Friday, January 14, 2011

Gifted and Magnet School Data Now Available

NEW DATA! As I was perusing the 2020 Vision documents, I found to my surprise and delight that some critical data akin to the data requested by Sandy is now available on the DCSS website! Go to the 2020 Vision web page and download the new files that show exactly how many gifted students are identified at each elementary school, how many each school sends to Wadsworth, Kittredge, Chamblee MS, Chamblee HS, Chapel Hill MS and SW DeKalb HS.

In addition to the raw numbers - which are quite eye-opening - there are maps with bar charts showing very clearly where most of the gifted students reside. The answer is undeniably in the north end of DeKalb. Some north DeKalb schools have so many gifted students one has to wonder why these schools are not simply labeled "High Achiever Magnets" and require lotteries to get in!

This begs the question - is it really "equitable" to merge schools and force so many from the northern parts of the county to drive into Avondale? In fact, if you look at where the gifted students in south DeKalb actually live, you will see that they don't live anywhere near Avondale either! This idea of creating a "central" location merging all magnet schools may need to be revisited.

Here are direct links to these files:

Elementary School Kingsley ES High-Achiever Magnet and Gifted Students (DATA)

Elementary School Kingsley ES High-Achiever Magnet and Gifted Students (MAP)

Middle School and High School High-Achiever Magnet and Gifted Students (DATA)

Middle School and High School High-Achiever Magnet and Gifted Students (MAP)

I find it interesting that we are always told that the magnets get extra funding because they serve so many gifted students at once. Well, these charts don't tell us how many students at Kittredge and Wadsworth are gifted, but they do tell us for Chamblee and SW DeKalb. If I'm reading the chart correctly - these are some comparisons

Magnet Schools for High Achievers/Number of Gifted
Chamblee MS - 294
Chamblee HS - 388
Chapel Hill MS - 81
SW DeKalb HS - 262

Regular School/Number of Gifted
Druid Hills MS (Shamrock) - 83
Druid Hills HS - 161
Peachtree MS - 152
Dunwoody HS - 225
Henderson MS - 157
Lakeside HS - 317
Salem MS - 57
MLK HS - 118
Stephenson MS - 51
Stephenson HS - 115
Tucker MS - 63
Tucker HS - 117

In fact, we have 1010 students labeled gifted in our regular middle schools, and only 375 who "won" a seat at a magnet school for high achievers.

And we have 1805 students labeled gifted in our high schools, with only 650 who "won" a seat at a magnet school for high achievers.

We have 3,289 students labeled gifted in our elementary schools. How many gifted labeled students do you imagine "won" a seat at Kittredge or Wadsworth? (Remember, not all students at these magnet schools are labeled gifted -- and the populations of both schools combined is barely 600.)

Every DCSS elementary school is host to gifted students. Some more than others. Some may even have more than the magnet schools. In fact, Vanderlyn has 150 gifted students, Princeton, 109, Pine Ridge, 90, Oak Grove, 173, Montgomery, 112, Henderson Mill 103, Fernbank, 145, Evansdale, 118, Chesnut, 95, Briarlake, 93 and Austin, 102.

Are these gifted students being properly served? Are too many "gifted" resources being spent on magnets for those lucky winners and not enough on gifted students back at the "home" schools? There are some really important questions here. Before we go merging the magnets as they live in their current form - perhaps we need to step back and evaluate the equity for gifted students countywide. There's no way to create a magnet school that would hold 3,289 students.

192 comments:

Anonymous said...

Another question is: Are there more gifted students in north DeKalb because that is how the demographics fall or are the administrators in the north DeKalb schools doing a better job testing for gifted (keep in mind the overall lack of experience of the administrtion and principals within the schools--overall-- and the mandates coming in from various places). With the extra points that come from the state on gifted funding, maybe this is something to look into...

Anonymous said...

I believe that number of 83 for Chamblee is the number of gifted resident students - same for the other magnet schools you listed.

Cerebration said...

Ok - let me change that - I'll go with the total number in the columns from the sending school. I'm still not certain this is the correct number of gifted in the middle and high school magnets. If anyone knows for certain, please share it.

Cerebration said...

I also can't quite tell if the home school number includes those gifted students sent to the magnets or not. Anyone?

Anonymous said...

The magnet schools for high achievers do not require "gifted" classification for good reason. A student can be 99th percentile across the board but if in elementary school they were not found to be "creative" based on a wholly subjective test that is very loosely based on the Renzuli pedagogy, then they are not "gifted" for DCSS purposes.

In my kids' elementary school the creativity gifted testing was a joke and based on who the gifted teacher liked. Plus the classroom teachers could "recommend" students for the gifted program and bypass the gifted testing.
Thus many parents ignored the gifted "testing" and simply applied for Kittredge based on standardized test scores.

While I have not looked at it for a long time, I think the criteria to be classified as "gifted" in middle school is different. Perhaps GPA?

Anonymous said...

Gifted identification is linked to the income level of the parents, and north DeKalb has a higher income level than south DeKalb. That's why you'll find more Gifted in north DeKalb. However, gifted children are found in every income level, race, culture and gender.

If you are a gifted child, it doesn't matter to you if you are gifted because of nature or nurture. You are not challenged by the work given your peers either way. Identifying gifted students is always a problem because most of the tools we use (e.g. COGAT) are culturally biased. That's why I like the Raven - very good identification tool for minority and ESOL students.

Somehow DeKalb parents have the idea that Kittredge and Wadsworth are schools for "gifted" students. That is NOT true. These are schools for "high achievers". Being gifted and a high achiever has a correlation rather than a causation relationship. That is to say, being gifted is correlated with high achievement, but not necessarily caused by it.

Kittredge was solely established as a way to attract (thus the term magnet) black and white children to go to school together - thus was born the "high achiever" magnet (Ironic that's it's now in north DeKalb serving an almost white population of students)

Clifton was established to attract black and white children to go to school together - thus was born the technology school. DSA was established as a way to attract (thus the term magnet) black and white children to go to school together - thus was born the performing arts magnet.

All of the magnet schools were born of the desire to attract (magnet - get it) BLACK and WHITE students to go to school with each other VOLUNTARILY so DeKalb could get out from underneath the Consent Decree which threatened to bus children in a very large county all over the place.

The threat of busing had created a situation where DeKalb became majority white to majority black within a decade. Majority to Minority (M to M) then proceeded to make whites a sliver of the population as they fled all of DeKalb except for the Clifton Corridor and Dunwoody. Not one school was built for 15 years as these court cases wound their way through the courts all the way to the Supreme Court of the United States. Overcrowding in South DeKalb created ill will that lasts to this day. Ask any older person about it.

Magnets were PURELY a way to bring about a closure to the court cast that divided the county, created "white flight", consumed a disproportionate amount of time at the administrative and BOE level, gridlocked the building of new schools, and cost untold amounts of taxpayer money. That is the reason for magnets - NOT that children needed special services.

Somehow parents (black, white and other) began to think their children were "entitled" to magnets - that magnets were created to serve the special needs of their children. If magnets had come about in DeKalb the way magnet came about in other counties, the result would be much different.

Sometimes a little history can provide a little perspective.

Anonymous said...

Gifted identification is linked to the income level of the parents, and north DeKalb has a higher income level than south DeKalb. That's why you'll find more Gifted in north DeKalb. However, gifted children are found in every income level, race, culture and gender.

If you are a gifted child, it doesn't matter to you if you are gifted because of nature or nurture. You are not challenged by the work given your peers either way. Identifying gifted students is always a problem because most of the tools we use (e.g. COGAT) are culturally biased. That's why I like the Raven - very good identification tool for minority and ESOL students.

Somehow DeKalb parents have the idea that Kittredge and Wadsworth are schools for "gifted" students. That is NOT true. These are schools for "high achievers". Being gifted and a high achiever has a correlation rather than a causation relationship. That is to say, being gifted is correlated with high achievement, but not necessarily caused by it.

Kittredge was solely established as a way to attract (thus the term magnet) black and white children to go to school together - thus was born the "high achiever" magnet (Ironic that's it's now in north DeKalb serving an almost white population of students)

Clifton was established to attract black and white children to go to school together - thus was born the technology school. DSA was established as a way to attract (thus the term magnet) black and white children to go to school together - thus was born the performing arts magnet.

All of the magnet schools were born of the desire to attract (magnet - get it) BLACK and WHITE students to go to school with each other VOLUNTARILY so DeKalb could get out from underneath the Consent Decree which threatened to bus children in a very large county all over the place.

The threat of busing had created a situation where DeKalb became majority white to majority black within a decade. Majority to Minority (M to M) then proceeded to make whites a sliver of the population as they fled all of DeKalb except for the Clifton Corridor and Dunwoody. Not one school was built for 15 years as these court cases wound their way through the courts all the way to the Supreme Court of the United States. Overcrowding in South DeKalb created ill will that lasts to this day. Ask any older person about it.

Magnets were PURELY a way to bring about a closure to the court cast that divided the county, created "white flight", consumed a disproportionate amount of time at the administrative and BOE level, gridlocked the building of new schools, and cost untold amounts of taxpayer money. That is the reason for magnets - NOT that children needed special services.

Somehow parents (black, white and other) began to think their children were "entitled" to magnets - that magnets were created to serve the special needs of their children. If magnets had come about in DeKalb the way magnet came about in other counties, the result would be much different.

Sometimes a little history can provide a little perspective.

Cerebration said...

Great history, Anon. FWIW, the reason I think this discussion is relevant now, is because whenever we question the costs associated with the magnets, we are told that they pay for themselves because of the number of gifted students served in one place... Is that true or not? If so, then wouldn't places like Oak Grove be subject to an "extra" boost of gifted funding too?

Anonymous said...

Yes. The schools with more gifted kids do get more points. That is how they are able to employ 2-3 full time gifted teachers, while other schools may have one part time or none. The part that I find disturbing is that the principals can use these extra points how ever they choose. I know of one elementary principal who is considering getting rid of separate Discovery classes. She wants to get all of her teachers gifted certified and than say that the gifted students are getting served in the regular classroom. She would still get the extra points and could use them for other things such as smaller classes or specials (music, art, etc.) I think it is such a shame that principals have been forced because of the budget to have to come up with such schemes.

Anonymous said...

