Thursday, November 18, 2010

Newsflash! From the Superintendent: Inequities at DeKalb schools

As today's AJC tells us, Ms. Tyson has concluded that there are Inequities at DeKalb schools.

Oh my! You're kidding! How can that be?

Some excerpts:

More than 11,000 empty seats have caused DeKalb County students to suffer from inequities in learning at different schools, the interim superintendent said Wednesday.

An instructional audit the school system is now conducting has revealed teaching and education opportunities are not equal at all schools, interim Superintendent Ramona Tyson told business leaders.

“This school district will have to address instructional offerings,” Tyson said. “It will validate what parents are saying that, ‘If I go here, I get this, but if I go here, I don’t get that.’”

Tyson said the audit will not be done until next month, but the initial findings show the need for massive change.

It’s unclear if those inequities match parents’ long-standing complaints that schools in north DeKalb, which have more white students, receive more resources than south DeKalb schools, which serve more black students.


(Editor's note: There are about 10,000 white students in the system of nearly 100,000.)

“The issue of equity is something we’re hearing loud and across the district,” said William Carnes, a consultant with MGT America. “How expensive are those empty seats? They are very expensive because that’s where they get the inequity.”

Sigh! We have been discussing exactly this for a year and a half on this blog, only to be dismissed or worse by the board. At any rate, I'm glad they're looking at data finally. For an education from this blog highlighting the empty seats (which we found could be due to the abundance of "choice" and "theme" schools in south DeKalb,) click here. Or for more, check out our report on the central administrative bloat as compared to other systems. Or read a bit here about how much focus and energy is spent on legal defense and construction contracts rather than on educating children.

I'm happy that the board and Tyson are listening to the consultants. Lord knows they have convinced themselves that we don't have a clue what we're talking about.

152 comments:

Anonymous said...

So, there are so many "inequities", yet the Central Office upper administration who have been in place for years are all still in place, except for Lewis and Pope. The Board of Education have enabled the administrators who have caused and continued these "inequities". Why do these "inequity-causing" administrators like Bob Moseley, Ron Ramsey, Audria Berry, Marcus Turk, Philandra Guillory, David Guillory, Jamie Wilson, etc., and yes even Ramona Tyson all still have their $125,000 plus per year positions?

Anonymous said...

Amen Anon 5:03!

Until this Central Office leadership is shown the door, I don't expect much to change. Like the title of this thread, this is a newsflash?

These folks as well as Alice Thompson are the root of the problems! All these charades and audits and now they are seeing the light? Geeez!

We must find ourselves a new super with no ties to deKalb or to New Birth. Tyson should bring the old salary audit into the light and we need to have a new salary audit completed immediately! It's time to bring all CLew created infrastructure and leadership positions to light! Please allow the people who paid for all these audits, US, to actually see the finished product! Clew has successfully hidden the results of past audits, NO MORE! We must see change and transparency is the first way to begin gaining our trust back!

Cerebration said...

Here are a couple of old posts about Arabia -- poster school of inequity!

Arabia - Are they getting more than their fair share?

The Case for Re-allocating SPLOST 3 Funding and Re-writing the Rules for Arabia's Enrollment

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, this has been going on since Halford's time, if not before.

Different staffs, no New Birth and the same problem.

Only when pressured, actually outed, did Halford begin to address some of the most glaring inequities. I actually think he really didn't care as long as he could keep spending as low as possible.

There were high schools with no AP classes and high schools with over a dozen, this was in the early days of AP class expansion, but the differences were shocking.

Dunwoody Mom said...

With all due respect, we all understand the Central Office situation...

This article deals with the inequities in the school buildings themselves.

You can have a school with no art, no music, no foreign language and a school 5 miles away with all of that...

This is what we need to address with the consolidation and closings.

Anonymous said...

Dunwoody Mom, the inequities at the school house are caused by those in central office. They are the ones who make the decisions on how many teachers (points) principals get. Principals are doing the best that they can with what they have.

@7:06 I agree that things aren't going to change until management of the district changes and I don't see any changes happening there any time soon.

Kim Gokce said...

I'm happy to hear the leadership is taking this topic seriously now that someone besides crazy bloggers have brought it up. I was disappointed that the author chose to perpetuate the mis-characterization of the inequities as "Black v White" and "North v South." It was repeated in the article with nary a point of fact.

The fact is that there is not a single "white" high school in DeKalb County (except for private) - we have to disabused ourselves of this as the core issue in public education inequities in DeKalb.

Anonymous said...

Let's face it, no-one wants their kid to attend a failing school. Additionally no-one wants their neighborhood school to shutter for "community" reasons.

IMO the only real solution to this difficult problem is to shut down the magnet program and optional transfers (except in the case of safety for a child) in its entirety. No more transfers brings those good students, with caring parents back home. Sure some will opt out to different school districts or private options, but the majority will stay. DCSS needs to take that risk.

This is the only way to repopulate the underpopulated schools while at the same time improving their academic statistics. Everyone wants the underperforming neighborhood schools to improve but none will enroll their kid to be the guinea pig to help get them fixed -- if they're already fixed, fine I'll enroll, but till then give me an option.

Tyson et al can make all the proper recommendations in the world for consolidation and redistricting, but it's up to the board to approve them. Till the overall state of the district is in better shape, Good Luck getting the votes. I have to side with SCW on this one -- Don't cause blight in my community.

Kim Gokce said...

Right but that is the chicken and egg problem if we don't address the inequities in instruction/offerings simultaneously. I've said this before on DCSWatch before - we should expect our Board and administration to be able to walk AND chew gum at the same time.

Anonymous said...

I think that if they get rid of the magnet schools and do what they are doing there in all of the schools, that people will come. Until all students are receiving the magnet school education, things will never get better. This will also mean that the principals and other administrators must be willing to get rid of the dead wood.

Anonymous said...

"Dunwoody Mom, the inequities at the school house are caused by those in central office."

This is what most what to believe. A majority of the inequities at the school house are caused by citizens aka squeaky wheels. Unfortunately many in the central office don't know how to say NO to these people.

Anonymous said...

Meant to say this is what most WANT to believe in the above post. Forgive the error.

Anonymous said...

DCSS has been like this forever. Fulton, Cobb, Gwinnett etc offer the same things in every school. There may a course or foreighn language that is different here or there, but basically if one elementary school gets art, the rest do as well.

Anonymous said...

Anon 918am,

I understand the "squeaky wheel/can't say no" theory and I agree that it happens. But how do we explain that many of the most vocal parents have children sitting in schools that are crumbling? The game that is played at the central office and back rooms certainly contributes to the inequities. The "squeaky wheels" seem to get a bone thrown to them from time to time but it doesn't seem to affect the big imbalances that are there.

Anonymous said...

Crumbling buildings are not the focus of this article, instructional programs are.

Anonymous said...

With the current budget problems, I hope their solution is NOT to take programs away from schools just to make sure one does not have more than another.

Anonymous said...

We have seen the enemy--and it is us.
Us as parents wanting for our own children more that we would get at our zoned school.
Us as property owners concerned about the "market value" of our homes.
Us as uncaring, uninformed voters.
Us who want "THEM" to fix it even while we yell "off with their heads" and do nothing more than blog (Kim--you are the exception here)

Anonymous said...

Hopefully this new study or investigation will be based on an accurate and relevant definition of the word inequity. Are we talking about more faculty and staff? More money—Title I, Title II? More materials? More resources and equipment? Newer facilities? More SPLOST dollars per cluster? More programs/classes? More parent involvement? (Probably a combination of all of the above.)

The entire school system is funded through three main sources: Federal funds and grants,
State funds and grants; and local funds. For those of you that have followed educational trends, you know that the local funding in Georgia has sky rocketed in the past few years—to around 60%. This shift has placed an enormous burden on the local tax digest which is constantly changing due to the sour economy. As taxpayers, we are getting weary and wary of the way in which our hard earned money is spent. Do the residents in Dunwoody or Lithonia or Decatur feel that they are getting their fair share—when they send their child to their neighborhood school? The study should also note the schools where the parent organizations fund additional staff, additional supplies, additional technology, etc. and they shouldn’t be penalized for doing so.

I personally don’t want to see the “empty seat” syndrome and redistricting used as an excuse for inequities as opposed to inefficiencies. The numbers don’t lie. We are data driven. And we all know that small or lower enrollment in schools results in less than maximum funding. 20-25 years ago when numerous elementary schools were closed such as Coralwood, Heritage, Shallowford, Tucker, Sexton Woods, Northwoods, Dunwoody, Warren, etc. it was for efficiency and because of low enrollment—not inequities. Let’s make sure we are comparing apples to apples and oranges to oranges.

Private School Guy said...

One of the in equities that can not be easily solved is good staff gravitating towards good schools. While this is difficult to measure it makes the schools where no one really cares about quality anymore sink further. The actual implementation of technology is an example. Putting Promethean Boards in schools where no staff is motivated to learn anything new is a waste. One solution could be to move more educated and experienced teachers and administration to poorly performing sites and pay them a bonus to go there.

Anonymous said...

We need to applaud Ms. Tyson's efforts to try and address the decades' old problem of inequity in programs being offered between schools (which seems not to exist in Fulton and Gwinnett) -- let's see if she can remedy this,support her in doing so and giver her this chance --without it -- I don't think redistricting and consolidation will ever work (and yes, it may involve limiting the choice programs) and I am just a frustrated, involved parent....

Dunwoody Mom said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I appreciate everything that I'm reading on this blog. I really hope that everyone is sending their concerns and opinions to the entire school board through emails. Because, a lot of praise is being thrown at Tyson by the same board who hired a local firm to find candidates for the supt position. I know for sure that there is only one member currently on the board who wont vote for Tyson. If we focus on getting the Lewis regime out, many of the problems will get resolved with new leadership.
Please help! send emails, speak at the board meetings, stage protest, etc. I'm going to do my part for the DCSS community.

Anonymous said...

I don't think completely getting rid of magnets or special programs is the way to go - there has to be a right way to do it. I have a friend in another state whose children are in a great school system, but literally everything is the same at every school. They are actually having problems b/c there isn't anything "special". Kids are not able to specialize as they get older, and those parents are going to private schools for the "specials", like arts, technology, etc. I have written letters to our administration to tell them there does need to be a core set of standards for each and every school - programs, classes and academic expectations that exist at every single school, regardless of size. There also need to be minimum guidelines for communication, discipline, and other non-academic school experiences. Some schools here that are within a few miles are 180 degrees from each other inside.

Anonymous said...

I know everyone talks about the resources in the North County and magnet schools. I think when all is revealed, there are a number of Title I schools that actually receive MORE money and MORE resources than the magnet or North County schools. The difference is in how the resources are used.

Anonymous said...

FYI Fulton does not offer the same program at every school. There are magnet schools, culinary, Science, etc programs that are only offered in a few schools. Foreign languages differ, AP courses differ

Anonymous said...

@8:36 a.m.

I disagree that everyone should be required to return to their home school. My child attends Chamblee High and she will NEVER return to any DCSS high school on the 4X4 block or a school with such high discipline problems as my home school. I will take out loans for private school.

The block program is ridiculous and is an example of instructional inequality that could have been easily fixed years ago.

As for funding, another poster is correct. The Title I schools receive vastly more funds per student than any non Title I school, including magnets. DCSS has not spent its Title I money in ways to benefit classroom teachers and day-to-day instruction.

PolitiMom said...

My fear is that to the central office, fixing inequity means taking away creative/successful/popular programs at some schools because not all schools have the resources to offer it. This is what happened to the foreign language program at Austin in Dunwoody a few years ago. Instead of finding ways to offer it in all schools, they said it wasn't fair to devote resources to a program that too few students can take advantage of. If schools in the same cluster would be able to provide comparable programs, I bet there would be a lot less grumbling about redistricting--at least here in Dunwoody. I can't speak for the rest of the county. I just hate when they try to level the playing field by drawing everyone down instead of building everyone up. On another note, the vision 20/20 group toured my home school today so I'm interested in what they asked/found. Has anyone on this board been present during one of these evaluation tours?

