Owensboro Public Schools Chief Academic Officer Steve Bratcher announced Thursday during a board of education meeting that 40% of district middle school students have at least one F.

That number increased significantly from this time last year, when only about 15% of middle school students had at least one F, he said.

OPS elementary students are doing well, and the high school failure rate is 28% at this time, Bratcher said.

OPS Superintendent Matthew Constant said the district is not alone in this, and that other schools in the region are also struggling to reach middle school students, with one reporting the failure rate for that group at 60%.

Even when schools are in person, Constant said middle school students are a tough group to motivate, but that these numbers are worrisome.

“Middle school age is hard to engage,” he said. “We need to do some work on engaging middle school students.”

Board member Michael Johnson asked Bratcher what the issue is regarding these students, and how district officials could help them.

Bratcher said many factors could be contributing to these numbers, including that students aren’t grasping the material. The interruptions to school as a result of the pandemic could also be a factor.

Bratcher said district administrators, teachers and other staff are also coming up with solutions for better-serving this particular group of students. They are even considering some summer school options to help with the retention rate.

“We are working out some plans for how to communicate with these kids, target them and come up with a plan and let them carry it forward,” he said.

Constant said district officials will be speaking with student families to inform them of their status, and that they are in jeopardy of failing, in some cases. He said parents of students who aren’t making an effort will be notified.

“We want them to know that we will retain them, if necessary,” he said.

Board members also approved paperwork to push the Cravens Elementary School renovation project forward, including construction projects that will now be sent to the Kentucky Department of Education for approval.

Bobbie Hayse, bhayse@messenger-inquirer.com, 270-691-7315

Bobbie Hayse, bhayse@messenger-inquirer.com, 270-691-7315

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