Would accreditation loss lock APS kids out of colleges?

The AJC has a good piece on how the loss of accreditation could affect students’ prospect for colleges.

Tied to Atlanta’s probationary status by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, the news story cites the experiences of Clayton parents when that system lost its accreditation. (It has since regained it.) The reporter also interviews APS parents concerned over their children’s futures.

The story quotes admissions officials at UGA and Emory.

Among their comments:

“Most [colleges] will look at an applicant, especially if the circumstances are explained,” said J. Lynn Zimmerman, the senior vice provost for undergraduate education at Emory University.

Similar advice came from Nancy McDuff, the director of admissions at the University of Georgia.

“If a student comes from an unaccredited school, we have other ways to evaluate that student,” she said. “And here in Atlanta, we are certainly aware of the circumstances (at APS), and we won’t hold that against the student.”

I have received several well informed e-mails over the last few months from Dennis Brown, a former high school headmaster, who wonders whether students really are in jeopardy of being turned down from colleges when systems lose accreditation.

While the AJC has spoken to admissions offices for all of its articles on the impact of accreditation loss, he suggests that what is really needed are hard numbers from the schools. Yes, he says the schools often tell us it could be a factor but has it ever been a cause to reject a student? That’s a great point.

Brown writes:

In my over 30 years as a head of school at the high school level, including college counseling and recommendation-writing responsibilities, I found that college acceptances lost because of attending a non-SACS accredited school or being home schooled, was a paper tiger. Why not survey a cross-section of public and private post-secondary schools in the SACS region asking: 1) how many students who do not have high school diplomas from SACS accredited schools are attending your institution, and 2) how many students lost acceptances to your program because they are not graduates of SACS accredited programs?

Oh you’ll get many subjective narrative answers as your AJC has printed before. Requiring additional testing and other means of verifying ability of the applicant, etc.  But it seems to me that before the AJC gets parents and students riled up by printing it as fact, substantiating it with stats not narrative, would be doing the public a service.

I also put the question to our higher ed reporter Laura Diamond who responded: I spoke with Morehouse, Spelman and Clark Atlanta about this during the Clayton situation. Because they were all aware of it, there were no problems of students getting admitted. Same thing when students applied to colleges out-of-state. Guidance counselors included a note and college admissions officers are aware of these issues and rarely hold it against students for admission purposes.

So, bottom line for APS parents, it makes sense to call the colleges that your teens are interested in attending before you panic and pull your children out of schools where they are doing well and where they are near completion. It does not seem remotely possible that APS will lose its accreditation as the school board has made every indication that it will do everything possible to retain it.

(As to extra testing to be admitted when you are from a non-accredited high school, I wonder myself if that would be waived if a student had good grades and strong SAT scores.)

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

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Ernest

February 10th, 2011
6:29 am

Like the AYP status not telling the full story about a school, one would hope that colleges would perform a ‘deep dive’ to understand the reasons behind a school system not being accredited. If the lost accreditation has more to do with issues related to board governance rather than instructional inadequacies, why should it be held against a qualified student? Reasoned, common sense has got to take over in situations like this.

Dunwoody Mom

February 10th, 2011
6:52 am

I have a co-worker whose daughter attended a Clayton County school while they were on probations. This young lady was awarded a full scholarship to Duke. So, how much colleges pay attention to these type of things is a good

Cobb History Teacher

February 10th, 2011
7:26 am

In the grand scheme of things I would hope not. Despite what happened in a few schools in one system there was still good teaching and learning going on. This shouldn’t hurt those who were not directly involved.

B. Killebrew

February 10th, 2011
7:29 am

This is good to hear.

FBT

February 10th, 2011
7:30 am

The more I learn about SACS accreditation, the more I am unimpressed. I’m starting to think it is just another expense with little to no impact on quality of education.

Chrome Gouda

February 10th, 2011
7:40 am

As a veteran teacher and school leader, I am thankful for the work that SACS does. Every five years, it provides the impetus for a long, hard and detailed look at what we are doing as a school, and in some cases, it requires us to substatantiate that which we claim to be effective.

