The morning after: Did Erroll Davis provide a convincing case for the North Atlanta High shakeup?

Students were among the 900 people who attended a meeting with Erroll Davis at North Atlanta High on Tuesday night. (AJC/Johnny Crawford)

Students were among the 800 to 900 people who attended a meeting with Erroll Davis at North Atlanta High on Tuesday night. (AJC/Johnny Crawford)

In his explanation last night to about 900 parent and students at North Atlanta High on why he gutted the school’s leadership team in a blitzkrieg Friday, APS school chief Erroll Davis cited the school’s performance.

Among his comments:

“My view is this school needs to be a lot more than it is presently.”

“Performance data for this schools says it has to improve and improve quickly.”

“From 2007 to 2011, this school did not make AYP. Now, it is an Needs Improvement school, which means under some level of state monitoring.” (Here is the link to the North Atlanta High state report card.)

“The graduation rate is higher than system average. It is at 62 percent, seventh from the bottom at APS. This is not what I want for APS. This is not where we need to be. It means we are failing four out of every 10 of our children.”

Davis was unflappable and polite under tough circumstances. Many people in the audience supported the deposed principal Mark MyGrant, evidenced by the deafening standing ovation MyGrant received when he suddenly appeared and walked through the crowded gym.

Davis took about 60 questions, some of which included sharp criticisms. And he made a good argument that North Atlanta High was not performing up to its potential in its graduation rate.

But then Davis offered a less convincing argument for the purge at North Atlanta High when he cited Adequate Yearly Progress, a measure used under No Child Left Behind to rate schools.

I took two hours this morning to examine that claim.

As of this year, Georgia is no longer bound by AYP. Georgia was among the states that contended AYP was unfair as a  school could fail on the performance of only a small number of students. Now, standardized test scores still will count in schools’ annual evaluations, but will carry far less weight as Georgia transitions to a system that will measure students’ readiness to attend college or begin a career after high school.

New designations — Priority schools, Focus schools and Reward schools — replace the “needs improvement” label that state school chief John Barge described as unclear and unhelpful.

The performance of Focus schools is slightly stronger than those on the Priority schools. Priority schools are the lowest-performing 5 percent of public schools in the state; Focus schools represent the 10 percent of schools just above them. The reward designation goes to high-achieving schools.

The state released its list of Priority and Focus schools in March.

North Atlanta was not on either list, although there are plenty of Atlanta high schools on the priority list.  (See below where I list them.) The reward list has not yet been released by DOE and is expected soon.

Despite Davis’ emphasis last night on AYP, he hired a new principal for North Atlanta from a school that also did not make AYP.

Gene Taylor is coming to North Atlanta High School from Lilburn Middle School, where he has been principal since 2008.

According to the state 2010-2011 Report Card, Lilburn Middle School did not make AYP in 2010-2011 for academic performance. It was among the 20 percent of Gwinnett schools that missed making AYP, which, in part, stemmed from the escalating standards built into the No Child law

And Lilburn Middle is also on the state’s Focus list this year.

But AYP doesn’t tell the whole story of Lilburn Middle, a 93 percent minority school where 92 percent of students qualify for free and reduced lunches. The system-wide average in Gwinnett for free and reduced lunch is only 52 percent.

When you look at Lilburn’s CRCT performance, you see steady improvement, especially in reading. In fact, 68 percent of eighth graders at the school met the standard for reading and 26 percent exceeded, a remarkable accomplishment for a school where 22 percent of students have limited English proficiency, according to the state report card. The school achieved Title I distinguished School Status in 2009 and 2010.

But neither does AYP tell the whole story of North Atlanta, which exceeds the APS district-wide average on many measures and is, in fact, showing progress.

According to the state report card, 84.7 percent of its students are “Meeting and Exceeding Standards.”

From the report card:

Georgia High School Writing Test: 96.53 Percent Meeting and Exceeding Standard

11th Grade – GHSGT English Language Arts 89.13 Percent Meeting and Exceeding Standard

11th Grade – GHSGT Science 88.13 Percent Meeting and Exceeding Standard

11th Grade – GHSGT Social Studies 83.09 Percent Meeting and Exceeding Standard

To be clear, Gene Taylor has done remarkable work at Lilburn and North Atlanta ought to be thrilled to get him.

