You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.


  • ePAPER

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


Welcome to

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

New initiative to improve metro Atlanta schools

A new initiative to improve public education in metro Atlanta will report on school performance while looking for, and spreading, ideas for improvement.

Former interim Fulton County Superintendent Kenneth Zeff is spearheading the effort, dubbed “Learn4Life.”

He is teaming with philanthropies and leaders in business, government and education to scout out ways “for scaling best practices.” The group will also dig up the “root cause” of lackluster performance.

Georgia already has two state agencies that produce school report cards. The Department of Education creates the College and Career Ready Performance Index and the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement publishes a host of measures, including the Georgia School Reports website.

Zeff said this is different because the focus is on regional averages rather than particular schools in the participating districts: Atlanta, Decatur and Marietta cities and Clayton, Cobb, DeKalb, Fulton and Gwinnett counties.

One of the six "key indicators” Learn4Life will monitor is reading on grade level by third grade; Zeff said 28,000 students in the eight school districts cannot. “This is a metro Atlanta problem,” he said.

State lawmakers recently passed the First Priority Act, which calls for intervention in Georgia’s lowest-performing schools and also requires a determination of the “root causes” that hold them back. Zeff said this initiative is different because it seeks to improve -- and learn from -- all schools in metro Atlanta, not just the lowest performers.

The partnership includes the Metro Atlanta Chamber, the United Way of Greater Atlanta, the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta and the Atlanta Regional Commission. The indicators it will monitor cover public education before, during and after K-12 enrollment, from kindergarten readiness to post-secondary completion. It is modeled after partnerships such as Strive Together in Cincinnati.

Dennis Lockhart, recently retired president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, said at an unveiling of the initiative at the Chamber offices Tuesday that “business community support for this is essential.”

Four superintendents headlined the event: J. Alvin Wilbanks of Gwinnett, Meria Carstarphen of Atlanta, David Dude of Decatur and Grant Rivera of Marietta. Carstarphen welcomed the help and said the performance data do not surprise her: she’s seen worse at some schools.

“It makes me worried about the future of Atlanta,” she said.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Education

Atlanta schools seek to close budget gap of up to $18 million
Atlanta schools seek to close budget gap of up to $18 million

The Atlanta school board will face tough financial decisions this summer as members seek a way to close close a budget gap that could be as high as $18 million. The school district faces the gap because of Fulton County commissioners’ decision earlier this week to largely freeze property values this year. The freeze could cost Atlanta schools...
Madison, Warren counties praised for charter school innovation
Madison, Warren counties praised for charter school innovation

The school districts for Madison and Warren counties are the winners of this year’s recognition for charter system performance. The 4,900-student Madison County School System near Athens won the Georgia Charter System Foundation’s leadership award, and the 600-student Warren County School District near Augusta won for system of the...
Will Atlanta taxpayers see higher school tax bills?
Will Atlanta taxpayers see higher school tax bills?

Atlanta school district officials had hoped that rising property values would mean the school district could collect more than $20 million more from taxpayers this year without raising the district’s tax rate. But with Fulton County commissioners’ decision Wednesday to freeze property values this year, school district leaders are facing ...
Sex ed complaints arise again, this time in Gwinnett
Sex ed complaints arise again, this time in Gwinnett

Talking about sex in Georgia’s public schools is no easy chore, many metro Atlanta school districts have learned. Gwinnett County is the latest school district facing scrutiny about some of what’s taught in its sex ed classes. About two dozen parents, students and former students came to last week’s school board meeting, with some...
As feds consider Medicaid cuts, state pursues $48 million for school nurses
As feds consider Medicaid cuts, state pursues $48 million for school nurses

Georgia health officials may go after $48.6 million in federal health care funding for schools even as threatened Medicaid cuts in the Obamacare replacement could undermine school budgets. The Department of Community Health board will vote next month on a plan to harness Medicaid to pay for more nurses in schools. The agency, working with state...
More Stories