Anonymous said...

The board did not hire a local firm for the search! Ugh.

They hired a national firm out of Iowa of all places.

The position is now posted on the Ray and Associates website.

There is a called Board Meeting on Friday where the schedule for the public input part of the superintendent's will be discussed/revealed. The meeting is at 10:30 am.

1. Superintendent’s Search Public & Community Forum Timeline
Presented by: Mr. Thomas E. Bowen, Board Chair

Anonymous said...

The Austin German program was fully funded by the state as a pilot program. The state never found the resources to fund it state wide, as was the original intention. It was at several dozen schools statewide.

For several years, Perdue tried to eliminate it from the budget. Once things got bad enough, he was able to do so. Then it fell to the systems. At least in Metro Atlanta, most systems immediately ended the programs.

Why should Austin get language if other schools want it and are being told no? Just an honest question.

Anonymous said...

Dunwoody Mom, the inequities at the school house are caused by those in central office. They are the ones who make the decisions on how many teachers (points) principals get. Principals are doing the best that they can with what they have.
1. Points follow student enrollment
2. Principals decide how to use the points (art or not?)
3. Enrollment depends on districting (not the county office but the school board).
4. The school board knuckles under to the loadest group.
5. Choice at least gave some students and parent who cared an opportunity to get to a school that offered what they want.
6. In terms of inequities-course offerings are not equal. However, equal course offerings are not a guarantee of equity-unless one size fits all. Students seem to vary in what they need-some need more challenging stuff, some need remediation, some need special ed, some need help with English as a second language, some need a second or thrid chance, soem take every opportunity given. Not every school needs an IB or Montessori programme but perhaps some do. Not everyone wants to be an engineer. One of my sibs just barely finished highschool became an electrician and now has a mutlimillion dollar contracting business. In a democracy we the voters are responsible for the inequities. We get what we vote for. I won't say that we get what we deserve.

Tyson as interim is at least facing the tough issues such as admitting and identifying the inequities, facing planing and redrawing lines, and closing schools. As good citizens we owe to the students and the future to work with that, clebrate that someone is doing it and make it better for the new leadership that will come.

PolitiMom said...

"Why should Austin get language if other schools want it and are being told no?"

Its the nature of a pilot program. Some schools get it and others don't. IMHO, if a pilot is successful, it should be the board's responsiblity to figure out how to fund it across the county. Taking successful programs and replicating them is just one way we can fix the system--and the reason we have pilot programs. I mean, why launch a pilot program if there is no intention to replicate it if successful?

I didn't know the background on the funding--good info, anon.

Anonymous said...

The pilot program was over a decade old before the state stopped funding it. It wasn't a county pilot program.

By its nature, I would argue, if at the end of a set term for a pilot program you can't justify expansion of it, then maybe the pilot should have ended.

At its peak, Austin had 3 German teachers, maybe 4. Multiply that by 80ish schools and you can see the challenge of replication.

Anonymous said...

Alanta continues to offer French at Sarah Smith, Morris Brandon, Whitefoord and Jackson, Spanish at Garden Hills and Morningside. So I don't think it is correct to say that APS ended the program.

PolitiMom said...

"if at the end of a set term for a pilot program you can't justify expansion of it, then maybe the pilot should have ended."

Agreed, but I would argue that in a "students first" system, if the metrics used to measure success of the pilot show that it is successful, then that should justify expansion. Oh, to be in a perfect world.......

Anonymous said...

I think APS offers foreign language at many of its elementary schools. And if I recall correctly the initiative came from the North Atlanta schools PTA's paying for it and the city school system feeling like that wasn't fair. A quick check of a few additional elementary schools show that East Lake and Parkside elementary schools each have 3 Spanish teachers.

Atlanta schools also spend about double what DeKalb does. In fact, they spend the most per pupil in the Southeast.

Anonymous said...

Was the Geography Bee cut because it wasn't being offered to all schools? Could clusters hold their own Geography Bees or no (what's offered in this cluster has to be offered in every cluster).

Cerebration said...

No, I heard it was cut because no one could find it.

;-)

Anonymous said...

As a community, we need to decide what our schools should look like. If art is important then it should be offered at every school. What about music and foreign language? Why are our elementary school children out on dark street corners waiting for busses that pick up before 7:00 AM? We are in the middle of a redistricting and long-range planning process. We should be talking about these issues and building some kind of consensus.

Anonymous said...

I'm confused - a check at National Geographic's bee website registration page http://65.210.57.159/beeresults.aspx shows the following DeKalb schools registered for the 2011 bee.

Shamrock Middle School
Livsey School
Kittredge Magnet School
Peachtree Charter Middle
Chamblee Middle School
Henderson Middle School
Sagamore Hills Elementary
(I might have missed some)

What exactly was cut? According to the FAQ, schools register individually, and the entry fee for a school is $90. Seems to me that if a school wants to participate, the PTSA could contribute $90 or the team could have some bake sales - you wouldn't need the involvement of the county.

Cerebration said...

Actually, I think there was just confusion. The geography bee at Briarlake ES was apparently cancelled. Not sure about anything else...

Anon 4:47 said...

Actually, this is an important part of the discussion about equity.

I also searched for "geography bee" on the DCSS website, and 16 hits came up. 15 elementaries and 1 middle school list geography bee participation as one of their "unique assets" or "awards" on their DCSS webpages. Considering that only 7 are registered this year, participation has definitely dropped. Our elementary participated when my son was a student, but they apparently don't any more. I speculate that the county is not supporting participation as much as they used to.

Parents: there is not much you can do about orchestra or foreign language, but geography bee is comparatively easy. All it takes is $90, at least 6 students per grade who are willing to participate, and a letter from the principal on school letterhead. (Briarlake parents: you can still register late for $110; final deadline is December 10) http://www.nationalgeographic.com/geobee/how-schools-register/

There are many other academic competitions which are even easier for parents to get a school team entered in.

Anonymous said...

Make sure you weigh in on the 20-20 program on the DCSS website - It will even let you see results.

Apparantly the board doesn't read blogs....

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 10:11
"Us who want "THEM" to fix it even while we yell "off with their heads" and do nothing more than blog (Kim--you are the exception here) "

How do you know what the bloggers do for the school system since they are anonymous? Many of these bloggers must be volunteers as they cite information that they could only know if they are working in the schools. Many of these bloggers are obviously teachers who are working hard in the schools everyday trying to make a difference with students. Many of the bloggers attend BOE meetings since we get their notes and observations.

I think it's the reverse. I think many people involved in the schools are blogging.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 11:13

"One solution could be to move more educated and experienced teachers and administration to poorly performing sites and pay them a bonus to go there."

Even a bonus would not attract many more educated and experienced teachers to failing schools. Face it. Most teachers are parents. They want to teach at a school where they can be home with their own children at night (they are by and large good parents).

I left a job in business making twice as much and returned to DCSS to teach in order to spend more time with my child. As the school I was at began to have more failing students and discipline problems, I transferred to a higher achieving school. Personally, my students in the failing school had excellent achievement scores, however, the hours and hours I had to put in to get them to that point was impacting my own family, and quite frankly my family came first as anyone's should.

Once I transferred to a higher achieving school, I found less pressure, less discipline problems, a greater latitude to teach with my own style, and more time with my child. It was a very good move for my family and for my career.

It's going to take more than bonus money to attract more experienced and educated teachers to failing schools. Teachers need to have impeccable backing on discipline, greater respect for varied teaching styles must be present, lower class sizes must be mandatory, more planning time and reduced paperwork needs to happen, and positive reinforcement must occur. Negatives comment like you're going to lose your job if your test scores don't come up is not a real motivator to teachers who have choices in where to teach (happens all the time in failing schools - that's why APS test scores came up).

A good start would be to return 90% of Title 1 dollars back to the schools to:
1. Hire Title 1 teachers to work directly with small groups of struggling students for math and reading (this would reduce class sizes immediately for those two subjects)
2. Supply funding for cutting edge science and technology equipment
3. Allow the staff of each school to have input into the training they feel they need and enlist personnel outside DCSS as trainers.

Another positive move would be to eliminate 1,000 admin and support jobs and add 1,000 more teaching positions in failing schools. This would cause the 8,500 admin and support positions to decrease to 7,500 and allow the 6,500 teaching positions to increase to 7,500 or a 50% teacher to admin and support ratio. Interestingly enough, this 50% to 50% ratio was in place until 2004 when Dr. Lewis became superintendent. As he began the imbalance in admin and support to teachers, our scores began to decline. The most precipitous decline came in the last 2 years when he and then Ms. Tyson and the BOE cut almost 600 teaching positions.

Cerebration said...

Great input, Anon. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us.

Anonymous said...

@ anonymous 1:14
"The Title I schools receive vastly more funds per student than any non Title I school, including magnets."

I think you would be shocked at the funds that schools with a high percentage of gifted students get. Gifted students are funded at approximately 160% of per pupil funding. Schools such as Kittredge, Oak Grove, Austin, Vanderlyn, Fernbank, etc. have as many as 40% to 60% of their student classified as gifted. Gifted money unlike Title 1 money must follow the student and be spent in that students school. Most of these schools have most of their staff certified in gifted so they meet the gifted students' needs with 2 or 3 gifted teachers. The principal can hire extra staff that serve all students with leftover money. The only requirement is to have gifted students served appropriately 4.5 contact hours a week.

I don't think Ms. Tyson understands the impact that gifted funds have on schools with many gifted students, or perhaps she does understand but can do little about it since state regs say gifted money for gifted students must follow on the schoolhouse level. Very little Title 1 money trickles down to the Title 1 student. They have a greater latitude with federal funds (you see what Dr. Berry and Dr. Lewis did with the funds), and they simply don't have the parent advocates that gifted students do.

Ms. Tyson could accomplish a great step towards equity if she took a lesson from the gifted funding model and allowed Title 1 funds to follow the Title 1 students.

Anonymous said...

The Geography Bee is a wide open competition that any teacher or school can conduct. I actually started it at Briarlake many years ago. Chances are the teacher who ran it may have retired or someone forgot to send in the money. You can register late, but you really need a teacher or other school personnel who want to sponsor it. I found out about it when my child who went to Kittredge participate in it. So I had all the schools I served participate in it. I thought it was a great competition. It is not a countywide initiative, but it should be.

Anonymous said...

is it Tyson's decision to allow the Title I funds to follow the students? Gifted money is allocated by individual kids, so of course, the school that student attends gets the extra funding.

But Title I is a designation for an entire school.

I wholeheartedly agree that funding for additional teachers should follow transfers from Title I schools. Just not sure whether that is up to her.

Anonymous said...

Absolutely it is totally up to Ms. Tyson as to who controls Title 1 funding - Dr. Berry or the schools. Dr. Lewis moved most of the control for gifted funding back to the Central Office, and he and Dr. Berry decided what programs and personnel would be making the decisions. Federal Title 1 monies do not have to follow the students while state gifted funds do. Ms. Tyson has little decison making latitude on how gifted funds are spent, but she has near total latitude on how Title 1 funds are spent.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps I wasn't clear. No, I don't think the funds follow students to non-Title 1 schools. I'm talking about funding decisions happening at the local Title 1 schools. Currently, most of the money gets absorbed for Central Office personnel. Title 1 money should flow to the Title 1 schools.

Anonymous said...

Under the NCLB regulations, the school system decides whether to have the Title I funds follow the students who transfer from a failing school. I have proposed several times that DCSS do this so that tutoring can be provided to these students. Right now they are pretty much left to flounder on their own in the receiving school. I have discussed this with Bob Moseley and he agreed that DCSS could send the Title I money with the students but stated that DCSS has "elected not to do this." He never would provide me with a reason why.

Anonymous said...

Title 1 funding DOES NOT follow the student.

Anonymous said...

