Improved performance for district run by DeKalb school chief finalist

Lorain city schools improved this year on the annual state of Ohio report card. That is relevant because the DeKalb County school board has chosen the superintendent there to lead its system. (Cheryl Atkinson comes here Saturday to meet parents.)

In an interview with the local paper on the about-to-be-released scorecard, Superintendent Cheryl Atkinson said, “We’re not perfect. But we’re a lot better.”

According to the Morning Journal:

While the report card will not officially be released until Wednesday, a preview showed the district passed four of 24 tested categories and improved scores in 18 of the 24 tested areas. “This officially moves us from academic watch to continuous improvement,” Atkinson said.

The report showed that Lorain High School had a graduation rate of 80.7 percent, after hitting 84.7 percent in 2010. Lorain High School and Admiral King Elementary were both rated as effective in the report.

For the past two years, the Lorain City Schools have been listed under Academic Watch on the state report card. The department rates districts across the state as excellent with distinction, excellent, effective, continuous improvement, academic watch and academic emergency.

The district also met one standard for the very first time. “This is the first year the district met the attendance record,” she said.

With the rise in attendance across the board, the test scores for grades three through 11 all went up for the most part.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

90 comments Add your comment

Dunwoody Mom

August 23rd, 2011
1:38 pm

I’m sorry, that is supposed to make me feel better about Dr. Atkinson’s choice for DCSS how? One high school vs 22 high schools?

Citizen

August 23rd, 2011
1:39 pm

This is great

Dunwoody Mom

August 23rd, 2011
1:41 pm

The graduation rate went down in 2011…..what is great about that?

Flabberghasted4sure

August 23rd, 2011
1:50 pm

I’m with Dunwoody Mom. Graduation rate went down and that is not a good thing. She has managed to get Lorain back up almost to where it was when she came as superintendent 4 years ago..and we’re to feel good about that? DeKalb can’t afford to go down any further before we start an upward trend. The students don’t have 4 more years to wait.

Matt Dickinson

August 23rd, 2011
1:50 pm

This is an immaterial improvement! We need a corporate type to come in and clean house!! This would include the Crawford Lewis cronies, Yes Ms. Tyson this does include you!!

Citizen

August 23rd, 2011
1:52 pm

Im sure they will be cleaned out!

oldtimer

August 23rd, 2011
1:54 pm

For the money..Dekalb should and could do better. They need to search further and wider!!

Here's One

August 23rd, 2011
1:57 pm

@Citizen – I hope you’re right. However, I spoke with an insider this morning and the take was this will be Johnny Brown all over again. For all of our children’s sake, I surely do hope not.

tim

August 23rd, 2011
2:00 pm

80% graduation rate? Are you proud of that Ms Atkinson? The dumb keeps getting dumber………..

The Dekalb school board keeps lowering the bar. Urban schooling at its worst south of I20.

Matt Dickinson

August 23rd, 2011
2:09 pm

Hire me as Superintendent! I am a corporate type! I would love give everyone pink slips in administration! Call the media!!

Lorain Father

August 23rd, 2011
2:19 pm

Really?

How hard is it to go up when you have reached the bottom?

She drove this district into the ground…it could have not gotten any worse. Now someone wants a “pat on the back” for bringing us up to the level we were when she got here?

Maureen is also beginning to drink the “koolaide”, which is a tremendous disservice to the children of Dekalb County.

How many times does it need to be said that the Lorain Morning Journal is in love with Atkinson and will never write a derogatory story regarding Atkinson nor will they compare where we were when she got here compared to where she took us to where we are today.

Evidently to her and the Dekalb BOE, that is all irrelevant.

Born Yesterday

August 23rd, 2011
3:01 pm

Dr. Atkinson inherited a district with 85 percent poverty; where 80 percent of kindergartners are unprepared; where one-third of the staff was laid off her first day on the job to overcome a $14 million deficit. It was in a district that didn’t have a human resources department; not even personnel files. She had to physically count heads to see who was employed in the district. Lorain was teetering on the brink and she helped lift it academically and administratively. No, she isn’t white, as some apparently would like. But she’s focused on academic achievement, not political gamesmanship.

