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DeKalb details plan to escape state takeover: Improve instruction


The governor's Opportunity School District has not yet won voter approval, but DeKalb now joins Atlanta in already announcing a game plan to fend off state takeover.

In 2016, Georgia voters, at the behest of Nathan Deal, will be asked to empower the state to subvert local control of schools and take charge of schools categorized as chronically failing.

Deal has cited state takeover districts in New Orleans and Tennessee as his inspiration; takeovers there have targeted urban schools in close proximity rather than schools spread across rural areas.

Given that criterion, DeKalb and APS represent likely targets for the OSD.

APS has already begun its deflection campaign, even hiring Deal's former education adviser Erin Hames to help it figure out how to improve its schools and avoid the OSD.

DeKalb issued its plan today. Here is the official release from the district:

Superintendent Dr. R. Stephen Green announced today a comprehensive plan to remove DeKalb County School District schools that qualify for target lists including the proposed Opportunity School District (OSD), priority, and focus lists.

Thirty eight district schools are eligible as defined by proposed state legislation and existing federal guidelines.  An additional 16 schools were identified for support based on a three-year average of their College & Career Ready Performance Index (CCRPI) scores for a total of 54 target schools.

“The answer to getting our schools off these lists requires a systematic solution,” said Dr. Green.  “The solution begins with improving classroom instruction and outcomes.”

The district’s efforts to improve overall student academic performance is being led by the CIA² Task Force, which will be responsible for improving curriculum, instruction, assessment, and accountability in the classroom.

Chaired by two regional superintendents, the Task Force, which reports weekly to Superintendent Green, has a broad mandate to evaluate all aspects of classroom learning and implement improvements.

In addition, relevant professional learning for school leaders and teachers, enhanced family and community engagement, and expanded academic support and social and emotional student support are critical components of the plan.

Also, operational flexibility will offer preferential hiring of highly qualified and effective teachers including teachers in special education, ESOL, and gifted.  Incentive bonuses using Title II Federal funds will be allocated when appropriate for teachers demonstrating academic achievement.

A rapid response team composed of local school staff will be deployed to address critical issues or needs, as they occur. Partnerships will be created with local colleges and universities to provide need-based support.  Outside service providers that can assist teachers, students and school leadership will be offered to the target schools.

Managing this process will be a District Effectiveness Team, composed of District and school leaders.  The Team, which will meet twice a month with Superintendent Green, develop monthly action steps towards improving and supporting the target schools, and collaborate with the Georgia Department of Education and the Metro Regional Education Service Agency.

The following reflect some of the goals that have been set for the target schools:

  • The number of schools qualified as OSD eligible, Priority, and Focus will decrease from 38 to 0 in 2016.
  • All target schools will meet state targets for subject content and subgroups based on the 2016 Georgia Milestones and CCRPI.
  • All target high schools will have a graduation rate at or above the state’s 2016 graduation rate.
  • All target schools will have a Climate Star Rating of 4 or 5 on the 2016 CCRPI.
  • Standard teacher and principal evaluation scores will increase annually by a minimum of 10 percent.

“My expectations are to improve teaching and learning and remove DeKalb County School District from the conversation about OSD eligibility, priority, or focus schools,” said Dr. Green.

A parent awareness and empowerment conference that will focus on the District’s plan for removing schools from the lists is scheduled for Saturday, October 24, 2015, 900 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. at Columbia High School, 2106 Columbia Drive, Decatur.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Superintendent Dr. R. Stephen Green announced today a comprehensive plan to remove DeKalb County School District schools that qualify for target lists including the proposed Opportunity School District (OSD), priority, and focus lists.

Thirty eight district schools are eligible as defined by proposed state legislation and existing federal guidelines.  An additional 16 schools were identified for support based on a three-year average of their College & Career Ready Performance Index (CCRPI) scores for a total of 54 target schools.

“The answer to getting our schools off these lists requires a systematic solution,” said Dr. Green.  “The solution begins with improving classroom instruction and outcomes.”

The district’s efforts to improve overall student academic performance is being led by the CIA² Task Force, which will be responsible for improving curriculum, instruction, assessment, and accountability in the classroom.

Chaired by two regional superintendents, the Task Force, which reports weekly to Superintendent Green, has a broad mandate to evaluate all aspects of classroom learning and implement improvements.

In addition, relevant professional learning for school leaders and teachers, enhanced family and community engagement, and expanded academic support and social and emotional student support are critical components of the plan.

Also, operational flexibility will offer preferential hiring of highly qualified and effective teachers including teachers in special education, ESOL, and gifted.  Incentive bonuses using Title II Federal funds will be allocated when appropriate for teachers demonstrating academic achievement.

A rapid response team composed of local school staff will be deployed to address critical issues or needs, as they occur. Partnerships will be created with local colleges and universities to provide need-based support.  Outside service providers that can assist teachers, students and school leadership will be offered to the target schools.

Managing this process will be a District Effectiveness Team, composed of District and school leaders.  The Team, which will meet twice a month with Superintendent Green, develop monthly action steps towards improving and supporting the target schools, and collaborate with the Georgia Department of Education and the Metro Regional Education Service Agency.

The following reflect some of the goals that have been set for the target schools:

  • The number of schools qualified as OSD eligible, Priority, and Focus will decrease from 38 to 0 in 2016.
  • All target schools will meet state targets for subject content and subgroups based on the 2016 Georgia Milestones and CCRPI.
  • All target high schools will have a graduation rate at or above the state’s 2016 graduation rate.
  • All target schools will have a Climate Star Rating of 4 or 5 on the 2016 CCRPI.
  • Standard teacher and principal evaluation scores will increase annually by a minimum of 10 percent.

“My expectations are to improve teaching and learning and remove DeKalb County School District from the conversation about OSD eligibility, priority, or focus schools,” said Dr. Green.

A parent awareness and empowerment conference that will focus on the District’s plan for removing schools from the lists is scheduled for Saturday, October 24, 2015, 900 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. at Columbia High School, 2106 Columbia Drive, Decatur 30032.

 

 


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About the Author

Maureen Downey has written editorials and opinion pieces about local, state and federal education policy since the 1990s.