So, is the solution to only offer a special program if it can be offered, uniformly, across all schools? If we take that road, we will end up with an entire dumbed down system, with mediocre offerings across the board. The fact is some some schools are able to offer certain classes (like AP) because they have enough qualified students to fill a classroom, while other schools do not have enough qualified/interested students to fill the same class. Look at IB as an example: The program at Druid Hills has between 30 and 50 kids a year (50+ for the coming year), while the IB program at MLK has far fewer. Is the solution to get rid of IB all together, since it cannot be sustained at every school? Do we call this "an inequity."?

Anonymous said...

9:27 What most people, including teachers and administrators fail to realize is if you raise the bar and teach all of the children as if they were gifted, than the children will excel and meet the challenges. The problem with the current system is the dumbing down and passing students on. If all schools were like the KMS, than more of our children would be succeeding. If teachers were able to give students the grades that they earned, than students would have to work harder to earn their grades. If principals stopped hiding discipline problems and worked to get rid of students and bad teachers, we'd have better schools where learning was taking place.

Dumbing down the education is happening now. It really can't get much worse than what we already have.

Anonymous said...

Each Title 1 school should have control of most of the Title 1 monies for that school. Teachers and administrators should be making the decisions as to what that school needs - Title 1 teachers teaching small groups of struggling students in math and/or reading, reading and/or math tutors, technology and materials that teachers can use in direct instruction for students, and training programs that match the needs of particular schools.

Currently, Title 1 funds are not improving student achievement at Title 1 schools. Fewer Title 1 schools than ever are making AYP. $9,000,000 is spent on non-teaching Instructional and Literacy coaches. $8,000,000 on the scripted learning program America's Choice, and $1,400,000 on the scripted learning program Springboard neither of which have produced academic gains. Conferences such as the "Hollywood Conference" which cost $400,000 and included very few teachers are another expense area. And millions of dollars more of Title 1 funds are spent on the Central Office staff in the Office of School Improvement. Please look at the Central Office staff of the Office of School Improvement under Audria Berry, and then go to the state Salary and Travel audit to see that most of these personnel each cost $100,000+ in salary and benefits.
http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/instruction/improvement/contacts.html

As you can see not one penny of these millions go to direct instruction of students, and yet that is the only way to teach struggling students. Title 1 money is very much mismanaged in DCSS. It's become a Central Office piggybank and a great way to concentrate power in a few hands since little strings are attached to this money.

The saddest part is that this is taxpayer money that needs to be used to improve the achievement of our neediest students. It is supposed to level the playing field between the poorest and more affluent students. Does anyone think it's been successful in that respect?

Anonymous said...

It does seems as if DCSS is not using its Title I money wisely.

Do we know how City of Atlanta or other school systems use their money?

When does the America's Choice contract end? I thought DCSS eliminated Springboard last year. I know it has not been used in my child's school for several years.

Anonymous said...

Hey Anon 9:31 pm...thanks for the insight into working with low performing students!

"What most people, including teachers and administrators fail to realize is if you raise the bar and teach all of the children as if they were gifted, than the children will excel and meet the challenges"

Really?
Wow.
If we only knew.
Just teach more, better, harder stuff.
Treat them like they are gifted.
Super.
Then all their family problems (abuse, neglect etc) will not matter.
Treat them like they are gifted and they will suddenly be able to speak english.
Treat them like they are gifted and they will not be hungry, sick, pregnant or on drugs!
Wow!
Thanks for the tip!
We who teach at "poor" schools will give it a try.

Anonymous said...

@9:31--speak not of what ye know not.

@10:49:
I completely agree with you. Yes, studies have shown that at a very young age, all kids can be taught at a high level and most will rise to the occasion.

But older kids (assuming from your post) are another matter. Too many reasons to list, too many choices of where to assign blame. The fact is that we have to meet them where they are and DO SOMETHING!

I have asked this before and reiterate it now. How many of you who mean so well (and I mean that sincerely) have visited a school--not a magnet or gifted classroom but one with a more typical population--and observed classes? How many of you really have seen firsthand how ill-prepared these students are for rigorous lessons?

We need and want change. But you do exactly what the Palace dwellers do--sit back and make judgments about schools and students you know nothing about.

Go out and take a good hard look at what we are facing and come up with a plan that is grounded in reality. Stop talking about getting rid of "bad teachers." Yes, there are some, and they need to go. But that is one minute part of a huge problem that everyone seems to be dancing around. Eliminating magnets or redistricting or demanding more of teachers are all important issues. But none is the magic pill.

To be blunt, until you have taken the time to investigate firsthand, you have no standing--or ability--to suggest what needs to be done. None. You are making suggestions based on some imagined scenario and in the end, we will end up no better off than we are now.

NO, this is not a south/north thing. I have taught at both and admit that the poverty which earns a Title I designation breeds many of the ills mentioned by 10:48. But there are classrooms in even our most prestigious schools in which kids simply cannot do the assigned work.

Take an hour. Make a visit. Stay a while. Until then, you are like doctors suggesting treatments for patients you have never seen.

Anonymous said...

In Fulton, Title I money follows the student. Tutoring is offered individually and in groups in the Title I schools and is offered on one on one basis for students who are Title I eligible in a non Title I school.

I believe APS and Cobb does same. Both offer afterschool and during school day tutoring.

APS uses the Communities in Schools program, but to my knowledge none of the other systems use America's Choice. APS used Success For All Reading program, but I don't believe they use it any longer.

APS schools each chose a "reform model" under Dr. Hall. Choices included Core knowledge, IB, etc. The curriculum at the school followed the reform model...so all schools were not the same.

Anonymous said...

It seems the BOE has been spinning its wheels for a long time. Look at the notes from the May 7, 2008 meeting:
Budget, Facilities and Finance Committee Meeting DeKalb Board of Education May 7, 2008

Chair Bebe Joyner called the meeting to order at 2:15. Other committee members present were Cassandra Anderson-Littlejohn, Jim Redovian, and Jay Cunningham. Visiting was Board member Zepora Roberts. Dr. Lewis was absent because he is out of town on district business. All senior staff was present. Dave Shutten (ODE) and Lisa Morgan (ODE) signed up to comment.

CFO Turk explained the state funding formula for local fair share and the equalization grant. He also reviewed Dr. Lewis’ revised proposed budget with the committee.

Comments from committee members were lengthy so they are bulleted.

Cassandra Anderson-Littlejohn:
• Not in favor of eliminating the television station
• Need to review staffing structure and reduce positions (Attorney Alexander reminded the committee of the BOE’s RIF policy and stated the Superintendent needed to ask the BOE to approve administrative regulations implementing the policy to ensure consistency)
• Campus security increasing every year – we really need the audit results
• Why the increase in magnet operations’ budget?

Note the bullet where Ms. Littlejohn asks for the audit. Is this the 2004 Compensation and Classification that Lewis had buried? Did she want that to help the BOE's assessment of where personnel costs could be trimmed?

Dr. Lewis, Ms. Talley and Mr. Turk go into all the reasons admin and support can't be decreased. And in the same breath, they proposed to do away with the teachers step increases (based on longevity of teaching). Very telling.

Go to the DCSS BOE website and read the minutes for this meeting.

Anonymous said...

@ Anon 10:42

"When does the America's Choice contract end? I thought DCSS eliminated Springboard last year. I know it has not been used in my child's school for several years. "

America's Choice ended and the DCSS BOE refunded it this past year. One BOE member Jim Redovian said he was totally sold on it, but he didn't know of any other program to vote for.

Springboard and America's Choice were funded by Title 1 beginning in 2008 per Dr. Lewis's decision so non-Title 1 schools no longer had those programs (much to most of the teachers' delight).

DCSS should use its Title 1 dollars at the schoolhouse level with teachers and materials that directly impact students. DCSS has chosen to use its Title 1 funds almost entirely on non-teaching employees and expensive learning programs. Very sad for our low income children that no one is advocating for them. I'll be gifted funds would not be so easily taken away from schools with large numbers of gifted students.

Anonymous said...

she was lefy withI She is doing a masterful job with the mess would hope we reserve judgment what central office administrators need to go until after the trial and testimony of higheer level staff. YOU MAY BE IN FOR A SCOCKER!
RSupt Tyson is a jewel!!!! citizans She is doing a masterful job, i just hoe she decides to apply for the Supt. position. I doubt if she wiil with all the bitching psrents and citizens complaining now when Dr. Halford started this mess while he was drunk and having affairs with upper staff members. Woe!!!

What if Johnny Brown had been white. We would be a top school system again!

Anonymous said...

This Title 1 discussion is actually an excellent thread. Title 1 is where the equity is supposed to come for low income students. Schools with wealthy PTAs and affluent parents provide many "extras" for their students. Title 1 is to "level the playing field". 93 DCSS schools are classified as Title 1 or needing Title 1 Targeted Assistance. $34,000,000 (2008-08 figures, most recent published - no doubt it's much more now) divided by 93 is around $366,000 per school (very roughly divided since larger schools get a greater share). $34,000,000 would cover the salary and benefits of over 600 Masters level experienced teachers to work with struggling students or it would cover thousands of tutors to work with students during the school day.

If Ms. Tyson is talking equity, she needs to be looking at how Title 1 funds are spent. Title 1 funds are supposed to provide equity between schools with many low income students and schools with more affluent students.

Anonymous said...

"Supt Tyson is a jewel!!!! citizans She is doing a masterful job, i just hoe she decides to apply for the Supt. position."

And exactly how did Ms. Tyson get her job as right hand person to Dr. Lewis? Look at her pay from before Lewis and then after Lewis:
2004 - $99,960
2009 - $165,035

Dr. Lewis thought an awful lot of her and for the sake of continuity Dr. Lewis recommended her as Interim Superintendent. Do you really think she was not a part of his most trusted group?

Anonymous said...

Here's a good point brought up by Bebe Joyner in that May 7, 2008 BOE meeting:

"Bebe Joyner:
• The state only funds 11 district office positions"

And yet we have 1239 Central Office positions. It seems all of this talk focusing on the state not funding under enrolled schools should at least have some discussion about the 1228 Central Office staff that are not funded by the state.

I guess a lot of people don't realize that the state funds very, very little of the administrators in the Georgia school systems. Ms. Joyner was absolutely correct. DCSS only has 11 administrators funded by the state. This is obviously too little, but 1,239 is way too much (1 for every 6 teachers).

We local taxpayers have to make up for almost all the Central Office salaries in the form of increased county taxes. And remember that Central Office salaries are the highest salaries in the entire district.

I'd like to Ms. Tyson discuss the funding discrepancy in what the state funds for Central Office staff and what DCSS taxpayers have to fund on a local level. Not cutting the Central Office is even worse than not redistricting IMHO.

Anonymous said...

I think most of our Title 1 schools do offer tutoring. I think many of our non-title 1 high schools use other Title monies to offer tutoring as well.

I have been at a board meeting where a mom asked for longer tutoring sessions, but they were clearly offered multiple days.

Because Fulton has a lower percentage of free and reduced students, the threshold that schools must reach to be eligible for Title 1 funding is lower. This makes a huge difference. In DeKalb, we have multiple schools with 40+ percent free and reduced lunch students that aren't Title 1 eligible. These schools get far less support even though they have many, many students who need it.

Anonymous said...

With all due respect to Ms. Joyner,
she is a big part of the reason Dr. Lewis is our superintendent. She hired him as the interim and then even after pleas from at least a handful of parents, she made him permanent.

Everyone on this blog is so convinced that the BoE has so much control. Why did Joyner stop him as he grew the Central Office?

Could it be that he viewed that as micromanaging? Probably.

The way SACs and the state view the role of the BoE and what they do is very restrictive and restricting.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Lewis was our superintendent not is.

Cerebration said...

Anon, 11:46 PM you make some very important points, many of which we have discussed here before. Many of the problems children experience have to do with poverty, violence, drugs, homelessness and uneducated parents. Schools cannot and should not carry the load to fix these societal ills. However - schools are the environment where these children congregate every day - as a captive audience. Therefore, it is in our schoolhouses where changes can occur. However - this will take cooperation with local, state and federal social departments. Parks and Rec is a good place to start and we have some ideas going in DeKalb. The YMCA also tries to help as much as possible. I challenge the juvenile justice system to step up to the plate and do whatever it takes to offer alternative activities for students after school and on weekends to avoid crime.

