If you need improvement now, you are a priority school under Georgia’s new, kinder accountability rankings

The state’s newly sanctioned accountability system is coming into public view with the release of 78 “priority” schools that are under performing and will see a concerted effort to improve.

Apparently, putting a school in the “priority” category has a less offensive ring than putting it in “needs improvement,” the discarded parlance from No Child Left Behind. The other new categories in Georgia are “focus” schools and “reward” schools.  The reward designation goes to high-achieving schools.

When you look at the priority list, there are a large number of  alternative high schools, which are designed to serve troubled students or kids who have not been doing well.

There are 14 schools in the Atlanta Public Schools, 10 in DeKalb County, three in Gwinnett (Meadowcreek High School and Gwinnett InterVention Education Center East and West) and one each in Cobb (Devereux Ackerman Academy)  and Fulton (McClaren Alternative School). Schools are placed on the list because of low graduation rates and test scores.

The DeKalb list includes DeKalb/Rockdale PsychoEducation Center, DeKalb Alternative School, DeKalb Transition School, International Student Center, Indian Creek and Toney elementaries and Towers, McNair, Elizabeth Andrews and Clarkston high schools.

The APS list includes several of the small themed schools within Booker  T. Washington and Therrell, Jackson, Douglass and Crim high schools, South Atlanta School of Health and Medical Science, Hillside Conant School, School of Technology and School of Health Science and Research at Carver, APS-Forrest Hills Academy and South Atlanta School of Animation and Design.

According to the AJC:

Schools will carry the priority designation for three years and will be offered state assistance for the duration of that time period. They will be able to have the designation removed early, but the department has not yet finalized the targets schools will have to hit to get off the list.

Priority schools is one of three new designations that will be used in Georgia and other states that requested and were granted a waiver from the federal No Child Left Behind school accountability system.

In its application for a waiver from NCLB mandates, Georgia promised that it would offer a fourth designation, “alert schools,” so the state could focus on struggling schools that do not have a high percentage of low-income students. The other three designations all focus on so-called “Title I” schools that do have a high percentage of low-income students.

The state Department of Education is still setting up the accountability system it will use instead of the one mandated by NCLB. It won’t have focus or alert designations until this spring, and it won’t have reward designations ready until this fall.

Districts with priority schools must submit an effectiveness plan to the state identifying areas of need. The state will then designate a specialist to monitor the implementation of that plan. State officials also will meet with district officials, review data and go over specific areas of need. Professional learning and support will be provided.

APS said it will continue offering its own assistance to schools that are struggling. “APS has traditionally allocated additional resources in terms of targeted instruction and curriculum to improve the academic performance of this category of schools, and that emphasis continues under the current administration,” said Keith Bromery, the district’s director of media relations.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

94 comments Add your comment

Dunwoody Mom

March 14th, 2012
9:16 am

The GADOE has a good chart that outlines the new categories:

http://www.gadoe.org/Lists/GaDOE%20Press%20Releases/Attachments/19/Waiver%20for%20ESEA%20Requirements%2002.08.12.docx

With all of the emphasis on Title 1 schools, what about those non-Title 1 Schools that have struggling “subgroups”? Will they receive assistance or be left alone on their own to try and assist these students, as is currently the case?

Dr. Craig Spinks/ Georgians for Educational Excellence

March 14th, 2012
9:21 am

How might I obtain the listing of these 78 priority schools?

HS Public Teacher

March 14th, 2012
9:21 am

Is there a “priority” parent list?

Just askin’….

Tonya C.

March 14th, 2012
9:23 am

The ones in Gwinnett are a joke. GIVE East and West are alternative schools. The chances of substantial progression for those students is slim-to-none. These are kids who have already been kicked out of ‘regular’ school. This, at least to me, is pouring good money after bad.

As for Meadowcreek…bless their hearts. The makeup of that school (high illegal immigrant and transient population) dooms them more than anything. There are some great teachers and students there, but it is well known amongst those who reside in Gwinnet what the deal is there. I am glad they will be getting extra help because it just might do the job.

