DOE releases list of 156 schools on its new “focus” list

Under its new accountability system, Georgia has created a tier of schools known as focus schools. Today, DOE released the list of 156 focus schools.

Focus schools  — which include schools doing well by a lot of students, but not by all students — will be served by DOE for three years with supports beginning in June.

(Since I posted this yesterday, the AJC has put up a news story that lists the local schools. See it here.)

The new DOE accountability designations — priority schools, focus schools and reward schools — replace the “needs improvement” label that educators deemed unclear and unhelpful. These three designations target  “Title I” schools that have a high percentage of low-income students.

Earlier this month, DOE released the names of the 78 schools on the priority list, a label that brings the greatest level of intervention to address chronic under performance.

The reward designation goes to high-achieving schools. DOE will also designate a fourth category, “alert schools,” so the state can focus on struggling schools that do not have a high percentage of low-income students. .

Schools land on the focus list by one of two reasons:
•Graduation rate less than 60 percent over 2 years  and not identified as a Priority School
•Achievement gap: Largest within-school gaps between highest achieving subgroup and the lowest achieving subgroup.

Clayton has 15 schools in focus status. Cobb has five. DeKalb has 10. Douglas has one. Fulton has 10. Gwinnett has 7. Rockdale has three. Atlanta has seven. Marietta city has two.

DOE is posting the list on its site, but if you can’t find it, email me and I will send you the list.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

51 comments Add your comment

Dunwoody Mom

March 20th, 2012
4:03 pm

Hi, Maureen, could you email me this list? Thanks!!!

Maureen Downey

March 20th, 2012
4:10 pm

@Dunwoody, Just sent.

Georgia Teacher

March 20th, 2012
4:27 pm

Hello Maureen, can you send the list to me? Thanks!

Dunwoody Mom

March 20th, 2012
4:32 pm

Got it – thanks!!! It’s on the BOE website now as well.

Tami

March 20th, 2012
4:55 pm

What steps are the steps to get off the list as a Focus school? Can it happen in a year or is it longer?

Ernest

March 20th, 2012
5:32 pm

Maureen, could you update this blog with the hyperlink to the GA BOE site to the listing of Focus schools?

Old timer

March 20th, 2012
5:45 pm

Am interesting in seeing the schools, would you be able to post the link…thanks.

@Maureen Downey

March 20th, 2012
5:51 pm

Could you send me the list?

Dunwoody Mom

March 20th, 2012
6:00 pm

So, my assumption is that every school in GA will be placed in one of the 4 accountability groups?

To be honest, I have read the GABOE ESEA Waiver twice through and it is still somewhat confusing.

Maureen Downey

March 20th, 2012
6:01 pm

@Ernest, If you go here, the focus schools are on the right under press releases. It is a PDF.
http://www.doe.k12.ga.us/Pages/Home.aspx

Ernest

March 20th, 2012
6:11 pm

MA

March 20th, 2012
6:30 pm

Wow! My county only has one. That’s great for us.

Ron F.

March 20th, 2012
6:33 pm

Well I’ll be dogged. My school is on it for graduation rate and we’ve had about 80% for as many years as I’ve been there. I wonder how those numbers came up for this report.

Janet

March 20th, 2012
6:58 pm

Forsyth county has 0 on the list… YAY!

Old timer

March 20th, 2012
7:11 pm

Thank you for the list. I am glad to see that the three schools I worked at before 06 were not on the list in Clayton Co.

Me

March 20th, 2012
7:42 pm

156 schools. Can’t count the header :-)

ToBusytoHate

March 20th, 2012
9:37 pm

Americans, from the Southest, under the age of 18?

Eddie G

March 20th, 2012
9:46 pm

Thanks for playing, but your answer is incomplete. And by the way, if your moniker is to make any sense at all, it should be TooBusytoHate…………..you left out a letter. Strike 2.

TooBusytoHate

March 20th, 2012
10:01 pm

thanks for cathcing the typo: I have a riddle for you. One word can fill in all of these blanks, can you guess it?