Title 1 should be used to level the playing field. If we used that money for intense, individual teacher support in reading, math and life skills, I'm certain we would see improvement. We are wrong to demand that the classroom teachers change the world. It will take an enormous, collaborative effort.

FWIW - There are several groups of parents in the Lakeside district (and I'm sure others) who go into the schools and tutor struggling students - one on one. There are many parents volunteering many hours to help in any way they can. Many of them participate in this blog. We generally are a group of "doers" AND "complainers"! You have to bring the administrations attention to the problems, or they will sit back and let your little group attempt to solve it on your own all day long.

I do think Ms. Tyson is doing a bang up job. She is very brave and has high integrity. She also has young children in this school system so she has a personal stake. I hope she stays as a support manager to the new superintendent. She has a wise mind and would be a good consultant.

Cerebration said...

Bottom line - this is the end result of many, MANY years of running a system with a management principle of simply responding to the squeaky wheels. Eventually, you have a segregated system - squeaky vs non-squeaky. Squeakies soak up most of the resources and attention, leaving little to the non-squeakies.

We need proactive leadership - not reactive. Someone who has a clear vision of a successful, equitable schools system with the stated goal of providing a quality education to all. That is not to say we can't have variety - which is especially needed at the high school level - just saying that we must run a student-focused school system for ALL students - and that hasn't been done in decades, really.

Anonymous said...

@6:04,

I taught at a Title 1 school, and yes, they offer tutoring. But kids don't show up. They either don't perceive themselves as having a problem or simply don't value education.

Please understand that I am not claiming that every kid in a T1 school is a bum--gosh, I had some great kids. But if we are talking about the ones that the funds are targeting--very few took advantage of what was being offered to them. The only exceptions I saw were when actual tutorial classes were scheduled, and that rarely happens.

I worked "Saturday school" tutorials for an entire semester and was paid $25 an hour to do so. About half the time, not a single kid would show. There were six of us being paid (I assume from T1 funds) to sit and chit chat, grade papers, and so on for four hours each Saturday.

After a couple of hours, we asked the administrator on duty if perhaps some of use should go home. He said no, b/c if the funds were not used, they wouldn't be allocated the following year!

So I got paid $1800 that semester to sit at school and grade papers--something I normally do at home for free.

Anonymous said...

I don't think Ms Tyson is doing a bang up job! One area that she could do a bang up job is to clean up the MESS that is Information Technology. The whole ESIS is still awful, parents get much LESS info than before, teachers spend much more TIME. There is no technology in the classroom. Ms Tyson, you don't need an outside consultant to clean this mess up. JUST DO IT!

Second, who wants a superintendent who takes more than a year to even begin to do anything about academics. OK we have inequities, but until that is addressed, what about the core subjects? All schools have them. Let's get the teaching and learning up to par in core areas while working on the inequities. JUST DO IT!

What about overall academic achievement? We need a focus on success in whatever is being taught.

For our children's sake, GET THIS MATH mess straight! LISTEN to the school house math teachers. LISTEN to the parents. LOOK at the declining performance in Dekalb. TALK with the folks at Fulton, Forsyth, Cobb and the DOE. Find out that what your county folks are telling you is NOT true. Dekalb doesn't have to have this total mess that we are calling Math. Look at the sequence that these COUNTY folks have put in place saying it is state mandated. NOT TRUE. You hired an instructional person at the county, PUT HIM to WORK! You have an instruction person in every school, what are they doing? How often are teachers observed? Why does my child still have teachers who have not entered grades from the beginning of school? WHY ARE THERE CLASSES WITH NO LESSON PLANS?

FOR ALL OUR SAKE, DO SOMETHING ABOUT LEARNING! You have met with all of us. IT IS TIME TO TAKE ACTION. Let the consultants do what they were hired to do. Demand that county employees do what they were hired to do.

Anonymous said...

Anon 6:04, Did anyone look at why the students weren't showing up? Was transportation an issue? Was AFTER school tutoring offered with a sweep bus taking kids home. This is what Atlanta and Fulton does.

Did anyone TALK to the parents and the students about WHY the tutoring was important. Dekalb schools rarely offer appropriate info about what is going on. Parents are just expected to know and to have their kids show up. Title I funds can be used to get kids to tutoring, to fund a sweep bus. Was that even considered?

After the first few weeks of students NO SHOWING, did anyone try to figure out what the problem was...or was it typical Dekalb, this is what we are doing and this is how we are doing it. DOESN'T MATTER IF IT IS WORKING OR NOT....LET"S JUST GET THE MONEY AND RUN! DON'T WORRY ABOUT THE KIDS!

Anonymous said...

Some systems across the country used some of their Title 1 monies to pay students to show up for tutoring. It was the only thing that they found that worked.

Anonymous said...

Regarding Cere's 8:37 am post, this is pertinent:



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Anonymous said...

@ anonymous 6:06 am

"With all due respect to Ms. Joyner,
she is a big part of the reason Dr. Lewis is our superintendent. "

I only used Ms. Joyner as an example to show that it is true an that DCSS only receives funding for 11 Central Office personnel, and the the other 1,238 we pay for 100% of their salaries and benefits at the local level. Each Central Office person costs us infinitely more than a teacher since teachers are mainly funded with state funds.

Ms. Joyner's statement in the BOE minutes shows that the BOE knows that Central Office personnel are not state funded positions (except for 11 of them) and yet they have increased the Central Office by leaps and bounds.

Anonymous said...

DCSS rarely looks at what is working in successful school systems. DeKalb always does things the "DeKalb Way". Well, the "DeKalb Way" is no longer working so maybe it is time to see how other systems use their Title 1 money to produce academic results for students. Having tutors just show up to teach students is not enough. Making the extra effort to talk with the parents, providing transportation, etc. is often necessary. Otherwise, the money is just being spent to be spent - not benefiting the students. This is what's happening now as the money is funding expensive and ineffective multimillion dollar learning programs and legions of non-teaching personnel.

Anonymous said...

Adding 700 Title 1 highly qualified Masters level and experienced reading and math teachers who directly instruct our struggling students in small groups would be a tremendous help for our children. That's the approximate number of highly qualified teachers DCSS Title 1 funding would buy.

If you look at the students who didn't perform at a level that would allow their school to make AYP, it is a relatively small percentage.

I'm not picking on any school, but I'll use Fairington as an example. And BTW, I've worked with Fairington grade level teachers, and they are a hard working and smart group. However, there are only 24 grade level teachers to teach 650 students. Since Kindergarten, First, Second and Third have lower class sizes, simple division tells me the 4th and 5th grade teachers have up to 30 or more students per class. Is it feasible that they can provide small group or individual instruction daily? I've taught all grades, and I can say the answer is no.

For example:
Fairington ES did not make AYP in 2009-10 due to 88 Economically Disadvantaged students in math and 39 students in reading. They did not make AYP in 2007-08 due to 80 Economically Disadvantaged students in math and 41 students in reading. This school has 650+ students so this is relatively small number to receive targeted assistance. Look at the Title 1 page for them in 2007-08:
Per Pupil Amount (Average): $255
School Allocation: $116,535.00
Number of Title I Funded Teachers: 0
Number of Title I Funded Paraprofessionals: 0
Number of Title I Funded Others( e.g. Coaches, Nurses, etc): 1

I imagine the non-teaching coach takes up most of the money.

Look at the Title 1 page for them to see how their absent rate went up while their CRCT pass rate went down.
http://public.doe.k12.ga.us/ReportingFW.aspx?PageReq=104&SchoolId=22948&T=1&FY=2008

I'm conjecturing that $116,000+ is all that's left after the DCSS administration and the BOE fund the Office of School Improvement, America's Choice, Conferences, etc. It looks to me like the small portion that trickles down funds an academic coach (non-teacher) and perhaps they have a little funding for materials.

Fairington has 457 children in poverty out of 650+, but remember that only a small percentage (80 students out of 365 tested or 20% of the students for math and 41 out of 365 tested or 11% of the students for reading) cannot demonstrate proficiency in the basic subjects of math and reading.

Going on these figures, around 1.5 Title 1 reading teachers would be required to directly instruct around 71 students in small groups during the day. Perhaps 3 Title math teachers would be necessary for intensive math instruction in small groups.

4.5 Title 1 teachers would cost around $250,000 in salary and benefits. Now you see why Title 1 reading and math teachers are not DCSS's model. Most of the money would be in the schoolhouse and little would be left for DCSS administration.

Anonymous said...

Part 1 of Post:
Adding 700 Title 1 highly qualified Masters level and experienced reading and math teachers who directly instruct our struggling students in small groups would be a tremendous help for our children. That's the approximate number of highly qualified teachers DCSS Title 1 funding would buy.

If you look at the students who didn't perform at a level that would allow their school to make AYP, it is a relatively small percentage.

I'm not picking on any school, but I'll use Fairington as an example. And BTW, I've worked with Fairington grade level teachers, and they are a hard working and smart group. However, there are only 24 grade level teachers to teach 650 students. Since Kindergarten, First, Second and Third have lower class sizes, simple division tells me the 4th and 5th grade teachers have up to 30 or more students per class. Is it feasible that they can provide small group or individual instruction daily? I've taught all grades, and I can say the answer is no.

For example:
Fairington ES did not make AYP in 2009-10 due to 88 Economically Disadvantaged students in math and 39 students in reading. They did not make AYP in 2007-08 due to 80 Economically Disadvantaged students in math and 41 students in reading. This school has 650+ students so this is relatively small number to receive targeted assistance. Look at the Title 1 page for them in 2007-08:
Per Pupil Amount (Average): $255
School Allocation: $116,535.00
Number of Title I Funded Teachers: 0
Number of Title I Funded Paraprofessionals: 0
Number of Title I Funded Others( e.g. Coaches, Nurses, etc): 1

I imagine the non-teaching coach takes up most of the money.

Look at the Title 1 page for them to see how their absent rate went up while their CRCT pass rate went down.
http://public.doe.k12.ga.us/ReportingFW.aspx?PageReq=104&SchoolId=22948&T=1&FY=2008

I'm conjecturing that $116,000+ is all that's left after the DCSS administration and the BOE fund the Office of School Improvement, America's Choice, Conferences, etc. It looks to me like the small portion that trickles down funds an academic coach (non-teacher) and perhaps they have a little funding for materials.

Anonymous said...

Part 2 of post:
Fairington has 457 children in poverty out of 650+, but remember that only a small percentage (80 students out of 365 tested or 20% of the students for math and 41 out of 365 tested or 11% of the students for reading) cannot demonstrate proficiency in the basic subjects of math and reading.

Going on these figures, around 1.5 Title 1 reading teachers would be required to directly instruct around 71 students in small groups during the day. Perhaps 3 Title math teachers would be necessary for intensive math instruction in small groups.

4.5 Title 1 teachers would cost around $250,000 in salary and benefits. Now you see why Title 1 reading and math teachers are not DCSS's model. Most of the money would be in the schoolhouse and little would be left for DCSS administration.

Anonymous said...

DCSS had the model of reading and math Title 1 teachers for years and we weren't seeing great results. With increased accountability, I think that Lewis was desperate for an "easy fix" and choose to go with America's Choice, a program that had been used with some success in a handful of DCSS schools previously.

I am frustrated with the removal of Title 1 teachers but the data doesn't show that they were working either.

What these communities really need are longer days and more of them, mandatory Saturday school, and other extras.

Doing this will make the amount spent at some schools exponentially higher than at other schools. I am ok with this,but I am guessing that many in DeKalb would not be.

Anonymous said...

@ 1:40 pm

Can you cite your data that says Title 1 teachers were not a success?

I was in schools that had successful Title 1 teachers and in schools that didn't have successful Title 1 teachers. In schools where the teacher was more of a political appointee or just using this as a stepping stone to management, the program was not as successful.

