Archive for the ‘Gwinnett’ Category

Not true that urban schools fail all students: Intown white high school students outperform suburban counterparts.

Jarod Apperson, a Midtown reader, sent me an interesting analysis of Georgia SAT scores, similar to one that I ran a few years ago, showing that white students in metro schools outperform suburban counterparts.  Except he went a bit deeper.

Here is why he compiled the data and what he hopes we learn from it:

Since my analysis has some newer data and focuses on specific schools, people might still be interested in it.  I think the fact that North Atlanta is the No. 3 public school in the state for white high school students could be a strong talking point for APS school chief Erroll B. Davis trying to get more middle-class families to stay in the public education system.

It’s a narrative that’s not heard enough.

To answer your question about how I came to look at this, I became interested in education reform a few years ago when I read a book by Paul Tough called “Whatever it Takes.”  I’ve always felt that excellent public education was the best way to create economic …

Continue reading Not true that urban schools fail all students: Intown white high school students outperform suburban counterparts. »

Gwinnett schools: Furlough days, larger classes and 585 unfilled jobs

Gwinnett schools approved a budget today that calls for two unpaid furlough days for most employees, two extra students per classroom and nearly 600 fewer people on the payroll. Most of the job cuts will come from leaving open jobs unfilled.

According to the AJC:

Spending for day-to-day operations of the state’s largest school district will be $1.2 billion for the fiscal year that starts July 1, down $60.6 million from this year.

“It’s a very tough budget,” said Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks. “It’s one we have lots of concerns with, but it will allow us to continue to do what we need to do.”

The largest share of the savings — $43 million — will come from leaving vacant 585 jobs, where employees — mostly teachers — have retired, resigned or transferred, and adding an average of two students per classroom.

The system will save another $10 million by furloughing employees for a fourth straight year. The two unpaid furlough days will apply to all employees, with the exception …

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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 …

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 …

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Gwinnett schools: Fewer new students next year as economy takes toll on growth statewide

Gwinnett schools will see fewer new students next year. (AJC file)

Gwinnett schools will see fewer new students next year. (AJC file)

The AJC has a good story this morning on the statewide slowdown in student enrollment, which is most visible in Gwinnett, a district accustomed to welcoming thousands of new students each year. In 2006-2007 alone, Gwinnett added 7,400 students.

The story reports that for the first time in at least 30 years, Gwinnett expects to begin next year with fewer than 1,000 new students. The district anticipates 692 new kids in August when the 2012-2013 school year commences.

According to the AJC:

J. Alvin Wilbanks, Gwinnett County’s CEO and superintendent, attributes the enrollment slowdown to the economic downturn. It’s the same in other districts — just more glaring in Gwinnett, the nation’s 12th-largest school district and a record-setter for years in growth. Wilbanks and school system planners see a quick, albeit small rebound. In the meantime, said school system spokeswoman Sloan Roach, “it’s nice to …

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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 …

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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, …

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 …

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Teacher under siege for slavery math question resigns

The AJC is reporting the Gwinnett third-grade teacher under siege for the slavery-themed math questions has resigned.

As we know in any profession, there are freely chosen resignations and there are highly recommended resignations. I wonder which this was.

According to the AJC:

A Beaver Ridge Elementary School teacher involved in giving slavery themed math questions to students has resigned, a Gwinnett County Schools spokeswoman confirmed Wednesday.

The unidentified teacher quit during a human resources investigation into the origin of the homework assignment. School officials said one teacher created the slave math questions, which used references to beatings and picking cotton to link a history lesson about Frederick Douglass to math computation. It was used in four classrooms.

Sloan Roach, a spokeswoman for Gwinnett Schools, said the teacher who resigned is one of four under a personnel investigation. She said the school probe concluded late Tuesday. “The principal …

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