Nut ___________.
Soda_________.
Christmas _________.
_____ Jack

Maureen Downey

March 20th, 2012
10:03 pm

@Me, Good catch. I have never seen a list where the header was numbered.
Maureen

Nabisco

March 20th, 2012
10:33 pm

@TooBusyTooHate…I think I know…lol.

Brandy

March 21st, 2012
1:59 am

I guess I should be happy neither my alma mater nor the system I grew up in is on the list. Then, again, does that really mean much?

@Maureen, Is there any projected date for the release of “Alert” schools? I have a feeling many people will be upset when that one comes out…

ATL Teacher

March 21st, 2012
7:17 am

“All students doing well”…hmmm. Seems like we heard this before – No Child Left Behind. Is this any better? What happened to student progress? Just like 100% of students didn’t make goals by 2014…low income students will always present a challenge. Labeling schools is how we got in this mess and they didn’t get resources they needed with NCLB.

Sharon Pitts must Go

March 21st, 2012
7:40 am

Maureen,
Could you send us the 4 “labels” that will used i order best to worst? When will other two be announced?

30 & 30+

March 21st, 2012
7:41 am

Where do I find how the grad rate is calculated?

@TooBusytoHate

March 21st, 2012
7:51 am

Hey, you “cracker” to describe Eddie J. “Cracker” is a pejorative term to describe a Southern white person…but wait…
I thought you were too busy to hate….
GM

Me

March 21st, 2012
7:53 am

@Maureen
Welcome to education world LOL

To Ma

March 21st, 2012
7:57 am

I sincerley hope only one school is your county really needs improvement but the “alert” school list hasn’t come out yet. In the Atlanta Public School system, there was only one “focus” school on the list but I’m not celebrating because we have many failing and cheating schools like Coan Middle School, King Middle School and Parkside elementary school that aren’t on the “focus” list. I’ll bet that all of them and more make the “alert” list.
“Focus” is a euphamism so that some people don’t get their feelings hurt so much when their school is on the list. “Focus” really means the Gosh-awful most failing schools that are doing so poorly we really have to focus on them because we cannot trust the staff and teachers and administration and parents to give a rats azz about education… excuse me, I realize I’m being crass but tip-toeing around the problem with a word like “focus” won’t solve this disaster on education.
GM

yes i am worried

March 21st, 2012
8:26 am

Maureen

What data was used to evaluate CoA schools given how questionable test scores were at many schools?

Dunwoody Mom

March 21st, 2012
8:34 am

2011 Test Scores were used to evaluate the schools:

2 ways to be identified:

•Grad rate less than 60% over 2 years (proxy rate) and not identified as a Priority School

•Largest within-school gaps between highest achieving subgroup** and the lowest achieving subgroup** (CRCT, CRCT-M, GAA, and Grad Rate)

Based on minimum n sizeЪ≥ 30
Based on 2011 composite of :
CRCT: All Subjects
CRCT-M: Reading, ELA, Math
GAA: All Subjects
10% of Title I schools (156 schools

Dunwoody Mom

March 21st, 2012
8:43 am

Most schools will fall into the Alert category as this is where the performance by subgroup comes into play.

Shocking

March 21st, 2012
10:31 am

If you care about education then you need to see this series of videos from a former NYC 3 time teacher of the year and NYState Teacher of the Year:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YQiW_l848t8

Jennifer

March 21st, 2012
11:11 am

Keep in mind that the Alert schools have to hit the 3 standard deviations from the mean of the state’s subgroups’ meet and exceed rates. And last I saw, the “n” score for this category was not published and under debate.

Dunwoody Mom

March 21st, 2012
11:37 am

Yep, Jennifer, I have tried, unsuccessfully to put all of that standard deviation calculation into Excel for the DCSD schools. I need a Math guru. :)

You want the Truth

March 21st, 2012
11:46 am

It is simple. Go back to the basics. The foundation is reading, writing and math. Bring back the old school teachers and bring back some order in the classroom and these problems will be gone.
Fire the Administrators who want to get paid but have never actually taught in a classroom. Finally, stop stealing the income of Teachers and instruction will improve.