I can’t imagine any profession or field where comprehensive peer-review would not be of benefit, and that is exactly what SACS provides.

atlmom

February 10th, 2011
8:13 am

I would just pull my kid out of high school and have them start taking classes at ga state or Ga perimeter college.
It’s not too much more difficult than that.

Dr. John Trotter

February 10th, 2011
8:16 am

I served on several SACS Five Year studies in the past — probably long before Mark Elgart ever stepped into the doors of the SACS Office. These studies are pretty much a joke.

The State needs to establish the Georgia Schools Accrediting Agency (GSAA) under the authority of the Georgia Board of Education and under the administrative direction of the State Superintendent. Jettison SACS. SACS is more problems than it is worth. It has become too big for its private, money-grabbing breeches. The State of Georgia doesn’t need SACS at all.

What's best for kids?

February 10th, 2011
8:18 am

So if colleges and universities look at other ways to evaluate students, then why do we have SACS at all? I agree with FBT: smoke and mirrors, very little substance, and a waste of money.

Dr. John Trotter

February 10th, 2011
8:36 am

Not a total waste of money. Mark Elgart’s salary (from the public troughs, by the way) is hovering around $400,000 (including benefits). It may be higher. So, Mark certainly doesn’t think that SACS is a waste of time and money. It keeps him employed with a lavish lifestyle. Ha! Yep, I am sure that Mark Elgart is for SACS all the way!

GrannyCares

February 10th, 2011
8:45 am

I suppose the question is: WHY are we paying the taxes we are paying to TEACH our children, and getting — in many cases — incompetence covered by cheating and lack of leadership in return? I am appalled at the School Board — just as much as I am at the lack of integrity of the APS. Our kids have learned lessons being a part of APS that has led many to prison! One cannot CHEAT their way through life.

An look, the School Board is still in tact, and Dr. Hall probably still has her driver!

catlady

February 10th, 2011
8:57 am

I’m not a big supporter of of SACS, either. Too much self-importance, too much shady good old boy wink, wink, nod, nod. I have seen it up-close, at the college and K-12 level, and it seems to be a game–use it to punish those who don’t go along.

Chris Murphy, Atlanta, GA

February 10th, 2011
9:01 am

I’m more interested in how colleges look at APS and other schools, period. How do they compare student’s records from various schools? Isn’t that why the SAT exists in the first place?

simplythetruth

February 10th, 2011
9:04 am

If SACS’ studies are a joke as some have referred to them, it is probably a reflection on the lack of dedication of those serving on the review committees. If one has a preconcieved opinion that it is a waste of time, then what results do you expect? If you are asked to serve on a visiting committee, it would only be reasonable to expect a volunteer to have the student and school’s best interests in mind. A SACS review is only as good as those conducting the review, therefore, one must conclude that if you view a review as a joke, the reviewers were part of the joke.

Raquel Morris

February 10th, 2011
9:07 am

Notice who was NOT invited to escort the First Lady at the Atlanta school yesterday? Dr. Beverly Hall, of course. Even the White House knows not to give her anymore undeserved praise.

G-Lion

February 10th, 2011
9:23 am

GrannyCares is the only one of you people who is getting this right.

The issue really is not whether SACS accreditation is necessary for children to get into the colleges they desire. Nor is it whether SACS accreditation is more meaningful than another accreditation.

The real issue is – Why did APS lose the accreditation that it had? The answer is incompetence and corruption. And that can be traced all the way to the top – to the superintendent and to the school board.

When they are not building or protecting turf, seeking personal gain, or otherwise wasting time and money – they are “teaching” to the minimum. The original and real use of testing is to provide “teachers” feedback on the effectiveness of their methods in instructing their pupils. And, they are using all the various tests, such as CRCT, to justify their existence. Even in that they have failed; they have to doctor the tests to get adequate passing rates.

