Archive for July, 2011

Floundering Peachtree Hope Charter in DeKalb could become an Ivy Prep campus

As I reported here a few weeks ago, strange events were occurring at Peachtree Hope Charter School, which fired its management company June 3, yet failed to disclose that critical fact when it sought local approval by the DeKalb school board.

(Along with management, Minnesota-based Sabis International Schools Network provided Peachtree Hope with its curriculum.)

Now, the school has missed vital deadlines to become a DeKalb charter school or a state charter school, leaving 600 kids in limbo.

Ivy Preparatory Academy may come to the rescue of some of those kids.

The successful all-girl charter school in Gwinnett is applying to the state to take over the Peachtree Hope site where it could realize its dream of boys and girls academies in DeKalb. The DeKalb board nixed the idea last week when Ivy Prep presented charter applications for two such schools. The review committee deemed the Ivy Prep applications incomplete and preliminary and cited several problems, most notably a lack …

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The real STEM crisis in education: “We lose 25,000 math and science teachers each year.”

Richard Ingersoll (UPenn)

Richard Ingersoll (UPenn)

At researcher Richard Ingersoll’s Ivy League university, there’s no undergraduate degree in education.

“Very few undergrads at Penn want to do it,” said the University of Pennsylvania professor of education and sociology who once taught at the University of Georgia. “Most want to do law, medicine, business, or veterinary school.”

A former high school teacher turned academic, Ingersoll has more than a passing interest in whether students choose teaching careers. He is one of the nation’s foremost experts on teacher turnover, and he fears that one-sided accountability measures drive good people out of the profession and deter promising candidates from entering it.

He cites the misinformation on the shortage of math and science teachers. In a given year, the United States produces four times as many new math and science teachers as leave the classroom due to retirements, Ingersoll said.

So, while he applauds President Obama’s plan to add …

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State releases AYP results: Fewer schools make it as bar was raised. Did your school?

Update: The AJC database on AYP is now up.

From DOE:

The Georgia Department of Education today released the initial Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) report, which is the formula used to determine if schools are meeting expectations under the federal No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). The final AYP report will be released in the fall and will include summer retest scores, summer graduates and appeals. Fewer Georgia schools made AYP this year due to the academic bar being raised in all four categories (Reading/Language Arts CRCT Grades 3-8, Math CRCT Grades 3-8, English/Language Arts Georgia High School Graduation Test, Math Georgia High School Graduation Test). The graduation rate that high schools must meet also increased this year to 85%.

The percentage of all schools making AYP in 2011 is 63.2%, compared to 71% in 2010. The percentage of schools falling into “Needs Improvement” (NI) status this year is 17.5%, compared to 15.4% last year. “We have many great schools in the state …

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Group wants to close loophole in Georgia’s private school scholarship tax credit law

The Southern Education Foundation — a organization founded in 1867 to improve educational excellence and equity in the South — released a report in June highly critical of the private student scholarship program enacted by our Legislature three years ago. Now, the SEF is proposing a change in the program to eliminate a loophole that it says allows students already in private schools to benefit rather than poor kids in failing public schools.

The Georgia General Assembly passed legislation in 2008 allowing individuals and corporations, within limits, to claim a dollar-for-dollar tax credit for collectively donating up to $50 million a year to student scholarship organizations, which funnel the money to private schools.

While supporters maintain that the program provides children of modest means a chance to attend private schools, critics counter that it diverts public tax money to a program that has little to no accountability to taxpayers and has sidestepped its stated …

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Do AYP transfers create solutions for kids or new problems for schools?

The state releases its list of schools today that made adequate yearly progress and those that didn’t, setting off a chain of transfers of students out of Needs Improvement schools to higher performing schools that met AYP, as mandated under the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

But many parents wonder about the wisdom and the timing of AYP status.

Here is a copy of a note that one parent sent to the state Department of Education about the late timing of this process:

I am very concerned about the timing of the release of even preliminary ESEA (AYP) results.

Please help me understand why it takes until late July for April test results to be made available. I understand that principals and districts must certify results, but these tasks should be of the highest priority. Georgia DOE deadlines should be tight and enforced.

