Archive for August, 2010

Gov. Perdue, this is for you: Warner Robins Little League wins second national title. You go girls.

This blog entry is for the governor who complained at a meeting today with the AJC that the newspaper doesn’t report the good news enough. He took umbrage at our failure to report that the Warner Robins American Little League girls softball team won its second Little League Softball World Series Championship in Oregon yesterday.

(Gov. Perdue also said that I have not reported the breakdown of the state’s ACT scores, which show that we are ahead of the nation in individual racial categories but that our higher number of minority students puts us behind the overall national average. I have to point out that I did post that breakdown with the ACT story yesterday.)

But he was right about this. We should be reporting this:

From the Little League site:

This Macon Telegraph photo shows Gov. Perdue greeting the Warner Robins champion team last year. He will high fiving again this year since they capture their second national title.

This Macon Telegraph photo shows Gov. Perdue greeting the Warner Robins champion team last year. He will be high fiving them again this year since they just captured their second national title. (Beau Cabell/The Telegraph)

A …

Continue reading Gov. Perdue, this is for you: Warner Robins Little League wins second national title. You go girls. »

Perdue: APS CRCT probe seemed intended to “constrain and confine rather than explore.”

Gov. Perdue met with the AJC today to express his concerns with the quality of the APS probe into CRCT cheating and his plans to conduct a state probe.

Gov. Perdue met with the AJC today to express his concerns with the quality of the APS probe into CRCT cheating and his plans to conduct a state probe.

In a sit-down meeting with the AJC this morning, Gov. Sonny Perdue made it clear that he intends to get to the bottom of the CRCT cheating.

Here is a summation of the meeting, which included Kathleen Mathers, head of the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement.

The AJC also sat down with Dr. Beverly  Hall this morning. (It was a busy morning.) I will post her comments as well today:

First, Gov. Perdue:

On the data analysis done for APS by  the private testing security firm Caveon: Perdue said he has not seen the report, despite asking the Blue Ribbon Commission for it on two occasions earlier this year. He expressed skepticism of the report that essentially cleared most of the APS schools and focused on the 12 worst offenders.

“Based on what you (the AJC) have written and what I have seen, I wonder if they were given …

Continue reading Perdue: APS CRCT probe seemed intended to “constrain and confine rather than explore.” »

State school board member says APS board members conspiring to protect a member facing ethics charges.

In a strange twist at the state Board of Education meeting today on CRCT scores, board member James E. Bostic Jr. criticized the power struggle on the Atlanta school board, targeting school board member Courtney English as the impetus of the divide.

APS school board member came under fire today at the state Board of Education meeting

APS school board member Courtney English came under fire today at the state Board of Education meeting

With English in the audience, Bostic charged that the campaign by five APS board members to oust the chair is an effort to protect English.  A former APS teacher and Morehouse College grad, English faces ethics charges for misusing an APS credit card.

In front of a full house, including Gov. Sonny Perdue, Bostic outlined the ethics charges against English, saying he has been charged with ethical violations for the misuse of a school system credit card to pay for an airline ticket, restaurants in Boston and Cambridge and a spa/salon.

“You have a group of people trying to protect an individual on the board,” said Bostic. “I am just …

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Can we ever prove who cheated? (Cheats will also lie.) If we can’t, where do we go next in the CRCT probe?

An angry Sonny Perdue talks to press at state board meeting where he announced he is hiring an investigator to look at CRCT cheating in APS and Dougherty schools.

An angry Sonny Perdue talks to press at state board meeting where he announced he is hiring an investigator to look at CRCT cheating in APS and Dougherty schools. (AJC/Phil Skinner)

Here is what the governor said today at the state Board of Education meeting about his decision to bring in a special investigator to probe CRCT cheating at APS and Dougherty County schools.

Please read below for my comments and for some key questions Sonny Perdue did not answer:

In his own words:

As you all know, I typically prefer to speak with you informally and personally. However today, with such a serious matter before us, it is more important for me to be precise so I have chosen to write out my remarks in advance.

It is a sad day.

I want to begin by thanking this Board for caring so much about this issue.  You have all been strong, unwavering proponents of integrity in testing and I know you share my deep disappointment with the results Kathleen just outlined.  To this day, we …

Continue reading Can we ever prove who cheated? (Cheats will also lie.) If we can’t, where do we go next in the CRCT probe? »

An angry Perdue: APS CRCT probe lacks “both scope and depth,” He orders investigation and threatens criminal penalties to those who refuse to cooperate

A few minutes ago, Gov. Sonny Perdue told the state Board of Education: “It is a sad day: We still have not gotten to the bottom of what was released in the 2009 CRCT results.  Both Dougherty and Atlanta Public Schools responded with internal investigations that were woefully inadequate in both scope and depth.  While the state asked these districts to cooperate fully, their efforts frankly fell way short of the target.”

“This is not about statistics, this is not about numbers. This is about individual students who are being robbed and cheated of their one fair shot at a good education,” said Perdue. “We cannot stand and by and let this happen.”