The Absolute Truth

March 21st, 2012
12:05 pm

Simple …. get rid of the dam NEA. All they care about is their power …. they couldn’t give a rats — about your kids.

10yearsAYP

March 21st, 2012
12:48 pm

our school is on it, and we made AYP for 10 years straight. we were told the reason was the gap between our highest performing group( whites) and our SWD or students with disabilities. I guess if our best kids didn’t do so well, we would not have been lucky enough to make the focus list list…..Would love to see the calculation. just looks like a rotten load of bureaucracy from where I sit.

Another Teacher

March 21st, 2012
1:14 pm

If you look at the AYP reports for 2011 you will see that many of the “focus” schools are on the list due to gaps between the Asian or White subgroups and the Students with Disabilities (SWD) subgroups.

observer

March 21st, 2012
1:23 pm

Of course, the great solution is to throw money at these schools. That will do nothing. The problem lies in the personnel in charge. Changes need to be made and these are problems that money alone will not solve.
One thing that hardly anyone will mention is the underachieving mindset of various cultures that needs to be changed. Notice I said “culture,” not ethnicity, so don’t call me racist.
Attitudes must be altered, and giving more money is like tyring to save the Titanic by bailing with a one gallon milk jug.

AYP13yrs

March 21st, 2012
1:51 pm

My school is on the list also even though we have been recognized as a Title 1 distinguished school for making AYP for 13 consecutives years. How can we be a focus/low performing school?? With all the things that we are doing right we end up on a list that was calculated using last year’s data. Is it fair to judge and label a school a focus school when the school knew nothing about the criteria and measures on which we would be judge?? That’s like giving a student an F on a test before the standard has been taught and the student has had time to learn and study the material. Seems unfair to me. We were told that the gap was to great between our highest perfoming students to our students with disabilities. Well to me this may always be the case, if you’re expecting a SWD student who may be 1-3 grade levels behind to take and pass a test on grade level. It’s impossible and unfair to expect that student to perform well on a grade level test when they are NOT on grade level. You can’t make up 1-3 years of work in 9 months!!! I think they should look at what progress has been made by those students in those 9 months. If they are in fourth grade working on a 2nd grade level and by the end of the year they get to a 3rd grade level then that is progress and it should be rewarded.

old dude

March 21st, 2012
2:56 pm

well, the focus list is out and the school where I teach is on the list. I commend the DOE for its sharp focus on improvement. Lets see, now… We had a graduation rate (overall) of 89% last year and near that the year before …have made AYP every year hand-running for quite a while …do more with less than other schools around here and because of “2 students with disabilities” (according to well-placed sources who have to remain anonymous) this school is in the ‘focus group’. To remedy this problem next year, thousands of dollars will be spent to provide our school with persons especially trained to upgrade our rate of graduation among the disabled population. I applaud the effort. As if our “highly qualified” (according to State regulations) staff are not good enough, now the State will throw more money at the target/focus group. You gotta love the logic. Oh, wait a minute …this just in. The State does not have to act with logic …or compassion. The spirit of the law is pale and wan in the land of date driven education.

old dude

March 21st, 2012
3:53 pm

I appreciate the indignation expressed by several of those who question the wisdom of this latest snapshot-based reform effort. To Fayette Co., I congratulate you. However, a source higher than I tells me the next round is going to ‘ding’ almost every high-achieving system. Actually, something smells bad here. I suspect it may be the smell of …money? NOTE: I do like the sentiments of a local contractor who once told me “if you have the money, I can build it for you.” The suggestion being that ‘for a few dollars more’ we can have anything we can imagine.

D…mn it all! When are legislators, educational philosophers, social engineers and researchers going to understand?

