Archive for November, 2012

Homework: Doesn’t improve grades but boosts test scores

Since my twins often have an hour or more of homework each night, I found this study out of  Indiana University interesting. This piece comes from IU.

A study led by an Indiana University School of Education faculty member finds little correlation between time spent on homework and better course grades for math and science students, but a positive relationship between homework time and performance on standardized tests.

“When Is Homework Worth the Time?” is a recently published work of Adam Maltese, assistant professor of science education in the IU School of Education, along with co-authors Robert H. Tai, associate professor of science education at the Curry School of Education at the University of Virginia, and Xitao Fan, dean of education at the University of Macau.

The authors examined survey and transcript data of more than 18,000 10th-grade students to uncover explanations for academic performance. The data focused on individual classes for students, examining the …

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Cobb, DeKalb, Fulton, Gwinnett schools among Blue Ribbon winners honored this week in Washington

Congratulations to these schools and their staffs:

From DOE:

Seven Georgia public schools and one private school were honored Tuesday in Washington, D.C.. at the 2012 National Blue Ribbon Schools Ceremony held by U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

The No Child Left Behind Blue Ribbon Schools award distinguishes and honors schools for helping students achieve at very high levels and for making significant progress in closing the achievement gap.

“I congratulate these schools for being recognized as 2012 National Blue Ribbon Schools,” said State School Superintendent Dr. John Barge. “The students, teachers and staff of these schools should be proud of their success. These schools are shining examples of what happens when everyone is focused on student learning.”

Blue Ribbon Schools are chosen in two categories. See criteria here.

HIGH PERFORMING SCHOOLS: Schools that scored in the top 10 percent in student achievement.

DRAMATICALLY IMPROVED SCHOOLS: Schools with …

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Chartering a new future for schools through a local focus

Adam Emerson is the Thomas B. Fordham Institute’s school choice czar, directing the Institute’s policy program on parental choice and editing the Choice Words blog. This piece ran on the AJC print education page Monday. It originally appeared in slightly longer form on the Choice Words blog, which you can check out here.

By Adam Emerson

Charter school supporters can claim victory in two high-profile ballot initiatives, Georgia and Washington, but each state has a different story to tell — and lessons to teach.

In what may arguably be defined as a landslide, 59 percent of Georgia voters empowered the state to create an independent commission to authorize charter schools. But that margin of victory doesn’t even tell the whole story.

Consider Gwinnett County, the state’s largest school district, which has allowed only three charter schools within its boundaries and which filed the original lawsuit that ultimately killed Georgia’s previous independent authorizer, hence the …

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Georgia Cyber Academy responds to state board special ed concerns: DOE didn’t provide assistance or clarity

In light of the state board of education concerns about Georgia Cyber Academy, I asked the director of the online charter school to make a statement.

Here is a response from head of school Matt Arkin:

GCA has been committed to working collaboratively with the Department of Education since our launch in 2007. When, in early 2012 Department of Education staff came to us with concerns regarding the growth of our Special Education population, GCA met with DOE staff, provided all requested information in a timely manner, and cooperated fully in a completely transparent manner.

When the DOE identified a list of issues to be addressed in May, GCA moved swiftly to address every issue identified in a comprehensive manner (including the addition of over 25 new special education teachers and support staff), and met every deadline that was identified by the DOE without delay.

GCA has met every deadline and addressed every issue identified by the DOE to date, as Lynda White, the …

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Breaking news out of Albany: Dougherty County school chief is out

Since taking over Dougherty County schools in June of 2010, Superintendent Joshua Murfree has had some major challenges and embarrassments, including a CRCT cheating scandal that he inherited and was reluctant to believe, school administrators lying to qualify for free lunches and a motivational speaker collecting $18,000 for three appearances.

So, it is not a shock that Murfree and the district parted ways today.

From the Albany Herald:

The Dougherty County School Board has just adopted an agreement to release Superintendent Joshua Murfree from his contract.

The vote was a 4-3 split, with Chairman James Bush and members David Maschke, Darrell Ealum and Carol Tharin voting in favor of releasing Murfree, and members Anita Williams-Brown, Velvet Riggins, and Milton “June Bug” Griffin, voting against. Murfree’s last day is December 18, according to the agreement between Murfree and the board.

“I would refer it to the board members, that’s all I have to say,” Murfree said …

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Georgia Cyber Academy: Is virtual charter ignoring real problems with special ed services?