But it still isn’t clear why Davis thought that he had to yank the administrative team out of North Atlanta considering that Atlanta has 14 schools on the state’s Priority list and most are high schools. (Here is the AJC story announcing the priority schools.)

Atlanta Public Schools on Priority List:

  • South Atlanta School of Health and Medicine (achievement)
  • Booker T. Washington High School — Banking, Finance & Investment (achievement)
  • Booker T. Washington High School — Health, Sciences and Nutrition (achievement)
  • Maynard H. Jackson High School (achievement)
  • Hillside Conant School (achievement)
  • School of Technology at Carver (achievement)
  • Forrest Hills Academy (achievement)
  • School of Health Sciences and Research at Carver (achievement)
  • South Atlanta School of Computer Animation and Design (achievement)
  • Therrell School of Law, Government and Public Policy (school improvement grant)
  • Therrell School of Engineering, Math and Science (achievement)
  • Therrell School of Health and Science (achievement)
  • Crim High School (school improvement grant)
  • Douglass High School (school improvement grant)

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

139 comments Add your comment

Sandy Springs Parent

October 10th, 2012
11:15 am

Its all about Football, North Atlanta sucks at Football! lol

bootney farnsworth

October 10th, 2012
11:21 am

don’t look behind the curtain at the mighty and powerful Oz.

convinced by Erroll? not a chance.


October 10th, 2012
11:21 am

I’m fine with the explanation. This article brings up some good points. Granted, the timing and the way things were handled may not have been the best, but academic performance needs to be addressed. Apparently, the old administration wasn’t addressing it. Dr. Taylor seems to be the man to address the lagging academic performance.


October 10th, 2012
11:38 am

My first question is will the new principal support the continuation of the IB program? Also.. this doesn’t seem to be the format to assist Dr Taylor in getting the support of the students and parents. Mostly, it seems that the Superintendent meant to send a message to the North Atlanta school area about who will be calling the shots in the future.

My 2 cents

October 10th, 2012
11:39 am

I still theing the manner in which the professional educators at NAHS have been treated is wrong. Also, I find it interesting that, according to his comments last night, Davis has different standards for various APS high schools, seemingly based upon neighborhood SES. However, teachers are held to the same standards for ALL students! Just saying.


October 10th, 2012
11:48 am

Davis lied about AYP, plain and simple.


October 10th, 2012
11:50 am

According to an AJC article posted last night, “MyGrant said the removal dealt with charges of racism against two staff members he hired last year. He delivered 25 pages of documents to the central office Tuesday that he said would exonerate him and the other administrators.”

These documents are at the heart of the matter. Can the AJC request copies of them under an Open Records request?

Atlanta Mom

October 10th, 2012
11:52 am

I fail to understand why NAHS is not on the focus list because of its Hispanic population. Under AYP they were not a subgroup because there were only 37. But I thought smaller populations were looked at for “focus schools”–thus Grady passed AYP but was a focus school because of SWD. Seems like this should be the case for NAHS as well.

Sandy Springs Parent

October 10th, 2012
11:53 am

North Atlanta would be the same quality as 80% of Private Schools if the zoned requirements were adhered to. The Free and Reduced lunch would be well below 20% as well, with just a few students from apartments off Roswell Rd., Peachtree Rd, in Garden Hills, and Underwood Hills, off Defoors, and Collier Rd.

The real Demographics would be about 65% white, 25% hispanic, 2% Asian and 3% Black or something pretty close. If there was not busing to a so called Magnet and all the line jumpers. look at what the Real Demographics of the area are. look at what the Tax Records of the area are. Then you would see how low the free lunches should be.

Dunwoody Mom

October 10th, 2012
12:03 pm

City of Atlanta schools did not make AYP – is. Mr. Davis going to escort himself out?

Beverly Fraud

October 10th, 2012
12:10 pm

“Granted, the timing and the way things were handled may not have been the best…

Other than THAT how was the play Mrs. Lincoln?

One gigantic RED HERRING after another, the logic inconsistencies COMPLETELY exposed.

Three words AJC: Open Records Request.