Maureen Downey

March 14th, 2012
9:23 am

Dr. Spinks, Just forwarded the list to you.
Maureen

Tonya C.

March 14th, 2012
9:24 am

Dr. Craig Spinks:

They are listed at the end of the article regarding the list.

Lowndes Teacher

March 14th, 2012
9:25 am

I’ve been looking for the complete list and cannot find it. Does anybody have the link?

Don C. Fortson

March 14th, 2012
9:27 am

Is it possible that I could receive a copy of the full list of schools??

Maureen Downey

March 14th, 2012
9:29 am

@Tonya, I am at Meadowcreek one evening a week for my daughter’s volleyball practice and am always impressed with the students I meet. (I sit in the lobby for nearly three hours so I often chat with students waiting there to be picked up by their parents.) I also am impressed with the kids I see practicing music in the performing arts wing. There is always some activity in the school including basketball games, and the students are well behaved. And I can assure you that the school is well kept. The maintenance crew is incredibly hard working. It’s a great little school to hang out at for three hours.
Maureen

Maureen Downey

March 14th, 2012
9:31 am

@Don, Check your email. Just sent it.
Maureen

Maureen Downey

March 14th, 2012
9:32 am

@Lowndes,
Just sent it to you.
Maureen

This SOunds Positive

March 14th, 2012
9:35 am

This sounds positive and I praise it “Districts with priority schools must submit an effectiveness plan to the state identifying areas of need. The state will then designate a specialist to monitor the implementation of that plan. State officials also will meet with district officials, review data and go over specific areas of need. Professional learning and support will be provided.”

Failing schools need attention and support. I applaud the plan and the focus on giving these kids what they need to know to succeed.
Good Mother

Tonya C.

March 14th, 2012
9:37 am

Maureen:

I said nothing about upkeep. I am referring to academic achievement and behavior issues (most notably gangs). I have friends who have attended there who said the same thing. A few hours at a school during non-school hours isn’t much to go on.

Always Parent Bashing by Teachers

March 14th, 2012
9:38 am

No matter what the subject on Get Schooled. No matter what the topic or the discussion, some teachers will simply always bash parents. It makes we parents wonder why some teachers don’t just get out of the classroom and do some other line of work because they are so unhappy:

HS Teacher writes “Is there a “priority” parent list? Just askin’….”

GM

36 Years in Education

March 14th, 2012
9:41 am

Maureen, Could you please send me the complete list? I’ve been looking everywhere for it. Thank you for helping all of us help our children.

Tonya C makes a good Point

March 14th, 2012
9:43 am

Tonya C makes a good point about observing a school during non-school hours. She says “A few hours at a school during non-school hours isn’t much to go on.”

It is a known fact that those students who are involved in school are much more likely to have higher grades and better behavior. So, I understand why Maureen might get the impression that a school is good and polite when she is there after-hours for a volleyball game. To participate in sports, one must maintain a decent grade average. To participate in sports, one must have involved parents. To participate in girl’s sports, one must be a girl.
So, Maureen witnessed better students, better behavd students and GIRL students behaving well after school at a volleyball game. Well, of course. Those students are very likely to be some of the best and brightest the school has to offer.
One might get a different impression if one was completely invisible and watching what goes on during the day inside the hallways between classes and inside the student bathrooms by boys.
GM

Maureen Downey

March 14th, 2012
9:50 am

@Tonya, I agree for the most part, but I can tell you that there is something to learn from a school that is buzzing after classes end, where kids are participating in after-school activities, where teachers are holding practices, where parents are coming in for classes, where the parking lot is patrolled so visitors feel safe to park and where the cleaning crew is polishing the halls to a shine. I often see the principal there at night.
Those are all signs of a school where people care.
Maureen

Ron F.

March 14th, 2012
9:52 am

If this is done right, with folks coming from the state who are truly dedicated to honestly looking at numbers and specific strategies for student growth, then let’s do it. I know of a couple of schools who have school improvement specialists already, and it has helped them a lot. It takes time, but this plan sounds much more dedicated to not just stamping a label on schools and then turning away. I wonder how long before the legislature cuts funding for it so they can devote that money to the state charter commission.

