Congrats to DeKalb schools for impressive rise in SAT scores. Outpaces state.

Many folks here contend that middle-class families are fleeing DeKalb schools. If so, then the district’s leap in SAT scores — which are closely aligned with socioeconomics — is even more impressive.

DeKalb’s jump in scores outpaces the state’s increase.

From the district today:

The DeKalb County School District posted a nine-point gain in SAT scores in 2012, with broad gains across the school district and a strong performance among African American and Hispanic students in mathematics and writing.

DCSD seniors earned an average combined score of 1343 for critical reading, writing and mathematics on the College Board’s annual SAT report issued this week. DeKalb’s nine-point gain, almost double the statewide average, came with nearly the same number of students — 4,099 versus 4,144 — taking the test.

“These gains are impressive and shows how we can accomplish more if keep our focus on educating children and implementing a new curriculum,” said Superintendent Dr. Cheryl Atkinson. “With a priority focus on student achievement and parents, educators and civic leaders working together, we can consistently achieve these results.”

Five DCSD schools exceeded the national and state combined average for critical reading, math and writing: Chamblee High, DeKalb Early College, DeKalb School of the Arts, Dunwoody High and Lakeside High. And six schools doubled the stateís gains: McNair (75), Redan (41), Cedar Grove (40), Tucker (35), Miller Grove (18) and Stone Mountain (21).

The biggest overall improvement? Twenty seniors combined to score an astounding 112-point gain at Elizabeth Andrews High.

• Hispanics scored their highest in critical reading and writing in three years, adding at least 13 points in each, far outperforming state and national gains. · African Americans posted a six-point gain in mathematics, their biggest in four years, outperforming both the state and the nation.

• The overall gains of female test-takers exceeded those of the state and nation, and DeKalb’s male students scored at or above state and national levels in critical reading and mathematics.

“Shifting our strategy to generate greater student achievement has made a significant difference in a short time,” said Atkinson. “But we’ll need all the necessary ingredients to keep improving: a new curriculum to challenge and inspire our students, and parents, educators and leaders continuously working together. When we keep our focus on our students, we will achieve victory in every classroom.”

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

51 comments Add your comment

Don't Tread

September 26th, 2012
9:18 am

I thought Beverly Hall left…is she proctoring the SATs in DeKalb now?

Disgusted in Dekalb

September 26th, 2012
9:23 am

It’s really nice to have test scores that can be trusted. How dare Cheryl Atkinson attempt to take credit; these students succeeded in spite of the school board and administration of DCSS.

Beatings will continue until morale improves

September 26th, 2012
9:24 am

The only think Atkinson and her cronies has shifted is their pay…in the wrong direction.

While teachers are shifted out the door…

The Deal

September 26th, 2012
9:29 am

How convenient that Dr. Atkinson has been here long enough to take credit for this positive news but somehow hasn’t been here long enough to take any responsibility for the negative news. What specific actions has she taken in her year here that led to these gains? She is such a politician that I can hardly stand to look at her anymore.

Dunwoody Mom

September 26th, 2012
9:42 am

Congratulations to the DCSD students and their teachers who continue to focus despite the turmoil, real and imagined, that swirls around them!!!

Logical Dad

September 26th, 2012
9:48 am

Well, I am gobsmacked by this one. Congratulations to everyone involved, especially the students. Really sad how most the comments, as usual, make the issue about personalities rather than just enjoying some rare positive news about test scores in DeKalb.

Dunwoody Mom

September 26th, 2012
9:52 am

Well, Logical Dad, there are people who are only happy if they are bashing the school district.

concernedmom30329

September 26th, 2012
9:55 am

Atkinson started long after the school year started and has nothing to do with these scores.

Maureen, do you know if these scores are senior year scores or highest scores? If the latter, she has nothing to do with it at all.

Dunwoody Mom

September 26th, 2012
9:57 am

Atkinson is the Superintendent. Who do you think is going to be quoted in the press release? Crawford Long or Ramona Tyson? Good grief.