Dunwoody Mom

August 23rd, 2011
3:03 pm

@Born Yesterday…nobody gives a flying crap what color she is – knock it off.

tim

August 23rd, 2011
3:05 pm

@bornyesterday….like I said, the dumb keep getting dumber.

Tonya C.

August 23rd, 2011
3:13 pm

Dunwoody Mom already said what I was thinking. If she struggle to make headway with ONE high school how in the Hades is she going to deal with 22, and many of those at the bottom of the barrel?

November 6, 2012

August 23rd, 2011
3:38 pm

You can skew statistics to say anything you want them to say……I say “Lets March” and lets “Stay there until the dysfunctional board resigns”. Now c’mon, lets get out there and “Kick some A**”……get fired up people!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Born Yesterday

August 23rd, 2011
3:46 pm

Dunwoody Mom, we all wish the world was that simple. But we live in Georgia, where race has always played a huge role in public education and continues to play a role in who we think is best suited to educate our children. The truth of the matter is that Dr. Atkinson is being raked over the coals in a way that Lillie Cox, from an even smaller district, was not. I’d love to think we’ve gotten past race, and I hope one day we will. But to do so, we’ll have to acknowledge our racial history and our place in it instead of pretending it doesn’t exist.

Dunwoody Mom

August 23rd, 2011
3:49 pm

@Born Yesterday…..stop, just please stop. #1 Lillie Cox was never coming to DCSS; #2 Most parents in DCSS were also against the choice of Lillie Cox.

Playing the race card is disingenuous, harmful, disrespectful and harmful to the children of this school district. Enough is enough with the race issue.

MamaH

August 23rd, 2011
3:53 pm

Could not have said it better myself. @bornyesterday apparently is clueless about DeKalb, it’s size and the issues it faces. This is going to take someone who will come in and clean house (yes, it will totally enrage some Board Members who got friends employed as favors) and with a one size does not fit all vision as each school and area has completely unique strengths and weaknesses. It is disturbing that the BoE chose to go with a candidate with such a weak resume (she jumped around alot) and that does not fit the obvious criteria set forth to ensure accreditation. Additionally, most of her accomplishments in Loraine were in programs that DeKalb already has in place and I don’t see much else that she brings to the table. To question the qualifications of a potential employee who will have a direct effect on thousands is not racist, it is being responsible.

Born Yesterday

August 23rd, 2011
4:11 pm

No one said it was “racist,” only that race factors into public discourse on education, on transit, on sprawl, on virtually every issue. For 98 percent of Georgia’s recorded history, race has been the barometer for who receives equal educational opportunity and who doesn’t. Race is the reason some parents are woefully unprepared to help their children academically, because their parents and their parents’ parents were denied equal educational opportunity by the state of Georgia. Race permeates the discussion. Race IS the discussion, particularly as it pertains to academic performance, because race in large part defines who achieves academically and who does not. The majority of white students fare quite well in DCSS and most other metro school systems, while a too-large share of blacks do not. It’s a consequence that springs directly from disparate educational opportunity spanning generations, and a culture that that history created. By denying race, we deny the real issue. By denying the real issue, we never resolve it.

Kanarstead

August 23rd, 2011
4:12 pm

“The truth of the matter is that Dr. Atkinson is being raked over the coals in a way that Lillie Cox, from an even smaller district, was not.”

BINGO!!!!! That wraps the situation up nicely. So obvious, a white person like me can see.

Dunwoody Mom

August 23rd, 2011
4:28 pm

Right….because the sabotaging of Lillie Cox by a certain board member was not “racial” right?

Bill & Ed's Excellent Adventure

August 23rd, 2011
4:32 pm

Bill here…Ed and I concur, Dr. Atkinson is a poor choice to lead such a large system. So, for a small sum in the neighborhood of $100,000, we will lead a new search to find a Dekalb superintendent. Act fast, as this offer will only last until we get to the contract phase, when we’ll up our fee to $200,000.

Dunwoody Mom

August 23rd, 2011
4:32 pm

Race IS the discussion, particularly as it pertains to academic performance, because race in large part defines who achieves academically and who does not

Well, that’s just a pile of hot crap.