Ron F.

March 14th, 2012
9:56 am

From my experience, even a so-called “bad” school can and should offer the after-school, enriching experiences for its kids who qualify. Believe it or not, some of the kids with the worst reputations will try to control themselves when they get interested in a sport or a club. With the diversity at Meadowcreek, I’m sure if you visited intermittently, you might see all sorts of behavior. But I also know that if the administration is involved and you keep a place looking good, it does have at least a small impact on student behavior. You can’t fix them all, but you can’t let the less desirable part of a school population determine the total climate, nor can you fairly judge a school by the negative parts of its population.

Tonya C.

March 14th, 2012
10:02 am

Maureen:

Here’s a tip: that pretty much describes any high school in Gwinnett. No offense, but your base of knowledge on Gwinnett schools seems fairly narrow. Meadowcreek is a Community School, so the after hours buzz is the norm. Again, I hope the best for them. As I stated in my original post, the fact is their achievement stats and behavior issues are well-known in the Gwinnett community. If not the case, they wouldn’t be the ONLY Gwinnett high school on this list. Theory vs. reality here.

I didn’t say they couldn’t improve or the school was horrible. But they face issues most other schools in the county do not, and do he best job they can in the situation. I hope this money helps them improve their status and record with the community.

36 Years in Education

March 14th, 2012
10:02 am

Where can you find the complete list of priority schools?

Maureen Downey

March 14th, 2012
10:04 am

@36 years, If that is your correct email, I will forward it.
Maureen

36 Years in Education

March 14th, 2012
10:09 am

Yes, it is my correct e-mail.

Maureen Downey

March 14th, 2012
10:11 am

@36,
You should have it.
Maureen

Concerned HS Teacher

March 14th, 2012
10:14 am

@Maureen, I think the AJC needs to do a little more investigating about some of the schools on this list. There are two schools that I know of on the list that have only been established since 2009. They have never had a senior class for graduation data. This is their third year of existence and they have not taken the Georgia H.S. Graduation test yet. The qualifications state that schools can be identified based on “a lack of progress on achievement over 3 years”. This is their 3rd year!

So my question is how are they considered “priority” if they haven’t had the three years of test data? Sounds fishy.

Maureen Downey

March 14th, 2012
10:17 am

@concerned, Which schools? It may be that the scores alone at these schools without graduation data were low enough to trigger the “priority” label.
Maureen

Dunwoody Mom

March 14th, 2012
10:18 am

@Concerned, I believe one of the determinations of a Priority School is a 2-year graduation rate of less than 60%.

Aisha

March 14th, 2012
10:19 am

The question is will my daughter who is just starting High school in the fall at a school that has been failing as long as NCLB has been around (well in reality it has been failing longer). This is a school where one of the TEACHERS offered to let me use there address saying “your kids will be eaten alive at Osborne”. So does this mean my daughter will not get a transfer out of this hell hole where cobb county intentionall dumps all its poorest neighborhoods. Back to homeschooling I guess.

Concerned HS Teacher

March 14th, 2012
10:27 am

@Maureen but if they haven’t had data for 3 years, how is that a trigger?

meme's mommy

March 14th, 2012
10:28 am

@maureen- would you send the list to me as well? i want to see what the rest of the state looks like. thx!

Maureen Downey

March 14th, 2012
10:29 am

@meme, Just sent.
Maureen

Maureen Downey

March 14th, 2012
10:31 am

@concerned, Sent your question earlier to DOE and will print response when I get it.
Maureen

More Teacher Lying and Cheating

March 14th, 2012
10:35 am

Aisha admits her child’s teacher is scheming to lie for her “This is a school where one of the TEACHERS offered to let me use there address saying “your kids will be eaten alive at Osborne”. ”
This is exactly why Grady is overcrowded. If we had only those zoned for Grady going to Grady, the school wouldn’t be overcrowded. The worst part about this is the TEACHER, after having heard all the news about the cheating scandal, is still planning to cheat. Bold lying by teachers is disgusting.
GM

Sandra

March 14th, 2012
10:35 am

Please forward me a copy. I’d like to share it with parents in my area

[...] Get Schooled. About the author [...]