Truth in Moderation

September 26th, 2012
10:00 am

Gwinnett County cleans their clock!

“The composite score for GCPS on the SAT was 1518, a combination of the average critical reading score of 503, the average mathematics score of 522 and the average writing score of 493.”

Top schools:
GSMST 1941
Brookwood 1614
North Gwinnett 1595
Parkview 1587

Truth in Moderation

September 26th, 2012
10:01 am

concernedmom30329

September 26th, 2012
10:03 am

Hey Maureen,
Can you please remove my comment about the number to test takers? Let the system celebrate this little piece of good news in what has overall been a dreadful week.

Mortimer Collins

September 26th, 2012
10:22 am

The scores MAY be impressive IF there is no cheating involved.

jarvis

September 26th, 2012
10:53 am

Actually, this is very impressive. I think their scores actuallyi increase last year. In two years they’ve gone up about 15 points. Kudos to them.

Johns Creek Rocks!!

September 26th, 2012
11:02 am

.All three of Johns Creek’s public high schools ranked in the top 10, with Northview at No. 2; Johns Creek at No. 4; and Chattahoochee at No. 9.

Seven Fulton schools are among the top 20 highest scoring schools in the state:
•Northview High School – 1769 (No. 2)
•Johns Creek High School – 1729 (No. 4)
•Milton High School – 1681 (No. 7)
•Roswell High School – 1677 (No. 8)
•Chattahoochee High School – 1674 (No. 9)
•Alpharetta High School – 1660 (No. 10)
•Riverwood International Charter School – 1631 (No. 15)

catlady

September 26th, 2012
11:04 am

I’m glad for the better scores, but don’t you get 600 points (200 per section) just for showing up? Show us some 1800s.

HS Public Teacher

September 26th, 2012
11:16 am

While any increase is cause for celebration – it needs to be tempered with the fact that these scores are not in line with national scores.

It is great that Johnny can now spell c-a-t where he could not before. But he is supposed to be able to spell f-e-l-i-n-e by now.

dc

September 26th, 2012
11:36 am

great to hear.

RCB

September 26th, 2012
12:19 pm

If the highest possible score is 2400, why is everyone so pleased with an average of 1343? That’s the equivalent of an F. I think the overall scores are terrible!

Old timer

September 26th, 2012
12:26 pm

I saw Cobb schools made improve,ENT also this year. I know students are working hard and teachers doing something good, even if scores are not where they need to be. We all are looking for improvement

alm

September 26th, 2012
12:36 pm

Nice to see some good news for a change. Congrats to students and their teachers.

Lou

September 26th, 2012
12:49 pm

I can’t keep quiet anymore. How dare any of you “adults” insult these kids. All of you do everyday is bash DCSD for their faults. When some positive news finally comes out you bash them again???? How is this normal…you say oh they cheated, or oh look Gwinnett did better than them, or oh it didn’t improve much cuz their too stupid to spell their own names. For once in your miserable lives live by the old adage if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all. Because at the rate your going all of DCSD kids could all win Nobel Prizes for curing Cancer and you would still bash them.
If your angry at someone rightly so bad angry at Cheryl Atkinson, Central Office, along with Friends & Family. Leave the babies alone who are trying to make their lives better. Have some common decency for once.

bootney farnsworth

September 26th, 2012
12:54 pm

here’s hoping its real.

can’t help but think we’ve seen this show before

Angela

September 26th, 2012
1:17 pm

@ Lou – KUDOS TO YOU! I feel that same way. You took the words out of my “hands.” The children worked hard for their scores. Congrats to all that achieved and exceeded their goals. DCSS will rise again. Just wait and see.