Dr. John Trotter

October 10th, 2012
12:13 pm

Educationese. Ole Erroll’s got it down pat already. Speaks like a real educrat pro. Gobbledegook, gobbledegook. Blah, blah, blah. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. It’s not where it ought to be… It’s not meeting all the needs… It’s not age appropriate… It’s not best practices… It’s not measuring up to the benchmarks… Blah, blah, blah… Damn if the community and students were happy with how it was! It’s not where we were looking to be…

Translation: I made a huge crapola of a decision. It was stupid. Now I will try to cover it up with some Educational Goo, Goo, Gah, Gah.

Do APS administrators just keep learning dumber or what? Sorry, Erroll, but it seems that you are acting like you have been caught in the Stockholm Syndrome. Did I get that right? Ha! Someone will eagerly correct me, if I didn’t.

Beverly Fraud

October 10th, 2012
12:17 pm

What are the odds someone in security got totally BLASTED today for letting MyGrant in the building?


October 10th, 2012
12:24 pm

What is failing is Superintendent Davis and APS. Things are just the same now as they were under Beverly Hall. Just window dressing on the part of Davis. He is as unprofessional as Hall, and as devious in his dealings with the public.


October 10th, 2012
12:24 pm

OK, so was the school in danger of being “taken over” by the state, or was that another CYA excuse?This really sounds like a power play by someone. The guy was only going to be there another few weeks, so why go through all this drama about getting rid of him. This is beginning to look like one of those cases where, like with Nixon, the cover up is as bad as the act.

Beverly Fraud

October 10th, 2012
12:26 pm

Erroll OBVIOUSLY didn’t learn from Drew; what does he think is going to happen to his precious AYP when these economically and politically empowered folks make an end run around APS and get the state to approve their own charter school?


October 10th, 2012
12:33 pm

@Sandy Springs Parent, that school hasn’t looked like what you’re talking about since the 60’s. As a graduate of Northside High School, I can tell you that this was once one of the best schools, if not the best, in APS. Busing is not the issue. We had one of the best performing arts program in the country. Students were bused from all over the city of Atlanta to participate in our magnet program. We were featured on 20/20 with Barbara Walters, worked with dancers from the movie “Fame”, performed “A Chorus Line” at the Fox Theater. We were the “Coke is It” kids, traveled to Europe and sang in the cathedrals in Brussels. We were diverse. We got along. We were some of the best that Atlanta had to offer. Many of my classmates are now professionals. We had to maintain our grades or we were dismissed from the program. Fighting got you sent back too, although we rarely ever saw a fight. I’m not sure what magnet program they have, but the performing arts magent is at Carver. It’s dismal compared to what I was a part of. Reginald Colbert was a band teacher at one time. Awesome instructor. I truly hope they can get it together and improve the situation there. It saddens me and my classmates.


October 10th, 2012
12:33 pm

Is a school a community of parents, students and educators working together for a common goal or is it a factory with managers, workers and a product? It seems Dr. Davis sees North Atlanta as a factory and he is the owner.

I wonder how he sees the other failing schools in his charge?

Frustrated Taxpayer

October 10th, 2012
12:39 pm

What a mess. Too bad frustrated taxpayers cannot do the same thing as Mr. Davis and clean out APS’ central office.

APS high schools have had problems for years. It’s certainly noble for Mr. Davis to demand better results, but his approach needs work. How about demanding it first, measuring, then acting?

NAHS administrators could have been dismissed in a more professional manner and parents deserved more information. Don’t blame parents for being involved and don’t treat a district like a Fortune 5000 company.

Twelve principals accused of cheating got much better treatment — and many later confessed.

If NAHS is seventh from the bottom of the district’s graduation list, I cannot wait to see what happens to administrators at the lower six high schools. They be shown the door, too. Right?


October 10th, 2012
12:43 pm

Hostile Black Take-Over is the answer to the Questions. APS doesn’t this NAHS is BLACK ENOUGH!! Davis stood up and lied, lied, lied durng that meeting. It was shocking.

APS parent

October 10th, 2012
12:48 pm

All of this a power play by Erroll Davis. since he has come into office all of these ridiculous changes he is making are absurb. He has no clue as to what he is going. Where the heck did he come from any way? Really send him back. And they say respect him. He does not respect the main stakeholders, which are the students and the parents.

@Sandy Spring Parents no disrespect, but your last comment about the demographics seems so racist. It shouldn’t matter where you live to determine if you are a high performer or not. You have some top leaders that came from low income/free/reduced lunches. So for you to say jumping the line…you need to jump the line!!!!