I hope these numbers will put a stop to some of the complaining about admin transfers at the high school level. Take a look at McNair or Avondale. With such a small number of gifted kids, it is not really possible to offer significant number of gifted classes -- if any. Keep in mind these small number of kids are likely spread out across all 4 grades. So how can they offer things like gifted 9th grade lit, gifted biology, gifted math, gifted chemistry, etc like the schools on the north end (lakeside, dunwoody) do? I find it sad that so many Lakeside parents begrude kids like this the chance to transfer to a school that offers classes that can meet their needs.

Anonymous said...

How does it work at the MS level? I know they don't have discovery. Is it like it is at the HS level, where the kids can sign up for gifted science, math, etc? Anyone know?

Anonymous said...

@ anonymous 11:10

"I find it sad that so many Lakeside parents begrude kids like this the chance to transfer to a school that offers classes that can meet their needs."

I find it sad that kids in the neighborhood in Lakeside will be shipped off to another school to make room for administrative transfers. And realistically, these administrative transfers do not have anything to do with gifted children. Do you really think the administrative personnel who are doing all these transfers only have gifted children?

Let the administrators of DeKalb stay at their home schools. Maybe they'll see what a mess they've made of the schools in south DeKalb and actually do something to improve them. They don't care now because they have an "out". They will never care about the schools in their neighborhoods until they have their kids in those schools. The students in south DeKalb have effectively been abandoned by the administrators in DeKalb as they send their kids to "theme" schools and "magnet" schools and ship them to north DeKalb. Absolutely wrong for south DeKalb kids. Many of them have never even set foot in a south Dekalb school in years.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know where these tables came from? It would be really great if they had keys/headings so that the reader knows exactly what each column means. Poor presentation of data, at this point.

Agree with Cerebration tho. I'd also like to see percent of school population that is gifted (would be great for KMS and Wadsworth in particular).

It would also be nice to see some kind of qualitative review of the programs offered at each school to serve the students left behind. I suspect that principals are "unevenly" utilizing the points earned by gifted students in the provision of services. This is where the true issue lies. If you have a school with a substantial number of kids and are using your points on a discovery model that is providing a differentiated curriculum as prescribed by state law, that is great. However, I am sure that there are schools that are earning points off of their gifted students (e.g., dollars) that are NOT putting these resources towards ensuring that this specific group is receiving services prescribed, particularly if it is a partial point earned rather than a whole point.

Again, there is no oversight by the central office of what is going on at local schools, so while we know where the numbers are, do you think that asking Tyson or Beasley (isn't he in charge of curriculum) how kids are being served at a specific school, they would know?

I think it would be reasonable to "stack" these lotteries and yes, even provide transportation, for those kids residing in schools who are NOT currently receiving adequate services. This should happen now, unless there is a plan in place to ensure these kids get the services they have "earned."

My two cents. Wouldn't it make sense to ensure that the kids who are going to the magnet programs are those who are at schools NOT currently earning enough points to generate a true Discovery (or real) gifted programming. Your take on the southern schools might change under this consideration.

Anonymous said...

I'd also like to know how many "gifted" identified students it takes to earn the POINT necessary to have a discovery teacher at a school. Plugging the numbers of students leaving a home school to attend a magnet back into that home school to see if they are leaving behind a population that cannot be served because it no longer has enough POINTS could also be telling, in terms of commitment to the magnets in general.

Anonymous said...

Anon 11:05 You are exactly right. The gifted funding makes a difference wherever the kids are. The magnets have a higher concentration, so there are more points earned to go around. Non-magnet schools with lots of gifted come close if not exactly match the resources offered at Kittredge. It is the small schools with few gifted that are suffering. They do not have the # of gifted to justify anything special for them, and they do not have the headcount to get full funding from the state.

Anonymous said...

@ 10:56
You are exactly right in that the magnet schools were implemented specifically for attracting students of racial diversity to go to school together. 1n 1988, the Supreme Court mandated that DeKalb put more strategies in place that would attract white students to predominantly black schools, and black students to predominantly white schools, or the federal court would take equalizing our school system on their own terms (forced busing and gerrymandering attendance lines). THAT was what the Supreme Court told DCSS!! The school system had already started the M to M program, but the court said that we were still out of compliance with equality.

One of the fallacies of the Supreme Court's mandates, however, was that the white/black demographics of the school system were changing faster than the court's actions. Equality of teachers' assignments was also a huge issue. There was even a teacher lottery 1989, whereas every teacher's name in DCSS who had 20+ years experience was put into a "bingo" type hopper, and those teachers names were pulled and those teachers were transferred to "minority" schools until some formula was satisfied. This was done to teachers who may have been in one school for their entire careers. It was terrible!

After implementing the M to M program, magnet schools, and moving teachers, that still was not enough to keep up with the county's rapidly changing population numbers and demographics. In the early 90's, in order to continue the "equalization of opportunities", DCSS decided to have "mirror magnets" in the north end of the county to reflect what was in place in the south end of the county, thus propagating more magnets. Again, all of the first magnets were only in S. DeKalb. In addition, the students that had entered a magnet program in 1988, were now entering either a middle school or high school, and there was pressure to continue that "special program", so there had to be "vertical growth" of that magnet into the next school.

As more magnets grew, DCSS felt that there was justification to differentiate between them by offering differing areas of study (i.e. high achievers, IB, technology, performing arts, etc).

We have gotten ourselves into a real hornets' nest. We must be willing to make changes, but we have to have leaders that we can trust and that are concerned with the educational well being of the children, and the financial well being of the tax payers. Lastly, we must all be willing to accept changes!

Anonymous said...

@ 11:05. This is already happening. We are in the midst of discussions about how this population is required to receive a REAL differentiated curriculum. The county needs to provide oversight that is NOT happening when principals are making these decisions (and I also KNOW that they are). The bottom line is that state law has specific requirements in place for the provision of gifted services, and a differentiated curriculum is required, even if a teacher in a classroom is gifted certified and an inclusion model is adopted. Nothing like making the teachers do double the work instead of actually providing services.

The administration is NOT providing oversight on this, likely because their gifted services office believes that it is just very difficult to serve these kids if there are not a lot of them at a school. Difficult, ok, but required, yes.

Personal opinion, if you have a population earning points (money) from the state to provide specific services to that population, there should be oversight to ensure that the money is spent doing just that.

Anonymous said...

DCSS has a Gifted Coordinator that has NEVER taught gifted and is NOT certified in gifted. That is a real problem, and it is showing in DeKalb which has 10,000 students identified as Gifted.

How can you possibly understand gifted education if you have absolutely NO background in it?

We have so many wonderful teachers of gifted that have taught Gifted successfully for many years. For example, the DeKalb County "Teacher for the Year" for the entire county a few years ago is a teacher of the Gifted (she's at Chamblee MS - you parents know how incredible she is).

Why would we place someone over Gifted that has no experience or certification in this area? Par for the course since after all we have a head of Curriculum and Instruction that has a scant 3 1/2 years of teaching experience in the 90s. I guess it's who you know - not what you know.

DCSS Magnet/Gifted webpage:
http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/support/gifted/

Georgia Teachers Certification:
Please look for Towns-Dixon
https://www.gapsc.com/Certification/Lookup/look_up.aspx

Anonymous said...

We have a serious problem in identifying and placing students in the gifted program. A lot of this comes from gifted teachers wanting a light load so they aren't challenged. This entire program should be thoroughly evaluated.
Are we running our gifted students to charter, private and choice schools?

Anonymous said...

"there are maps with bar charts showing very clearly where most of the gifted students reside. The answer is undeniably in the north end of DeKalb."
Oh, what magic, what joy! Let us all move to the north end so that our children will become gifted. Maybe it's in the water? The air? Can we bottle that and sell it?

Anonymous said...

I taught gifted (Discovery) for years at 3 schools in DCSS. I combined grade levels in order to have more time with the students. I combined kids from the schools to take field trips. I had speakers in the schools. We did absolutely everything they would get in a fulltime situation. After all, even if I was there only 3 mornings, I only had two classes grades 1-3 and 4-5 while a fulltime teacher in a school with many gifted kids would have grade 1 for an hour, grade 2 for an hour, grade 3 for an hour, etc.

There is no excuse for gifted kids that don't have a fulltime teacher not to get the proper services. I think the administration of gifted has changed. They don't understand the needs of students in schools with the lowest population of gifted students are really the ones most in need of gifted services.

Anonymous said...

@11:48, you sound incredible.

re 11:10 post and 11:20 response. qualification, I'm not the original poster. Really, 11:10 is right. While the administrative transfers of CO employees seem to be the complaint, the dialog on this blog does become rather critical of the parent/s who have sought a school out of their district because their child is not getting the services that they need at that school. I do get sick of the "send them home" perspective here. I hope that the administration can successfully write a transfer policy that prevents abuse of transfers by employees (not teachers) but will allow for transfers of students who are not getting the services that they should be getting.

You may not get the cattiness of the constant harping to "send them home" to those parents who have transfers for (what I perceive to be) legitimate reasons, but these parents are out here. I suspect that a lot of these parents gave it their best shot but met with brick walls at their home schools.

Cerebration said...

The point about geography has to do with the new bright idea to consolidate the magnets and move them to Avondale. Look at the map - look at where the students are coming from. Few are coming from anywhere near Avondale. Most will have to travel from the far north and the southeast. Look at the distances the magnet students travel right now - the green bars show you students who attend SW DeKalb and Chamblee. Is it really "equitable" to move everyone from SW DeKalb and Chamblee to an all new place that's not very accessible to anyone actually in these programs?

My second point is - do we really NEED these programs? As you can see by the red bars - there are many gifted students in most high schools. Can these students needs not be met in their home high schools? The few who actually attend schools with too few students labeled gifted could possibly apply to Arabia or another theme/choice school.

Anonymous said...

On identification of these kids, are principals at the southern schools actively testing on a regular basis? They should be. I suspect that it is also possible that qualified kids haven't been identified if there is not a commitment to reaching out to these kids, rather than waiting for them to come to you. Also, it is possible that parents of these kids have already noted that necessary services are not being offered at these schools, so parents aren't sending their kids to them. Just a thought. I by no means believe that this is about the population of that area versus the kids in the north.

Anonymous said...