Get Real

September 26th, 2012
1:29 pm

To the people boasting about North Gwinnett, East Cobb, and North Fulton:

You need a reality check. All of these areas are much more wealthy areas than any part of DeKalb, and all of the research shows that success on standardized test scores is directly linked to socioeconomic status. Please allow the (many) impoverished students in DeKalb to enjoy some positive news, and entertain notions of being successful in college and in life thereafter. Shame on you all for posting your elitist, ignorant commentary at a time when all stakeholders involved in DeKalb County schools need to be uplifted, rather than bashed yet again. Teaching is a thankless job anyway, and educators are constatnly devalued in pay, insurance premiums, and most offensively, by public perception, as theya re constantly villified and assaulted with demeaning, false, and unsubstantiated attacks against their moral character, their intelligence, and their ability to effectively and lovingly teach any child from any background.

High School Parent

September 26th, 2012
1:49 pm

Lou, thank you for your support. Kudos to all the DCSD students who took the SAT in 2012. (Disclosure by proud mom: one of my children contributed to the high scores).

I am curious to know if the 5 high scoring Dekalb high schools offer SAT review courses within the school? I know that Chamblee does although only a portion of the juniors and seniors take the course.

Dunwoody Mom

September 26th, 2012
2:17 pm

Hear, Hear, Lou and Get Real!!!

@High School Parent…Dunwoody HS offers an SAT prep course, I assume that it’s a standard DCSD elective course, but I could be wrong.

Lakeside parent

September 26th, 2012
2:32 pm

Lakeside does not offer a SAT prep course during school. There is one on campus on Saturdays but the cost is paid by the student.

Marney

September 26th, 2012
2:42 pm

I believe DSA had a SAT review course—something done by a vendor after hours at a cost to the family, lest anyone think they got special treatment. I’m a bit worried that in the mad rush to charge for all outside use of the buildings, that it will be forced off-site and become much less available.

BTW—1343 composite, while I’m glad of the increase, it doesn’t seem very high on an absolute basis. I wonder if it includes my son’s score–or those of the many other 7th graders encouraged to take it for the Duke TIP program. If that is the case, than my son’s score (which was higher than the average for Druid Hills senior test takers) would have single highhandedly pulled the average of an entire classroom’s worth of other students up 12 points on average. One really needs to look at the distribution of scores before assuming this is a broad based improvement in overall teaching.

Dunwoody Mom

September 26th, 2012
2:46 pm

Marney, these SAT scores are for the 2012 senior class.

The Deal

September 26th, 2012
2:55 pm

Criticizing Atkinson does not take away any of these SAT accomplishments from the people who earned them. This is a school-related blog. Dr. Atkinson is quoted; therefore, it is reasonable for comments to be made on the SAT scores as well as the one school official quoted in the statement. I obviously don’t agree with any posters trying to attack the students themselves.

We’re all happy kids scored well, and congratulations and thanks go to our hard-working teachers and students, who consistently receive the shaft from their administration. I notice Dr. Atkinson didn’t mention the teachers in her thanks.

Please note that the national average is 1498, so we’re still celebrating within our own below-average state. Please also note that Dr. Atkinson had nothing to do with these gains.

Hopefully this isn’t too negative for our blog cheerleaders. Yes, this is great news, but it doesn’t resolve the massive corruption and mismanagement in our school system. It does not change or fix the day-to-day challenges facing our students and teachers, problems created mostly by our administration and board.

Dunwoody Mom

September 26th, 2012
3:02 pm

@The Deal, the kudos are for the fact that our most vulnerable students, hispanics and african-americans, showed progress. In my view positive thoughts for that should be all that I read here. If people still feel the need to be negative, well, there’s another blog for that. And, also, I have no problem being a “cheerleader” here – these students, and their teachers, work hard, very hard. To see their accomplishment belittled is shameful. We all know the issues with the district, but for once, let’s just revel in a little good news. Is that too much to ask?