Entitlement Society

October 10th, 2012
12:50 pm

The median property tax paid in the state of Georgia is $1,346. I’d like to know where in Buckhead I can find a property and pay $1,346 in property tax. The average SAT score is Georgia is 1452. At North Atlanta, the average SAT score is 1426 – BELOW the state of Georgia average! So, for a district, this rich with resources and tax base, it is appalling that North Atlanta lags the state. Then examine graduation rates. North Atlanta reports only a 60% graduation rate. Pathetic. State graduation rates apparently are up for debates when it comes down to the calculation. Some reports list them as high as 80%, while other say the number should be adjusted down to 67%. Adjusted or not, once again, North Atlanta fails to make the grade. Current and former students and parents may be in love with this MyGrant guy and his cohorts, but as a taxpayer and parent of children in the district, those stats don’t hold water with me. Then you read through this blog reading reports of how students sold pot brownies at school, how these beloved administrators were always there to help break up a fight, etc. Not exactly the atmosphere conducive to learning. No wonder the scores and graduation rates are what they are. Look at the demographic numbers (from Maureen’s link) of 9th graders versus 10th graders – over a 30% decline? Where do these kids go? Are they drop outs? Or do they seek a better education elsewhere? Perhaps Davis isn’t only worried about the current student body. Perhaps he’s looking at the population in general. All people are entitled to a quality public education and this school isn’t delivering it. Private school parents aren’t thrilled about forking over the equivalent of a new car in tuition each year to avoid this APS trainwreck. Perhaps he’s finally getting the message that those in Atlanta paying the lion’s share of property taxes want a quality high school option for their children.


October 10th, 2012
12:52 pm

@”NAHS MOM” –You should know by now that nobody likes you. Your pleas for the plentiful “minorities” during are annoying and idiotic, so don’t pick on Mygrant.


October 10th, 2012
1:02 pm

So does Mr. Davis plan on removing the administration from the other lacking in performance APS High Schools? Come on…what about Crim, Therrel, Douglas? Is the State attempting to take over other High, Middle, and/or Elementary Schools in Atlanta?


October 10th, 2012
1:05 pm

I feel very sorry for the parents kids of NA. But there is a solution. Private School. Give up the big house & $50,000 car and you can afford it.


October 10th, 2012
1:08 pm

This is typical ‘Administrator Speak’. We all know that test scores are a SMALL indicator of what makes a good school. There is character building, critical thinking ability, bonding to others and interaction with adults, development of career interests, extracurricular pursuits, and just basic good old-fashioned teaching that ALL go into whether or not a school is a good school. Much of that responsiblity is on the kids and wait for it…..PARENTS. Expecting a school to solve all of society’s ills is like thinking Obama is somehow going to tax us out of our problems.

Unfortunately, we are in a day and age where the Peter Principle is completely out-of-control. Popularity and narcissism trump competence every time. As a veteran educator who espouses ‘old school’ values, while updating my teacher to modern technology and advances, I can tell parents that it is a scary landscape in education right now. Very few honest teachers will tell you that they admire their principal or think that they landed the job solely because of their ability and merits. Most of the time, it’s based on who they play golf with, who they know on the school board, or because of extreme good looks or charm.

Most school administrators (and I say MOST) are simply the most adept POLITICIANS among their teaching peer groups. They are willing to compromise teaching preparation to play the political game in getting to the top. They schmooze the right community members, say the right things, and blindly follow the latest political fads to get their 6 figure positions. They ONLY take a stand when it is politically expedient to do so and usually not when it is the right thing to do. Most school administrators (and there ARE obvious exceptions before someone crucifies me) are phony people who can’t think for themselves (or lack the courage to do so) and were not among the best teachers in their professions. I’ve seen more than a few football coaches who taught P.E. suddenly given the task of telling veteran teachers how to do their jobs while collecting a salary in excess of $100,000 per year. Most of them lack statistical ability, mathematical skills, financial management skills, and any real grasp of what it’s like to teach. In short, school administrators are just another extension of TODAY’S POLITICIANS. As long as we live in a society where leadership is determined by popularity and sound-bytes and not competence, then kids will always lose. Again, there ARE exceptions and some of the best people I’ve ever known FIT this exception. However, those people are rare. I’d say that more than 70% of school administrators aren’t truly there for the kids anymore.