As a classroom teacher, I saw great results for my struggling students with dynamic Title 1 teachers, not so good with Title 1 teachers who were just looking to get ahead. I think the key is to attract top notch Title 1 teachers who really enjoy teaching in the classroom.

Anonymous said...

"What these communities really need are longer days and more of them, mandatory Saturday school, and other extras."

I disagree. Classroom teachers with 30+ children can have those 30+ for 10 hours a day and the result will be burnt out teachers and burnt out students. This is "more of the same". Now if you say lengthen the day, but provide small group and individualized engaging instruction for those same students, then maybe I would agree. I still think small groups of intense instruction with a highly qualified and highly motivated teacher is the ideal for struggling students.

Anonymous said...

One great thing about a Title 1 reading teacher or a Title 1 math teacher, they can test their students at the beginning of the year and then test them at the end and it's very apparent if the the results are there or not.

Anonymous said...

PATS is showing a position for Principal at Dresden ES. Does anyone know what happened with Ms. Guthrie?

Anonymous said...

10:19 (6:04 here),

There was a flyer given to kids at the end of the day one day with the Saturday tutorial info. I don't know of any other way that the word was spread.

No, no one cared--or demonstrated any concern at all--about the fact that kids weren't coming in. It was just, "We are here. We are doing what we are supposed to. Oh, well--nothing we can do."

The asst principal running the program seemed almost relieved at the lack of attendance. I recall his saying something like, "If they are not here, they can't cause any trouble."

It baffles me that he was so adamant that the school continue to receive the money in subsequent years but clearly knew that it was not to the students' benefit.

Anonymous said...

@ 1:59 The key is to attract math and reading teachers who really understand who one learns to read and how one understands and builds upon the principals of math. Few teachers have this knowledge, but these are not the people who will be picked for these positions, they will be friends and family members who get these positions if they ever become available.

I just wonder when the adults are going to start caring about the children and giving them a quality education. Too many kids are being left behind, because they are not being engaged or having fires ignited about learning.

Anonymous said...

"One great thing about a Title 1 reading teacher or a Title 1 math teacher, they can test their students at the beginning of the year and then test them at the end and it's very apparent if the the results are there or not."

It only matters if someone looks at the data and has expectations that the children can improve.

At our high school, there is an AP teacher who had an entire class that scored 1 on the AP exam, she had taught them so little. While the students own some of this dismal result, it is clear that the teacher did a poor job. She still has her job and is still teaching an AP course.

Anonymous said...

"Too many kids are being left behind, because they are not being engaged or having fires ignited about learning"

OK so we are back to blaming the teachers???

I have said this before, and you can hate me for being a broken record if you want--but have you ever set foot in a Title 1 classroom and watched one of those teachers at work?

You have NO standing to comment on anyone's level of caring or ability to ignite the desire to learn.

That would be like my saying, "OH, your kid has behavior problems, so you are a lousy parent." I don't know what goes on in your household. I don't know what methods you have tried or what other factors are involved. I have no right to make any statements about your parenting unless I have observed it.

Similarly, you have no right to make any statements about my teaching based solely on the results. There are layers upon layers of reasons why these kids aren't learning. Blaming the teachers is not only unfair to them but also unfair to the kids because you are not taking the time to put any real thought into analyzing the problem.

You cannot fix what you don't understand. And clearly you do not understand.

Anonymous said...

Govt. programs are not going to teach our kids to read. Proper speaking parents at home is the only way for our kids to learn to read and speak properly.

There is no place for Ebonics.

Cerebration said...

I'm curious. Why does the tutoring have to take place after school or on Saturday? If we can pull students for Discovery or for special education services, can't we pull them for an hour or two a day if they have been identified as performing below expectations and offer tutoring during the school day? Seems this could take place during the same time the classroom teacher is teaching the same subject.

Cerebration said...

Good points, 1:11 PM. It shouldn't be this difficult to solve this problem. Find out who the students are that need help and get them targeted assistance - during the day - and monitor their progress. This is the one GOOD thing about NCLB - it forces schools to admit they don't serve everyone the same, identify those that need additional help and get them that help. I think the punishment (failing the entire school) isn't the issue - the issue should be that the school should be reprimanded and only those students in the failing group should be offered the transfer option. Otherwise, these schools will only experience a brain drain and flight of helpful parents. NCLB is demanding that we find a way to roll up our sleeves and get to work for these sub-groups. Offering a transfer to a student who is doing just fine is a very weird solution.

Also - great news about the online webinar with parks and rec - I hope that many of you will sign up. I have often said on this blog that I learned so much of what I've learned in my life - at summer camp. There is so much opportunity for growth and maturing at camp. We need to find a way to get some of these Title 1 kids off to camp for a couple of weeks each summer. It's an eye-opener for broader thinking, a chance for physical and emotional growth and development and an appreciation for nature (translate that to 'science').

I'll repost the info - it's so important -- try to convince administrators you know to sign up for this webinar:

https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/474804905

Making New Places for Play: Joint-Use Agreements between Schools and Parks

The National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA), in partnership with the National Center for Safe Routes to School and America Walks, is offering a free webinar on Joint-Use Agreements on Nov 30, 2010. This informative webinar will examine how joint-use agreements can be negotiated to allow the shared use of school recreational facilities, parks, and community recreation centers.

Making New Places for Play: Joint-Use Agreements between Schools and Parks
Nov. 30, 2010, 1 p.m. EST

Anonymous said...

4:46 Ebonics has nothing do with the literacy problem. It is a teaching problem, as the teachers don't know how to reach all of the children. Our education colleges and universities are still promoting whole language and few teachers graduate with a solid understanding and foundation in the 5 basic components of reading. Few care to learn more about reading, so that they can reach their students. It's easier to blame parents, lazy children, etc. As a teacher I have seen too many children who have simply not been taught-plain and simple.

Anonymous said...

If we can pull students for Discovery or for special education services, can't we pull them for an hour or two a day if they have been identified as performing below expectations and offer tutoring during the school day?

This does happen at most schools, students are pulled out for extra help if they are identified for it.

Unfortunately, some students are simply so far behind that catching up and staying caught up are a real struggle.

If you pull a kid out to much, then they miss new content. It is a real catch 22.

Anonymous said...

The power base in Title I has been sitting solely in the office of the Executive Director of School Improvement. No one has been allowed to challenge any of her decisions, and whenever anyone did question anything she would run to CLew. The poor sap who dared to question her felt the wrath quickly.

She has worked her magic and convinced Tyson & Beasley that her way is the only way it can be done. If that's true, why do so many other districts spend a MUCH greater percentage of Title I money in the schools and on teachers instead of in the central office (in the Title I Office) or on coaches?? She has been consistently growing her staff while every other department has cut staff for several years. Those of you who love data need to check on it.

She is the reason we don't have more teachers in the buildings. We need to demand that the Title I money be used where it was intended -- for our students, not for Audria's Army.

Anonymous said...

@3:37

The problem that our students are not learning or receiving similar quality educations is a problem that teachers, administrators, parents, and students must man up to and acknowledge their blame. As a teacher, I have seen too many worthless teachers in the system being covered up and I am tired of. I feel the same way about administrators. The system can't make parents parent, or children do the work, but they can provide highly qualified, enthusiastic teachers who genuinely care about the education that their students receive. Maybe you are this type of teacher, but honestly, how many of your colleagues are? In my 15 years as a teacher here in DCSS and across the nation, there are very few teachers that I would honestly want instructing my own children. That is the honest truth.

Anonymous said...

@6:19.
I hope that if you knew me you would want me to teach your kid. Yes, teachers bear a great deal of the responsibility. That is what we take on when we accept the job.

I heartily agree--and this is where the problem lies--that EVERY stakeholder needs to own up and say, "OK I can do more." It gets more difficult each year to care more than the kids, parents, and administrators do.

Kim Gokce said...

"PATS is showing a position for Principal at Dresden ES. Does anyone know what happened with Ms. Guthrie? "

She announced her retirement this past Thursday to the faculty. She has big shoes to fill.

Kim Gokce said...

That should read, "They will have big shoes to fill."

Anonymous said...

"There is no technology in the classroom."

True. Regarding technology in the classroom and to help teachers increase student achievement, DCSS is at the bottom of the barrel. With 2 computers per classroom for 30+ students, it is simply a distraction. We've had to cancel the benchmark tests because MIS can't get eSis ($4,000,000) and Schoolnet ($7,000,000) working and the students don't have enough computers to sit down and take the tests. Is anyone else upset that we spent $11,000,000 on eSis and Schoolnet in 2007 to capture student data and provide valuable feedback to teachers, and this system is still nonoperational?

DCSS has spent literally hundreds of millions in the last 5 years on technology - $20,000,000 a year on MIS staff salaries and benefits, $10,000,000 on replacement computers - mainly for admin and support personnel, $6,000,000 on ActivBoards, tens of millions on a private network that has an inadequate number of student access computers hanging off of it, etc. This department desperately needs to align its efforts to student needs. Literally hundreds of millions spent for technology with absolutely no performance accountability.

The schools that have really good technology integration are schools like Austin and Vanderlyn and Hawthorne who have wealthy enough PTAs to fund technology labs, ActivBoards for teachers that actively want them, and enough computers in the classroom to impact instruction.

If Ms. Tyson wants to discuss inequities, she might start with this subject. Go to these schools with wealthy PTAs and see that they have marched ahead with their own money to provide technology for their children. Their PTAs have gained input from their respective faculties and customized the technology system to ensure it works for teachers and students.

Ella Smith said...

There is much to be said for technology capability that meets the students and teachers needs. Millions have been spent on technology. However, PTAs in certain areas of the county have really spent the money to meet the needs of the teachers and students.

The data shows that most of the time the extra money that is being spent for Title I is not producing results. This has been a major topic of concern. More and more money is being put into programs with no accountabilty for the money being spent. This needs to change. This is taxpayers money and it should be spent wisely also to meet the students and teachers needs. However, this is a national problem in many areas of the county.

Anonymous said...

Sorry Kim (9:06)

I know you were trying to correct your gender-specific statement, but it should be, "He or she will have . . "

I am not a fan of "he/she," so I would go with "The new principal will have . . ."

I know everyone is using "they" as the all-purpose pronoun, but I just can't go there yet. It's still plural.

And please know that I mean no disrespect--just holding us all to a high standard.

Anonymous said...

Talking about technology, at our home school, Brockett, classrooms are getting new computers. I believe this is happening across the county. The teachers asked if they could keep the old computers as student computers and were told no that the old computers would be recycled. Why is the county growing away perfectly good computers? Do we really have money to throw away?

Anonymous said...

Is it true that DCSS has been ILLEGALLY shaving off $1000 of teachers's salaries under the reign of Lewis?

It seems that though the State has been providing appropriate funding Lewis and Turk/Tyson have low-balling the State money while claiming that DCSS is putting in its fair share!!!

Perhaps these thousands of dollars per teacher was needed to pay the 30% pay increases blessing the Turks, Callaways, Tysons, Segovis, and Mosleys???

If that is true, how in the world did this go UN-NOTICED by Womack, Redovian, McChesney?

Anonymous said...

Speaking of inequities, is it true that DCSS has been ILLEGALLY shaving off $1000 of teachers's salaries under the reign of Lewis?

It seems that though the State has been providing appropriate funding Lewis and Turk/Tyson have been low-balling the State money intended for teacher salaries while claiming that DCSS is putting in its fair share of local dollars per the legal contract into these salaries!!!

Perhaps these thousands of dollars per teacher were needed to pay the 30% pay increases blessing the Turks, Callaways, Tysons, Segovis, and Mosleys???

If that is true, how in the world did this go UN-NOTICED by Womack, Redovian, McChesney who supposedly can read?

Anonymous said...

I think the state cut their share of teacher's salaries. The state is now only funding 160 days of school.

Anonymous said...

@7:44

That is true of 2010-2011, what of the previous 5 years?