Tonya C.

March 14th, 2012
11:00 am

The list is now on the GA DOE website. Under the 3/14/12 Priority Schools press release on the right-hand side. Scroll to the bottom of the release and it is in PDF format.

http://www.doe.k12.ga.us/Pages/Home.aspx

Concerned HS Teacher

March 14th, 2012
11:03 am

@ Maureen Thanks! I really would like to know!

Maureen Downey

March 14th, 2012
11:07 am

@concerned. From DOE:

Below are definitions per your reader question. Do you want an answer in reference to the specific schools your reader indicated? If so we will need the school names. If not below should help. Let me know if you need more. Thanks.

PRIORITY SCHOOLS

Definition:

• A Tier I or Tier II school under the School Improvement Grants (SIG) program that is using SIG funds (1003 (g)) to implement a school intervention model;

• A Title I-participating high school with a graduation rate less than 60 percent over two years; or

• A Title I school in the State based on the lowest achievement of the “all students” group in terms of proficiency on the statewide assessments and has demonstrated a lack of progress on those assessments over three years in the “all students” group.

SIG Schools Definition

State Fiscal Stabilization Fund and School Improvement Grant 1003 (g) Lowest Achieving Schools Definition

Persistently lowest-achieving schools in Georgia means the following:

Tier I schools: any Title I school in improvement, corrective action, or restructuring that

(1) is among the lowest-achieving 5% of those schools in the State (or the lowest- achieving five such schools); or

(2) is a high school that has a three-year average graduation rate < 60%.

Calculations to identify Tier I schools will be based on

(1) 2009-10 Title I schools in improvement, corrective action, and restructuring,

(2) lack of progress in academic achievement over a two-year period for all students in reading/language arts and math combined

Tier II Schools: any secondary school that is eligible for, but does not receive, Title I, Part A funds and

(1) is among the lowest-achieving 5% of such secondary schools in the State or the lowest- achieving five such secondary schools) or

(2) is a high school that has a three-year average graduation rate <60%.

Calculations to identify Tier II schools will be based on

(1) Proficiency combined with lack of progress over time for all students

(2) Proficiency based on combined scores for reading/language arts and math for all students

(3) Lowest-achieving schools chosen from lowest to highest proficiency rates stopping at 5%

Tier III Schools: any Title I school in improvement, corrective action, or restructuring that is not a Tier I or a Tier II school.

The Single Percentage Method will be used in calculating academic achievement in terms of proficiency, and the Lowest Achieving Over Multiple Years method will be used in determining whether a school has demonstrated a lack of progress over a number of years. Weights will also be applied based on school type (elementary, middle, high).

Academic progress is defined as improving proficiency levels on state assessments in the “all students” group by a significant amount (5-10 percent) over prior year levels.

SIG guidance defines secondary school as “a school that provides „secondary education, as determined under State law, except that the term does not include any education beyond grade 12.” While Georgia law doesn't provide a definition for a secondary school, the operational definition of secondary school has been any school with the combination of grades 9-12.

Concerned HS Teacher

March 14th, 2012
11:11 am

Thank you. This information is different than a sheet that was linked earlier. This does state that its over a 2 year period. Thank you for this information.

HS Public Teacher

March 14th, 2012
11:23 am

GM…. or whatever other name you put (which changes minute by minute)….

If you were unaware, it has already been found – and discussed on these school blogs – that the MOST important variable for a child’s success in education really are is the PARENTS.

Do you think that maybe, just maybe, that is why it comes up? Do you think that maybe, just maybe, that is why at least some minimal attention SHOULD be given to it by our State leaders (and not jerking around schools all of the time)?

I would ask for you to think about it, but that would be assumming that you have a brain….

catlady

March 14th, 2012
11:37 am

Ms. Downey, could a link be posted for everybody, so that you would not have to send it out individually? (OR would you send me the info, too?)