Excuse me..but theme schools are community schools designed to alleviate overcrowdedness at neighboring schools. They do not have an academic entry requirement only a desire of the student to learn and "required parental involvement" along with high expectations of the weakest link ( whether its principal, teacher or student). I am proud to be a teacher in such a school and we have high student achievement. We are definately in the south end of the county. There is also a theme school in the north that is very successful and is a community school. We don't have all of the extra staff of magnet and other programs. We have been cut to the bare bones yet we are achieving. Yes, we often work a ten, twelve hour day, but we are proud folks.

Cerebration said...

BTW - no one really had a big issue with transfers - until they were asked to move to a different school due to over-crowding. Now they are wondering if the crowding would not be such an issue without the transfers. I can see the point - is it fair to allow 100-200-300 transfer students into a school and then ask community members to move their children to another school because this one is now too crowded?

I don't find that catty. I find that quite unfair to the community.

Anonymous said...

The bigger issue then is the population of NCLB and CO transfers. What I meant is that when you constantly hear it, it just gets old. Clearly the data indicated that there are kids at schools who are likely NOT getting the services that they should be. An overview of programming would be nice. But it would have to be a rigorous review. Just reporting how many points a school has earned will not be enough. Instead, it needs to be reported how those points earned were spent.

Anonymous said...

Wow! I thought theme schools selected high achieving students only and were accepted countywide. I need to do s=more research on theme schools. Thanks for motivating me to do so.

Anonymous said...

@ 11:59
Thanks, but I'm certainly not incredible. I was just a teacher.

When I was a teacher of Gifted at Woodward (one of my three schools) with a high African-American and ESOL population at that time, I started out with 8 students because the teacher before me did not use any test but the COGAT. I used the RAVEN and even requested that the county send out a psychologist to administer the WISC in many situations. I had a principal who was supportive so she always backed me up when the Central Office complained I was asking for extra services.

Through aggressive recruitment, I had 30 well qualified students (and that was when kids were ONLY staffed on the basis of a mental ability test within a year.

Teachers of the Gifted should leave no stone unturned when identifying these students. They do not conform to our preconceptions, so a teacher of the Gifted needs to understand that they are everywhere - NOT just from affluent homes and middle class circumstances. Again, this is nothing special - just doing the job as competently as you can.

Anonymous said...

"How does it work at the MS level?"

Elementary gifted is enrichment while middle and high are accelerated learning.

MS and HS have some of their classes with other gifted kids, accelerated classes.

Anonymous said...

I think gifted classes in MS and HS stop around the 10th grade and AP classes take over.

Anonymous said...

Cere at 12:02: OK, well even if the magnets were eliminated and all admin transfers removed and sent back to their home school, redistricting would still be necessary at Lakeside. Remember, the number of kids who transfer OUT of Lakeside to other schools is about the same as the the number who transfer IN. So, sending everyone home would not really change the outcome for the neighborhoods you are describing in your post at 12:06. The only way to change that outcome would be to let Lakeside have it both ways -- allow the transfers OUT that are occuring -- but eliminate the transfers IN.

Anonymous said...

@ 12:19
"Wow! I thought theme schools selected high achieving students only and were accepted countywide.'

Here is the information on theme schools in DCSS.
http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/about/schoolchoice/themeschools.html


Also, download and look at the brochure and application.

Anonymous said...

Woo Hoo, Hot Diggity Dog! ... maybe we aren't going to be redirected to Avondale after all. Maybe research will show it's not a smart move. Imagine that ... research may actually be done and a decision actually made based on the research and not just willy nilly.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Jan Clark. You were the greatest ... my child's giftedness was nurtured and he was challenged by you. It paid off in later years. Your kind of gifted teaching is missed by many.

Anonymous said...

@ anonymous 12:23

I don't think Lakeside would be having it "both ways." Let's assume that most of the Lakeside transfers are magnet program transfers.

The difference is that the magnet programs are established educational programs that meet the needs of a specific group of students. Magnet programs require applicants have qualifications to get into those programs.

Administrative transfers are arbitrary "perks" for administrative personnel. There is no established educational reason for these transfers, and applicants do not have an established criteria and way to get into a school that offers all students an equal opportunity. Administrative transfers are just personal preference on the part of parents who are administrators and equal opportunities are not given to all qualified candidates.

So I could see why Lakeside students are allowed to take their chances and apply to and perhaps get accepted to magnet programs while administrative transfers should be denied admittance to Lakeside.

Where is the educational reason for the admin transfers and do all students have equal opportunities of admittance like the magnet programs? The answer is no.

Anonymous said...

To the parent who complained that her child wasn't Gifted b/c of one teacher--give me a break. Testing takes place every year, and you can have your child tested every year.

On a different topic, some schools have tiny numbers of Gifted because if there is a small Gifted population, there is little reason to push for your child to be labled as such, since (s)he will not benefit. Why should parents push to have their kids placed in a program that doesn't really exist?

The cycle perpetuates--no Gifted offerings, so no one asks for them, so the program dwindles. I worked in a school on the south end and had a very few Gifted kids in my Advanced classes and did include some enrichment activities for them. But I was never asked or encouraged to do so.

When you see schools with 15% Gifted population, you have to wonder. Yes, parental involvement and early exposure to reading and advanced vocabulary are huge factors. But Giftedness is, to a large extent, innate. Given that, how is such a huge percentage of kids at one school "Gifted"?

Easy answer--it's hard to get moved out of Gifted. As long as you don't make a C in the same class two semesters in a row, you stay in. Make a C one semester, a B the next semester, drop back to a C, back to a B. You can have a 2.5 GPA and be in Gifted classes!

Motivation is supposed to be critical to measuring Giftedness, but once you are labeled as such, you need not continue to exhibit motivation to retain Gifted status.

Anonymous said...

12:22, at LHS, Gifted kids are in separate classes in Biology and English for 9th, Chemistry and English for 10th, and then just English for 11th.

Anonymous said...

I think gifted classes in MS and HS stop around the 10th grade and AP classes take over

Gifted classes have nothing to do with AP classes. Gifted classes continue through MS and HS.

Anonymous said...

The other side of the argument of moving the magnets to Avondale is to allow closer access to those students in other areas of the county. Are the magnets made up of mostly North DeKalb students simply because of the location? Does the elimination of the door to door transportation have anything to do with this? I'd like to see a comparison of the populations, demographically, at KMS and the Chamblee's prior to the change in transportation.

Anon said...

Cere

Why is the file labeled Kingsley?

Anon said...

The data begs this question, I think.

KMS has about 124-140 kids a grade. The High School Magnet program covers 4 grades. Shouldn't the number be closer to 600? Where are the students going?

And why?

Anonymous said...

Looking at the home schools for the Kittredge students further points out the the students that really the type of instruction at Kittredge are not the ones attending Kittredge.

Austin and Vanderlyn combined have the most students at Kittredge. The test scores at those schools are at least equal to and sometimes higher than those at Kittredge.

Let's do away with all of the magnet programs or at least repurpose them for the truly gifted students.

Anonymous said...

I'll contribute a couple of ongoing observations from our experiences: our oldest son, now in MS, was flagged as 'gifted' in the 3rd grade. We're in a north suburb school and the programs he attended, related to the 'gifted' designation, primarily began and ended with Discovery. There were no other obvious benefits that weren't open to other students. In MS, he's in the more advanced versions of the standard courses and is taking 6th/7th grade math simultaneously. Again, there are no other, overt programs that go with the tag.
My youngest, in 2nd grade, may or may not be tested. If it were by grades, he'd be fine, I suppose.
Two interesting facts about both of my children: the oldest is also one of the oldest in his class (his birthday is just on the outbound side of the cutoff date), while my youngest will forever be the youngest in his grade (literally a few days before the cutoff date.) Malcolm Gladwell, in his most recent book Outliers, makes an incredibly compelling case that, in situations like early testing for 'giftedness', the older the child, the more likely they'll be flagged as being 'gifted' (and by a significant margin). The reason why is pretty simple: they've had more time, in that setting, to develop (in all ways mental) all things else being equal. Hence, they've had 8-10 more months of cognitive development, which at that age, will produce glaring 'differences' in what they can and will do. What the research supports, though, is that by the time those same group of kids hit high school, and the differences in age are less significant, most of the 'gifted' kids test out no better nor worse than most of their less gifted peers. His conclusion is that, at such an early age, unless a child shows prodigious abilities in some regard, you're better off waiting until later in their education to truly try and separate the 'high achievers' from everyone else. Otherwise, it's a self-fulfilling prophecy - you isolate a group based on purely subjective testing criteria, challenge them with a 'special' curricula that would probably get the best out of every student if given a chance, and then wonder why they respond well.

So, my longwinded story aside, I'd personally really like to see the gifted office go through it's current roster and see if the data correlates on the elementary students - are they predominantly the older students (by birthdate)? if so, it would behoove them to seriously reconsider how the whole program can be adapted to ensure that simply being on the wrong side of an arbitrary date doesn't end up leaving otherwise 'talented' kids behind...

Anonymous said...

Not sure the best place to post this but here goes: a policy that allows administrative transfers from Central Office personnel to continue, stands in the way of those administrators being forced to address the deficits at their home schools. When schools that receive those students become overcrowded, their program offerings are compromised and that school is no longer what it was. This is a zero sum game. Does the Palace Guard not understand this system is falling in on itself? NCLB (I know, I know) was designed to force school systems to address chronically bad schools. In DeKalb, the powers-that-be refuse to do that. We just move kids other places - often sending the teachers at the sending school to the receiving school to teach relocated students there. It is telling that administrators think that packing kids into better scoring schools is a solution for this system and it reveals a terrible misunderstanding on the part of the administration on how teaching and learning take place. We have a group of people who are not competent to run this school system – and they’ve made a hash of it. But they insist on their perks, their privileges at the expense of the students. Someone earlier asked for examples of corruption. Well, here it is. As another poster said. “Four legs good, two legs better.” Here’s another Animal Farm reference: when it comes to DCSS some, apparently, are more equal than others.

Anonymous said...

9:46, if they got rid of magnet, gifted students at Austin and Vanderlyn will probably still get the services they need because of the high population of gifted students at their school. What about those gifted students at schools with a very small gifted population? What options will they have for rigorous instruction?