Anonymous said...

"Why is the county growing away perfectly good computers? Do we really have money to throw away?

DCSS MIS personnel do not install or maintain the computers. They have a contract with Dell (before that it was with Prosys) for a specified number of years to install and maintain computers. Once the warranty period is up, MIS does not have personnel to maintain the computers so they cart them away.

Most teachers ask to keep the old computers so their students will have enough access to do Internet research, be able to use the software that the county purchased, etc. The answer is always no because if the warranty is no longer in effect, there is no one in DCSS MIS to maintain the computers.

2 computers per 30+ students is not enough to integrate technology into the classroom. But DCSS MIS has other expenses that preclude providing students access to technology.
For example, salary and benefits for MIS personnel, purchasing and maintaining an extremely expensive private fiber optics network, programs such as eSis and Schoolnet, paying for a premier email system, paying for learning software, paying for ActivBoards with the most bells and whistles, etc. All of this cost literally hundreds of millions.

Until DCSS MIS makes student access the number 1 priority, our classrooms will continue to look like and function like 20th Century classrooms.

Anonymous said...

@7:33, take a minute and think about what you asked. If there was any semblance of truth to that rumor, don't you think the various teacher organizations and employees would have said something about this when it first happened? Give them some credit, they keep up with their year to year salaries.

Anonymous said...

@ 7:33

"Perhaps these thousands of dollars per teacher were needed to pay the 30% pay increases blessing the Turks, Callaways, Tysons, Segovis, and Mosleys??? "

The state has a funding formula for teachers based on factors such as ADA (average daily attendance) and students that qualify for special programs (e.g. special ed, gifted, ESOL, etc.). The more students you have (based on their average daily attendance numbers) and the more that are classified as special needs, the greater your funding.

The state only funds DCSS for 11 Central office personnel (per BOE minute notes - quoting former BOE member Ms. Joyner - see above post). Yet we have 1,239 Central office personnel. Pay for those personnel must come from the funding for teachers and local taxes.

When there is a pay increase from the state, it is for teachers and for 11 Central Office personnel. In the past when it was for example 4%, then teachers might only see 2% because the administration and the BOE decided it would be bad for morale for only teachers to get the raises. Therefore, the teachers' raises and the 11 Central Office personnel's raises were divided among all of DCSS personnel. Also remember that teachers' salaries are a little higher than the state supplement and that accounts for a fraction of a percent of this. Think of this as a pie the state gives teachers that needs to be divided 40 ways instead of 20.

This is perfectly legal.

As DCSS shifted from having less teachers and more highly paid Central Office personnel and support personnel, the burden on local taxes has been tremendous. Every time Dr. Lewis and the BOE cut a teacher position and added that admin and support position, we lost state funding and had to make it up with local taxes.

Central Office personnel has not been the only funding discrepancy. The Security force (Eugene Walker's son is employed in this department), nurses (Sarah Cpopelin-Wood's daughter has one of these jobs - although there is no record of her on the state nursing license site that I could find), Parent Centers (Zepora Robert's daughter runs one of those), etc. do not have full state funding either. Many of the departments in DCSS have no or limited state funding.

Funding has gotten complex. Up until this recession, DCSS administration and BOE just depended on new homes and inflated home values funding their admin and support expansion. Within the last two years (since 2008), the administration and the BOE has been forced to cut almost 400 teaching positions, hundreds more paraprofessionals, a few CTSSs - all of these were schoolhouse personnel, in order to retain the admin and support numbers.

I think it's only going to get worse. This past spring, the BOE at Ms. Tyson's request gave permission for class sizes in high school content areas (science, math, social studies and language arts) to go to 36 and for all other subjects to go to 39. I think the DCSS administration and the BOE think if they can cut enough teacher and schoolhouse positions, they can make it to the end of this recession with Central Office and support personnel jobs outside the schoolhouse (remember most family members are in these positions) intact.

Don't count on Womack's remark about the Central Office. He spoke out against even the canine units being cut. The BOE agreed with him and cut teacher positions instead.

Some other posters may know a lot more than I do about state funding. The BOE should publish where the dollars come for every position they add or protect.

Anonymous said...

Where is this misinformation coming regarding eSIS? As with any large technology rollout, there were problems and lessons learned during the first year. Compared last year, I understand most teachers would say there is a difference for the better.

Have any parents had problems with Parent Portal? The data for this comes from eSIS. If anything, parents have used this to alert teachers when grades have not been posted resulting in a more collaboration.

We are not using Excel spreadsheets to keep up with longitudinal data for almost 100,000 students. Seems there are many people that don't understand the going price of a student information system these days.

Cerebration said...

That is fascinating. So perhaps the mantra that the state used to pay 60% and DeKalb taxpayers paid 40% and now that's flipped to 40/60 - has roots not only in the state's cuts to education - but also to the way in which DCSS has chosen to use the money.

This thread is complicated and could use some research. If anyone wants to take it on, feel free to get started and send us an email at

reparteeforfun@gmail.com

and we'll post it for you.

Anonymous said...

I am not sure what you are saying, Cere, but state revenues to school systems have been slashed.

For as long as I can remember, the ODE representatives have argued that if teachers are given a raise, per the state increases, then all other staff should be. This includes everyone from cafeteria workers to the bus drivers to custodians, etc.

This has not happened in other metro systems. Raises to non-certified personnel were addressed seperately from teachers.

Anonymous said...

Excellent post by 9:52! It should be noted that a LBOE cannot increase class sizes greater than what the state allows.

It should also be noted that many non school house positions are considered to be central office. When the PR department was eliminated, that was considered a reduction in the central office. Same for the drivers ed group, print shop, security officers, those at Sam Moss, etc. when you factor this in, many positions were cut from the central office.

You can see many of those that were RIFd by looking at the June, July, and August HR reports on the school system website.

Cerebration said...

As I understand the above comment, the state has cut funding as we are all aware. The state used to fund 60% of our budget, but now, they only fund 40%. However, the funding provided by the state for teachers has been evenly divided among teachers and central office staff (so as not to deplete others' morale).

That will certainly make it "seem" as if the state is funding us less than they actually are. For example, if we cut 1000 "central office" staff, would the funding figures reduce to show that perhaps the state is funding us more like 50/50? Statistics and numbers can be tossed around willy nilly to 'prove' pretty much any point you want to make.

I wonder how our funding (the professed 40/60) compares to say Gwinnett or Fulton?

Anonymous said...

The 60/40 figure has to do with revenues.

Before the cuts began, 60 percent of monies into DCSS came from the state. Now 40 percent do.

This is a very common practice of state legislatures controlled by Republicans. They shift the tax burden away from the state to the municipalities, counties, school systems etc. It allows the state legislators to argue that they aren't increasing taxes.

We have to be careful when we try to compare the current DCSS to Gwinnett. Gwinnett has high schools that average twice as large as DCSS. As a county, if that is the direction we want to go, then the public needs to speak up now while the master plan is being worked on.

Anonymous said...

Don't forget to factor federal funding in your question. DeKalb has a higher percentage of Title 1 students and that increases the amount of federal dollars to the school district.

Food for thought, while a school like Vanderlyn is supported by an outstanding PTA, schools will a large Title 1 population may have more total dollars in their school house for instruction. The Vanderlyn PTA has more discretion on how to use their funds whereas the Title 1 school may not. By the same token, a Title 1 cafeteria may subsidize the cafeteria of a non Title 1 school because of the free and reduced lunch program.

Anonymous said...

"a Title 1 cafeteria may subsidize the cafeteria of a non Title 1 school because of the free and reduced lunch program."

This is how I understand it as well.

Anonymous said...

I was at a Targeted Assisted Title I school last year and tutorials were offered after school but as usual we had a small number attend. 1) Transportation is a factor 2) Parents did not make their student stay. Also factor in how many different schools have some of these students attended. Stability is a factor.

About inequities, let's also look at the size of the PTA budgets of all our schools to see what is being supplemented. Midvale had their Tech lab computers bought by the PTA over two years because we could not afford to wait for the county. This was at least 7 years ago. I hope they've been upgraded since.

Parents coming as tutors and mentoring depends on the administrator at the school. Some do not want parents coming in because of confidentiality issues and/or background checks. Sometimes the school makes it more difficult to help out than you realize.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 9:54 am

"Where is this misinformation coming regarding eSIS?"

eSis cost $4,000,000, and it does essentially the same functions as the Smartweb, the program it replaced (attendance, grades, parent portal, etc.). Smartweb cost infinitely less as DCSS only paid an annual maintenance fee of $102,903.10.(per 03-05-07 BOE minute attachment invoice).

The eSis rollout was a nightmare for teachers and drained the classroom of valuable instructional time for many months. Instructional time lost cannot be replaced for students. That's why a minimum of disruption should always be one of the main criteria when planning new systems.

eSis and Schoolnet are supposed to work in tandem to give teachers "real time" access to benchmark testing (not year old achievement test data). Giving teachers this data allows them to take corrective steps such as reteaching concept(s) to the entire class or individualized and small group instruction based on skills not mastered. The need for data feedback for teachers is critical as teachers are being pressured to be more and more accountable for student performance and students are expected to step up to meet greater competition in the global environment. Parents want and need critical "real time" information regarding discrete skills mastered in order to to support the educational needs of their children.

eSis and Schoolnet which combined cost taxpayers $11,000,000 do not give the promised "real time" data analysis to the personnel who directly instruct students. Many teaches do resort to Excel spreadsheets for data feedback further draining valuable instructional planning time. DCSS taxpayers began paying on these two systems in 2007 and still owe millions, yet we are not deriving the benefits we were promised over Smartweb. That's information - not misinformation.

Anonymous said...

I don't want to start another "Esis bashing" thread, but I think part of the reason we are seeing fewer complaints is that teachers have given up complaining. The system is still as inefficient as ever. Has it become easier to use? NO. I have just learned to work around its many idiosyncracies. One example--when I post grades for progress reports or for end of semester, I have to go to a series of 4 different screens, though I enter information on only two of them. If I forget to check a box on one screen--where no other data is entered--the grades go into the ether. Worse, the final screen will say, "Grades successfully posted" whether they were or not, and I can't verfiy. I have to wait to see whether I am on the "oops" list the next day asking me to repost.

With Smartweb, I went to the screen where my grades were, selected something like, "post grades," added comments, and then finalized my grades. Then I could confirm "last date posted," so that I knew I was done. WOW--it was so easy.

I know we are stuck with esis--but seriously, nothing has changed. We have just--once again--sucked it up so that we can do what we have to do and get on with teaching.

Anonymous said...

I think you are saying that the State of Georgia has been funding for Dekalb teacher "Mrs. Edna Jones" at $45 000 in 2007; at $46 000 in 2008; at $47 000 in 2009; and at $48 000 in 2010 according to the "seniority" or "step" that DCSS Human Resources and Payroll report to the State.

DCSS is committed (on paper, by contract, by policy, by public relations, by speech ...etc…) to add $5 000 (an example in this case) to the State salary to bring "Mrs. Edna Jones" up to an annual salary (State + DCSS) of $50 000 in 2007; of $51 000 in 2008; of $52 000 in 2009; and of $53 000 in 2010.


But since DCSS has been actually paying "Mrs. Edna Jones" an annual salary (State + DCSS) of only $50 000; only $50 000 in 2008; only $50 000 in 2009; and only $50 000 in 2010, DCSS must have been (justifiably) reducing (budget shortfalls, friends, family, gas for family) the "local/DCSS" part of the salary for each teacher elsewhere BECAUSE, my dear friend, no official policy has EVER decreased the "local/DCSS" part of the teachers’ salaries.


Does DCSS then owe “Mrs. Edna Jones” $1 000 for 2008, $2 000 for 2009, and $3 000 for 2010 or a total of $6 000 of back pay?


{Of course, DCSS will argue that in order to give back $6 000 to all of the DCSS “Mrs. Edna Jones”, DCSS will have to cut teachers and services---and that will hurt the magnet schools and/or the at risk schools…Of course, we, the public, will be upset at the greedy teachers who want to be paid while the rest of the country is suffering from the Great Recession}


Is that what you are saying?


