that will allow us to continue to provide a quality education for our students in preparation for post-secondary education or the world of work.”
In the study, the authors examined six domains that are crucial to a reform-friendly climate: 1) access to a steady flow of talented individuals; 2) a pipeline of readily accessible funding from public and private sources; 3) a thriving charter-school market; 4) attention to quality-control metrics that guide and regulate entrepreneurial ventures; 5) openness to nontraditional providers and reforms at the district level; and 6) similar openness at the municipal level.
Jacksonville ranked number one in the area of quality control, noting our rigorous accountability systems and comprehensive data systems. Duval County is one of only six districts in the state that uses a pay for performance program for teachers and school administrators, using individual student data to show the academic movement of students. Last year, the district implemented On Course, an Online Gradebook system that gives parents an opportunity to review individual student grades, homework assignments and attendance. This tool enables teachers and administrators to collaborate and effectively communicate with parents on their student's performance. Duval County began utilizing common end-of-course assessments four years ago to continually monitor the progress that students are making in each of their courses. These assessments are reviewed each year to assure that expectations are the same classroom by classroom and throughout the district.
In the category of district environment, Jacksonville is ranked third. Duval County Public Schools created new partnerships with local non-profit organizations to improve student engagement and performance. Achievers for Life is a community initiative focused on dropout prevention, which targets sixth-grade students who are at risk for academic failure. The Achievers for Life strategy addresses all five dropout predictors through family advocates, mentors and parent engagement activities.
Learning to Finish is another example of a collaboration with local government and non-profit agencies, as well as the local education fund committed to increasing the graduation rate in Jacksonville. This initiative will conduct pilot programs at six public schools this fall, assist the school district in making the operational changes needed to support at-risk students and build community awareness of the depth and significance of the dropout crisis in Duval County.
Duval County Public Schools operates 172 schools and serves approximately 123,000 students. The school district is committed to providing high quality educational opportunities that will inspire all students to acquire and use the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in a global economy and culturally diverse world.
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