Seems like your solution to closing the achievement gap is to keep it where it is....

Anonymous said...

Peachtree MS - 152
Dunwoody HS - 225

These figures can not be correct. Peachtree has a " team" of gifted students(impact) in each grade. When my senior was at PCMS there was about 100 gifted students in her team. The number of gifted students has increased with the rise in student population - I think the class after her (class of 2012) had a team and another " half" team of gifted students. I am surprised the number is not well over 300.

Same applies at DHS- each grade has around 100 gifted students. My daughter's " gifted classes" are all full.

Anonymous said...

Good catch on the error in data. Here is the number of gifted students at P'tree last year == 401.

http://reportcard2010.gaosa.org/%28S%28qbegup55s0ubg02zi00ns255%29%29/k12/demographics.aspX?ID=644:189&TestKey=SelProg&TestType=demographics

And at Dunwoody --371

Anonymous said...

You can look at statistics from this website:

http://gaosa.org/FindASchool.aspx?TabRequested=District&FromSection=report&PageReq=106&CountyId=644&SY=2010

Click on the school name, student and school demographics and then selected programs for the gifted information.

Anonymous said...

My daughter is in the 4th grade at Kittredge. WE love our school. It was up to the Gods of Lottery to decide if she went there, but, it was my decision to seek a different kind of education for my child. I am glad magnets are available and yes it is sad that all schools don't have the same things as our magnet. Mainly what the schools don't have is the high expectations and more parent support.

Many times I have read on this blog, "Why do we need these schools?". Taking like minded children and putting them in a school gives the child the opportunity to get different kind of education. Honestly, they don't get more technology or extras. They get teachers who are more willing to go the extra mile to make studies innovative and challenging for the kids. They are not bogged down with the normal issues of truancy, lack of care and parental neglect of some of the regular school teachers deal with. Kids are still kids and they deal with these issues effectively, with parental support.
What does a child receive at a school like Kittredge? Point blank is HIGHER EXPECTATIONS. You are expected to excel, challenged to do quality work and there are consequences for lack of homework or lack of preparation.

My daughter was not labeled gifted in her home school. She is a good kid and made no fuss for the teacher. Her teacher last year was either too tired or too overwhelmed with paperwork to make her lessons a little bit innovative and creative to challenge my daughter, a high achiever. She didn't receive gifted services so basically, my kid was set aside.

Kittredge for all those who don't know is a magnet for High Achievers. It is not a gifted magnet. The reason the entrance scores are set where they are is to attract kids who might need a challenge. Yes, sometime people like to call it a gifted school, but isn't. There are alot of kids who are labeled gifted and frankly these kids thrive at this school. But to those kids who are high achievers and were lost somewhere in the hinterlands of education, it's a challenging place. A challenge they not have received in the home school. A challenge I am betting their parents are glad is available to their children. A challenge the child needs in order to stay a high achiever throughout her school life.

In closing, I wish all schools were like Kittredge. They never will be unless parents of all races and economic factors get involved with their kids education. There are so many social issues that are dealt with in the regular schools on an ongoing basis due to parental apathy. Kittredge expects the parents to volunteer at least 16+ hours a school year. At home schools, it's the same 10 parents who do everything. You know it's true.

Anonymous said...

It isn't worth arguing with you about your perception that KMS doesn't get extras. They do.

Look at the amount of specials that students have, class sizes, etc.

The budget reflects that magnet programs cost more, both in extra locally funded teachers and in transportation costs.

These costs, last year, added up to a furlough day. (About 7 million)

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 6::00 am
"Gifted classes have nothing to do with AP classes. Gifted classes continue through MS and HS."

You are incorrect. AP services are a Gifted Delivery Model for the state of Georgia.

Please reference the Georgia DOE webpage at the end of this post. Here is an abbreviated quote regarding Delivery Models:
"Advanced Content Class(6-12)....Identified gifted students in the advanced content course may be counted at the gifted weight only if (a) the maximum size specified for gifted resource classes in State Board Rule 160-5-1-.08 CLASS SIZE is observed; (b) a description of the course curriculum (showing very clearly how the advanced course content, pacing, process skills emphasis, and expectation of student outcomes differ from the course more typical students at that grade level would take in that content area) is developed and maintained by the local board of education; and (c) the teacher has the following qualifications:
1.Advance Placement (AP) Courses – The teacher must have the appropriate content area certification. In addition, the teacher must (a) have been trained by the College Board in that specific AP course and have has at least 10 clock hours of staff development in characteristics of gifted learners and curriculum differentiation for gifted students; of (b) have the gifted endorsement......"

International Baccalaureate (IB) Courses and Honors Courses can also be counted as Gifted classes if standards are met. DCSS is using these delivery methods to secure Gifted funds. Class size and differentiation are supposed to be part of the requirements. You would think AP classes would be very small since DCSS is receiving extra Gifted funding for these classes. It's odd that LHS AP classes are so large. An interesting question would be:
Does DCSS claim the Gifted funding for Gifted students in an AP class when the class size exceeds the state Gifted class size requirements or do they just pass up the Gifted funds in order to pack as many students as possible in a class? Those are the only possibilities.

The effect of AP classes and Honors classes are that most Gifted students opt for AP and Honors classes beginning with 10th grade and are definitely taking quite a few AP classes by 11th and 12th grade. This precludes the need for traditional "gifted classes" as far as DCSS sees

Georgia DOE - Approved Gifted Program Delivery Models:
http://public.doe.k12.ga.us/DMGetDocument.aspx/Approved%20Gifted%20Program%20Delivery%20Models.doc?p=6CC6799F8C1371F65ACFFB88366F9182A4D0FADC204E77856CDC527BA2957FF0&Type=D

Anonymous said...

@6 AM--you are incorrect, at least with regard to LHS, which has the largest HS Gifted population. It is assumed that Gifted kids will move into AP when it is offered, so for those classes where AP is offered, there are no corresponding Gifted classes. I am not suggesting that AP and GIfted are in any way linked with regard to the ways in which they challenge kids or that Giftedness is required for success in AP. Just giving you the facts regarding this quite large Giftd HS population and how they are managed.

Anonymous said...

11:38, the county Gifted coordinator has no contact with the Gifted coordinator at my school other than to send an occasional email and to hold an annual meeting to review the Gifted policies that were written years ago. When asked a direct question, she generall responds that she will "look into it," and that is where it ends.

She has no part in deciding how/if we spend our Gifted funds, and no oversight with regard to how the program is managed.

And, yeah--I would know.

Anonymous said...

Sounds to me like we would be better off beefing up the high achiever programs in our regular schools. Not only would the kids who are labelled as gifted benefit, we could also include many of the students who are highly motivated and not considered gifted.

Anonymous said...

Gifted has nothing to do economics of families in North DeKalb. My family lives in unincorporated N. DeKalb, we're residents of Montgomery, CMS, CCHS districts, we've have been un and under- employed for 18 months, the kids get reduced lunches, we're on food stamps, we also do not qualify for unemployment, but my kids are gifted, Straight A students and they work hard to maintain that GPA.

We never applied for Kittredge, since the teachers at Montgomery and CMS were well qualified to teach our kids and we saw results. We have learned that the leadership of schools DOES make an impact and we're lucky to have Dr. Silvers (montgomery) and Ms. Jackson (CMS) in our schools.

This has NOTHING to do with economics. I would like to see DCSS study this data and re-think this magnet centralization idea. Gas is about to be $5 a gallon and to expect more families to have to get out on the road is ludicrous! I am sorry that so many have to venture so far for a decent education today. But to punish the schools that are successful, so that things can "seem" more equitable, doesn't seem too equitable for the ones willing to do the hard work and making the grade.

Anonymous said...

Anon- 11:39 AM

The figures quoted are wrong. CHS has
571 gifted students 37.8 %, LHS 393 23.1% and DHS 371 24.5%

http://gaosa.org/FindASchool.aspx?PageReq=106&TabRequested=SchoolScoreBoard&FromSection=report&ScoreBoardId=2&SchoolID=43431&SY=2010

Anonymous said...

@ January 15, 2011 12:50 AM
"Administrative transfers are arbitrary "perks" for administrative personnel. There is no established educational reason for these transfers, and applicants do not have an established criteria and way to get into a school that offers all students an equal opportunity. "

I have suggested to BOE that non-school based DCSS employees be allowed only one transfer to a school of their choice (not to all 3)located ONLY within the feeder pattern that incorporates their assigned headquarters/cost center. This will prevent some of the cross county, or even out of county, admin transfers to the perceived best schools. To be eligible for theme schools, they would have to reside in the school attendance zones for the schools that are allowed to feed into a particular theme school. (remember, themes are supposedly about alleviating overcrowding and so are linked with specific neighborhood schools).

Look at Cere's great North and South discussions that reveal that the number of empty seats in south county with below capacity schools roughly corresponds with the numbers of students attending theme and magnet from those areas. DCSS created many of the empty seats by not addressing how to improve performance such that motivated families wouldn't want to leave their neighborhood schools.

Re Discovery/elem Gifted. Many Gifted/discovery teachers aren't all that great. IN my child's elementary, over 14 years there have been 3 different discovery teachers. Only 1 of them was any good. the other 2 were lazy, did minimal differentiation in the pullout sessions, and were often just sitting at the computer while the students "self-explored" on the computer or playground. On paper, the instruction looked good, but true follow-up or implementation was completely lacking. Complaints were made to principal, central office, to state, all to no avail. There is no discovery curriculum or oversight of performance. We tolerated it because they didn't harm the gifted kids performance or opportunities in other classes and kept them qualified for gifted in middle school, where class composition of gifted kids with its differentiation of instruction and separation from unmotivated non-learners did matter.

Anonymous said...

The "numbers" don't always tell the truth. And the truth about gifted students (at elementary level) is a bit twisted:

* savvy principals maximize state funding/FTEs by qualifying as many kids as "gifted" as possible—often via single tests like Renzuli, which assesses "creativity" using subjective teacher evals. (Lots of kids who aren't truly gifted are classified as such.)

• the FTEs earned can support programs at their discretion, which may benefit the wider school population—but often short-changing the truly gifted student

* The greater funding pays for more gifted-certified teachers. (Nearly every teacher in each grade in some cases!) The school then adopts the "inclusive" model where gifted students are NOT pulled out of the classroom for special instruction or peer interaction. The gifted teacher is supposed to "differentiate" the curriculum for gifted kids, but in fact, spends all his/her time trying to bring average or below-average students up to standard.