School starts three weeks from today and parents still do not know how AYP status will impact their child. I am a DeKalb county resident (sigh!) and the …

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State releases End of Course Test results. Math still a challenge.

High school students in Georgia continue to grapple with the state’s more challenging math curriculum, according to End of Course Test results released this afternoon by the state Department of Education.

Passing rates improved on seven of the eight 2011 spring End-of-Course Tests, including Math II, a course combining algebra, geometry and statistics. But 45 percent of students who took the Math II test failed.

Thirty-nine percent of students failed the EOCT in Math I, a prerequisite to Math II that covers algebra, geometry and statistics.

This is the release from the state DOE on End of Course Test results.

The results of the Spring 2011 Georgia End of Course Tests (EOCT) show student improvement in seven of eight tests. In comparing the results to Spring 2010, students demonstrate significant improvement in Biology, Physical Science, and U.S. History. EOCT scores also improved for Ninth Grade Literature, American Literature, and Economics.

The percentage of students who …

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APS produces successful students. Here’s one of them.

I am editing an op-ed on APS success stories by Atlanta City Council member C.T. Martin, which mentions Booker T. Washington valedictorian Deonte Bridges. Deonte was the recipient of a million dollars in scholarship offers. Now at UGA, the remarkable young man took the $360,000 Gates Millennium Scholars Program, which will pay for his undergraduate and graduate education.

I recall reading an AJC story about Deonte that mentioned the popularity of a YouTube video of his valedictory speech. I must have been off my game last summer as I never posted the video here on the blog. So, I am making up for my error now.

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Memphis board delays start of school, telling city: Show us the money

School buses may not run next month in Memphis where the board voted to delay the start of school because of a funding crisis.  (AJC file)

School buses may not run next month in Memphis where the board voted to delay the start of school because of a funding crisis. (AJC file)

I received an email from an AJC reader this morning that I am sharing here. She wrote: I can’t find this in the AJC but I think it is important. Memphis City Schools met last night and announced because the city isn’t paying the school system what is owed, schools will not open on Aug. 8.  There will be another meeting Aug 2 – so this may be a bluff.

The Memphis story is on AJC.com.You can read it here.

For greater detail, I also went to the Memphis Commercial Appeal newspaper, which is reporting what sounds like a dangerous game of brinkmanship with the city’s schoolchildren in the middle.

Here is the Commercial Appeal’s account of what happened last night at the board meeting:

Classes for Memphis City Schools will not start this fall until the City Council deposits $55 million — the amount the city has budgeted for schools from tax …

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Should governor fire the entire APS school board and start fresh? AJC wants to know.

AJC Staff writer Nancy Badertscher is interested in talking to parents in the Atlanta Public Schools system who have an opinion on whether the governor should remove en masse the school board. Please contact her ASAP at nbadertscher@ajc.com.

(As we discussed here, one board member has resigned to take a job in New Jersey.)

I have been giving the blog a break on APS news, but there have been a few developments:

♦ In a letter that began arriving in mailboxes Friday, APS school chief Erroll Davis told the 178 employees implicated in the CRCT cheating probe that he will accept their resignations through Wednesday. Otherwise, they will be fired. Only two employees stepped down Monday.

♦The district is still paying more than $550,000 in combined annual salaries for four area superintendents relieved of their duties because of the scandal. Contracts for the four went into effect July 1 — four days before the state released its report detailing widespread cheating and …

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Pell Grants under fire: Welfare or way to boost college graduates?

On the issue of college affordability — which arose in an earlier blog this week — there is mounting concern over proposed congressional cuts to Pell Grants, the nation’s largest financial aid program for college students and the most costly. Pell Grants are expected to cost nearly $40 billion for next year.

Republicans in Congress want to slash the amount of the awards or the number of eligible recipients. The budget passed by the House cuts maximum grant by 45 percent and ousts about 1.5 million students from the eligibility rolls.

Advocates counter that Pell Grants are already failing to keep up with actual college costs. Thirty years ago, the maximum Pell award covered about three-fourths of the college costs. Now it covers only about one-third. The need-based grants — which are not repaid  –  help 10 million low-income students pay for college.  The amount awarded to a student each year is based on need and school costs, but is never more than $5,550, the current …

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