Cere

August 23rd, 2011
4:37 pm

Time will tell. We all know which the administrators need replaced. I’m certain that everyone with an email address in DeKalb will send Dr. Atkinson their opinion of what needs to happen. Ms. Tyson has tried to make changes, but Tom Bowen and the board have completely tied her hands. I pray they don’t do this to Atkinson too. They have been able to buy over 500 more days of high level employment for some who have no business in their job. IF Atkinson is able to derail the gravy train and put the money where the KIDS are, then I’ll be impressed. However, we all saw what happened to Johnny Brown – and the current board, led by Bowen, is even more adamant about maintaining the status quo. This is obvious – otherwise, they would have allowed Tyson to clear the path for Atkinson. But since Atkinson is not from a large district and does not appear to have access to high performing administrators, I don’t hold out much hope that she will be able to get this job done. Like I said, “We’ll see.” In the meantime, hunker down and work hard to protect your children and your schools from having any more money taken from them and “reallocated” to coaches, programs, administrators and lawyers.

Sick of Dekalb

August 23rd, 2011
4:43 pm

No more Friends and Family!!!!!
No more step shows at the school!!!!!!
No more using New Birth for H.R. recruitment!!!!!

Anonmom

August 23rd, 2011
4:53 pm

In her defense — slow and steady is probably better than what we’ve seen in APS and what’s coming to light in DC… The real Georgia graduation rate is around 50% so 80% is actually pretty impressive if that’s a real number (no one around here really tracks how many kids start as freshmen in high school and what happens to them.. this is about to change and you will be shocked at how poor our real graduation rates really are).

Dunwoody Mom

August 23rd, 2011
4:55 pm

@Anonmom….the graduation rate DROPPED from 84 to 80 for ONE high school. And we won’t really know what the scores are until the report is released tomorrrow. For some reason people are running with a PR release as if it is a fact. Does anyone believe the PR releases that come out of DCSS?

From Good Mother

August 23rd, 2011
4:58 pm

For $275,000 plus perks we can do better than Atkinson. MUCH better. Sheesh, the president of the United States earns $400,000 a year. That’s close.

There has to be a candidate better than Atkinson.

Maureen Downey

August 23rd, 2011
4:59 pm

@Dunwoody I linked to the local newspaper story on the Lorain report card, but I know that some people don’t like the paper because they perceive it backs Dr. Atkinson without question. I doubt it would distort the report card results. Districts typically get their scores prior to the general release so I would bet the local paper looked at what was sent to Lorain schools.
Maureen

Dunwoody Mom

August 23rd, 2011
5:04 pm

We’ll see…..

Dekalbite

August 23rd, 2011
5:07 pm

“Ms. Tyson has tried to make changes, but Tom Bowen and the board have completely tied her hands.”

Ms. Tyson is in charge of hiring and firing in DCSS. How has the BOE tied her hands? If they are telling her how to run the school system, that is a SACS violation pure and simple. She has an obligation to the taxpayers to report them to SACS if they are not in compliance. Ms. Tyson should not have accepted this job and asked for that huge raise if she is not going to follow SACS guidelines and report anyone on the BOE who tries to perform her responsibilities.

Lorainite1

August 23rd, 2011
5:11 pm

I seriously thought I was in Lorain Ohio reading the Morning Journal. They write bogus articles just like this one. My God you must be her sister paper. Will you write about her when she’s in stripes and being led out of your district in handcuffs? Get use to it Dekalb. Your paper is under her evil spell.

Dunwoody Mom

August 23rd, 2011
5:12 pm

Yes, Cere, many of us are aware that certain members of the Board tied Ms. Tyson’s hands. So, why would we believe that they would change now and allow Dr. Atkinson free reign to make the needed changes. They won’t. I’ll bet you a steak dinner that in a year from now, nothing, I mean, nothing will have changed with DCSS.

amazed

August 23rd, 2011
5:13 pm

Maureen thinks its silly that people complain about typos in Atkinson’s thesis and resume. The thesis is the most important paper in her college years. The resume is what she puts out to show herself to the world. She is an educator. If it was a single letter she wrote that would be one thing, but these are documents she should review carefully (note-I haven’t seen the errors and am not saying they exist or don’t exist, but if they do, its relevant).