Cheating and lying have been institutionalized by that school group. Look at the way they fudge the graduation rate numbers, manipulate the CRCT results, and the way they level harassment and/or ethics charges against the few ethical whistleblowers among them.

A firing squad comes to mind.

Huh?

February 10th, 2011
9:38 am

What accreditation has the APS lost? I didn’t think so.

simplythetruth

February 10th, 2011
9:43 am

Great post…..G-Lion…. I was absolutely amazed that some people turned a CHEATING SCANDAL into a we don’t need SACS because I want someone else to evaluate us diversion and away from the true problems that you and Granny so eloquently addressed. The decent teachers of APS need to help weed out the incompetent and morally bankrupt teachers, administrators, and board members that exist in their own system.

????

February 10th, 2011
9:45 am

SACS is a dog and pony show at best. Let’s get real. Form observation teams in each region. Have them go into schools unannouced and conduct staff observations. This will help with the politics, get bad teachers out of system and may help provide a true picture of what is going on in the schools. How do we pay for this? Get rid of the SACS, Some of the state jobs that are supposed to be doing this already and I am sure there are other DOE departments that are a waste.

atlmom

February 10th, 2011
9:48 am

G-Lion: they are on probation, they have not lost accreditation – yet.
This whole mess, and APS isn’t the only one involved in it, shows us that this model of running a school system IS. NOT. WORKING. Why can’t we admit this – and do something else?

atlmom

February 10th, 2011
9:49 am

???? – WE DO NOT NEED ANOTHER way to form another committee to oversee something else.
IT DOES NOT WORK.
What we need is parents to start taking some responsibility for their children and some sort of way for ALL parents to choose the schools their kids go to. It’s actually so simple.

2 cents

February 10th, 2011
9:50 am

Looks like these major colleges metioned in the article just took the wind out of the SACS sails. If the HS doesnt need it and there are “ways” around it. Why have SACS at all? I think when this is spread that APS students can go to college depending on their SAT scores instead of a SACS report alot of parents will be saying Mark who?

Taxpayer

February 10th, 2011
9:57 am

As a few bloggers have noted, let’s not be distracted by the SACS accredidation but focus on the product the APS are putting out. Can anyone state that overall this has been a good use of taxpayer money. It has been nothing more than baby sitting services and preperation for a life of chrime or welfare.

justjanny

February 10th, 2011
9:59 am

I would suggest calls to other colleges outside of GA. You’d be surprised that accreditation is not a major consideration for college admission. I know of many students who are home-schooled (no accreditation at all!) who are accepted into Ivy League and other very fine colleges and universities around the country. John Trotter is correct in his assessment.

Toto: Exposing naked body scanners...

February 10th, 2011
10:03 am

APS students: WE’RE ALL HOME SCHOOLERS NOW!

I read with great interest about the “bailout” of non-accredited Clayton County students.

“School officials in Clayton County, which regained accreditation in 2009 but has remained on probation for the past two years, took steps to try to mitigate any potential damage when it lost accreditation in 2008.”

“They lobbied successfully to get the Georgia legislature to pass a law that allowed Clayton students equal access to HOPE college scholarship money. They also reached an agreement with the University System of Georgia to exempt Clayton students from the accreditation requirements.”

Does the state of Georgia not realize that by doing this, it has rendered accreditation MEANINGLESS? If academics are just fine without it, WHAT IS ITS PURPOSE? It is accreditation requirements, not academic performance on achievement tests, that keep many home schoolers out of Georgia University System schools. Many of these applicants have superior scores and quality courses but are barred from admissions. Try getting into Georgia Tech as an unaccredited home schooler, even with superior SAT ll tests! I know a home schooler with the OLD SAT score of 1300 (an amazing achievement) who was accepted at Gainesville College (two year at the time) only if she went an extra year and took their high school remedial courses to “accredit” her education. At that time, home schoolers were not even allowed to qualify for Hope Scholarship! She later graduated from another four year college with honors and is now an EMPLOYED CPA. Georgia Gwinnett college is not home school friendly for the same reasons. Walk into the admissions office and as a prospective student, tell them about your exemplary science anatomy labs, math courses, theater performance, volunteer work, travel, etc. and show them your Harvard worthy SAT scores, BUT DON’T MENTION THAT YOU ATTENDED A NON ACCREDITED HOME SCHOOL! You will politely be shown the door.