Maureen Downey

March 14th, 2012
11:39 am

@Catlady, Just sent it to you but here is the link that DOE just put up: (Thanks Tonya for spotting the page.)

http://www.doe.k12.ga.us/Pages/Home.aspx

You can find the priority schools link on the right side of this page.

Ivan Cohen

March 14th, 2012
11:40 am

As Joan Rivers would say, can we talk? Who is kidding who here? The factor of the state taking over the schools will still loom large as the “elephant in the room” even with a “priority” category. There was a term used in the previous century which fits the state’s new accountability system, the term is “sugar coating”. Needs Improvement classification is castor-oil like the type grandma would give for what ails you. Priority classification is castor-oil lite with no guarantee that it will be as effective.

Tonya C.

March 14th, 2012
11:42 am

Maureen:

NP. It wasn’t posted for a awhile so I figured most couldn’t locate it.

To HS Teacher

March 14th, 2012
11:56 am

Whatever the topic, you immediately attack parents and kids. If it really is that bad (and it seems as though you hate parents and kids) then why are you still teaching? If you have a real education, you can get another job.
If you can’t get another job, then please stop the constant unprovoked attacks on parents and kids on these blogs and in the classroom. Please concentrate, instead, on doing what you can to improve what goes on in your classroom.
Also, I use GM, an acronym that means the same thing no matter how you look at it:
GM
Good Mother
Good Ma

Beverly Fraud

March 14th, 2012
12:06 pm

The DATA must be wrong. It is simply UNFATHOMABLE that an APS school is on the list. They had over a decade’s worth of “research-based best practices” with one of the, if not THE most preeminent educator in the nation leading the way.

How could any APS school be on this list after the BEST in “research based best practices” guided children through their ENTIRE educational career.

Gotta doubt the data on this one.

HS Public Teacher

March 14th, 2012
12:17 pm

To GM, or which name you use this minute….

Why do you chose words such as “attack’? There is no “attack”.

Why do you think that I have ever mentioned general “kids”? I have never.

You have this delusional mind that really needs help.

I don’t need someone with such a warped mind giving me advice on anything. Thanks, but no thanks. My comments and even my opinions do not impact my ability to do my job and I do my job very well. You do not seem to understand this – maybe because you could not do it.

Regarding my comments – they are constructive…. at least for rational people (this doesn’t seem to include you).

Stream of logic:
Truth – Parents are the largest factor impacting student education. (by far). By impacting, this includes NEGATIVE impact on student education.
Truth – Schools are restricted in many ways. This includes restrictions by the community on what to teach and how to teach. This includes restrictions on how to discipline kids. And, so on.
Truth – Politicans and many/most in society seem to think that schools can overcome the first truth mentioned here. This is not reality.
Truth – Politicans and many/most in society jerk schools from one “program” to another “program” thinking that they can overcome the first truth mentioned here. This is not reality.
Truth – A lot of our tax dollars are spent jerking around schools from one “program” to another “program” thinking that they can overcome the first truth mentioned here. This is not reality.

Ergo – No matter what “program” there is or how much jerking you do on schools, there is a very small impact that schools can make. The MAIN thing that will help is improved parenting.

This line of logic has NOTHING to do with my job or my effort in helping kids.

Get it?????

Excellent Question Need Answer

March 14th, 2012
12:22 pm

Dunwoody Mom asks an oustanding question “With all of the emphasis on Title 1 schools, what about those non-Title 1 Schools that have struggling “subgroups”? Will they receive assistance or be left alone on their own to try and assist these students, as is currently the case?”

…or simply what about non-Title 1 schools which are failing? Do they get assistance too or or is assistance and help only allowed for the failing schools that are full of free-lunch students?

GM

skipper

March 14th, 2012
12:24 pm

@H S Public Teacher;
Very very well said………..

Chaos

March 14th, 2012
12:31 pm

GM is a troll…Kind of like the “trip trap, trip trap, who’s that walking on my bridge” troll. Most of us on this blog care about education. GM cares about provoking people. She has never taught. She has no clue.