That cannot be true because the entire DCSS Board of Education would have been made up of “Robin of Sherwood” collectively and righteously taking $6 000 from “Mrs. Edna Jones” for the purpose of educating the students of Dekalb County.


No, Brutus, this cannot be true “…for they are all honorable men”!

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 9:54 am

At least you answered part of the question where the misinformation is coming. The Smartweb gradebook was used for secondary schools and Making the Grade was used for elementary schools. In plain speak, the district had two applications used for an electronic gradebook and they were NOT integrated. Also, if you want to compare costs, you must compare the initial investment, training and maintenance costs for TWO applications versus one. Given that the district now has one integrated system that can track students from K-12, one common interface which means less training over the life of the application, which do you think is more cost effective?

To be clear, the problems encountered during year 1 of the rollout of eSIS were inexcusable. The Train the Trainer model was not a good one in hindsight. This was probably the cause for most of the problems. Teachers are now getting a refresh of their machines which should eliminate most of the RAM problems encountered. The long term benefits it will provide will far exceed anything that Making the Grade and Smartweb provides.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 11:48 am

What I'm saying is that the state funds teachers and teacher raises but only a few Central Office administrative positions. That's one reason Title 1 gets used for Central Office personnel instead of the schoolhouse. Once the money is allotted to DCSS, the state gives DCSS much leeway to distribute the money however they want as long as class sizes for special ed and regular ed are met. This past year at the request of many superintendents in Georgia, Perdue temporarily lifted the classroom size requirements. Look at the BOE proposal that passed this spring:
160-5-1-.08 Proposed Class Sizes for 2010-2011 for DCSS

Reading from left to right of the grade level/content areas are the 2008 class sixes, 2009 class sizes, 2010 class sizes and 2010 buffer increases (i.e. the superintendent can increase class sizes in 2010 by 2 more students)

Kindergarten 18 20 22 24
Kindergarten w/Para 20 22 24 26
K-5 Early Intervention (EIP) self-contained & pull-out classes 14 16 18 20
1-3 21 23 25 27
4-5 (E/LA, Math, Science, Social Studies) 28 30 32 34
6-8 (E/LA, Math, Science, Social Studies) 28 30 32 34
K-3 Fine Arts 33 33 35 37
6-8 Fine Arts & World Language (taught as part of Connections) 33 33 35 37
6-8 World Language for Carnegie Unit credit 32 32 34 36
4-8 (all others) 33 33 35 37
9-12 (E/LA, Math, Science, Social Studies, World Languages) 32 32 34 36
9-12 (all other subjects) 35 35 37 39
Vocational Labs 28 28 30 32
Typing/Keyboarding 35 35 37 39
Instrumental Music (Band) 100 100 102 104
Choral Music 80 80 82 84
Physical Education (no para) 40 42 44 46
Physical Education (with para – Elem Schools only) 54 54 56 58
Co-op Supervision (Work Study) 56 56 58 60
K-5 Gifted (Resource) 17 19 21 23
6-8 Gifted (Resource and Advanced Content) 21 23 25 27
9-12 Gifted (Resource and Advanced Content) 21 23 25 27
6-12 Remedial (REP) No para 18 20 22 24
6-12 Remedial (REP) With para 24 26 28 30
Alternative Programs (no para) 18 18 20 22
Alternative Programs (with para) 24 24 26 28
K-3 ESOL/English for Speakers of Other Languages (no para) 11 11 13 15
K-3 ESOL/English for Speakers of Other Languages (with para) 13 13 15 17
4-8 ESOL/English for Speakers of Other Languages (no para) 14 14 16 18
4-8 ESOL/English for Speakers of Other Languages (with para) 15 15 17 19
9-12 ESOL/English for Speakers of Other Languages (no para) 18 18 20 22
9-12 ESOL/English for Speakers of Other Languages (with para) 20 20 22 24

Anonymous said...

Was Tyson suggesting that she would actually DO something about the empty seats--or was she saying we need to offer the same things everywhere AND reserve the right to transfer students wherever their parents want to send them.

Anonymous said...

Real-time news:
Jester team just knocked on my door with an absentee ballot.
Good move.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous
"The Smartweb gradebook was used for secondary schools and Making the Grade was used for elementary schools. In plain speak, the district had two applications used for an electronic gradebook and they were NOT integrated. "

Making the Grade was a stand-alone system that teachers loaded on their machines so of course its days were numbered. Online gradebooks are the way to go, however, DCSS could have moved the elementary schools to Smartweb for a very very tiny fraction of the cost of eSis and Schoolnet.

eSis in combination with Schoolnet gives teachers the yearly student testing information from CRCT, Cogat, GHSGT, etc., but teachers already have this for free from the state through the Georgia OAS (Online Assessment System) - Well, not exactly for free because the state had already used taxpayer dollars to develop and maintain this system so I guess you could say we DeKalb taxpayers paid/pay twice for teachers to access the same information.

eSis and Schoolnet were bought for data analysis of benchmark testing. Timely, frequent, consistent and relevant feedback of specific skills mastered and content understood is valuable information to teachers and also to administrators. That was the big pitch for what we would get with eSis and Schoolnet combined.

For example, as a teacher, I could teach long division and then the benchmark test data would tell me who in my class had mastered this skill. If most of my class had not mastered this skill, I could reteach. If a small group of students were the only ones lacking in this skill, I could remediate that small group. Then we could move on to double digit division. I could look at the reading comprehension of my various students and make adjustments in my science and social studies delivery. The list goes on and on how beneficial this would be to teachers.

The problem is that Ms. Tyson and Mr. Hunter of MIS committed in 2007 to the BOE that $11,000,000 would buy this valuable analysis of student progress, and yet here we are 3 years down the road and no "real time" data analysis is occurring with this system.

The other problem is that Ms. Tyson and Mr. Hunter did not recognize that students "bubbling" in a multitude of tests every six weeks and teachers taking instructional and planning time to scan in thousands of answer sheets was counterproductive to student achievement. They needed ensure students had adequate access to technology labs or computers so that they could take the benchmark test in 10 to 15 minutes online. Then the results should be on the teacher's desktop or remotely via her home computer by close of business that very same day. This is not brain surgery - this is what taxpayers paid $11,000,000 for and what is not happening. They didn't do their homework and the teachers and students took the brunt of the mess while taxpayers are out $11,000,000.

As far as training goes, the "train the Trainer" model was not the main problem. eSis was rolled out too fast (a Ms. Tyson and Mr. Hunter decision), and it simply didn't work correctly.

MIS upper management made some poor decisions, their performance was sorely lacking, yet the students and teachers paid/are still paying the price in terms of time off task and frustration. Absolutely no accountability on the part of the individuals who pitched this $11,000,000 system that does not do what we bought it to do and perhaps never will.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 12:28

This post has 2 parts.
Part 1:
@ Anonymous
"The Smartweb gradebook was used for secondary schools and Making the Grade was used for elementary schools. In plain speak, the district had two applications used for an electronic gradebook and they were NOT integrated. "

Making the Grade was a stand-alone system that teachers loaded on their machines so of course its days were numbered. Online gradebooks are the way to go, however, DCSS could have moved the elementary schools to Smartweb for a very very tiny fraction of the cost of eSis and Schoolnet.

eSis in combination with Schoolnet gives teachers the yearly student testing information from CRCT, Cogat, GHSGT, etc., but teachers already have this for free from the state through the Georgia OAS (Online Assessment System) - Well, not exactly for free because the state had already used taxpayer dollars to develop and maintain this system so I guess you could say we DeKalb taxpayers paid/pay twice for teachers to access the same information.

eSis and Schoolnet were bought for data analysis of benchmark testing. Timely, frequent, consistent and relevant feedback of specific skills mastered and content understood is valuable information to teachers and also to administrators. That was the big pitch for what we would get with eSis and Schoolnet combined.

For example, as a teacher, I could teach long division and then the benchmark test data would tell me who in my class had mastered this skill. If most of my class had not mastered this skill, I could reteach. If a small group of students were the only ones lacking in this skill, I could remediate that small group. Then we could move on to double digit division. I could look at the reading comprehension of my various students and make adjustments in my science and social studies delivery. The list goes on and on how beneficial this would be to teachers.

Anonymous said...

part 2:
The problem is that Ms. Tyson and Mr. Hunter of MIS committed in 2007 to the BOE that $11,000,000 would buy this valuable analysis of student progress, and yet here we are 3 years down the road and no "real time" data analysis is occurring with this system.

The other problem is that Ms. Tyson and Mr. Hunter did not recognize that students "bubbling" in a multitude of tests every six weeks and teachers taking instructional and planning time to scan in thousands of answer sheets was counterproductive to student achievement. They needed ensure students had adequate access to technology labs or computers so that they could take the benchmark test in 10 to 15 minutes online. Then the results should be on the teacher's desktop or remotely via her home computer by close of business that very same day. This is not brain surgery - this is what taxpayers paid $11,000,000 for and what is not happening. They didn't do their homework and the teachers and students took the brunt of the mess while taxpayers are out $11,000,000.

As far as training goes, the "train the Trainer" model was not the main problem. eSis was rolled out too fast (a Ms. Tyson and Mr. Hunter decision), and it simply didn't work correctly.

MIS upper management made some poor decisions, their performance was sorely lacking, yet the students and teachers paid/are still paying the price in terms of time off task and frustration. Absolutely no accountability on the part of the individuals who pitched this $11,000,000 system that does not do what we bought it to do and perhaps never will. By the time we get it to work, it will be obsolete, and it will never supply the data analysis we need until the student access problem is solved.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 3:10

More good information but I'd have to give you an 'I'. You said the following:

"eSis and Schoolnet were bought for data analysis of benchmark testing."

Below is verbatim from the January 14, 2008 Board meeting when the purchase of eSiS was approved. As you will read, the purpose and functionality is a LOT more than what you indicated.

The current SIS was BOE approved for purchase December 9, 1996 from Clayton County School System as a “home-grown” application to bring all DCSS schools online for student accounting. DCSS’s use of the application has reached end-of-life and it does not meet the growing student population, reporting requirements, and general administration of students’ information.



The new proposed AAL Student Information System (SIS) is a comprehensive, scalable, web-based application to replace the current student information system. The application is School Interoperability Framework (SIF) compliant and includes the following:



♦ Demographics (Name, Address, Parents/Guardians, etc.)

♦ Flexible Scheduling Module

♦ Discipline Tracking

♦ Integrated Grade Book

♦ Parent Portal Access with online registration option

♦ Attendance

♦ Standardized testing and pre-ID labels

♦ Real-time data reporting (i.e. when grades are posted, they must be available for viewing immediately)

♦ Georgia State Reporting Requirements
**********
Let's hope this clears things up..

Anonymous said...

From a non-teacher perspective,I believe one of the biggest mistakes was the fact that first class and the new system did not overlap.

When all the initial problems happened, and we challenged our BoE rep on why this happened, we were told that the cost to extend first class would have been rougly a million dollars.

Government software activation/implementation almost never goes well.

For well over a decade, the state of GA has been promising software that can track GA students and do growth measurements. It is just now ready, a decade late and millions and millions over budget.

Anonymous said...

I want to add for as much as we scream about salaries, until recently, excellent to good IT professionals could make much more money in the private sector.

It was hard to attract the cream of the crop of the IT world to lower paying government jobs.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 4:36 pm

"It was hard to attract the cream of the crop of the IT world to lower paying government jobs."

Not so true anymore. DCSS needs to look at outsourcing parts of the IT department.

Anonymous said...

My understanding with respect to the annual salary increases was that DCSS got caught "holding the bag" by not passing along the state portion of the annual increase to teachers.

I wasn't due a step the last couple of years, so I wasn't affected. But some of my colleagues are receiving "step adjustments" to reimburse them for the increase in the state portion of their salaries for the past couple of years.

Surely DCSS knew that the state's annual increases for longevity hadn't been cancelled!

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 3:10 PM

For some reason my earlier reply to your post did not take. I gave you an 'I', partly based on this statement:

"eSis and Schoolnet were bought for data analysis of benchmark testing."

Take a look at the minutes from the Board meeting on January 14, 2008 regarding why eSIS was purchased. This is presented verbatim:

The current SIS was BOE approved for purchase December 9, 1996 from Clayton County School System as a “home-grown” application to bring all DCSS schools online for student accounting. DCSS’s use of the application has reached end-of-life and it does not meet the growing student population, reporting requirements, and general administration of students’ information.

The new proposed AAL Student Information System (SIS) is a comprehensive, scalable, web-based application to replace the current student information system. The application is School Interoperability Framework (SIF) compliant and includes the following:

♦ Demographics (Name, Address, Parents/Guardians, etc.)

♦ Flexible Scheduling Module

♦ Discipline Tracking

♦ Integrated Grade Book

♦ Parent Portal Access with online registration option

♦ Attendance

♦ Standardized testing and pre-ID labels

♦ Real-time data reporting (i.e. when grades are posted, they must be available for viewing immediately)

♦ Georgia State Reporting Requirements
******

As you can see, eSis provides a LOT more than what you thought. Regardless of what SIS was purchased, it was going to cost a great deal of money.

Anonymous said...

So Anon 4:36 if it is hard to attract high tech folks to the schools, how has Gwinnett done it? I don't know about you, but I keep hearing about private sector IT folks getting laid off...what better time is there to attract top of the line folks?

Anonymous said...

"Here's a good point brought up by Bebe Joyner in that May 7, 2008 BOE meeting:

"Bebe Joyner:
• The state only funds 11 district office positions"'

Here the Georgia DOE document Ms. Joyner was getting her information from:
FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT FOR GEORGIA LOCAL UNITS OF ADMINISTRATION

"In addition, Code Section 20-2-186 states that the beginning salaries of a superintendent and two assistant superintendents, as well as a secretary and accountant will be allowed for a LUA with 5,000 or less students. For LUAs with over 5,000 FTE but less than 10,001, funds will be allowed to pay the beginning salaries of a superintendent and four assistant superintendents, as well as a secretary and accountant. For FTE over 10,000, funds will be allowed to pay the beginning salaries of a superintendent and eight assistant superintendents, as well as a secretary and accountant."

A superintendent, 8 assistant superintendents, a secretary and an accountant would make 11 Central Office personnel funded by Georgia QBE.

Of course you can't run a school system the size of DCSS on 11 Central Office personnel, but do we need 1,239 employees? We get a substantial amount of our taxes back from the state to pay teachers, but hardly any to pay Central Office employees. We have to reach into our pockets again to pay them.

Read the entire document. It's very interesting. All about the FTEs and how school systems are funded from the state of Georgia. BTW, I think it was revised in 2008 since the web link says revised in 2008.

http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&cd=4&ved=0CC0QFjAD&url=http%3A%2F%2Fpublic.doe.k12.ga.us%2FDMGetDocument.aspx%2FCHAPTER%252024%2520qbe%2520formula%2520revised%2520082008.doc%3Fp%3D6CC6799F8C1371F607C20A8F4D00412749C7515C8D6A9EE929E938B53F5D9C12%26Type%3DD&rct=j&q=qbe%20funding&ei=aVToTJqmKcP6lweNuPieDA&usg=AFQjCNH4CaUf16G6pGKmFuhKewzRKG5ojA&sig2=Enda-L_ex2y5RYajFkmVuQ&cad=rja


Note:
"Q: What is QBE?
A: QBE is the acronym for the Quality Basic Education Funding Formula, currently used to allocate state funds to local school systems for the education of public school students. "

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 3:10 PM

Good information but I have to give you an 'I' for your post. Take a look at the Board meeting notes from January 14, 2008 for for FULL story about the purpose of eSIS. Below is a short snippet:

The current SIS was BOE approved for purchase December 9, 1996 from Clayton County School System as a “home-grown” application to bring all DCSS schools online for student accounting. DCSS’s use of the application has reached end-of-life and it does not meet the growing student population, reporting requirements, and general administration of students’ information.

♦ Demographics (Name, Address, Parents/Guardians, etc.)
♦ Flexible Scheduling Module
♦ Discipline Tracking
♦ Integrated Grade Book
♦ Parent Portal Access with online registration option
♦ Attendance
♦ Standardized testing and pre-ID labels
♦ Real-time data reporting (i.e. when grades are posted, they must be available for viewing immediately)
♦ Georgia State Reporting Requirements

Anonymous said...

Part 1 of post:
"Here's a good point brought up by Bebe Joyner in that May 7, 2008 BOE meeting:

"Bebe Joyner:
• The state only funds 11 district office positions"'

Here the Georgia DOE document Ms. Joyner was getting her information from:
FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT FOR GEORGIA LOCAL UNITS OF ADMINISTRATION

"In addition, Code Section 20-2-186 states that the beginning salaries of a superintendent and two assistant superintendents, as well as a secretary and accountant will be allowed for a LUA with 5,000 or less students. For LUAs with over 5,000 FTE but less than 10,001, funds will be allowed to pay the beginning salaries of a superintendent and four assistant superintendents, as well as a secretary and accountant. For FTE over 10,000, funds will be allowed to pay the beginning salaries of a superintendent and eight assistant superintendents, as well as a secretary and accountant."

A superintendent, 8 assistant superintendents, a secretary and an accountant would make 11 Central Office personnel funded by Georgia QBE.

Of course you can't run a school system the size of DCSS on 11 Central Office personnel, but do we need 1,239 employees? We get a substantial amount of our taxes back from the state to pay teachers, but hardly any to pay Central Office employees. We have to reach into our pockets again to pay them.

Anonymous said...

Part 2 of post:
Read the entire document. It's very interesting. All about the FTEs and how school systems are funded from the state of Georgia. BTW, I think it was revised in 2008 since the web link says revised in 2008.

http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&cd=4&ved=0CC0QFjAD&url=http%3A%2F%2Fpublic.doe.k12.ga.us%2FDMGetDocument.aspx%2FCHAPTER%252024%2520qbe%2520formula%2520revised%2520082008.doc%3Fp%3D6CC6799F8C1371F607C20A8F4D00412749C7515C8D6A9EE929E938B53F5D9C12%26Type%3DD&rct=j&q=qbe%20funding&ei=aVToTJqmKcP6lweNuPieDA&usg=AFQjCNH4CaUf16G6pGKmFuhKewzRKG5ojA&sig2=Enda-L_ex2y5RYajFkmVuQ&cad=rja


Note:
"Q: What is QBE?
A: QBE is the acronym for the Quality Basic Education Funding Formula, currently used to allocate state funds to local school systems for the education of public school students. "

Anonymous said...

Read the entire document. It's very interesting. All about the FTEs and how school systems are funded from the state of Georgia. BTW, I think it was revised in 2008 since the web link says revised in 2008.

http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&cd=4&ved=0CC0QFjAD&url=http%3A%2F%2Fpublic.doe.k12.ga.us%2FDMGetDocument.aspx%2FCHAPTER%252024%2520qbe%2520formula%2520revised%2520082008.doc%3Fp%3D6CC6799F8C1371F607C20A8F4D00412749C7515C8D6A9EE929E938B53F5D9C12%26Type%3DD&rct=j&q=qbe%20funding&ei=aVToTJqmKcP6lweNuPieDA&usg=AFQjCNH4CaUf16G6pGKmFuhKewzRKG5ojA&sig2=Enda-L_ex2y5RYajFkmVuQ&cad=rja


Note:
"Q: What is QBE?
A: QBE is the acronym for the Quality Basic Education Funding Formula, currently used to allocate state funds to local school systems for the education of public school students. "

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 3:10 PM

Good information but I have to give you an 'I' for your post. Take a look at the Board meeting notes from January 14, 2008 for for FULL story about the purpose of eSIS. Below is a short snippet:

The current SIS was BOE approved for purchase December 9, 1996 from Clayton County School System as a “home-grown” application to bring all DCSS schools online for student accounting. DCSS’s use of the application has reached end-of-life and it does not meet the growing student population, reporting requirements, and general administration of students’ information.

♦ Demographics (Name, Address, Parents/Guardians, etc.)
♦ Flexible Scheduling Module
♦ Discipline Tracking
♦ Integrated Grade Book
♦ Parent Portal Access with online registration option
♦ Attendance
♦ Standardized testing and pre-ID labels
♦ Real-time data reporting (i.e. when grades are posted, they must be available for viewing immediately)
♦ Georgia State Reporting Requirements

Anonymous said...

"So Anon 4:36 if it is hard to attract high tech folks to the schools, how has Gwinnett done it? I don't know about you, but I keep hearing about private sector IT folks getting laid off...what better time is there to attract top of the line folks?"

I am Anon 4:36 PM

I totally agree with this but the reality in most governments is that moves like aren't made.

In the last 12 months there has been a tremendous amount written in the education reform community about the missed opportunity to purge bad teachers during the downsizing of schools and school systems. Almost no school systems nationally use any other criteria but longevity, so the great new teacher may have to go while the mediocre longer experienced teacher gets to stay.

The same goes for almost all bureaucracies everywhere.

Anonymous said...

From looking through old posts, I can't quite claify what that 1200+ includes. Does it include bus drivers, crossing guards, general maintenance workers?

Anonymous said...

We do have a friend who left the private sector to work for Gwinnett Schools in their IT a few years ago. He did it for a variety of reasons, but mainly because they work no overtime and he can run a business on the side, something he wasn't able to do when working in the private sector.

Anonymous said...

State QBE information on county revenue and expenditures:
http://app3.doe.k12.ga.us/ows-bin/owa/fin_pack_revenue.entry_form

http://app3.doe.k12.ga.us/ows-bin/owa/fin_pack_revenue.entry_form

Anonymous said...

"From looking through old posts, I can't quite claify what that 1200+ includes. Does it include bus drivers, crossing guards, general maintenance workers?"

I doubt it since DCSS has 7,500 employees classified as support. Per the state Salary and Travel audit, there are 1000+ bus drivers so I don't think they are classifed as Central office employees.

@ anonymous 6:49

The figures the DCSS superintendent has given the AJC is 6,500 teachers and 15,000+ employees. Ms. Tyson says there are 1,200+ Central office employees so that leaves DCSS with 7,500 support personnel.

In all fairness, more transparency as pertains to publicly funded positions and pay should be a priority for DCSS administration and BOE.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 3:10 PM

Good information but I have to give you an 'I' for your post. Take a look at the Board meeting notes from January 14, 2008 for for FULL story about the purpose of eSIS. Below is a short snippet:

The current SIS was BOE approved for purchase December 9, 1996 from Clayton County School System as a “home-grown” application to bring all DCSS schools online for student accounting. DCSS’s use of the application has reached end-of-life and it does not meet the growing student population, reporting requirements, and general administration of students’ information.

Anonymous said...

Look at the Instructional Technology in Forsyth. DCSS spends an enormous amount of money for technology, but what do we get for it?

http://www.forsyth.k12.ga.us/129410616215138857/site/default.asp

Anonymous said...

Technology provides tools that are useful if used thoughtfully, and in moderation. In my opinion, the benefits are exaggerated. Meanwhile, we all turn a blind eye to the more unhappy ways it increasing affects our behavior and attention. It is certainly not the panacea that will solve our equity and achievement problems. Take a look at the latest NYTimes feature in its series, "Your Brain on Computers". It focuses on kids and school.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/21/technology/21brain.html?_r=1&hp

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 8:43 am
"Technology provides tools that are useful if used thoughtfully, and in moderation."

Totally true. DCSS currently has so little technology for so great an expenditure that this area needs reviewing and right sizing.

Cerebration said...

So - if you want to see what can be done when granted full freedom as a school for the arts -- check out this charter outside of Miami in Coral Gables -

http://www.aandm.net/