Come to think of it, I am thankful that the students of Clayton County were evaluated on their academic and social achievements alone; that is as it should be. Now HOME SCHOOLERS HAVE LEGAL PRECEDENT TO SUE GEORGIA UNIVERSITY SYSTEM SCHOOLS FOR BLATANT DISCRIMINATION! I think Home School Legal Defense will be making a move on this. You have been warned.

Dr. John Trotter

February 10th, 2011
10:04 am

@G-Lion: I believe that you’re wrong. It appears that SACS did not even look at the corruption or incompetence of the Beverly Hall Administration in Atlanta. SACS focused (and I use this work lightly) only on the fact that the school board members seem to squabble sometimes. Duh. This is democracy in action, Mark Elgart. I know that Elgart appears to like oligarchies but elected school boards are democracies, and no one should expect for them to sit around smiling, holding hands, and singing “Kum Ba Ya.”

Catlady, you are right on target. SACS is used to punish those school boards who refuse to go along just to get along with the Good Ole Boys in Georgia. It is just that simple. Read the SACS Reports on Clayton County and Atlanta. Both are jokes! Please read them. They are, to borrow Mr. Norreese Haynes’s description, “a sham and a farce.” I was actually shocked at the reports’ lack of depth, their clear bias toward certain groups, and their unconscionable refusal to actually look at evidence provided to the committee. SACS is very biased and is truly used by powerful interests to try to circumvent the democratic process and to control school boards outside of the elective process. © MACE, February 10, 2011.

Dr. John Trotter

February 10th, 2011
10:09 am

@simplythetruth: Mark Elgart did not deal with the cheating scandal. This is the problem, and this is simply the truth.

No Mo

February 10th, 2011
10:11 am

loss of accreditation—no big deal for students. Board members and administrators keep their big money jobs and blame it on “someone else.”

G-Lion

February 10th, 2011
10:32 am

atlmom – you are right, I misrepresented accidentally.
Dr. John – I believe you. And, that follows my point, which is…

Accreditation (or probation or lack of same) is NOT the real issue. The issue is the inept or corrupt that are “leading” our school systems.

Does anyone remember when “public service” was a term we used for working in government or government-affiliated positions? Where did that go?

B. Hall makes the same money as Obama? Really? Are we serious? Whether you like the President’s policies or not, does anyone think that he is doing anywhere near as little as Beverly Hall? Or, conversely, that her job is as important as his?

Dr. John Trotter

February 10th, 2011
10:54 am

Talking about the President: I am now reading “Obama: From Promise to Power” by David Mendell. It’s great book about an amazing young man. Yes, he is still young. Whether you agree with him on politics or not, it is a great read about a young man who was determined to make something out of his life. And, no, neither Beverly Hall nor Alvin Wilbanks or any of these self-inflated superintendents should make as much money as the President of the United States and three or four times what the Governor of Georgia makes.

Now for those who are upset that I am singing the President’s praises, let me hasten to assure you that my oldest son gave me President George W. Bush’s new book for Christmas. This too is a great read, though autobiographical and a little more slanted toward the subject. I love reading about people’s lives. I voted for President Obama. I voted for George W. Bush twice and his father twice also. But, I have read many books on President Clinton and find him to be a very fascinating person. I actually met him in 1988 and had a small conversation with him, and I thought at the time how very charismatic and charming he was. I never voted for him, though. Hey, my first Presidential vote was cast for Richard M. Nixon in 1972! Ha! Then, in 1976, I too was a proud Georgian and voted for Jimmy Carter.

