Archive for July, 2011

Sticker shock over college costs from HOPE cuts? AJC wants to hear about it.

As Georgia posts college bills, many families are stunned at the increases from the reductions in HOPE. (AP Images)

As Georgia posts college bills, many families are stunned at the increases from the reductions in HOPE. (AP Images)

As Georgia families receive their college bills for Georgia public universities, many of them are reporting dismay  over the higher-than-expected totals as a result of the reductions in the HOPE Scholarship and the big jump in special fees and other costs, which we discussed here recently.

One parent wrote:

I know there are probably more pressing educational topics with the APS mess, but I wanted to let you know that the UGA Bursar’s  department has posted their fees for the fall. We owe $1,095 per child per semester WITH the Zell Miller Scholarship compared to $248 per semester, per child last year.

I have one on Fixed for Four (Class of 2012) and one not (Class of 2013). Tuition for the older is $2428; the younger is $3641, luckily covered by Zell Miller Scholarship. However, the institutional fee went up to $450. I don’t remember reading about that. Good …

Continue reading Sticker shock over college costs from HOPE cuts? AJC wants to hear about it. »

The charter school battle shifts to suburbs and pits neighbor against neighbor

A question that we’ve been debating here on the AJC Get Schooled blog is whether charter schools have a place in high-performing districts, such as Cherokee. This debate is not limited to Georgia, but is erupting nationwide as a reform movement originally cast as a way to help students trapped in failing schools expands to communities with successful public schools.

In this broader application, the charter movement is no longer about an escape route for poor children but about greater choice for all students.

But some parents in wealthy suburbs maintain that these “boutique” charters divert vital funds from schools that are more than meeting the needs of the community. They contend that there’s no rationale for a charter school when the local education is high quality.

But the parents who want their children to learn Chinese in kindergarten counter that they deserve more public options, and that even excellent schools may not be serving every child well. Such differences …

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New study finds bonus pay “had no positive effects on student achievement at any grade level”

A new RAND study released today of a school bonus programs in New York found that teacher incentive pay did not lead to improved student performance.

This study resembles one released 10 months ago by the National Center on Performance Incentives at Vanderbilt University. In that study, researchers reviewed test scores of 300 middle school math teachers who agreed to participate in a three-year randomized experiment testing the belief that teachers will work harder and produce greater student gains if they are rewarded for it. The study found that bonus pay did not improve student outcomes.

The RAND findings that financial incentives for teachers in New York also failed to improve student achievement will likely fuel the growing resistance to Race to the Top, which encourages pay for performance programs.

These studies contradict the assumption that dangling rewards will make teachers strive to advance their students. One suggestion why performance pay doesn’t produce …

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How can you spend $22 million on science education and not pass CRCT science test?

An AJC news story on the support the Atlanta business community gave to APS school chief Beverly Hall cites a $22 million donation for science education to the district from the General Electric Foundation.

After seeing that amount, a teacher from a different system sent me this note, which I think is worth discussing here:

Is there a way you can learn more about the General Electric Foundation donation of $22 million given to APS, such as what the money was used for or how it was appropriated?

As a 7th grade science teacher in a district that has not had new science materials/textbooks in over 10 years, this amount given for “science education” is unfathomable to me. I am extremely proud of my students’ CRCT scores by the way, but it seems like having that amount of money to spend in science classrooms should have yielded amazing experiences for the students.

Or to put it more bluntly, how can you spend $22 million and not be able to pass a science CRCT test?

APS was …

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Are kids getting the college education they’re paying for? And is tenure a problem?

I wasn’t surprised to see my niece’s graduate school or my son’s undergraduate college on recent lists of most expensive U.S. campuses. A single year at both cost nearly as much as my first condo in Atlanta. However, I’ve been surprised how little students sometimes get for all that money.

At my son’s private college, popular and required classes fill so quickly that there are practically rugby scrums to elbow your way into them. He spends his first week of the semester racing to filled classes to see if a student has failed to show and the professor will grant him a seat.

My niece loves most of her academic classes at grad school, but found that some living legends of her department are only there because of reputation rather than teaching skills and put in minimal effort or appearances.

“Ultimately, the faculty are really what makes a school,” says Naomi Schaefer Riley, author of “The Faculty Lounges and Other Reasons Why You Won’t Get the College …

Continue reading Are kids getting the college education they’re paying for? And is tenure a problem? »

Mass firings at APS. Will the system be in court forever?

