Archive for June, 2009

How many Georgia students drop out?

An article by Heather Vogell shows Georgia is likely overestimating the number of students who earn high school diplomas. This means the state’s dropout rate could be much higher than reported.

The paper’s analysis showed that while school officials marked more than 25,000 students as transferring to other Georgia public schools no schools reported accepting these students.

Georgia Department of Education officials reviewed the records and located 7,100 of the students. They said coding errors likely occurred for the other students and that some are dropouts.

This is a problem bigger than just numbers.

We’ve discussed many times before the challenges dropouts face. They’re more likely to live in poverty and to wind up in prison.

Without a true indication of the situation in Georgia, how can anyone go about fixing the problem?

How can teachers, schools and others reach out to these students if we don’t know where they are?

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CRCT scores go up

The Georgia Department of Education just released this year’s CRCT results.

Scores went up across the board leading State school Superintendent Kathy Cox to call the results “very encouraging.

One of the biggest gains — 8th grade math. This year 70 percent passed, an eight percentage point increase from last year. Still, that means 30 percent failed.

What do you think of the results? Any surprises?

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Get ready for CRCT results

The Georgia Department of Education has said it will release CRCT results this afternoon. I’ll link to them as soon as we get something.

Here’s some background:

Heightened anxiety surrounded this year’s CRCT as teachers, parents and other officials feared a repeat of last year’s high failure rates.

Last spring, about 71 percent of sixth-graders and 76 percent of seventh-graders failed the social studies portions. About 38 percent of eighth-graders failed the math test.

Those three tests were based on revamped curriculum that teachers just started using.

Teachers and parents accused the state of developing faulty tests. Many said they didn’t trust the Georgia Department of Education.

State Schools Superintendent Kathy Cox ultimately threw out the two social studies citing a breakdown between the learning standards, the exam and what teachers taught.

Cox kept the math results, explaining the scores were a true reflection of students’ abilities with the more challenging …

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Why do Georgia’s teachers leave?

About half of all teachers leave the profession within five years, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

The state spends more than $400 million a year replacing them, according to the Georgia Professional Standards Commission.

Researchers at Georgia State University spent more than two years studying teacher retention in the metro Atlanta area.

Their conclusions won’t surprise many of you.

Teachers stay if they have a good relationship with their co-workers and administrators. They remain if the school emphasizes student success and teachers receive the tools and freedom to improve learning.

Teachers leave when they feel they lack power and can’t express their concerns and opinions. They quit follow battles over school policies and teaching philosophies.

The researchers developed what they described as way for teachers to determine which schools would be the best fit. They said principals and others could use the tool when assigning teachers to different …

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Will teachers back Barnes?

Former Gov. Roy Barnes announced his candidacy for governor Wednesday — seeking back the office he held before losing to current Gov. Sonny Perdue in 2002.

Pundits and others say Barnes lost that re-election because teachers were angry with him. Teachers feuded with Barnes over his plans to increase accountability or take away tenure.

Of course accountability is now standard in all schools because of No Child Left Behind.

While teachers turned to Perdue in 2002, many have since become some of his strongest critics.

Perdue has implemented across-the-board cuts, holding back some of the money all school districts should receive under the state’s school funding formula.  Since 2003, Georgia schools have lost about $2 billion in “austerity cuts.”

Teachers challenged Perdue on other issues, such as proposal to eliminate bonuses for teachers with National Board Certification. (A compromise was reached during the Legislative session.)

What do you think of Barnes running for office? …

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Will school budget cuts hurt students?

UPDATE: Cobb school employees criticized and complained to school board members about the cuts. Fulton schools plan furloughs.

Cobb County school board members are scheduled to discuss layoffs, pay cuts, increased class sizes and other cuts during tonight’s meeting.

Cobb isn’t the first school district to slash positions and costs because of budget shortfalls and they won’t be the last. Clayton, DeKalb and Fayette announced cuts earlier this school year.

Hundreds of part-time teaching and paraprofessional positions have been eliminated across the metro Atlanta area. If we look at the Georgia as a whole – thousands of positions are gone.

These cuts aren’t the only cost-saving strategy schools are using. When the new school year begins, there will be more students in most classes. The State Board of Education approved increasing class sizes to help school districts save an estimated $200 million statewide.

How worried are you about all these cuts?

School leaders say they’re …

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School lessons about homelessness, empathy

A teacher at the private Paideia School recently taught a class called “Experiment in Living” during which students learned about homelessness.

Students slept on the playground at a preschool in Inman Park. They tried to understand why people are homeless and what it’s like to live that way.

The teacher admitted some people may roll their eyes at her idea of social engineering. But she strongly believes in teaching students empathy.

“That is the single most important lesson I’d like to see them learn,” teacher Elizabeth Hearn said.

For the past several years teachers at Paideia have used the last couple of weeks of school to expose students to a variety of topics. Hearn said she started the homelessness program to expand students’ views.

This is an interesting way to handle those last few days of schools – when testing is over and students are restless for summer break. But I wonder what would happen if a public school tried to teach Hearn’s class.

What do you think of this …

Continue reading School lessons about homelessness, empathy »

Poor vs. wealthy school districts

The community colleges topic doesn’t seem to be generating that much interest, so it’s time to try something else.

James Salzer wrote that the money used to help poor school systems provide services comparable to wealthier districts was cut by 23 percent.

Lawmakers slashed $112 million from the equalization fund as they tried to balance the budget. The fund now has about $436 million and the money is allocated to about 135 of the state’s 180 districts.

School districts that depend on this money say they are cutting positions and increasing class sizes. Officials in these systems say they were already hurting because of the economy and these cuts worsen the problem.

The cuts also may be used in a lawsuit over the way Georgia funds education.

A group of mostly rural school systems sued Georgia in 2004 claiming that the state was violating the Georgia Constitution by not spending enough money to provide an adequate education. The coalition withdrew the lawsuit in 2008 after it …

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Does Georgia need a community college system?

An education study committee assembled by Gov. Sonny Perdue has recommended merging the state’s technical college campuses with the two-year colleges to create a comprehensive community college system.

The proposal is one of several suggestions aimed at improving access to college.

Opponents say two-year and technical colleges have separate and competing missions that would make any merger difficult and dangerous.

Some two-year college professors worry a merger would weaken the academic standards at their institutions and make it more difficult for students to transfer to four-year colleges.

But committee members argue Georgia needs a seamless transition as students move from high school to college.

They say a merged community college system also would make it easier for dual enrollment programs to occur by creating a central agency to oversee these programs. Currently individual high schools and districts set up these programs, meaning some students don’t have access to …

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