The last time we discussed Georgia Cyber Academy was in response to parent comments about their significant roles as academic coaches under the online school’s instructional model.

Now, it is the state board of education discussing the state’s first online school, suggesting it will pull its charter if it does not improve services for students with disabilities.

Georgia Cyber Academy is part of K12 Inc., a for-profit company that is the nation’s largest virtual school provider with online public schools in 30 states.

The charter school’s parent company has been garnering headlines lately, many of which have not been flattering, including a scathing investigation by The New York Times.

A report released this summer by the National Education Policy Center found that less than 28 percent of K12-run schools were meeting Adequate Yearly Progress during the 2010-11 school year, compared with 52 percent of brick-and-mortar schools nationwide. Georgia Cyber also did not make AYP in …

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New Morehouse president has a fan in the White House

John Silvanus Wilson, Jr., a 1979 graduate of Morehouse College, wass only named the 11th president of the men's college Monday.

John Silvanus Wilson, Jr., a 1979 graduate of Morehouse College, was named the 11th president of the Atlanta men's college Monday.

Morehouse College has a new president, John Silvanus Wilson Jr., who was the executive director of  President Obama’s White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

According to the AJC:

Wilson will be the 11th president in the Atlanta school’s 145-year history. He will follow Robert Franklin and be tasked with maintaining the college’s reputation while making advances in fundraising, graduation rates and retention.

A 1979 graduate, Wilson is no stranger to Morehouse. In 2007, he and Calvin Butts, pastor of the Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem, were finalists for the presidency, which went to Franklin.

At the White House Initiative, Wilson tried to strengthen the capacity of the nation’s 105 recognized black colleges by working with the White House, federal agencies and private corporations to secure …

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Congrats: DeKalb, Gwinnett, Rockdale, Oconee, Worth, Madison and Walker counties earn spots on AP honor roll

Seven Georgia districts were recognized today by the College Board on the 3rd Annual AP District Honor Roll for simultaneously increasing access to AP courses while increasing the percentage of students earning scores of 3 or higher on AP Exams.

They are DeKalb, Gwinnett, Walker, Oconee, Madison, Rockdale and Worth counties.

DeKalb sent me a release on its inclusion on the honor roll:

According to the College Board, only about half of African-American, Hispanic and Native American students with a high degree of readiness for AP actually participate, often because the courses aren’t offered.

In DeKalb, where 88 percent of the student population is non-white and 71.13 percent of students receive free or reduced-price meals, AP classes are offered at 23 schools.

“We are ecstatic to receive this high level state and national recognition for our students and the district,” said Superintendent Dr. Cheryl Atkinson. “We know that by providing support and access to these …

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DeKalb school chief releases audit to the public. Read it and let’s discuss

UPDATED Wednesday morning: As promised, Dr. Atkinson has posted the audit. Go here to read it.

UPDATE at 3:30: I just spoke to DeKalb Superintendent Cheryl Atkinson who says she plans to release the forensic audit on the district website within the next 24 hours or sooner. She explained that the audit is only a draft and subject to change. She said she is overriding the attorney’s view that the document is privileged in its draft form since it already has been leaked to the media.

Atkinson said her goal was never to keep the audit from the public.  She is sending the draft audit to board members now and then will post. She wants parents to understand that this is only a draft from the auditors and changes may be made.

Parents in DeKalb County Schools are among the most dissatisfied in metro Atlanta, in large part because of a string of ineffective leaders, one of whom ended up in indicted.

New school chief Cheryl Atkinson arrived a year ago and cast herself as a change …

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In a close election, Washington voters approve first charter schools

It has taken nearly a week to tally votes, but citizens in the state of Washington appear to have approved charter schools by a narrow margin. (The state of Washington allows mail-in ballots to be postmarked through election day and then apparently counts them very carefully and slowly.)

The measure won 50.8 percent of the 90 percent of votes counted thus far.

Initiative 1240 will permit up to 40 charter schools over the next five years in the state. There are now 42 states that allow charter schools.

According to the Seattle Times: (This is an excerpt. Please read entire piece before commenting.)

Opponents have not conceded, saying they will wait until all votes are counted. To prevail, they would need about 57 percent of the remaining 300,000 votes to go their way. Roughly 90 percent of ballots already have been tallied.

Supporters hope the first charter schools will open as early as next fall, although that might be optimistic. The new state commission that will review …

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