Maureen Downey

October 10th, 2012
1:11 pm

@Entitlement: The problem with grad rates in Georgia is that we actually never had accurate information because a student tracking system was not in place.
Now, we have a system and we should get more reliable numbers.
What Kathy Cox and John Barge and both Perdue and Deal always said is that we ought to look at trends — no matter what the rates are, are they rising?

From one parent this morning on that question:

Davis cited data behind North Atlanta’s failure to meet AYP over the last several years, further asserting that the school was not living up to its potential. He particularly referenced graduation rates as a statistic that troubled him.

When pressed about the trending of that data, however, Davis was unable to provide an answer. As I am sure others have, I looked up said data on the Georgia DOE website archives. Using 2009 as a fair benchmark year (the recently dismissed Principal began his tenure in 2007, and it seems logical to give his team and policies a few years to take effect), the graduation rate at North Atlanta (measured via the old AYP formulae for consistency) is improving at a much faster pace than the statewide average.

For years 2009, 2010, and 2011 respectively, North Atlanta’s rates were 78%, 85.1%, and 88.5%. Statewide for those same 3 years, the numbers were 77.9%, 80.8%, and 80.9%. That hardly seems like a school “on the brink.”


October 10th, 2012
1:13 pm

At the risk of stirring up an even bigger firestorm….let me add that the SYSTEM encourages this wholeheartedly and WANTS to control teachers who might try to change the system.

No one really thinks that teacher education departments and professional development are valuable do they? Any HONEST veteran teacher will tell you that more than 80% of professional development courses and education courses are either politically-oriented mantras and left-wing ideology or they are a complete waste of time. There is BIG $$$$ in teacher education and even BIGGER $$$$ in going around giving professional development seminars. Our last speaker was paid more than $30,000 for a 6 day seminar over a book that I could have read, comprehended, and applied in about 5 hours. This is the kind of taxpayer waste going on in education day-in day-out in every system. At the end of the day, this allows administration to show how well their teachers are ‘prepared’ and coached.

Atlanta Mom

October 10th, 2012
1:13 pm

I withdraw my question about NAHS not being a focus school. Upon further research, Grady is a focus school because of graduation rates (SWD don’t graduate at a high enough rate). Hispanic students at NAHS do.


October 10th, 2012
1:14 pm

Maureen, you’re liberal and I’m conservative, but even you have to see the shell game being played in education don’t you? This whole situation in North Atlanta is a great example of the ’sell job’ that has come to represent education. We all know that North Atlanta is probably no worse off than any other run-of-the-mill high school with the problems that we all have. However, finding a scapegoat is the way you get elected and retain positions in education.

Maureen Downey

October 10th, 2012
1:16 pm

@Atlanta, I was in the midst of scanning my archived emails because I had asked DOE back in March why Grady was on the focus list based on a poster’s question. But I recalled graduation was the issue so I am glad that you found your answer.

Maureen Downey

October 10th, 2012
1:19 pm

@Bobo, Still not sure why North Atlanta unfolded as it did as it seems unnecessary and a diversion from what APS needs to be doing.
But it would not surprise me that politics played some role in this, although I believe Davis wants the school to be better and thinks it can be.


October 10th, 2012
1:24 pm

Mark MyGrant did a fantastic job of turning around Sutton MS and making it a viable choice for middle school. He was moved to try and do something about North Atlanta and spent countless evenings meeting with parent groups to encourage them to stay with public education. Some were convinced and made that commitment — many,many more were not willing to experiment with the four extremely important years that prepare a student for higher education. North Atlanta did an excellent job but preformance was segmented based on preperation and dedication among different students. Don’t bash MyGrant unless you know what a fantastic job he did as a turn around principal. He did an excellent job sending NAHS students to a wide range of uinversities with assistance through their collective hard work. He was not uinversally sucessful but that is the nature of that community where individual student commitment varied widely. All one has to do is look at the circumstances to smell something very wrong. Mark came out of retirement as an interim – he was scheduled to turn over the system as a transition manager in anyway. Why not let that happen unless there was a serious breach? APS is a failing system where a very few schools are holding up the already poor averages. We did extensive due diligence on North Atlanta but decided to go private for upper school but Mark MyGrant was the main reason it was even viable option (we stayed with Sutton mainly due to his great work there). The success of these North Atlanta schools rests more on their independence from APS intervention than any support they receive. If I had to put my money behind Mark MyGrant or APS leadership – having extensive experience wtih both – there is no contest – APS is self serving and power mad while Mark made a huge difference in two of the systems best performing schools in their grade levels – Beverly Hall may be gone but obviously her spirit at Central Offices lives on for double dealing. I hope the truth comes out and Mark MyGrant is not the one with something to fear from that process.