* truly gifted students who perform high above their peers in all or specific subjects are overlooked, underserved, bored out of their brains. Even in schools where gifted are given separate instruction, it's only an hour or two a week.

* 75th percentile is all that is required to enter DCSS Magnet schools, if you win a slot. Truly gifted students typically perform at 95% (at min) on nationally normed tests.

* "HIgh Achiever" magnets are a compromise to be sure, but at least offer gifted students BETTER peer interaction (with other gifted or highly motivated students), smaller classes, more hands-on instruction, and gifted teachers who can more fully concentrate on task.

* Much like the local Elementary schools who max out FTEs, our magnets use a gifted model authorized by the state that pays for the "extra" salaries of gifted-certified and enrichment teachers. I.e., most funding comes from state, not local taxes.

So, if we break out transportation costs, (and marketing) how much do magnet schools REALLY cost DCSS at the schoolhouse/classroom level??? Likely NOT much more than other Elementary schools that classify large numbers of "gifted" students.

As a nation, we spend 10x less a year on gifted ed as we do educating mentally handicapped kids. Gifted students are short-changed even at the "best" DCSS schools.

We need to get to bottom of funding/equity crisis, but without further harming gifted students or the magnet schools that help serve them and other bright, motivated kids. I think we need MORE magnets, not less.

Anonymous said...

Look at these figures:
DCSS Gifted Program enrollment:

2006-2007:
10,110 or 10.2% of Student population

2007-2008:
10,561 or 10.8% of Student population

2008-2009:
10,331 or 10.7% of Student population

2009-2010:
10,719 or 11.1% of Student Population

This is a large percent of our student population that DCSS is collecting Gifted funding for. Each Gifted student has a state funding weight of 1.66 – i.e. in addition to the regular per pupil state funding, the state adds 66% more for each child identified as Gifted. Parents of Gifted students should have more information as to the funding and expenditures of Gifted programming and exactly what services are being provided specifically for Gifted children. DCSS collects many millions from the state of Georgia to specifically serve those particular students. What is the return on investment for the money DCSS is receiving for Gifted students? Seems like a logical and basic question that the personnel in charge of the Gifted program should be able to answer.


Source: Georgia DOE website:
http://gaosa.org/FindASchool.aspx?TabRequested=District&FromSection=report&PageReq=106&CountyId=644&SY=2010

Anonymous said...

"I have suggested to BOE that non-school based DCSS employees be allowed only one transfer to a school of their choice (not to all 3)located ONLY within the feeder pattern that incorporates their assigned headquarters/cost center."

I don't think non-school based DCSS employees should be taking up seats if this results in making resident students move to other schools. This is an administrative "perk" that needs to be corrected "before" redistricting. They need to go to their home schools and then get in line for magnet, AYP, theme, etc. just like everyone else. Teachers should be the only personnel who can bring their children to school with them. They are the ONLY DCSS personnel besides the school based administration that are consistently required to work extra hours before and after school without compensation.

"We tolerated it because they didn't harm the gifted kids performance or opportunities in other classes and kept them qualified for gifted in middle school..."
That's not true. Once a student is identified as Gifted and staffed as Gifted, parents can opt thier children in and out of the Gifted program. A child's Gifted status is not "lost" if he/she opts out of the Gifted program. They can re-enter at any time. The school system cannot collect money for the child while they have opted out however.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 11:43

"county Gifted coordinator has no contact with the Gifted coordinator at my school other than to send an occasional email and to hold an annual meeting to review the Gifted policies that were written years ago. When asked a direct question, she generall responds that she will "look into it," and that is where it ends. "

This is what happens when you have a Gifted coordinator with no experience as a Gifted teacher and is not certified in Gifted (i.e. has no academic background in teaching gifted learners such as how to assess if a student is gifted and how the content and methods of teaching gifted learners is different from teaching regular education students).

IMHO - a Coordinator of Gifted should have
1. Certification in Gifted
2. A minimum of 5 years of teaching Gifted students in a Gifted program

That really doesn't seem a lot to ask for a job that pays $113,000 a year in salary and benefits and serves 10,719 or 11.1% of Student Population.

Did the posted position of Gifted Coordinator NOT include a Gifted endorsement and experience as a Gifted teacher in a Gifted program?

Anonymous said...

Any student can take an AP course - they do not have to be labeled as "gifted" to do so.

Anonymous said...

Did anyone read that obnoxious email sent out by the Kittredge PTA President? The one not authorized by the PTA? The one which claimed to speak for the Wadsworth PTA, when it did not?

Really, ladies, who cares if you threaten that your children will leave the magnet program if it moves to Avondale? There will be plenty of other students who would love to have those spots!!!!

Anonymous said...

"Any student can take an AP course - they do not have to be labeled as "gifted" to do so. "

Yes. But any student that is identified as gifted that takes these classes from a teacher who has her gifted endorsement (and most of them do) allows the county to count this as gifted services for that students and collect the money for gifted.

Anonymous said...

Based on Cere's map, I would venture to guess that the services offered to those schools with high number of gifted equal or exceed that offered at Kittredge. What they need to do is not allow applications from students who are in schools already packed with gifted b/c they are not lacking for services. Leave those spaces for the kids who are underserved in their home school. I'm talking about schools that have, like, 5 gifted or really high achiever per grade. That would not negatively impact the homeschool because those 20 kids don't make a difference in overall school funding anyway, and it would greatly enrich the educational experience of those who do get to move. Also, I am in favor of a tiered approach to qualifying for high achiever magnets. Start with the top 5%, guarantee admission to any of those who want to go. If there are spaces left, go to 7%, etc.

Anonymous said...

I have been waiting for this data and in my opinion; it does not answer the questions as it relates to moving the Magnet High Achiever children to a central location. It only lets us know how many children in each school (resident) have children classified as gifted. I totally agree that the children on the south side who are classified as gifted are not being served well because of the lack of resources and something needs to be done to address this issue.
When we discuss how the children identified in this data will be impacted if moved to Avondale we are not talking about the correct children. Based on what I have read, the children identified in the report are not the children who will be affected. I would like to see the data which breaks down where the children who are currently enrolled in the magnet programs live, then we can see the impact of them being moved to Avondale.
I am in support of centralizing the magnet programs. I believe that placing the programs in the middle of the county will be good for some and not for all, but at the end of the day, placing your child in the magnet high achiever program IS A CHOICE. I live in the south end of the county and drive to Chamblee for my child to attend a school that my husband and I CHOSE to enroll her in, when she was selected in the lottery. It is a major burden on our family because we have another child who is classified as "gifted", but was not selected for the lottery and a child with special needs. But just as the school board has to do, we make sacrifices and the best decisions possible with the information and resources we have available, for our children.

Anonymous said...

Continued 1:51
I have been so frustrated reading the postings of parents complaining about having to move their child(ren) from the comfort zone of their neighborhood school because they will have to go to another school that is just as good, but not what they want. I, as well as many other parents in South Dekalb, DO NOT have that as an option. We only have the option of bad or worse. No, I may not live in a $400,000 home, but I love my $250,000 home and neighborhood, with the exception of the educational opportunities afforded by Dekalb County Schools. Avondale is not in my neighborhood, but it is equitable for those of us who made the CHOICE to enroll our children in the magnet high achiever program. It gives more children an opportunity to apply. No, they may not be accepted, but that is another issue within itself.
It is not fair that the schools on the north end of the county offers better programs. It is not fair that some children on the south side will not even apply for the magnet high achiever programs because of the distance. It is not fair that some families may be faced with their child not attending the same school as the other children in the swim club. It is not fair that many families who live in the south spend hours on the road transporting their children to the north end. It is not fair that some children who are gifted are not being adequately served in their home school. It is not fair that some children who live in South Dekalb and are not gifted don't have the same opportunities as the children as the same children in North Dekalb. It is not fair that many of us purchased homes so that our children could attend a specific school and now the school board is trying to change it because times have changed over the past 10-20 years. It is not fair that some people cannot move to another area that better meets their educational needs because their homes have lost value. NONE OF IT IS FAIR, but life happens and we adjust. It is time for us to consider ALL the children in the county and not the perfect world some of us live in. I wish we could all have what we want, but the reality is, we can't. I am glad that I am not a member of the school board because this is a tough decision and I pray that the members will finally put a stop to the two school systems (North Dekalb Schools and South Dekalb Schools). In the past, they have fought for the areas they serve, but they do not represent one set of children, they represent ALL the children of Dekalb County Schools, one system.

Anonymous said...

Anon 12:30 I am one of those old guys who used "Dick and Jane", both non African American and both of normal sexuality, to learn how to read.

Are you saying that the "gifted" thing is part a a scam to get more money from the State?

How is "gifted" defined?

So it seems that the ideal money making student for DCSS would be a minority, ESOL, who gets free lunch to be able to get Title I funds and is gifted. Have I missed anything, like transgender?

What is the difference between "gifted" and "high achiever"? The high achiever has a work ethic but might not be gifted?

Why not keep the gifted designation quiet so that the other 90% of non-gifted students do not get an inferiority complex.

Anonymous said...

@ January 15, 2011 12:43 PM

I completely agree that teachers (and paras and all other school-based staff with direct instructional student contact) deserve the transfer option, and through an entire feeder IMHO. But, the policy as proposed lists NO guidelines for non=school-based personnel. This allows them to do whatever they want becaue it isn't prohibited! I proposed the restrictions on WHERE they could transfer, and how many times, as a limitation on their ability to send their kids wherever. This is a backdoor way to force administrators to stay in home schools and insist on improvement and a potentially palatable compromise. I don't think the powers that be would EVER accept a policy that cuts administrators completely out of the transfer policy.

And I agree totally, and it was part of my letter to BOE, that admin transfers should be removed before neighborhood kids had to be redistricted. I also would require annual application and reapproval, rather than giving approval for the entire numbers of years possible at the school. If redistricted neighborhood kids don't get grandfathered, certainly no admin transfer should get to stay.

