The Jackson Public School District Board of Trustees gave Superintendent Dr. Cedric Gray a four-year contract extension and a $5,000 a year pay raise last month. The board cited a large reduction in failing schools and other factors in support of the pay raise and extension. However, a review of the school ratings over the past three years shows that JPS fell and the recovered to the level of abysmal performance that was prevalent during Dr. Gray's first year of employment.
The board issued this statement concerning Dr. Gray's employment:
The Jackson Public Schools Board of Trustees voted to extend Dr. Gray's contract for four more years. The announcement was made during a special Board meeting held May 19, 2015. The extension was based on District performance and growth and a high performance evaluation.
In the past year, the number of JPS schools rated "F" by the Mississippi Department of Education have decreased from 17 to 8, and the number of discipline incidents compared to this time last year have dropped by 1,000.
"There's been an increase in parent participation in parent-teacher student activities, and Dr. Gray has made a very positive impact on the culture of the District," said Board President Otha Burton. "We are very pleased with his leadership, compassion, drive, and determination to improve the quality of education for our students."
The graduation rate of the District increased from 64 percent to 65.1 percent from the 2012-2013 school year to the 2013-2014 year.
"I am honored and humbled by the Board’s decision to allow me to continue to serve four more years as superintendent of Jackson Public Schools," said Dr. Gray. "Although we are labeled a 'D' district, we are operating with an 'A' mentality, and I am confident we will continue to improve academic achievement."
Did the Superintendent deserve a pay raise and an extension? We report, you decide. Here are the cumulative grades for all schools in JPSD:
A: 6 (3 are magnets or honors)
But hey, those are "D's" and "F's". What about just "F's"?
So all JPS has done is get back to the level it was at two years ago. Such mediocrity is what the school board considers to be the improvement ( by a 7-0 vote) that is worthy of a raise and a four-year contract extension. However, the picture remained the same for the public school system: a handful of well-performing elementary schools while no regular middle or high schools performed above the level of "C".
43% of JPS schools are "D" and "F" schools. 45% of JPS schools performed at the same level in 2012. 77% of the middle schools rated "D" and "F" while 42% of the high schools rated a "D". 65% of the JPS middle and high schools thus rated "D" and "F". However, this is an improvement as the 2012 school ratings revealed that 82% of JPS middle and high schools were "D" or "F". So maybe going from 82% to 65% is a "substantial" improvement.
However, contrast the performance of the middle and high schools with JPS elementary schools: Only 30% of the elementary schools rated "D" and "F". A child might get a good start at one of the elementary public schools in Jackson but then is failed by the middle and high schools as he matriculates. Improvement, indeed.
Here are the cumulative ratings for the three different levels of Jackson public schools and their performance over the previous two years:
Note: The number of "D" & "F" elementary schools has thus remained the same under Dr. Gray's tenure. He started with 12 and ended with 11. The "C's" stayed the same as well: starting with 17 and ending with 16.
What is troubling is the media just accepted this press release and action by the school board without question. Dr. Gray told the Clarion-Ledger that the reduction of "F" schools from 17 to 8 was substantial and the main reason he deserved an extension. However, there was no questioning of this claim or examining of the record in the story. Clarion-Ledger reporter (and former Parents Campaign spokeswoman) Kate Royals reported:
In the past year, the number of JPS schools rated 'F' by the education department have decreased from 17 to eight, and the number of discipline incidents compared to this time last year have dropped by 1,000.The rest of the media reported similar coverage. Just another day in Jackson Public Schools. Much money is paid, much praise is brayed, while little progress is made.
Kingfish Note: The statements made to the Clarion-Ledger were more obfuscation by Dr. Gray. Who can forget this video when he flat-out lied and said JPS had no failing schools two years ago? Earlier post: Ratings, what new ratings?
Then there are the third-grade reading test results. 28% of JPS third-graders failed the test. Three schools saw nearly half of their students fail the test as well. Earlier post. However, these results were not considered or mention when the school board gave Dr. Gray his pay raise.
One further note: The school board voted at the May 19 meeting to reduce evaluations of Dr. Gray's performance from twice to once a year.
2013 JPS report cards: Failure IS the option.
2012 report cards: 82% of JPS middle & high schools rate D or F
2011 ratings: Is this what charter school opponents are protecting?