A little bit off the subject…

Dr. John Trotter

February 10th, 2011
10:59 am

Off to Shopping do Rio Sul for lunch and to do some work on “School Daze: John Trotter’s Politically Incorrect & Irreverent Explanation of What’s Wrong With Our Public Schools” in the giant food court. Tchau!

catlady

February 10th, 2011
11:20 am

How many of the bloggers have read the expose of Michelle Ree’s lies on the test scores she supposedly achieved, and wondered about others with similar claims?

Folks, when someone claims a miracle, unless it is truly a gift of the Lord, it is probably a lie. When will we stop looking for a savior among liars?

FBT

February 10th, 2011
11:34 am

@catlady- You are probably right about miracles. I would really would love to see one for our schools.

Top School

February 10th, 2011
12:05 pm

The APS / SACS / Stockholm syndrome is a term used to describe a paradoxical psychological phenomenon wherein hostages express adulation and have positive feelings towards their captors that appear irrational in light of the danger or risk endured by the victims, essentially mistaking a lack of abuse from their captors as an act of kindness.

http://www.TopPublicSchoolCorruptionAtlanta.com

Clayton resident

February 10th, 2011
12:11 pm

Clayton resident

February 10th, 2011
12:17 pm

Clayton resident

February 10th, 2011
12:18 pm

I find it interesting how much hopeful information is coming out now that APS accreditation is on the line (not really, SACS will never pull APS’ accreditation). Clayton residents were fed the notion that their kids were doomed if accrediation was lost, and very few media outlets tried to get at the truth. Instead most just trashed Clayton county and even had segements about the accreditation loss when there was nothing new to tell. Now it’s all about giving APS students & parents hope when nobody wanted to give Clayton’s students & parents the same courtesy, we were just written off.

I have definitely seen a double standard in the reporting on this issue, but still wouldn’t wish what happened in Clayton to anyone else.

Dennis C. Brown

February 10th, 2011
12:42 pm

My original comments quoted above by Maureen definitely with my permission, were not to suggest that SACS does not serve a valuable service to the community. Quite the contrary. If it is only for the axe hanging over the school and school systems that the accreditation process represents, my chairing of over 20 campus review committees has shown me that much is done in meeting the minimum standards represented that would not be done if it were not for the process. The SACS accreditation standards are not intended to grade schools, teachers, administrators, or even school boards. Those commenting on what it represents needs to read its mission and procedural statements. And for those attacking how much Mark Elgart as its president is paid, or the cost to the school and/or school system, those are hollow criticisms in my experienced view. Since he took over the helm tough decisions have been made, problems at schools and school systems that used to slide by have or are being addressed, and standards have been raised as a result. Those who have been involved on the short end of SACS actions either as paid employees of the school or school system, or as onlookers only concerned of the negative publicity received in the process, are simply being self-serving or ill-informed.

catlady

February 10th, 2011
2:11 pm

Ms. Downey, what happened with the Charlotte NC school system? Did they decide to tell SACS to take a flying leap, or did they decide to go along with its demands?

free

February 10th, 2011
2:52 pm

I find it interesting how much hopeful information is coming out now that APS accreditation is on the line (not really, SACS will never pull APS’ accreditation). Clayton residents were fed the notion that their kids were doomed if accrediation was lost, and very few media outlets tried to get at the truth. Instead most just trashed Clayton county and even had segements about the accreditation loss when there was nothing new to tell. Now it’s all about giving APS students & parents hope when nobody wanted to give Clayton’s students & parents the same courtesy, we were just written off.

I have definitely seen a double standard in the reporting on this issue, but still wouldn’t wish what happened in Clayton to anyone else.

**********************************************************************************

Exactly.

free

February 10th, 2011
3:02 pm

And for those attacking how much Mark Elgart as its president is paid, or the cost to the school and/or school system, those are hollow criticisms in my experienced view. Since he took over the helm tough decisions have been made, problems at schools and school systems that used to slide by have or are being addressed, and standards have been raised as a result.

**********************************************************

In Clayton, it was really about a few board members who refused to resign because they broke some rules that we’ve since found other counties breaking also, but NOBODY is going to touch those counties because they poop gold.