Re Gifted. there are forms that must be completed to drop out of Gifted then more to return. The reality is that students have been denied re-entry who left at
elementary then returned at middle, due to lack of space/maxed out gifted class sizes at middle. Parents fought for months to get their student back into gifted classes. Theoretically ce qualified, always qualified,unless grades in gifted classes go below B or overall achievement is unsatisfactory (can't fail eveything but gifted) but it doesn't always work that way in Dekalb.

@January 14, 2011 10:53 PM and onJanuary 15, 2011 12:19 PM

I'm not sure how principals are getting away with using only Renzulli. (Is this another corruption to be uncovered in DCSS?) To be Gifted designated, student must meet 3 of 4 criteria: cut score on nationally normed achievement test (like ITBS), cut score on nationally normed Mental Abilities(intelligence) test (like COGAT), cut score on creativity assessment, and cut score on motivation assessment, as well as a 3.5 Qualifying GPA in high school. Teachers can give qualifying scores for both creativity and motivation on Renzulli, but at least one of them has to be confirmed (usually by gifted coordinator or a counselor) with objective assessment. It doesn't matter which 3 criteria are used, but there must be 3 objective assessments.Data used to establish qualification in one area cannot be used eligibilityin another, i.e. Renzulli can't be counted for 2 of the 4 criteria but can be counted as 1 of the 4.

that said, it is really dumb for any school not to aggressively screen for Gifted, even using assessment other than the standard ITBS, COGAT,used routinely by DCSS. Funding alone should be a motivator for principals, even if educational services aren't their focus

Cerebration said...

Some clarifications:

It's not "my" map. This data was compiled and published by the planning dept of DCSS and is available at the DCSS 2020 Vision web page.

Lakeside does not have a magnet program. It's a regular, everyday high school no different from Tucker or Miller Grove or any other regular school.

With no disrespect to the parent who posted this comment, it actually says all that needs to be said about what is wrong with the magnet programs -

t was up to the Gods of Lottery to decide if she went there, but, it was my decision to seek a different kind of education for my child.

Contrast that comment, with the following one - which I happen to agree with -

Sounds to me like we would be better off beefing up the high achiever programs in our regular schools. Not only would the kids who are labelled as gifted benefit, we could also include many of the students who are highly motivated and not considered gifted.

And thanks to everyone who provided alternative sources for data. It's very interesting that the numbers could fluctuate as much as they do. That said, I do have a hard time believing that over 30% of any school is actually "gifted". That number is wildly out of context with the general population.

Anecdotally, this is how the schools in my hometown handle gifted students (my nephew was one). They pull them in ES for a full day each week of specialized (usually project-oriented) instruction with the gifted teacher. One year they built a race car from a kit. One year they built rockets. It's all very group-oriented. Seems to work quite well.

That said, think about the funding this way - what if we took in all the extra funding for special education and allowed principals to use it as they see fit in the regular classroom? What if we offered a lottery-based magnet program for students with learning disabilities? Wouldn't that strike you as odd and unfair to those who don't "win"? Especially if some of the winners were not actually learning disabled...?

At any rate - the true point of this post was to discuss merging and moving the magnet programs to some "central" location such as Avondale. As we see from the maps, ALL of the participants would have to travel more than they do now. This "centralized" idea is not a good one, IMO. This county is far too big.

Cerebration said...

@ Anon 1:40 PM - No, the services for gifted students at regular schools do not equal - much less exceed - Kittredge's services to it's 400+ students. I have been corrected on the details, but basically, Kittredge offers a full time art teacher, choral music teacher, language teacher, PE teacher, band or orchestra teachers, classes with far fewer students (20?) and the most highly qualified teachers in the school system. Throw in the nice field trips and overnight learning trips, (do they still go to Tybee and other places?) and you have a very nice, free, nearly private school experience. It really is like winning the lottery.

(Full disclosure - one of my children attended Kittredge. One has learning disabilities. I have formed my opinions based on personal experience - many of yours are different. )

Anonymous said...

re Anon 1:52 "It is not fair that the schools on the north end of the county offer better programs."

I do not know of one program that is offered only on the north end of the county.

In fact, two high school programs are offered only in the south: Arabia Mountain High School's Environmental Energy and Engineering Magnet program and the Columbia High School Math, Science and Technology Magnet program.

Further, I find it strange that the Arabia Mountain Magnet program is not listed in the School Choice programs on the DCSS website (http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/about/schoolchoice/). How are parents supposed to find out about it and apply?

Sorry, but I just couldn't let the claim that the north end of the county is getting more go unchallenged.

If the High Achiever Magnet programs are moved then the north will have no special programs. I fail to see the equity in that.

Anonymous said...

I thank the posters who have pointed out that initials combined with to/from schools could reveal too much identity for the determined reviewer. That's the point of this blog--to share information and develop our thinking. You are absolutely right about privacy breaches.

My child utilized a Hardship transfer during a transitional period, so I am extremely aware of appropriate and inappropriate uses of the transfer policy.(And I dropped its use after the transitional situation resolved). Believe me, it was no picnic obtaining that approval and took months of constant contact with Office of Student Assignment. On the other hand, I know people who brag that they got permission on the first try, but their reasons for request were far from legitimate. I know teachers who have never worked within a feeder pattern who have sent multiple children through the highly desireable feeder pattern.

However, could we not require publicly available records that show the public, by school, what type of employee is using this? e.g. teacher based at xyz school, Moss Center, WBB, the Palace? Could we not have access to how many are transferring to/from schools for Safety Reasons, or other Hardship reasons? If a gazillion transfers from x school occur because it is not safe, doesn't that give us as citizens more ability to advocate for solutions to that problem?

It would take a really dogged investigation, couple with other types of information, to figure out who an individual is without initials, but more publicly available information could expose patterns of abuse.

Anonymous said...

re Anon 1:52 "It is not fair that the schools on the north end of the county offer better programs."

I do not know of one program that is offered only on the north end of the county.

In fact, two high school programs are offered only in the south: Arabia Mountain High School's Environmental Energy and Engineering Magnet program and the Columbia High School Math, Science and Technology Magnet program.

Further, I find it strange that the Arabia Mountain Magnet program is not listed in the School Choice programs on the DCSS website (http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/about/schoolchoice/). How are parents supposed to find out about it and apply?

Sorry, but I just couldn't let the claim that the north end of the county is getting more go unchallenged.

If the High Achiever Magnet programs are moved then the north will have no special programs. I fail to see the equity in that.

Cerebration said...

Anon January 15, 2011 1:52 PM - why don't you send your children to the high achiever program at SW DeKalb? It's the same as Chamblee. How about Arabia? That's an amazing program - gorgeous facility. Very much in south DeKalb (in fact, almost in Rockdale)...

Anonymous said...

Re: Anon 2:410 "Sorry, but I just couldn't let the claim that the north end of the county is getting more go unchallenged.
If the High Achiever Magnet programs are moved then the north will have no special programs. I fail to see the equity in that."
When I made the statement that the north is getting more than the south, I was speaking of the quality of the services. I do not feel that the county spends more money on one end of the county than the other, but I do not feel the quality is the same.
I agree that Arabia Mountain should be taken into consideration and I cannot speak to the program at Columbia because I don't know much about it because on the south side of the county it does not get high ratings. I believe that the program at Arabia was an attempt to put program that was as strong as Chamblee, but unfortunately the person who started the program is no longer in place to finish what he attempted. Keep in mind the program at Arabia is not a High Achiever Magnet program and there were plans to create a focused program at Druid Hills (I don't know the status) so that both sides of the county would receive a new program.
The interesting thing about taking the High Achiever program from Chamblee is that they would be taking the same High Achiever program from SWD. All High Achiever programs would be removed from both sides and placed in the center of the county. Regardless of what is done, the children still have access to a better quality of education. The county needs to level the playing field for all children so that ALL the schools operate the same and have teachers on both sides that are just as qualified.

Anonymous said...

Re: Cerebration Anon January 15, 2011 1:52 PM - why don't you send your children to the high achiever program at SW DeKalb? It's the same as Chamblee. How about Arabia? That's an amazing program - gorgeous facility. Very much in south DeKalb (in fact, almost in Rockdale)...
My child is in middle school. It may be an option if we are still living in the area when she goes to High School. My niece graduated from SWD High Achiever program. She graduated from Terry Business School at UGA with a 3.8 GPA and was selected out of final applicants to work for Rupert Murdock. It is a great program.
The other issue I have is that I have other children, one of which has special needs and WE WILL NOT start talking about how inadequate the programs for the children for special needs are in South Dekalb. It makes me soooo angry!
My concerns are not just for my children, but for the many children who are affected by the problems with the educational system in South Dekalb. I have options, many do not..

Anonymous said...

@ Cerebration

I thought Kittredge had 24 students per classroom, but the Kittredge website tells a different story:

420 students
(http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/schools/elementary/kittredge/)

24 Grade Level teachers
(8) 4th grade level teachers
(8) 5th grade level teachers
(8) 6th grade level teachers
(http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/kittredge/faculty/grade6.html)

(1) Media Specialist
(1) Art
(1) Band
(1) CATS (a special Enrichment teacher)
(1) Orchestra
(1) PE
(1) Nurse
(1) CTSS
(2) German teachers


420 students/24 grade level teachers = 17.5 students per class

The Specials (Art, Band, CATS, Orchestra, PE, and and 2 German teachers) give the Kittredge teachers a designated time every day to plan and co-plan for students.

BTW: My child went to Kittredge as well. It was okay, but in retrospect, I wish she had stayed in our home school. Her ITBS scores were 99 percentile in math and reading at her home school and also at Kittredge, but I think the social aspect of a neighborhood school can't be beat if you have a good neighborhood school.

I can understand why parents with low achieving home schools would love Kittredge and see it as a place for their child to flourish. It's too bad all neighborhood schools can't be great in DCSS.

If Kittredge is to remain, it's better that it moves to a Central location so all students in the county have access to it and the cost of redundant administrative and support staff can be reduced.

Taht said - I would prefer to have NO Kittredge or Wadsworth. I would like to see 4 or 5 high achiever magnet programs housed within existing schools sharing admin and support staff and even some of the special teachers - e.g. Media Specialist, PE, Nurse, Secretary, Principal, Bookeeper, Registrar, etc. This could keep under enrolled schools at the attendance level they need to be in order to stay open while providing more "seats" for parents who want that choice for their children.

