Here’s Georgia education news to be thankful for

8:51 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 23, 2017 Homepage
Georgia is making some gains on the education front.

Teachers, students and schools across metro Atlanta have notched some victories to give thanks for in 2017.

Teachers, who are easy targets for politicians, pundits and parents to blame for educational failures, are driving thousands of kids to success, as evidenced by by 325 candidates put up by friends, colleagues and students for the first AJC Celebrating Teachers Awards.

You can read about the 10 finalists - from Gwinnett to Douglas counties, Alpharetta Elementary to McClarin Success Academy in College Park - and their stories of sacrifice, joy, devotion and endless patience this week in the Get Schooled blog.

Awards from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution went to ten metro Atlanta teachers for going above and beyond on behalf of their students in 2017. The awards are part of successes in Georgia's education systems.

The Graduate Marietta Student Success Center is becoming a state model for turning kids around by providing community help wherever it is needed in a student’s life, from food to tutoring.

Another program showing signs of progress is Gwinnett County’s Math Institute, where about 1,500 teachers and students learn from each other. The students get extra help, and the teachers learn from the students what works and what doesn’t in their teaching methods.

In Atlanta, the public school system is experimenting with turning poorly-performing schools around in a program that consolidated some schools and turned over others to charter operators. It has enriched students’ class offering and the system is hoping to see good results.

Bob Andres/
Third graders practice in Letricia Henson's music and chorus class. Thomasville Heights Elementary School is the first school to be part of APS' outsourcing experiment. A group called Purpose Built Schools took over the school this year. Among the changes at Thomasville are intensive instruction in reading/math; pre-K programs; daily "specials" including dance and robotics and a team of parents working at the school to better connect staff with the community BOB ANDRES /BANDRES@AJC.COM

Georgia students are also shining, like this young man from Duluth, who saw a news program about homeless children, and instead of changing the channel he decided to help. Four years and thousands of dollars later, Jack Griffin has developed a free online service that links the hungry with food.

DeKalb County intends to pull up student success with a new curriculum that they instituted this year.

And the use of techology can help flatten inequalities from school to school and system to system in helping prepare students for college and future success.

On the state’s primary measure to grade schools, some showed remarkable progress. Here are the 10 schools that made the largest leaps in their scores in 2017.

And despite increasing diversity and numbers of students who are poor, Georgia’s high school graduation rates continue to climb.

Last spring’s senior class for the first time topped an 80 percent graduation rate under the the 6-year-old federal measure known as the “four-year adjusted cohort graduation rate.” 

The 80.6 percent rate was more than a full percentage point above the prior year rate of 79.4 percent, which in turn was higher than the prior year. Indeed, Georgia’s rate has climbed steadily since the federal government imposed the measuring method.

These were a few of the feel-good stories in Georgia education news so far in 2017.

Is there room for improvement? Always.

As Jim Reason, one of the 10 teachers recognized by the AJC for his outstanding work, “Be pleased, but never satsfied.”