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Duval Superintendent Recommending ‘Hybrid Plan’ For Low-Performing Schools

Brett Levin

Duval School Superintendent Nikolai Vitti is recommending curriculum changes and additional professional development for teachers in three low-performing schools.

If the schools don’t improve to at least a C grade in two years, the state could close them.

When schools receive too many D and F grades, districts tell the state how they’ll go about improving them, called a “Turnaround Plan.”

Credit Duval County Public Schools

Vitti will have to answer to the state about six low-performing schools this summer.

Three of them — Butler Middle, West Jacksonville Elementary and Oak Hill Elementary — were already converted into specialty schools. Oak Hill, for instance, is becoming an autism center.

Ribault, Gilbert and Northwestern Middle Schools, all D-schools, will have new plans submitted to the state.  

Vitti said if the schools don’t get at least a C, “We would then after the 17-18 year have to close the school, convert it to a charter or hire an external management company to run the school.”

Vitti said the best option for the schools is called a ‘hybrid model.’ The district will change its curriculum to be more aligned with Common Core standards, and a national nonprofit called The New Teacher Project will offer teachers training.

“We feel one of the gaps that we have at the three middle schools is just teaching to the rigor of the standards, even with students that are below grade level and offering high-level professional development to work with our teachers,” Vitti said.

The district's used the nonprofit for leadership development in the past.  These new services would cost the district about $95,000 per school from its budget, plus a $300,000 grant.

Vitti said he’s confident the schools will get to a C or higher. Ten out of 11 of the district's low-performing schools improved at least a letter grade this year and six improved to at least a C.

Photo used under Creative Commons

Lindsey Kilbride was WJCT's special projects producer until Aug. 28, 2020. She reported, hosted and produced podcasts like Odd Ball, for which she was honored with a statewide award from the Associated Press, as well as What It's Like. She also produced VOIDCAST, hosted by Void magazine's Matt Shaw, and the ADAPT podcast, hosted by WJCT's Brendan Rivers.