The Deal

September 26th, 2012
3:09 pm

Sure, DM. I’m sure the deck chairs on the Titanic were nice and comfy, too. You say what you want to say, and I’ll say what I want to. Right now, I have 4 elementary school kids, so I’m a long way from the SAT. What I see ahead is obviously a different perspective from you. I also despise a superintendent who appears to take credit for these gains in some innocuous, ill-defined plan for victory in every classroom. Give the credit where it’s due – the kids, their parents, and their teachers.

Dunwoody Mom

September 26th, 2012
3:12 pm

Where did she take credit?

Lou

September 26th, 2012
3:13 pm

@High School Parent i’m a South DeKalb High School alumni who is very proud of her high school for doing better.

The Deal

September 26th, 2012
3:22 pm

@DM: “Shifting our strategy to generate greater student achievement has made a significant difference in a short time,” said Atkinson.

Not sure how you read that, but I see her taking credit for these gains by “shifting our strategy”, whatever that means.

Dunwoody Mom

September 26th, 2012
3:25 pm

No, I don’t see that as taking credit for SAT scores. But, we can agree to disagree.

Pride and Joy

September 26th, 2012
4:23 pm

What is Dekalb’s overall average SAT score and what is the nation’s overall average SAT score? She mentions a few areas but not the whole score and more importantly, what is the RANK of GA (by State) for the SAT?
Is Georgia in the top ten states, bottom ten, the middle?

Mortimer Collins

September 26th, 2012
5:05 pm

“Because at the rate your going all of DCSD kids could all win Nobel Prizes for curing Cancer and you would still bash them”

LOL! Well I dont see that happening.

DunMoody

September 26th, 2012
6:19 pm

Kudos to the teachers and students for focusing on learning IN SPITE of DeKalb County School (District? System? Whatever.)

Call Me Missouri

September 26th, 2012
6:50 pm

Yes, most teachers in DeKalb School District work very hard and the credit should go to them and the students like my daughter who studied and prepared for the test. Also, how many of these students participated in an SAT prep class? Congrats to these students and teachers who continue to strive and achieve excellence in spite of all the county administration does to detract from greater success. Just imagine what the scores and gains could have been if DCSD had qualified leadership and the monies squandered on legal fees and the jobs program for friends and family had been used to provide additional resources for these students and their teachers.

Truth in Moderation

September 26th, 2012
9:11 pm

“Four DeKalb County high schools had higher average scores than Georgia’s average — Chamblee High (with a score of 1613), DeKalb School of the Arts (1559), Dunwoody High (1509) and Lakeside High (1529).”

Dekalb’s top four aren’t much lower than Gwinnett’s top schools….except GSMST blows the competition away and gives the entire county average a nice boost!

But lest you think GSMST or Chamblee High are populated with rich whites, think again!

GSMST for 2010-2011
Asian 40%
African American 18%
Hispanic 8%
White 29%
Free/reduced lunch 26%
Average attendance 98%
http://www.gwinnett.k12.ga.us/gcps-mainweb01.nsf/FileAttachments/F9C187463975E28F852579FB0074316A/$file/GSMST.pdf

Chamblee High
Demographics – Grades 11 and 12
Grade 11
Students
Grade 12
Students

American Indian/Alaska Native – male:
0
0
American Indian/Alaska Native – female:
0
0
Asian/Hawaiian Native/Pacific Islander or Asian – male:
24
24
Asian/Hawaiian Native/Pacific Islander or Asian – female:
20
20
Hispanic – male:
11
11
Hispanic – female:
8
8
Black – male:
109
109
Black – female:
109
109
White – male:
54
54
White – female:
37
37
Hawaiian Native/Pacific Islander – male:
N/A
N/A
Hawaiian Native/Pacific Islander – female:
N/A
N/A
Two or more races – male:
N/A
N/A
Two or more races – female:
N/A
N/A

Total Students:
382
333
http://highschoolsintheusa.com/highschool.cfm?ncessch=130174000692

Dekalb parent

September 26th, 2012
9:53 pm

Hmm, if your stats are correct, Chamblee’s senior class was 65% black whereas the Gwinnett Math, Science and Technology school was only 18% black. And I believe Chamblee has a higher percentage of FRL students. GO Chamblee students!