The AJC reported today that APS school chief Erroll Davis sent letters to all 178 employees implicated in the CRCT cheating scandal, telling them: Resign next week or face termination.

According to the story:

The letter follows several high-profile staffing changes by Davis this week. They included the resignation of APS human resources chief Millicent Few. Davis also replaced four area superintendents implicated in the scandal, which erupted July 5 with the release of a searing state report.

In the letter, which began arriving in mailboxes Friday, Davis said the district will accept resignations Monday through Wednesday.

The district will start termination proceedings afterward against those who decide to stay on or fight for their jobs.The firing process, presuming at least some employees refuse to step down, will take months, something Davis has already acknowledged. Employees have contractual and legal rights to due process.

On that note, I received this e-mail …

Continue reading Mass firings at APS. Will the system be in court forever? »

Can’t fix APS without fixing “dysfunctional education policy.”

Over the last few days, academics have begun to weigh in on the APS cheating scandal. In this essay, a UGA education professor says high-stakes testing accountability measures will not improve education, and, in fact, will actually undermine education.

(I haven’t received any pieces yet in defense of the testing focus in our schools, but will share any that I might receive.)

The essay is from William Wraga, a professor in the program in educational administration and policy at the College of Education, University of Georgia.

By William G. Wraga

The actions of administrators and teachers in the Atlanta Public Schools who altered student test answer sheets are indefensible. The reported “culture of fear, intimidation, and retaliation” that gripped the APS is appalling and counterproductive.

Both were responses to the accountability regime mandated in the federal No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, which imposes on schools statistically unreasonable, if not unfeasible, test …

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Speaking of charters, DeKalb nixes several this week

Speaking of charter schools, I caught part of the DeKalb Board of Education meeting earlier this week where the board rejected applications from Ivy Preparatory Academy to open girls and boys schools in the county.

The review committee deemed the applications incomplete and preliminary and cited several problems, most notably a lack of definite sites or facilities for the new schools. The applicant hoped to open in southwest DeKalb, but had no real specifics, according to the Nicole Knighten, interim director, Governmental Relations/Special Projects for the district.

Ivy Prep operates an all-girl charter school in Gwinnett that now enrolls DeKalb residents. “We need to bring our children home, if we can,” said DeKalb board member Sarah Copelin Wood. “It seems economical and expeditious to being these children home from Gwinnett, if possible.”

In addition, the board delayed action on Peachtree Hope Charter, leading to fears that the 600-student facility on Memorial Drive …

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Gov. Deal will fund charters with new revenue or cuts to spending

The governor’s deputy chief of staff for policy says that his bailout of charter schools reflects his deep commitment to charters, and the money will come from either additional revenues that the state may generate or from cutting programs.

The money issues will be thrashed out in the amended budget, but the state will advance the funds for the seven schools to the Department of Education this summer, said Erin Hames.

Hames says her boss Nathan Deal felt he had no choice as these schools were facing either operating at half their budgeted amounts or closing their doors altogether. She said the schools had extended contracts and registered students and faced fixed costs that they had to pay to open their doors.

“This had to be a quick decision,” she said. “We had schools that were meeting tomorrow to decide whether they were going to close their doors.”

The state announced today that it plans to make up the difference in costs for the charter schools stranded by the state …

Continue reading Gov. Deal will fund charters with new revenue or cuts to spending »

Breaking news: State will kick in extra bucks to support charter schools stranded by Supreme Court ruling

UPDATE at 4:55. The governor’s office says now Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy Erin Hames will call me about this. I will post her comments shortly after we talk.  (I wrote up a separate post on her comments. See them here.)

UPDATED at 4:39 p.m. with info from governor’s office and release from one of the affected schools:

After all the angst, the state now plans to make up the difference in costs for the charter schools affected by the state Supreme Court ruling that the state Charter Schools Commission was illegal.

A rescue line has been thrown to Odyssey School in Newnan, Atlanta Heights Charter in Atlanta, Charter Conservatory for Liberal Arts and Technology in Statesboro, Cherokee Charter Academy in Canton, Coweta Charter Academy in Senoia, Fulton Leadership Academy in south Fulton County, Heritage Preparatory Academy in Atlanta and Pataula Charter Academy in Edison. (Not getting state funding are the two commission schools that already won local approval, Museum …

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