For example, Wadsworth with 150+ students could be housed in one of the schools in the south slated to be closed. Kittredge could be housed in Briar Vista to ensure the numbers are there. Kittregde would not have to be as large as it is now with other high achiever programs in place.

4 or 5 high achiever magnet programs placed strategically throughout DeKalb would probably still cost less because of the facilities and admin and support cost could be shared (redundant admin and support staff would be cut).

I know all the parents at these magnet schools want to keep the programs intact and AS IS, but IMHO more DCSS parents would love to be able to make the choice to send their children to an high achiever magnet geographically located near their house.

I guess I'm missing something here - I thought magnets were supposed to be about more choice for students in the most cost effective manner possible.

Anonymous said...

What is a gifted middle school team or half-gifted middle school team? How does this work? Does this mean that the gifted kids are grouped together in one "section" that transfers from class to class together, and that their classes are "gifted classes" (ie taught by gifted teachers, in a manner geared toward gifted kids)? I am curious how this works. How does it work for the "half-gifted teams" that someone mentioned in an earlier comment -- half the classes are gifted? How do they decide who goes in which "team"? If anyone can fill me in on how this works in MS I would appreciate it. I have a child in ES Discovery but am thinking about looking into private schools for middle -- because I have heard that there is not that much differentiation in the middle schools -- but then again there is not much differentiation in private schools either so I would appreciate info from others who have had kids in the middle school gifted program. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

The insight provided by Anonymous 10:56 is some of the best historical information provided in a while. We didn't get to the current school system overnight. Understanding how we got here can help make sense out of some of the recommendations.

Anonymous said...

Something to consider, if the school system moves the elementary and middle school high achiever magnets in Avondale Middle as recommended, DeKalb would have the highest ranked elementary AND middle schools in the state. The same would probably hold true for the high school.

Cerebration said...

Regardless of what is done, the children still have access to a better quality of education. The county needs to level the playing field for all children so that ALL the schools operate the same and have teachers on both sides that are just as qualified.

Let me restate that a bit --

Regardless of what is done, (to the magnets) some children will still have access to a better quality of education. The county needs to level the playing field for all children so that ALL the schools operate the same and have qualified teachers for every child.

Is that what you meant? If so, I agree.

Anonymous said...

All the discussions here seem to be about Kittredge. Why aren't South Dekalb parents applying for their gifted/high achiever kids at Wadsworth?

Re: the school within a school. Wadsworth just moved a couple of years ago from Browns Mill Elementary, where it shared space as a separate school within a school, similar to that proposed by anonymous at 4:24pm. I don't know the history of why it didn't work, but people were adamant that it didn't. Other schools within a school are more successful--Huntley Hills Montessori within Huntley Hills comes to mind. DSA is now housed as a school within Avondale High. I think it's going well.

So this returns to the question: what is the problem with High Achiever program at Wadsworth?

Anonymous said...

Child in high school now. But,at Henderson, every team had gifted classes. These students stayed together all day for core classes taught mostly by gifted certified teachers. Some classes were not coded as gifted because of teacher certification or because the numbers of students placed in that class (including high achiever students who didn't classify as gifted) were above the gifted limit. these classes none the less moved at an accelerated pace. Smaller schools than Henderson may put all the gifted students on just some of the teams to make the numbers work.

Anonymous said...

...Contrast that comment, with the following one - which I happen to agree with -

Sounds to me like we would be better off beefing up the high achiever programs in our regular schools. Not only would the kids who are labelled as gifted benefit, we could also include many of the students who are highly motivated...

Cere- I agree with you. My comment about the Gods of Lottery was meant to show that we had absolutely no control over the situation, unfortunately. We did have control over our choices to pursue this type of education. I wish the homes school she was in would have been a better experience for her (and for me).

I have said from the very beginning it is a shame that all of our schools are not like Kittredge, they should be.

Kittredge, aside from the extra teachers for band, etc that someone else pointed out, is just a different education because she is treated differently. The quality of teachers is what makes this school a success.

There are some pretty sub-par teachers in our school system. Apathy abounds. Saying this, there are also many fabulous administrators and qualified, excited teachers who have many needs. Most of all is support from the parents. They need the parents to better prepare their children for a day of learning. Expect their child to complete their homework and actually look to see it is done with some level of accuracy.

We on this blog are a group of adults that obviously care enough but there are so many parents out there who don't and unfortunately this attitude invades the classrooms.

Thank you for your comments of meaning no disrespect because I respect your opinions on this blog.

Anonymous said...

Wow! What a thread. I have two children--one in 8th and one in 6th that have never tested below 98th percentile composite on the ITBS--and both of whom are marked "gifted".

They both have gone to the International Community School where (K-6) they were never "pulled out", "discovered", "Tagged" or whatever. Instead they have had classmates from everywhere, at every academic level and every language (not to mention some exposure to some pretty weird food).

When my daughter graduated, she auditioned and was ranked 1st to go into one of 4 open slots DESA at 7th grade. When she landed there she blew away the other students with what she already had learned in Math, ELA, and particularly Social Studies (all them other cultures and 7 years of daily Spanish).

What she didn't have was any knowledge of what "discovery" was--or any desire to give up her reading time to go there when all the other "labled" kids were pulled each Thursday. And, since this was the E-sis start-up administration didn't have the records that told them she was "gifted". When they finally figured out and suggested that she go--she didn't want to---Administration about went cross-eyed when I told them that she had learned what she had learned without any of these "special" services the last 7 years and I wasn't going to force her to go.
They coaxed her in there eventually, and they did have a good teacher--but over all, I think that we put way too much stock in label (like discover and "gifted certified") when the bottom line is really the quality of what is being done by the teachers, administrators and the general school culture.

Cerebration said...

Good post anon, I hope you can truly imagine how you would feel had you not "won" the lottery.

I have said for a very long time that our administrators have traditionally responded to complaints of poor education by offering a "choice" - an escape - a lottery. The time has come to make ALL of our schools equitable - for the squeaky wheels - and for the children whose parents or guardians are not so squeaky. Children should not have to rely on luck - or astute, competent parents to access a respectable education.

Anonymous said...

" I also would require annual application and reapproval, rather than giving approval for the entire numbers of years possible at the school. If redistricted neighborhood kids don't get grandfathered, certainly no admin transfer should get to stay."

This is exactly what should be happening. Every child on an administrative transfer should have to reapply every year. If the school becomes overcrowded or if the seats are needed because a neighboring school is overcrowded, the transfer student should be sent back to his/her home school OR offered another transfer option.

Anonymous said...

Why is Briarlake ES better than Idlewood ES?

Are the teachers and administrators really better at one school?

If that is not the case, how does DCSS even the scores?

Dekalbparent said...

Anon 3:14 -

Druid Hills was supposed to get a Health Sciences choice program, part of the idea that each "cluster" would have an attractive specialized program at the high school level. That idea went away even before C. Lewis went away. Druid Hills does not have the program, and is not going to in the foreseeable future. So, no eqity there...

Anon 6:50 -

My memory of the reason for move from Browns Mill to Wadsworth was that the magnet at Browns Mill did not have the number of teachers and the depth of programs that KMS had (because it was a smaller program - a self-perpetuating situation), so there was not really a "mirror" high achievers program on the south side. Additionally, the KMS program has always been stand-alone, and Browns Mill never had been. The Wadsworth building was being vacated, so the program was moved there, hopefully to make the programs the same. Don't know if that has happened, since it is still much smaller.

Seems to me that if the students in the middle school and high school high achievers programs are doing well, despite NOT being stand-alone programs, then a high achiever component in SEVERAL schools around the county would serve more kids.

Kim Gokce said...

anon 1:52 - voice of reason!

All: regarding map of gifted students ... I'm hearing reasoned debating points on central vs de-central but I don't think point-in-time data like this is compelling for either case and should have no impact on the question about high achievers magnets.

Dunwoody Mom said...

It is not fair that some families may be faced with their child not attending the same school as the other children in the swim club.

If you review the School Board Policy on School Attendance Areas, Descriptor AD, one of the criteria to consider is "Intact Neighborhoods".

The School Board must follow their own policies when coming up with school attendance lines. It is not an option, as far as I can tell from reading this policy, to split up neighborhoods.

If I am misreading, someone please feel free to enlighten me.

Anonymous said...

DM @ 9:04
The guidelines provide that they are supposed to consider these criteria but they are not hard and fast requirements.

Anonymous said...

I recall the MGT consultant saying that they would try not to split feeders, but that would be a difficult task.

Dunwoody Mom said...

So, you're saying the consultants should not follow School Board policy?

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with Cere, the bottom line problem is that not enough competent, thoughtful attention has been put into how to make sure that equitable educational experiences are available throughout the county. Most of these problems we are debating go back to this issue. So, I would love to hear from others on how Dekalb could improve the quality of the educational experience throughout the county. How can we help create a teaching environment that is supportive and attractive enough to attract, encourage and retain professional caring teachers? How can we begin holding students and parents accountable for at least the basics? How can children in all areas of the county have access to a fully rounded education (i.e. a chance to learn a string instrument or to truly learn to speak a new language without having to have the luck to win a nearly impossible lottery to attend a school that is geographically impossible for working parents to transport their child to and from?) How do we do this in the face of growing financial restrictions, unaligned federal and state requirements (i.e. AYP), entrenched and self-entitled, disconnected central administration, the parental/student/comunity enthusiasm/educational value gap that exist from one area to another, the need to truly address the special needs at both ends of the academic and psycological spectrum? Maybe we can start a special section of this blog devoted to these ideas and maybe try to compile a vision, plan of what we want a healthy, successful, enjoyable Dekalb educational system to look like. Because right now it looks more like a ball of confusion, mistrust,division and deep disappointment where so many students have to succeed inspite of, than it looks like a source of pride, community, unity, knowledge, and connection to the 21st century world.

Anonymous said...

Oh dunwoody mom, there is no such school board policy. What there is a list of primary and secondary criteria to be CONSIDERED. Keeping neighborhoods intact is one of the secondary criteria, along with a host of others including efficient and economical operations. these criteria are not policies. There are competing considerations at play here. We all know that you are unhappy about your neighborhood being split (potentially) between des and nancy creek. But that part of town has always been split (currently between chesnur and vanderlyn). There is a precedent fot this already in place under the current districting. Which is important because one of the other secondary criteria is previous redistricting.