Of course, On more than one occassion I’ve found articles in the AJC that refer to another page, but the rest of the article wasn’t put in the paper. So from a sloppy paper like the AJC, its not surprising they think typos and such things aren’t important. I would hope that our educators would disagree.

Maureen Downey

August 23rd, 2011
5:17 pm

@Lorainite1, Not sure what is bogus – either the city schools got those ratings or not. It is not a matter of opinion or slant to report on the system’s report card as rated by the state of Ohio. Whether someone likes the school chief or not, the report card is what it is.
Maureen

Business as Usual

August 23rd, 2011
5:30 pm

@Dekalbite

The BOE didn’t want Tyson to make major changes while she was interim. She was the “stabilizing force”, remember? She was only supposed to be in office for a short time, so for her to come in and clean house wasn’t a job requirement, nor was it an option. When it was apparent that the BOE was flailing and couldn’t (a) find a candidate and (b) keep a candidate, they were more concerned with the status quo and keeping down the drama than they were with actually allowing her to make the decisions she needed to that would allow the district to move forward.

The BOE is very hands-on and involved in day-to-day operations (just ask Jester’s region). They need to be reigned in, but how is their employee (the superintendent) to go about doing that? SACS needs to come in, but they’re much more concerned with the other districts in the Metro Area than with us. Let’s all pray that Dr. Atkinson will be allowed to DO her job, without BOE interference.

Janine

August 23rd, 2011
6:06 pm

You are looking for MIRACLES. It just “ain’t” gonna happen. Not there, not here, not anywhere that 10,000 to 100,000 students are involved. In one small school, great moves forward are possible. An entire district in which there are hundreds of schools, not a chance.

Dunwoody Mom

August 23rd, 2011
6:10 pm

Well, Janine, I do believe in Miracles….

Dunwoody Mom

August 23rd, 2011
6:11 pm

I just have my concerns that Dr. Atkinson can bring about those miracles. I hope she can, because the only losers will be the children of DCSS.

Abandon hope all ye who enter here

August 23rd, 2011
6:12 pm

The best thing that we can do is to pack into the AIC on Saturday and voice our concerns. I doubt anyone can stop this train wreck. At least Dr. Atkinson would understand that she is not wanted by the majority of parents and other sane people. The BoE WILL appoint Dr. Atkinson as superintendent. One of my colleagues joked that she should enter to Ludacris’ song,”How Low Can You Go?” Does she have school aged children? If she does, it will be interesting to see where they are enrolled for school. Perhaps this appointment will be the impetus that motivates people to go to the poll and vote out the deadweights on the board.

Atlanta Media Guy

August 23rd, 2011
6:14 pm

It should be fun to watch. Dr. Atkinson, in her first two years, will face a trial of the former Super and COO, another SPLOST vote, an election of a new 7 member BOE, SACS review and various other lawsuits currently pending. Will the BOE allow her to do the dirty work of changing the staff.

Ernest

August 23rd, 2011
6:44 pm

“There is so much more to a school’s and a child’s progress than one test score at a single point in time.”

State School Superintendent John Barge made this statement and there is truth to it. It bears repeating, I question whether DeKalb could find a candidate that from a similar size school system with similar demographics that has a track record of making AYP, has interest in our school system for the compensation being offered and can get a majority vote from our Board members. You look for someone that has experience in a large school system that has sat in the superintendent’s chair at another school system and has had measureable academic growth during their tenure. You also look for someone that has dealt with challenging issues such as administrative restructuring, layoffs, and school closings to name a few. I am satisfied the Dr. Atkinson meets this criteria.

Born Yesterday shared the following:

It was in a district that didn’t have a human resources department; not even personnel files. She had to physically count heads to see who was employed in the district. Lorain was teetering on the brink and she helped lift it academically and administratively.

I’ve heard this also from several sources. It should be something that can be validated. Given the resources she should have at her disposal here, she can focus on the most important aspect of a superintendent’s job, educating children. She will need to have the ability to put the people she wants in key postions. She will also need time to evaluate the staff and make determinations as to who can provide value and be a part of the team for improving test scores.