October 10th, 2012
1:28 pm

@Bobo, I have to say they some of the very best pricipals and superintendents I’ve worked with are former coaches. You may not respect their subject area (PE), but I have found them to be fair and adept at realizing people’s strengths and building on those or offering assistance with weaknesses, really great team builders.

On a completely different note, what was the purpose of MyGrant strolling in, waving to the crowd and retreating?
And lastly, a political comment…most on here are concerned that this administrative move was made like a private business and do not like it. Not trying to find out who supports democrats and who supports republicans, but the republicans have not made a secret of their education policy to turn public education over to private industry.


October 10th, 2012
1:31 pm

@ Entitlement Society – I would estimate that about 25% of the students that attend North Atlanta are from Buckhead. The latest figures show that NAHS is 52% free and reduced lunch. Therefore, there are plenty of students that attend the school (which encompasses a lot more than just Buckhead) whose families pay less than $1,346 per year in property taxes.

Not saying that the school does not have room for improvement, but the school does pull from wide socio-economic groups. These same students who cannot graduate from North Atlanta High would probably have a difficult time graduating from the elite private schools in Atlanta. Would that scenario make these private schools bad schools as well? Of course that is a hypothetical that will never happen in real life because as you correctly mention, private school tuition in Atlanta is the equivalent of buying a brand new car (a luxury one if you have more than one child) every year.


October 10th, 2012
1:46 pm

The reason why Grady and North Atlanta are the best schools in APS is because of the parents and the community…NOT because of Central Office staff or superintendent.
The parents and the community of North Atlanta now have to make some tough choices:
(1)Roll over and accept what has been done by Errol
(2) Fight with the help of lawyers and the strong Buckhead business coalition and to force APS to retract its actions
(3) Give up the fight and let NAHS become another APS school like Mays and Douglass and move out of the district and let APS wither in the vines.


October 10th, 2012
1:47 pm

You know how someone turns up the BS meter when they are cornered in a lie? Well that’s the impression I get from Erroll Davis. He is lying through his teeth. There is reverse-racism at the core of this issue.


October 10th, 2012
1:50 pm


What do you know about the new principal’s background? I know he is coming from Gwinnett. Is that the only system that he has served as an administrator for? I ask because Gwinnett schools are not known for being open to the intense parental involvement that a school like NA has. I do wonder if his hiring played some role in this?

Dana F. Blankenhorn

October 10th, 2012
1:52 pm

I think Beverly Fraud makes the key point here. Once the “charter school” amendment is passed, parents in Buckhead will be able to grab taxpayer dollars and fund a school only serving those kids, which would doubtless perform well. (It will be a publicly-funded all-white private academy.) This would dramatically reduce the amount of money available for kids on the south side.

I think Davis made a huge mistake here, in the timing of what he did. Maybe he thought that, based on absolute numbers (and the kids outside the magnet were NOT being educated), he could make a stand for excellence in education.

But it has backfired. When the Charter School amendment passes (and it will) public school leaders like Davis are going to be out of money, and the kids they claim to serve will be out of luck.

Southside Parent

October 10th, 2012
1:52 pm

@ Sandy Springs Parent: By your handle, I presume you do not reside in the NAHS zone or even the city of Atlanta, & primarily drive near NAHS on your route from to take your child to private school.

Why are you leading the charge in defending the NAHS fences? You are doing damage to a school community that isn’t yours. Several minority parents have observed throughout the reporting of this story that they feel hurt by your statements and (I believe wrongly) impute that your statements reflect the sentiments of white parents at NAHS. Yet you continue.

If you wish to speak descriptively of what NAHS is or should be, I suggest departing from your daily route from Sandy Springs to your child’s private school to tour the rest of the zone. Many of the students zoned to NAHS aren’t white, and some (of all colors incl white) are lower income. The real parents of the NAHS cluster fought hard in redistricting to keep all of these areas in NAHS.

