JCPS Superintendent Marty Pollio greeted a student on the first day of school. | Photo by Olivia Krauth

Correction appended.

Months after approving a skeleton version of its racial equity plan, Jefferson County Public Schools is ready to approve the full plan to tackle inequality and achievement gaps in the district.

The JCPS board approved six key components of a districtwide plan in May and tasked Superintendent Marty Pollio, district officials and a racial equity advisory council with crafting the specifics.

That advisory council, made up of community members and district stakeholders, will read and approve a draft of the full plan at its 5 p.m. meeting Wednesday before sending it to the school board for a vote early next year.

Through the plan, JCPS hopes to reduce achievement gaps, eliminate systemic barriers and improve diversity and school culture, among other things. For example, African-American students in JCPS tend to perform worse than their white peers, facing an achievement gap of roughly 30 points. They also receive more suspensions than white students, despite making up less of the district.

The draft plan, publicly available as a meeting agenda item, breaks those broad goals into smaller steps, each with a metric of success.

Instruction and curriculum

JCPS wants to decrease its achievement gap by at least 3 percentage points by 2020, the plan says. It will also ensure schools have the resources to make students transition ready by the end of high school.

Additionally, JCPS hopes to have more students in courses designed to consider traditionally marginalized viewpoints along with more resources for teachers to design said courses.

Along that same line, the school district will purchase 3,940 culturally sensitive books by 2020 “to ensure that traditionally underrepresented or marginalized groups see themselves reflected in school library collections,” according to the plan.

Boost school culture, climate

Through competency training and racially sensitive student supports, JCPS hopes to boost school climate and drop behavior incidents.

While suspensions have dropped around 19 percent during the school year thus far, black students continued to be disproportionately punished, district officials shared in October. In the plan, JCPS says it wants to see a 10 percent decrease in suspensions for students of color by 2020.

This also includes engaging stakeholders in how JCPS can further improve culture for minority students.

Attract, keep diverse teachers

Despite facing a teacher shortage, JCPS hopes to attract and retain teachers of color through “creative and innovative partnerships.” This could mean strengthening more career exploration opportunities for middle schoolers, along with examining district policies for “disparate impacts.”

By 2020, JCPS wants to employ 2 percent more teachers of color and 5 percent more administrators of color, as well as see a drop in how many teachers leave the district. It also wants to see hundreds of school-based decision-making council members, who making school-level hiring decisions, trained in diversity-specific training practices.

More programmatic access

To attack the achievement gap, JCPS wants to offer extended learning opportunities to give students time to catch up and reduce learning gaps.

African-American students tend to take fewer advanced or gifted courses, according to federal data. JCPS hopes to change that, working to see more students of color in Gifted and Talented programs, in magnet programs or in higher level courses.

In the same vein, JCPS wants to work on providing equitable access in career pathways.

Get central office committed

JCPS will develop and review necessary policies should the need arise in the implementation process, it says in the draft plan. The district hopes to have at least 300 policies reviewed using a “racial equity analysis protocol” by 2020.

Staff will also have training opportunities on creating school-level equity plans, among other things.  

Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated when the racial equity advisory council will meet. It meets Wednesday at 5 p.m.

Olivia Krauth

Olivia Krauth

Before joining Insider Louisville, Krauth was a reporter at TechRepublic, where she wrote news stories and features about the intersection of technology and business.Krauth is a graduate of the University of Louisville, where she was an award-winning editor of The Louisville Cardinal and obtained a degree in investigative journalism, with a minor in Russian studies. She also completed a prestigious Dow Jones data internship at the Austin American-Statesman.Email Olivia at [email protected]