We are not just inches away from Utopia. We are not even close and we are not getting closer. No matter how much money is directed toward the problems, there will always be people “left behind”, falling through the cracks, and just simply failing to ‘get it’, whatever it is, when most of the rest have gotten it and moved on. That does not mean life is not getting better for some. As many people as there are who do not have clean, fresh water to drink today, the number that do is still more than it used to be.

Look here, folks. Don’t let me get wound up. After all, I only started this second note because I wanted to say “I’m sorry” for not bring all my education to bear in my first note …I misspelled a word. I should have written at the end “the spirit of the law is pale and wan in the land of DATA driven education.” Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea culpa.

Hmmmmm …just wondering. When was the last time I heard “mea culpa” from the DOE?

TJ

March 21st, 2012
6:07 pm

If your child is in one of these 156 schools are you able to transfer to a better school with a waiver or something like that?

Anonmom

March 21st, 2012
10:45 pm

I note that, thus far, the DCSS schools on the list, I believe, are 100% black… so there should be no disparity between subgroups because I don’ t think there are many (or no) subgroups — the only ones that could be there as well are economically disadvantaged and SWD and many times there are overlaps between the groups….

Anonmom

March 21st, 2012
10:46 pm

FYI — my comment doesn’t apply to the Alternative School which has varied population but I thought that there scores “tied” back to “sending” schools — kids actually graduate from the sending school if they get that far so I’m not sure what to make of it….

Atlanta Mom

March 21st, 2012
10:54 pm

One of the only things I liked about NCLB was that it put a spot light on sub groups such as economically disadvantaged and LEP. I do believe those children should not be lost in the majority statistics. I remember hearing a parent being outraged that her school didn’t make AYP because of a group of students who had English as a second language. I was glad that spotlight was focused on those students. They deserved better than what had been offer.
I’m having a little more difficulty with the SWD students. Maybe I don’t understand SWD. If we are talking about ADHD kids, well okay, we should be making sure those kids graduate. But if we are taking about SWD who will never read, never be able to tie their own shoes, exactly why do we expect them to pass the HS graduation tests?
I need some help here, please.

Atlanta Mom

March 21st, 2012
11:07 pm

vince

March 22nd, 2012
11:33 am

@ Atlanta Mom…

That’s exactly the same question educators asked politicians for years during NCLB. That law expected educators to cure mental illness, intellectual disabilities, autism….and all other disabilities….even though medical science had not been able to do so in over a hundred years!

I will differ with you regarding ELL students as well. It really wasn’t sensible to think a school could take children who didn’t speak a word of English, and many who had never been to school, and then get them to perform on grade level on a test completely written in English in 8 months.

Anonmom

March 22nd, 2012
10:54 pm

Atl Mom & Vince — Senator Isakson told me at a face-to-face meeting that the lobby for the handicapped (I know this isn’t the politically correct term) lobbied very hard for their “group” to be included in “no child left behind” when it was initially passed (that’s what happens when laws are poorly titled….. they didn’t want their kids “left behind” … and when it was explained to them what it meant, they wanted to be included anyway. Whether this is true or just his story, I don’t know, but it is what we were told back in the mid-1990s. It’s non-sense to expect kids with under 100 IQs to be passing tests at grade level and graduation tests… and then to label the school as “failing” because of it. Some of these kids then count 2 and 3 times if they fall into minority groups and economically disadvantaged groups. It’s a bit crazy. There are other “focuses” of NCLB that are quite useful — Shamrock Middle had an average 75% “pass” rate on tests — the kids either passed in the upper 90th percentiles or lower 40th or below…. nothing in the middle. NCLB forced them to look at the disparity between the white kids and the non-white (non-asian) kids. So it has been useful on that front.

In Defense of My School

March 24th, 2012
12:18 pm

My school is on the list. In defense of my school, we have a very diverse population – million dollar homes to section 8 apartments. A large SPED population. A large ESOL population. Of course there is a large gap between the high achievers and the low achievers. The only way I see that gap closing is to bring the high achievers down – and that’s not the solution.