Attentive Parent/Invisible Serfs Collar

October 10th, 2012
1:53 pm

Maureen-I was at a GPEE presentation in May where both an APS Deputy Super and officials from State (Martha) spoke. They were talking about how much better the new definitions of student achievement created via that NCLB waiver were going to make all the schools in APS and Georgia look. I do not think anyone has focused on those changes really. I wonder if Mygrant and staff were reluctant to embrace such a shift to the Full Personality/Competence/Affective focus.

RJ-What is going on now under the name Common Core is really a continuation of the 90s effort to change American education known as Outcomes Based Education. Except this time they funded the alternative measurements to show “progress” up front in that 2009 Stimulus bill- ARRA. Atlanta and Dekalb embraced the 90s changes that include Whole Language and the math wars enthusiastically. Probably because certain administrators embraced the political and economic Transformation that is never far away.

What is really at stake is a fight over whether the individual or the group is to have primacy. Related to that this is a battle over whether we will have free markets or a state directed economy. Always has been about that going back to the famous Eight Year Study in the 30s.

Common Core is designed to bring North Fulton, Cobb, and Cherokee into the tent with Dekalb and Atlanta. Probably should include Gwinnett as well although I do not think the Constructivism element has been as strong there as the others.

There are to be no beacons of academic learning in the metro area to be pointed to. And I am hearing from private school teachers that they are being pressured to move away from content to a more social and emotional learning approach. Seems to be a battle developing on what admins want vs what teachers think students need.

That’s what is happening.

Maureen-don’t you find it interesting that ATT has donated the Fox Theatre so Fulton and Avossa can have a fancy shindig to roll out their Five Year plan? Can you get a copy and post a link? Hope they invited you.


October 10th, 2012
1:55 pm

Point/Counterpoint. I probably should’ve qualified my statements with saying that SOME coaches DO have those abilities, but most of those guys are plenty smart enough to surround themselves with people who know what they do not. I’ve also been an athletic coach, but not a P.E. teacher. I’ve been on a H.S. football coaching staff before, and I hate to say it….but more than 50% of head football coaches I’ve been around are EXTREMELY arrogant and self-assured to the point that they are blind to critcism because they have been put on a pedestal for so long. This is fine in football, because it’s the nature of the beast and most of them know what they are talking about. However, this DOESN’T play when they leave and go into academic arenas they know nothing about. In all fairness, with that said, I’m probably being too stereotypical. There are also plenty of bad educational ‘idealist’ academic principals. Bad comes in all flavors.

Entitlement Society

October 10th, 2012
1:56 pm

@CB – Yes, that’s my point. Maybe Davis is actually trying to serve the tax base of North Atlanta that feels like it can’t even use its neighborhood school (as my family feels). If North Atlanta has to open its doors to students from outside the district, fine with me as long as the overall quality of instruction and ultimate product does suffer. I thought the point of allowing these kids in was to give them a crack at an equal education. Obviously, it’s not working, if people are saying that these are the students dragging down the scores. Maureen even said yesterday in response to my post that NAHS has average SAT scores over 200 points lower than Riverwood that it wasn’t an accurate comparison because so many at NAHS are on free lunch and that equates to lower test scores. So according to Maureen, those coming from poverty can’t be expected to test well, as low test scores are correlated with socio-economics. If that’s the case, why allow these children in the district if they’re doomed to low achievement scores? A better school obviously isn’t helping them excel academically.

Chris Murphy

October 10th, 2012
1:58 pm

Those 80+% graduation figures for NAHS are far too high; those are the percent of seniors in March that graduate in May. The cohort figures- how many from a freshman class graduate four years later- are much better info. Even the enrollment figures for classes are better starting points:

In Oct., ‘08, NAHS had 440 students in the freshman class of 2012. By March, ‘12, it had 188 left in the senior class. Where’s the 80%?

Maureen Downey

October 10th, 2012
2:01 pm


Howard E. (Gene) Taylor is currently the principal at Lilburn Middle School and is expected to take over for current North Atlanta principal Mark MyGrant in November.

Before becoming principal of Lilburn Middle School, Taylor was the principal at Crews Middle School from 2006 to 2008 and the assistant principal for instruction at North Gwinnett High School from 2003 to 2006.