DCSS Failing

September 26th, 2012
10:19 pm

Which tests are these for? If they are talking about seniors, they are talking about last year’s seniors (graduated May 2012), because most of this year’s seniors haven’t taken the SAT yet. They may have taken it last year as juniors, but this is only September and I believe, the test was offered in July and will be offered again in October.

Chamblee Magnet Dad (Former Ivy Prep Dad)

September 26th, 2012
10:39 pm

Congratulations to our 10 National Merit Scholarship Finalist. We are Chamblee!

Truth in Moderation

September 27th, 2012
12:25 am

Although Newsweek does not rank “America’s Best High Schools” by SAT scores, they do list them and use them in their ranking formula. Because GSMST class of 2012 was 111 (its smallest ever and soon to be replaced next year by a much larger one), it was too small to be ranked. However, I did a survey of all the SAT scores for their top 1000 schools, and GSMST with a score of 1941 ranked #34! They also had 100% graduation. Georgians and Gwinnett should be very proud of this school’s accomplishments.

The top SAT scores on the Newsweek list were Davidson Academy in Nevada at 2210 and Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology at 2200.
http://www.tjhsst.edu/curriculum/dss/docs/tjhsstprofile11_12.pdf

Northview at Johns Creek ranked #99 on “America’s Best High Schools 2012.” Congratulations!
http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2012/05/20/america-s-best-high-schools.html

Pity the Bashers

September 27th, 2012
9:18 am

It appears that the DCSS bashers whose lives are so meaningless and pitiful they have nothing better to do all day than post evil and snide remarks about DeKalb will never go away. You all need to get a life! If you are this bitter and unhappy, I feel sorry for the people who encounter your stupidity and evilness every day. I pray none of you have children you are poisoning.

Truth in Moderation

September 27th, 2012
11:37 am

The worst DCS bashers were Beverly Hall and her cohort of eraser queens. No one went to jail. Monetary restitution was not made. Parents and teachers were not out in the streets protesting (like Chicago.) As far as I am concerned, Dekalb has reaped what it has sown.

@get real
“All of these areas are much more wealthy areas than any part of DeKalb, and all of the research shows that success on standardized test scores is directly linked to socioeconomic status.”

Really? My dad grew up on Oakdale Road. His house is still there. Hardly a shabby neighborhood. It is right around the corner from the very elite Druid Hills Country Club and the beautiful Fernbank Natural History Museum. Years ago DeKalb County had top schools and neighborhoods. Also, top-rated Emory University is located in DeKalb, as well as the top doctors who teach and work at the elite hospitals. What happened? Who dragged them down? During the ’70’s, Chamblee was not “High Street” but was the top destination for Vietnamese and Cambodian refugees. Yet this Dekalb community now boasts the top performing school, Chamblee High school. Please, stop with your racial and socioeconomic excuses. YOUR low standards drag the kids down. If kids are constantly told they can’t succeed because they are poor and a minority, THEN THEY WON’T!

Alex

September 28th, 2012
11:35 pm

I want a full inventory count of all erasers on Monday morning.

SWD Alum

September 30th, 2012
3:24 pm

@Lou, I agree with you about praising Dekalb students and teachers about their hard work and not bashing them; we need to celebrate something positive, even if the scores are below the national average. However, did you notice that the schools on the list, “Chamblee High, DeKalb Early College, DeKalb School of the Arts, Dunwoody High and Lakeside High,” are NORTH Dekalb schools? Where is Lithonia, McNair, MLK, Cedar Grove, Miller Grove, Southwest, Redan, and Stephenson? Why aren’t the SOUTH Dekalb schools on this list? The only south Dekalb school that is worth sending our children to is Arabia Mountain. Maybe Arabia Mountain is a brain drain, because I remember when SWD, Stephenson, and Redan were decent, not good, but decent schools.