You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to myAJC.com

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks

X

Welcome to myAJC.com

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on myAJC.com.

breaking news

Judge stays deportation of Iraqis in Georgia, nationwide

New state ratings show fewer schools among Georgia’s worst


New state ratings of schools released Tuesday show improvement at many schools the state had considered among Georgia’s worst, but they show, too, that some schools will now be added to that list.

Ending up on that list of Georgia’s consistently lowest performing schools — schools receiving an F or lower for three consecutive years — would make a school eligible for state takeover if voters approve Gov. Nathan Deal’s Opportunity School District plan this fall. The plan would allow the state to take up to 20 schools from that list each year and close them, run them itself or convert them to charter schools.

Statewide, there are now 127 schools eligible for a potential state takeover, according to the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement. That’s down from 139 last year. But the same handful of districts still have the lion’s share of schools eligible for potential takeover.

The Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science and Technology had the top score of any school in Georgia. But statewide, the number of schools earning A’s and B’s has dropped as the state instituted new tests and tougher grading standards.

Nearly half the takeover-eligible schools are in metro Atlanta. DeKalb County has the most schools eligible for takeover, 28; Atlanta has 22, including some schools that have closed or will be merged or closed next year. Ten schools are in Fulton County. Three others are state-approved charter schools, including two in metro Atlanta and one online school.

Clayton County, which had three eligible schools last year, has no eligible schools this year, according to the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement.

“The governor would like nothing more than to see no schools on this list,” said Deal spokeswoman Jen Talaber Ryan.

The Georgia Department of Education school ratings, which are based mostly on student performance on state standardized tests, are the cornerstone of the state’s school accountability system in the post-No Child Left Behind era. Multiple requests from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution to speak with State Superintendent Richard Woods about the ratings went unanswered.

This year’s ratings can’t be compared to last year’s because the state changed the grading criteria, primarily to give more credit to student improvement. And some schools reported problems with online testing last year, including the test “freezing” or taking a long time to load questions, potentially leading to lower than expected scores.The Georgia Department of Education called the problems “sporadic and scattered.” Education policy experts, such as the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education’s Dana Rickman, noted the criteria may change again, thanks to new federal education legislation.

Gov. Deal’s state takeover plan isn’t a sure thing. Some parents, clergy and others have criticized it, saying it won’t actually improve education for Georgia students. But even if voters do approve the plan, the earliest the state would intervene in any eligible school would be the 2017-18 school year.

In DeKalb, 28 schools are eligible for potential takeover, state officials said. Three improved enough to avoid potential takeover, but six more were added to the list. DeKalb school officials said they believed fewer schools were actually state eligible.

“The way I received the information was encouraging,” DeKalb superintendent Steve Green said of his district’s overall scores. “I think the trend line is an upward trend overall. We did have some schools that had some challenges and those are going to get a triage approach and focus.”

The scores were reason to celebrate at DeKalb’s Columbia High School, one of the schools no longer targeted for potential state takeover. Columbia’s state rating rose from an F to a D.

“It’s euphoric to say the least,” Principal Stephanie Amey said Tuesday. “A lot of hard work was put in by teachers. A lot of work a regular person doesn’t see.”

In Atlanta, seven schools improved enough last year to make it out of the range of Gov Deal’s proposed state takeover district. But two were added to the list of those eligible. The two that were added actually had higher scores than in the previous year, but were still rated low enough to be at risk of takeover.

It wasn’t the threat of takeover that led to the improvements, Atlanta Public Schools superintendent Meria Carstarphen said.

“This is the lift and the push of APS doing a lot of tightening…and getting back on that child-centered agenda,” she said. “I’m not chasing OSD.”

» Explore The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's interactive guide to Georgia schools here

Staff writer Greg Bluestein and data specialist Jennifer Peebles contributed to this article.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Education

Morehouse College names interim president
Morehouse College names interim president

A Morehouse College graduate and recent board member was named its interim president, officials announced Monday afternoon. Harold Martin Jr. replaces William “Bill” Taggart, who died earlier this month from an aneurysm in his Atlanta home. Taggart, 55, became the Atlanta college’s interim president in April after the board voted...
Tax credits for private school scholarships OK, state top court says
Tax credits for private school scholarships OK, state top court says

A Georgia Supreme Court decision upholding state tax credits for private school scholarships has emboldened advocates for expanding the program, as teachers and education advocates lament the effect on public school budgets. The unanimous decision Monday ends uncertainty that has surrounded the program, which gives private schools money that otherwise...
Principal who turned around Atlanta-area schools named to state post
Principal who turned around Atlanta-area schools named to state post

An Atlanta high school principal has been selected to oversee the Georgia Department of Education’s school improvement work. Jackson High School principal Stephanie Johnson will serve as the state’s deputy superintendent for school improvement.  Johnson will focus on helping all schools, including low-performing campuses, improve....
Atlanta schools ethics commission to consider complaint against board member Leslie Grant
Atlanta schools ethics commission to consider complaint against board member Leslie Grant

The Atlanta school board’s ethics commission will meet Tuesday to consider a complaint eight board members filed against fellow board member Leslie Grant. The board members say Grant shared confidential information about a real estate deal with a potential buyer after being told that the information should be kept private. The ...
Georgia Supreme Court rules for tax credit scholarships
Georgia Supreme Court rules for tax credit scholarships

Georgia’s highest court has determined that a state law allowing taxpayers to steer some of what they owe the state to private schools instead does not violate the state constitution. The unanimous ruling Monday by the Georgia Supreme Court strikes a blow against the claim by Raymond Gaddy and other taxpayers that the state law establishing...
More Stories