He has also taught high school World History and US Government and served as chair of both departments. He was an assistant professor in the College of Education at Georgia State University from 1998 to 2000.

Southside Parent

October 10th, 2012
2:06 pm

@CB re: your estimate that 25% of NAHS kids reside in the NAHS zone, by APS data released in redistricting, 81% of NAHS students (1,056 out of 1,300) residen in the NAHS zone. NAHS has been open for admin transfers for many years including the 2012-13 school year because it has additional room.

Doubtless, some of those kids registered as residing in the district are using a fake address. But if you look at the free/reduced lunch rates at the elementary school feeders, you will see that a substantial percent of students qualify for free/reduced lunch at Bolton, Garden Hills & E Rivers, & quite a few qualifying other places as well. The overall proportion of free/reduced increases as many affluent families opt out of public schools at the middle and high school levels.

Of the 244 kids transferring to NAHS, 24 are out of district – kids of APS teachers & other APS employees, many who work at NAHS. Do you contend teachers kids are ruining NAHS? 53 commute over from Douglas, & about 30 each from Grady, Mays, Washington, Jackson & Therrell. On an earlier article, a commenter referenced the “gangbangers” taking MARTA back to SW Atlanta. Truly, what gang takes members who are willing to take MARTA for 45-60 minutes daily to high school? That would be a terrific documentary.

Entitlement Society

October 10th, 2012
2:07 pm

@Chris Murphy – agreed. That must be the new math they’re teaching APS. Those stats really trouble me. Regardless of whether those children moved, etc, that’s an enormous drop in student population. Something isn’t right at North Atlanta if they lose over 250 students from freshman year to graduation. Dropouts? Unhappy with the school??

Attentive Parent/Invisible Serfs Collar

October 10th, 2012
2:07 pm is a post I wrote months ago after the paper described that APS was using CASEL materials and training the teachers to use them in the classroom.

It is also consistent with an interesting comment I heard a state official say right after the state got that NCLB waiver. “Once we get the school climate right, student achievement falls right in place.”

I followed up asking if they were talking about the Positive School Climate materials issued by what used to be known as the Center for Social and Emotional Education. Now known as the School Climate Center, the answer was yes.

So APS may be actively pushing this as well as Fulton as Positive School Culture but this SEL focus is coming to schools and classrooms all over Georgia. And it is not pull out. It’s a daily focus. Drip. Drip. Drip.

Chris Murphy

October 10th, 2012
2:15 pm

@Southside Parent: for the 2011-12 year, NAHS was open for 10 (ten) new transfers. Supposedly.

Truth in Moderation

October 10th, 2012
2:25 pm

“The labels of Priority Schools, Focus Schools, Alert Schools and Reward Schools will replace the designations used in the federal No Child Left Behind initiative. President Barack Obama granted waivers for the federal mandates in February.

#The Focus Schools category is made up of educational facilities which have graduation rates of less than 60-percent over a two-year period and are not identified as priority schools.

#The department of education may also name a school to the list if large within-school gaps exist between the highest achieving subgroup and the lowest achieving subgroup. Subgroups can be determined by race, special needs and family income.

#Local schools named on the Focus list for less than a 60-percent graduation rate were Norcross, Berkmar and Central Gwinnett. Those listed as Focus Schools for within-school achievement gaps were Sweetwater Middle, Rosebud Elementary, Lilburn Middle and Summerour Middle.

#Sloan Roach, district spokesperson with GCPS, said the category of Focus Schools “is an apt description of these schools because while they have accomplished many good things to date, their focus continues to be on closing achievement gaps and helping all children reach their learning potential.”

The key statement:

“The department of education may also name a school to the list if large within-school achievement gaps exist between the highest achieving subgroup and the lowest achieving subgroup.”

This is how Lillburn middle is described, and would also fit North Atlanta, with students in its IB program being the high performers. This means that there is a good chance, in my opinion, that the IB program will be phased out/dropped so resources will be used on the bottom performers. The only focus on school achievement in this system is to “close the gap.” It is easier to achieve if the academic bar is lowered so ALL can jump over. THIS IS NOTHING BUT RECYCLED OBE COME HOME TO ROOST! If you have a high performing student at NAHS, I would get prepared to home school for 2012-2013. You have been overthrown.