Partnership with Jefferson County Public Schools District

JCPS Welcome Event

In this Noyce Track-1 project, we are partnering with Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS) District, which is the largest school district in Kentucky and the 29th largest school district in the nation. JCPS enrolls more than 98,000 students; 55% of whom are minorities. JCPS operates 169 schools (134 regular schools, 20 specialized magnet schools and 15 academies). 81% of all children in Louisville attend JCPS schools (about 1 of every 7 students in KY attends a JCPS school). Most of the 134 JCPS schools are high-need schools. Over 65,000 students are bus riders (that’s over two-thirds of the JCPS student population). 62% of students are eligible for free or reduced-price meals. Table below shows the relevant JCPS middle and high school data and demographics.

JCPS Middle and High School Data and Information on Demographics

81% of JCPS high schools and 76% of the JCPS middle schools are designated as high-need schools.  Number of JCPS high-need schools are located in the economically-challenged neighborhoods. The average teacher turnover rate of 25% in the JCPS middle and high schools are high. 67% of JCPS schools have a high poverty level. 110 out of 134 (82%) schools have students from families with income below the poverty line. 94 out of the 134 (70%) schools have a high (61% - 80%) poverty level to extreme-high (81% -100%) poverty level. African-American students are more likely to attend these high to extreme-high poverty schools. Notably, 16.7% of the JCPS high school students are considered as homeless, and 56.3% of these homeless students are African-Americans.

In recent years, most open positions at JCPS were in the STEM disciplines. Compounded by the 30% retirement rate, the district has continued to suffer from STEM teacher vacancies that are going unfilled. These unfilled STEM positions have resulted in the collapse of STEM classroom sections, excessive reliance on substitutes, and the overcrowding of students in other teachers’ classrooms to receive instruction in the STEM areas. The highest need STEM fields in JCPS are in Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics (in that order). Many JCPS schools often have only one teacher who is responsible for all the STEM areas and few in-field STEM teachers have certification or a major in the STEM field taught.  Due to the lack of Physics teachers, over 50% of the students are graduating from JCPS high schools without taking a single Physics course. The Integrated IA and IB Science courses at JCPS, which emphasize Physics and Chemistry contents, are being taught by mostly Biology-certified teachers. JCPS also has a need for dually-certified STEM teachers in its Integrated IA and IB science classes. Currently, less than 50% of JCPS high school teachers are Math-certified, 44% are Biology-certified, 15% are Chemistry-certified, and only 10% are Physics-certified. Until JCPS can place highly-qualified teachers in these STEM disciplines they are teaching, the outlook for improving student performance at JCPS remains bleak. Moreover, while students of color make up more than half the JCPS student population, nearly 90% of JCPS teachers are Caucasian, and do not come from diverse backgrounds. Student population at JCPS is culturally and racially diverse; over 125 languages are spoken by JCPS students and hence the need for culturally-responsive teachers to reflect the increasingly culturally diverse students.

Despite the challenges specifically in STEM teacher shortages, JCPS have been on the forefront of national movements such as early adoption of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and Common Core State Standards and spearheading the development of state specific assessments in mathematics and science. Schools within the district have started to offer STEM programs to enhance the standards by providing educational opportunities for students through the use of problem-based and project-based learning. BU’s School of Education has maintained a close relationship with JCPS and has been involved in a number of projects and initiatives related to supporting in-service STEM teachers. This proposed partnership between JCPS and BU will increase the number of highly qualified middle and high-school STEM teachers in the JCPS high-need schools. Once funded, BU will sign a formal agreement with JCPS that fulfills all the requirements of the Noyce program and selective placement of Noyce Teachers in the vacant STEM teaching positions in JCPS schools. To strengthen the effectiveness of these Noyce teachers, we will implement a robust mentoring support system that will continue after the MAT degree completion, while they are teaching in JCPS. JCPS offers a competitive salary for new teachers. The starting salary of a JCPS teacher with a MAT degree is $50,901 ($44,853 with a bachelor’s degree) and the average teacher salary of a JCPS teacher is $63,000, with top earners making almost $90,000 per year. Noyce Scholars can teach at any JCPS school since JCPS is a high-need school district. Our Noyce scholars can enter the classroom as certified teachers with a higher compensation having earned the MAT degree. The majority (85%) of teacher candidates graduating from BU elect to work at a JCPS school.

For more information about Jefferson County Public Schools, visit: