Archive for the ‘Cobb County’ Category

Who’s No. 1 in the class? Some local schools don’t care.

Some local schools aren't ranking their graduates so there is no valedictorian. (AJC/file photo)

Some local schools aren't ranking their graduates so there is no valedictorian. (AJC/file photo)

In a subscriber-only story recently, the AJC looked at the trend away from naming valedictorians. (I can’t link to the AJC piece as it did not run online. But next week, the op-ed page will have a pro/con on this topic that will run online.)

I have written a lot about this in connection with the recent Georgia flaps about who won the No. 1 slot in various high schools.

In this news story, AJC reporter D. Aileen Dodd writes about why a few schools, typically private, have moved away from naming valedictorians while most still hold onto the tradition.

She wrote:

These schools, mostly private and some public, say they buck the tradition so students will be motivated to get good grades because that’s what they should do as scholars, not to attain the rewards of a high rank.

The prevailing philosophy in education, however, is to reward students for hard work. The title of …

Continue reading Who’s No. 1 in the class? Some local schools don’t care. »

To cope with budget, Cobb shortens school year, raises class size and cuts teachers. Welcome to the new normal

I can’t help but be depressed at the continual AJC news stories about larger classes, fewer teachers and shorter calendars.

This story is about Cobb, a school system that has been an academic pace setter and a major factor in the county’s appeal to middle-class families. When these top systems start slashing, I worry even more about the future of education in Georgia.

Here is the latest report from the AJC:

After failing to reach agreement last week, the Cobb County school board held a special meeting Monday for another go at next year’s budget, and approved one with $841.9 million in spending.

The 2012-13 budget, which kicks in July 1, cuts 350 teaching positions. That should increase average class sizes at all grade levels by two students per teacher.

The new budget pulls back from other cuts that were contained in the tentative budget approved in April.

Instead of five furlough days, for instance, teachers and all other employees will get three. That will mean a …

Continue reading To cope with budget, Cobb shortens school year, raises class size and cuts teachers. Welcome to the new normal »

State DOE releases list of Alert Schools today

The state Department of Education released its list of Alert Schools today.

The new DOE accountability designations — priority schools, focus schools and reward schools — replace the “needs improvement” label in No Child Left Behind that educators deemed unclear and unhelpful. These three designations target  “Title I” schools that have a high percentage of low-income students. DOE also designated a fourth category, “alert schools,” so the state can focus on struggling schools that do not necessarily have a high percentage of low-income students.

DOE defines Alert Schools are those that need to raise student achievement on statewide assessments in the areas of graduation rate for high schools and subgroup performance and subject performance for elementary and middle schools. Alert Schools can be Title I Schools or Non-Title I Schools.

The criteria used to identify Alert Schools are:

(1) Graduation Alert Schools: High Schools whose subgroup graduation rate falls at …

Continue reading State DOE releases list of Alert Schools today »

Playoff vs. prom: Still think Gwinnett and Cobb could have worked this out. Now, they have.

UPDATE at noon: From Jay Dillon, Cobb spokesman: “I just got off the phone with Harrison Principal Donnie Griggers. He told me that the Roswell High School girls lacrosse coach has agreed to move back the start time of their playoff game against Harrison, allowing the girls championship soccer game between Mill Creek and Harrison to start at 1:00 p.m. The lacrosse game will now start at 3:00-3:30, or as soon as possible following the soccer game. Some of the Roswell lacrosse players have graduation parties to attend Saturday night as well, but they should be able to make it work out. A big thank you to Roswell lacrosse coach Sue Scheer for being accommodating so the soccer game could be moved and the Mill Creek students can attend their prom, and also to Mr. Griggers and Harrison soccer coach Steve Riccard for working so hard to find a resolution.

Hard to believe there wasn’t a solution to this problem: The girls soccer teams from Cobb’s Harrison High School and …

Continue reading Playoff vs. prom: Still think Gwinnett and Cobb could have worked this out. Now, they have. »

Fewer teachers, school days in Cobb. When do cuts threaten quality?

There seems to be little good news on the school budget front in Cobb where parents are looking at fewer days and teachers as the system grapples with fallen real estate taxes and reduced state funding.

Here would be my concerns if I were a Cobb parent: When do these cuts erode quality? Cobb has had a jewel of a school system. Its public schools have long been a enticement for middle-class families to settle in the county. I know friends who accepted an hour commute in exchange for Cobb County schools.

Can quality survive this level of cuts?

According to the AJC:

The board voted 6-1 for an $842 million general fund budget for the 2012-13 school year. That’s down $10 million from the current year’s spending, but officials still didn’t cut enough to match revenues. Superintendent Michael Hinojosa proposed plugging a $21 million deficit with reserves.

If the tentative budget becomes final, there will be about 400 fewer instructional personnel, 350 of them teachers, and …

Continue reading Fewer teachers, school days in Cobb. When do cuts threaten quality? »

Congrats to Renfroe Middle in Decatur, Walton High in Cobb and Lakeside High in Evans for science prowess

Congratulations to Renfroe Middle School in Decatur, Lakeside High School in Evans, Ga., and Walton High School in Cobb. The three schools are the Georgia finalists in the Energy Department’s National Science Bowl Finals.

From the White House:

Demonstrating the Obama Administration’s commitment to improving the participation and performance of America’s students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu today announced the list of 113 regional middle and high school finalists that will compete in the Energy Department’s National Science Bowl Finals in Washington, D.C., at the end of April.

Since January, nearly 14,000 students have competed in regional tournaments in which teams of four or five students were tested via a fast-paced Jeopardy-style format on a range of science-related topics including biology, chemistry, earth science, physics, astronomy and math.

“Congratulations to the finalists of our 22nd annual science …

Continue reading Congrats to Renfroe Middle in Decatur, Walton High in Cobb and Lakeside High in Evans for science prowess »

Teacher absenteeism: Are mental health days on the rise?

Teacher absenteeism can adversely affect students. (AP Images)

Teacher absenteeism can adversely affect students. (AP Images)

The AJC has an interesting piece this morning on absenteeism among metro Atlanta teachers. The story by education writer Ty Tagami and database specialist Kelly Guckian is subscriber only and will not appear online so I can’t share a link. But I can provide a summary.

The AJC analyzed metro Atlanta attendance data for the past three years and found that teachers in nearly all districts missed on average more than 10 days due to illness, training, personal leave or jury duty. Sickness was the most common cause.

The story examines whether “mental health” days are increasing because of class size, diminishing respect and increasing responsibilities and accountability.

“It used to be that teachers only worried about teaching,” said Connie Jackson, president of the Cobb County Association of Educators. “Now, they have to worry about paperwork, evaluations, test scores, data management, keeping your students happy …

Continue reading Teacher absenteeism: Are mental health days on the rise? »

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 …

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

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 …

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

All eyes and concerns on charter school constitutional amendment today

I am at a packed meeting of a joint House and Senate education committee where all attention is on HR 1162, which would put a constitutional amendment on the ballot essentially allowing the state to approve and fund charter schools and use local dollars. (Please note that I am writing as folks speak and will have more typos than usual but will go back and correct once there is a break.)

Sitting in front of me are the school chiefs of Fulton, Gwinnett and Cobb — but they are being told that the House and Senate meeting chairs do not want to address the controversial amendment, that it will be dealt with only at the House Ed meeting to follow

Meeting has yet to start with all the major education players are here. Sen. Fran Millar, chair of the Senate ed committee, is greeting school chiefs now. Everyone seems cordial, although school chiefs are clearly opposed to any effort to reroute local dollars from their schools.

Millar just said he doesn’t want to turn this into a debate …

Continue reading All eyes and concerns on charter school constitutional amendment today »