We may see fewer schools make AYP during the next school year due to cut scores being raised. that expectation needs to be set with the community. We need to look at as many scores as possible for all grades to determine if there has been academic growth, for all students. Just because a 1st grader is reading at a 4th grade level, my expectations for their growth should not be capped or lowered. Overall growth may be less than the cut score but it is still showing progress.

Dunwoody Mom

August 23rd, 2011
6:52 pm

At least Dr. Atkinson would understand that she is not wanted by the majority of parents and other sane people

No, that’s not the reason we should be at the AIC on Saturday. We should be respectful to Dr. Atkinson and listen to her views and answers to the questions put forth to her. The Board of Education are the people who should feel uncomfortable – uncomfortable about how this whole Superintendent search was handled. If Dr. Atkinson fails – it is on every board member that voted for her.

Lorainite1

August 23rd, 2011
7:39 pm

The report hasn’t been released Maureen and all you did was copied and pasted the trash in the Journal.

Maureen Downey

August 23rd, 2011
7:55 pm

@Lorainite, Actually, I shared part of it and linked to the news story, which is what I always do when citing stories in other newspapers. And as I said, these reports are released to the districts first, and we here in Georgia often report results that the districts receive prior to the official release. In addition, I have no reason to believe that the paper in Lorain would fabricate report results despite your clear disdain for the paper. We can resume this discussion tomorrow after the official release of the report card — I will bet that it will be exactly the results reported today in your newspaper.
Maureen

Anonmom

August 23rd, 2011
8:02 pm

I believe that the DeKalb BOE led Ms. Tyson on in a way to tie her hands into hiring Beasley and then into not firing him and others. They had her beliving that it was only temporary and that they were actively looking for a new superintendent. As she “cooperated” by not firing those who needed to be fired because the new superintendent, who was going to be in place imminently was going to bring on their own staff, those who wanted to maintain the “friends and family” plan got what they wanted — the status quo. Ms. Tyson unwittingly played into their hands by beliving “it was only for a few months, because she was just the interim.” Had she been given the interim position for 18 months and given authority to run the system — rather than given it 2 or 3 months at a time — things would have been different. But, if the BOE wanted it to be different, they would have gone out, like APS did, and found a turn around superintendent — but they didn’t. Now, they’ve gone and hired someone who doesn’t even seem to have staff to bring with her and Ms. Tyson may still not be able to remove those who need to go….. the status quo may still prevail (because that is what the majority of the BOE will do everything in their power to maintain).

Lorainite1

August 23rd, 2011
8:10 pm

The district has been in Academic Watch for 3 years. Did you not verify the story before you copied and pasted it? Yes they do fabricate, all the time. I read it every day I am constantly reporting their discrepancies to their parent company. 2007-2008 academic watch, 2008-2009- academic watch, 2009-2010 academic watch. That’s 3 years not two. Do your research. She took the District in Continuous Improvement in 06-07 and every year for the last three years it has steadily worsened. Only one state benchmark last year. And I can assure you, probably none of what she said she did. But she will be the first in line to pat her own back. I hope your district picks her. I’m going to be watching to see how it all works out and what side of the issues you’ll be on. She’s used to being unpopular here. She’ll get use to it there.

justbrowsing

August 23rd, 2011
8:20 pm

Perhaps I will make some angry. But I agree that race is a factor, as well as neglect. At no point in history have African American children had the benefits of access to professional Black adults like they do today. Somewhere, it must be acknowledged, that a false sense of entitlement has led many of our children, and parents, up a garden path. While policy has changed, not must else has. Until our students start to pull themselves up by their boot straps, with parental assistance at the helm, nothing will ever change, and diminishing the achievement gap will never be realized on a large scale.
You can not achieve if you are not willing to put in the work- it WILL catch up to you- sooner or later.

Still Waiting for Superman

August 23rd, 2011
8:51 pm

The status quo will prevail unless Dr. Atkinson has the will and guts to stand up to the puppet master (Mr. Bowen) and his fellow puppeteers. I don’t see that happening. She is already beholden to the Board because of the “sweet deal” that is being offered. Whatever happened to receiving a salary commensurate with your previous work experience?? Dunwoody Mom is correct: in another year, nothing will have changed. As a matter of fact, based on the information we have and looking ahead, we could reasonably conclude that matters will become worse.