“I am appointing a special investigator to do the hard work that has to be done on behalf of the children in the Atlanta and Dougherty schools systems,” Perdue said. “This special investigator will have full legal authority including subpoena power, that includes requiring sworn testimony on penalty of perjury…  This  investigation …

Continue reading An angry Perdue: APS CRCT probe lacks “both scope and depth,” He orders investigation and threatens criminal penalties to those who refuse to cooperate »

Georgia sees slight rise in ACT scores, but SAT performance is true test of state’s high schoolers. And that comes in the next few weeks.

I am going to take good news where I get it. So, I am delighted that while the national ACT score fell a bit, Georgia saw an increase. I still wish we were at or above the national average. And I hope the good news continues when SAT scores are released in the next week or so.

(We are an SAT state with more students taking that exam for college admissions. So that is the true test of if our high school students are faring better against their peers around the country. However, we are seeing a rise in ACT takers.)

Georgia saw a slight increase in the percentage of high school students passing muster on all four sections of the ACT.  I actually think we should be doing even better on the ACT since it’s our most ambitious students who take both the ACT and the SAT in the hopes of improving their odds at competitive colleges.

If you drill down, as the state DOE has done, you see this:

- Georgia’s African American students had an average composite score of 17.4, higher than the …

Continue reading Georgia sees slight rise in ACT scores, but SAT performance is true test of state’s high schoolers. And that comes in the next few weeks. »

Former Atlanta mayor to Arne Duncan: Media assaults and political agendas could destabilize APS

Former Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin is seeking Arne Duncan's guidance in the controversies around APS CRCT results

Former Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin is seeking Arne Duncan's guidance in the controversies around APS CRCT results

Here is the letter that former Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin is sending to U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan to ask his advice in steering APS through the crisis in confidence resulting from the CRCT probe and in dealing with the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement. She is concerned that the system is being battered by political agendas and the AJC coverage:

Dear Secretary Duncan,

Thank you for the tremendous energy and leadership you have shown on behalf of American public education.  I am grateful for President Obama’s strong commitment to public education as demonstrated by increased federal funding and an unprecedented call for innovation to states and school districts alike.

I am writing to advise you of continuing questions raised by the Georgia Governor’s Office of Student Achievement (GOSA) and the Atlanta Journal Constitution (AJC) on Atlanta …

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In graduating black males, Cobb and Gwinnett are leaders in the state and nation. But the rates are still too low.

How do we get more black males to graduate high school and go on to attend and graduate college?

How do we get more black males to graduate high school and go on to attend and graduate college?

A new report on the graduation rate of black males from America’s high schools paints a dispiriting picture. The “Yes We Can, The Schott 50 State Report on Public Education and Black Males” says only 47 percent of black males graduate from high school.

The report cites the best states for graduating black males; none are in the South. The only state with significant black male enrollment and a greater than 65 percent black male graduation rate is New Jersey.

The report lists the 10 worst performing states for black males. They are New York, Florida, South Carolina, Louisiana Nebraska, Ohio, District of Columbia, Indiana,  Alabama and Georgia.

The report notes that black males can succeed in school, pointing to the achievements of the schools in New York City’s Harlem Children’s Zone, Maryland’s Montgomery and Baltimore counties, Fort Bend, Texas, and the U.S. Department of Defense …

Continue reading In graduating black males, Cobb and Gwinnett are leaders in the state and nation. But the rates are still too low. »

APS school board: Playing politics while the system reels from CRCT mess

As a new reporter fresh out of graduate school, I worked at a paper in northern New Jersey and covered every board, commission and traffic accident in several towns. I liked school board detail least.

The first reason was that I was 23, had no kids and couldn’t muster enthusiasm for the long debates over what color to paint the high school halls — one school board member was a “colorist” and had strong feelings about soothing tones — or whether there ought to be stop sign or traffic light two blocks from the school. But the school boards also had the most political drama, the most intrigue. Almost immediately upon taking over the beat I would get phone calls from school board members assailing a colleague’s motives or alleging conspiracies. I could not understand how adults could get so caught up in what seemed petty power grabs, at least to a young reporter.

Those memories came back to me Monday when the Atlanta Board of Education devoted an inordinate amount of time to …

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Grades don’t suffer when teens date seriously, but they do when they “hook up” in more casual arrangements

Research presented in Atlanta suggests that teens in serious relationships do not lag in grades as a result. However, peers who have casual encounters do pay a price. (I have not seen the "Twilight" movies but apparently the teen leads are deadly serious about their romance.)

Research presented in Atlanta suggests that teens in serious relationships do not lag in grades as a result. However, peers who have casual encounters do pay a price. (I have not seen the "Twilight" movies but apparently the teen leads are deadly serious about their romance. Is that why they never smile?)

Interesting study on how teens’ social lives and sex lives affect school.

I am not sure this will surprise too many parents. I find kids who are serious about life — whether a relationships or a job — also tend to be serious about school. On the other hand, I do think a serious high school relationship can take time away from school work if one of the pair is not much of a student or interested in academics.

And I have seen the reverse: A serious student can spur her or his mate to work harder in school and do better.

According to the AJC story:

The findings, presented Sunday at a meeting of the American Sociological Association in Atlanta, challenge to some extent …

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