Magazine article District Administration

Student Input Fuels Turnaround: School on FIRE Program in Kentucky District Boosts College and Career Readiness

Magazine article District Administration

Student Input Fuels Turnaround: School on FIRE Program in Kentucky District Boosts College and Career Readiness

Article excerpt

Just three years ago, Eminence Independent Schools in northern Kentucky was facing a crisis--namely, it was failing. The K12 district hadn't met AYP in years, enrollment was drastically declining, and only 39 percent of students were graduating at the state-determined benchmarks for college and career readiness.

"We only had two mobile devices in the entire district, and learning was completely traditional," Superintendent Buddy Berry says. "We had no AP or honors classes, just a common curriculum for all students."

Berry realized it was time for a complete redesign. In 2012, the district developed a new system called School on FIRE (Framework of Innovation for Re-inventing Education). The model was based on student engagement: Berry and other administrators interviewed every student in the district. They asked questions such as, "What is your idea of the perfect school?" and "What are things you like and don't like about your school?"

The common themes that emerged were that instruction needed to be personalized and authentic, and that more technology and higher-level courses were necessary to prepare for life after graduation.

Adding programs

The district used Title I funds to implement a 1-to-1 laptop program. They also developed an early college program with nearby Bellarmine University, which allows students to earn up to an associate's degree by high school graduation. Eminence also created the state's first Wi-Fi-enabled bus to give students access to online curriculum while traveling to the university to take college-level courses.

In the high school that formerly had no AP or honors classes, the average senior will graduate this year having taken at least one semester of college-level courses. None of the students who participated in the early

A Wi-Fi-equipped school bus, above, provides students at Eminence Independent Schools in Kentucky access to online curriculum while taking an early college program at a nearby university. …

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