Meanwhile, students, who had nothing to do with this, had to go through the stress of being ridiculed, transferring to other high schools that didn’t want them in their senior year, parents had to incur costs of sending them to private schools or moving to other districts, home values plunged lower than they already were, etc. etc. etc.

So the tough decisions were made by the students and the parents. Academic standards have not changed because that was never an issue to begin with.

Now, after leaving Clayton devastated, Mark walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he can devour next.

Dr. John Trotter

February 10th, 2011
4:17 pm

Mark Elgart is a scared little bully, in my opinion. Today, I was reading about the Great Terror promulgated by Stalin in the Soviet Union in the late 1930s. Stalin was insecure and wished that he were Ethnic Russian instead of Ethnic Georgian. Perhaps this period is Mark the Terrible’s Reign of Terror at SACS. Ha!

Ole Guy

February 10th, 2011
4:59 pm

Just exactly where does the problem exist? Just as with any student, you take a bunch of courses. If you pass…well and good. If you don’t pass, you go on academic probation and, with continued failure to achieve acceptable overall gpa, you’re out. The kid has wasted both time and money. NEXT CASE.

Top School

February 10th, 2011
5:30 pm

You don’t need SACS accreditation if you know the right people…
It’s the Northside way of doing business…

Considering that this particular Northside APS elementary website states that their PTA could ” run Washington, DC “, it is no wonder the connected neighborhood can keep their powerful strong arm when negotiating unethical conduct of their principals to Atlanta Public School officials.

Should the Southside not enjoy the same benefit of corruption?

Beverly Hall, Kathy Augustine, and the APS comptroller will need the higher tax base and prominence of the Northside’s privileged to save their current positions. These APS high-ranking officials have been covering up the Northside secrets in exchange for political favors for years.

“We expect students to be accountable for their actions. At the very least, we expect educators to model that behavior.”

http://www.TopPublicSchoolCorruptionAtlanta.com

Top School

February 10th, 2011
5:37 pm

@ Catlady
I think it is SOME STRANGE school house VIRAL syndrome they are suffering from…they want to believe their leaders are NOT corrupt …even if all the facts point in that direction.

chillywilly

February 10th, 2011
6:55 pm

@Top School,

Why did APS move Cheryl Sarvis from Jackson Elementary to Adamsville & Lorraine Reich from Adamsville to Jackson? The two of them seems to be different as day and night. I remember Ms. Sarvis as a pleasant woman.

Top School

February 10th, 2011
7:28 pm

@ Chillywilly…
Reich explains her transfer on video tape…
most of it is not very truthful…but she justifies the transfer.

The truth is Reich had more money to manipulate while at Adamsville. Title 1 Money …

http://www.youtube.com/user/TopSchoolAtlanta#p/u/19/OGh5yTptR3U

When she arrived at JACKSON the Title 1 money was gone…That’s how she came up with the Reorganization Plan.

http://www.youtube.com/user/TopSchoolAtlanta#p/u/1/IwIljqwesMc

Reich and the Jackson Challenge Teacher , Betty Furst seemed to influence the transfer of Cheryl to Adamsville. stated in Reich’s testimony…
Some JACKSON parents and APS officials were not able to manipulate Cheryl’s ethics to do what they wanted. The parents want someone they can manipulate…BASICALLY, if the APS administrators could prop up a janitor or bus driver to lead the school they would as long as their leader is able to bend to their set of neighborhood rules. If the Jackson Principal can keep the northside parents off the downtown administrator’s backs…the APS system is happy to change whatever they need. Turn a blind eye to student addresses…move the child out of a teacher’s class if the parent is not happy…change grades, attendance…extra services…etc.

The same thing is going on with the Step Up Society and the Board…
A political cesspool.

Top School

February 10th, 2011
7:34 pm

Sarvis held many of the parents accountable.
Reich is easily manipulated and will do anything for the “buck” in Buckhead.