Anonymous said...

FYI
The neighborhood Dunwoody mom lives in is NOT the neighborhood being split.

Anonymous said...

"Are you saying that the "gifted" thing is part a a scam to get more money from the State?"

The middle school "gifted" program is a fund raiser! I teach middle school math and have two so called "gifted" classes. (Since I'm not gifted certified, the students are coded "high achievers" in my class.) The other three teachers on my team are "gifted" certified, and therefore, bring in more money per pupil than I do. In the two so called "gifted" classes of 26 students each, I have four students who are Level 1 (meaning they did not pass last year's math CRCT test!) and several others who would agree that math really isn't their thing.

Does it seem logical that all 52 "gifted" students (out of the 110 students on my team) are "gifted" in math, science, language arts AND social studies?

I think not.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 11:57,

Very few DCSS schools do gifted teams the way you are describing. Most do what other middle schools in the state do, gifted students have two classes (the state requirement) a day that are gifted, the rest are generally high achievers.

When a middle school lumps all gifted labeled students into one team, it presumes that all those students are equally gifted in all subjects. The reality is that this isn't true. Most students have strengths and weaknesses.

Given that only a few middle schools use the model you are speaking of, I would guess that the parental pressure for gifted teams is tremendous.

Anonymous said...

"Are you saying that the "gifted" thing is part a a scam to get more money from the State?"

In reverse, there are also many parents that seek to have their children get an LD (Learning Disabled) or similar (ADD, ADHD, etc.) labels so they can get additional services. There are probably more lawsuits filed against school systems through special education laws. As with the gifted designation, some parents proactively seek these label.

Anonymous said...

@anon 10:54pm: you are correct, the neighborhood is currently split Chesnut/Vanderlyn, but those kids all meet back up at PCMS (currently they meet back at the 4/5). Under the new lines, these neighborhood kids wouldn't ever meet back up--and yes, it is all the same neighborhood. And you're taking kids who currently ride a school bus together and splitting them up. I don't know that splitting kids that way is the ultimate goal of redistricting.

Anonymous said...

The problem as a tax payer that I have is that as a schools district we have kids that have and kids that have not. There is great discrepency with the quality of education a child will receive in the district. It's great if you live in a "good" school area.

Yes, I live in a "good" school cluster. We chose to live here and pay more for our home along with paying higher taxes.

That being said, I believe that until ALL schools in the district can offer ALL children a quality education, the extra programs like magnet, theme, and other special interest schools need to be suspended. We have a huge problem, because the majority of children in DCSS are not getting a quality or even adequate education. How can anyone say that the district should keep the expensive programs that only affect a few students while a majority of children will never be able to follow their dreams, simply because they are under educated?

I was hopeful that the redistricting plan would make DCSS a better school system all around. However I can see that it probably won't do this. Maybe it will get slightly better, but there will remain kids that receive a sub par education and that is not okay with tax payer. I personally won't be happy until all children receive a quality education throughout DeKalb and not just the handful that are fortunate to have parents who know how to work the system or are lucky enough to live in the neighborhood of a good school.

Dunwoody Mom said...

Peachtree MS uses the same model as Henderson - the students in the Impact program (gifted), High Achievers and General are in "teams". Please remember, that there is a Gifted Continuation Policy to continue to take a subject classified as "gifted". The student must maintain a "B" average in that class. If a student receives lower than a "B" after a semester probation, that student is placed out of a that gifted class. They can re-enter the gifted once they maintain an 80% GPA in that subject.

So, yes, you can conceivably have a child in which all of their classes are labeled "gifted" or a combination.

Dunwoody Mom said...

Anonymous 10:54, I am not affected by the redistricting, so I have no worries. But, I will fight to the end that neighborhoods will not be split - especially when that split means they go to an entirely different school cluster.

What good is having critiera, in this case outlined in the School Board Policy if they are not followed?

Anonymous said...

Dunwoody Mom, I will be fighting to ensure that ALL children in DCSS get a good education. Too many are not. I have taught on the south side of the county and what happens in many schools is a disgrace. I am not worried about any children not going to school with the kids across the street or that they go to swim club with. I am worried that the quality of education offered to ALL children is the same and effective learning takes place in all schools.

It is cheaper to educate a child than to deal with the effects of being uneducated later on in life.

In my opinion, tax payers throughout the county need to take a serious look at the discrepancy of education that occurs and be as up in arms about that as they are that their children aren't going to go to school with the kids that are part of the neighborhood. My heart bleeds for children receiving a poor education, but not those that are going to have to move schools and are still going to be receiving a better education than many in the district.

Dunwoody Mom said...

Oh, please enough with the drama. Everyone wants a quality education for every child in DCSS. That is a separate issue from my statement.
Simply stating that children in the same neighborhoods be kept in the same school cluster has no correlation to your statement at all.

Anonymous said...

Anon at 11:59 -- it kinda is, because the N Springs/Georgetown/Chateau subdivisions are all sort of the same neighborhood. It is hard to tell when you have left one of those and gone into the other. That group of subdivisions is currently split and will in all likelihood continue to be, but of course it all depends on what the BOE ultimately decides to do.

Dunwoody Mom, yes it would be idea if all of those kids could go to the same school (which I guess would be DES) but that would mean pulling less kids out of Vanderlyn, Chesnut and Austin to go to DES. That means more trailers continue at those schools than are necessary. Trailers cost MONEY. They have to be rented, heated, cooled, etc. DCSS simply does not have the luxury of spending money on these trailers to the extent they are unnecessary -- which they ARE because Kittredge has empty seats and is just a stone's throw away from that part of Dunwoody.

If there were enough empty seats in the dunwoody cluster I am sure everyone would agree that that neighborhood should be kept in the dunwoody cluster, but there are not. So the choices are (1) move them to the empty seats at Kittredge/Nancy Creek, (2) build a new school in the Dunwoody cluster (this will also mean enlarging DHS and PCMS because the kids at the elem level will age up to those schools which do not have capacity for them) or (3) continue to hemhorrage money on trailers.

Choice (2) is not going to happen -- there is no money -- especially now that so much has been earmarked to rebuild CCHS. It is pretty obvious that choice (1) is the most economically efficient.

It is not ideal, but we are not living in ideal times. We cannot expect other schools in DCSS to go without just so one neighborhood can be kept intact.

Anonymous said...

Yes, all parents want a quality education for their children, but in DeKalb, some kids are receiving one while others are not. Those are the hard facts. We are a county of children who receive a good education and those that do not. This is not acceptable to me. There are many reasons for this, but hopefully a new superintendent will come and straighten the district out. That is the only hope that we have for better for all children.

Dunwoody Mom said...

Anonymous 10:51, I'm not sure you understand the plan here. With the plan we are speaking about, the Kittredge students are moved to Avondale ES and Nancy Creek is reverted to a regular school.

The attendance zone proposed for this school is ludicrous. Students from Chesnut, Huntley Hills, Montgomery, Ashford Park and Cary Reynolds are being pulled into this school.

In my opinion, it has nothing to do with relieving overcrowding in Dunwoody and everything to do with keeping Nancy Creek open and from being decommisioned. Under this plan, both PCMS and DHS will still be overcrowded.

Anonymous said...

DM at 10:56, I do understand the plan. I understand that the magnet kids will be moved to Avondale, thus creating empty seats at Kittredge (or Nancy Creek or whatever the building itself is to be called). I strongly support this plan because it is the only one that calls for relieving overcrowding in the Dunwoody cluster. THe other plan just jostles the kids within the Dunwoody cluster among the existing Dunwoody schools.

The reality is that there are not enough seats in the Dunwoody cluster. Plain and simple math here. We need to move some of them out to another cluster. If the magnet kids are moving out of the Chamblee cluster -- and Nancy Creek repurposed as a regular school -- then there are empty seats in Chamblee cluster. Chamblee cluster borders Dunwoody cluster. The kids who are closest to that border need to move to the other cluster.

WHat is so hard about this?

I realize the Nancy Creek district looks odd. I am not sure why they did it that way, unless they are looking to gerrymander into a Title I school -- like they did at Cross Keys. I actually have no problem with that approach because it maximizes dollars available for those kids. But if the community doesn't like it, perhaps it would be best to focus on redrawing the new Nancy Creek lines in a way that is more neighborhood-y rather than complaining about the fact that a cluster of subdivisions are not all going to the same school.

Dunwoody Mom said...

I strongly support this plan because it is the only one that calls for relieving overcrowding in the Dunwoody cluster

But, you see, it really does not.

If the magnet kids are moving out of the Chamblee cluster -- and Nancy Creek repurposed as a regular school -- then there are empty seats in Chamblee cluster.

If Kittredge moves, why do you need to use Nancy Creek at all? It really isn't needed right now.

Anonymous said...

Yes, it is needed. It is needed because there are not enough K-5 seats in the Dunwoody cluster! There is also overcrowding at other schools such as Montgomery that could be relieved by repurposing Nancy Creek.

Honestly, what is so difficult about this?

Or is it just that folks don't care whether kids sit in trailers (paid for by DCSS $$ that could be better spent on instruction) as long as their house is in the district they want it to be in?

Cerebration said...

I gotta say - "Get On With It!"

Paul Womack was right. The board was elected to do this work and they should stop this ridiculous, endless, torturous, nonsensical, years-long conversation about redistricting - "what to do, what to do"... Give the people a couple of chances to make their opinions known and then draw the darn lines!

We have so many more important things to do.

Like educate children - all children.

Dunwoody Mom said...

Under the "Centralized" Plan, which is the one being discussed here, Chesnut, Peachtree MS and Dunwoody HS would still be overcrowded. This plan sends 115 students from Chesnut to Nancy Creek, but then turns around and pulls 66 from Hightower to Chesnut. How does that relieve Chesnut? It doesn't. So, leave the current Chesnut kids right where they are.

So, what I'm hearing, is that it's okay if these schools are overcrowded??

Anonymous said...

What do you mean how does it relieve Chesnut. It relieves it because there is a net loss of students at Chesnut which is currently overcrowded.

I am starting to think people are being purposely obtuse.

Anonymous said...

It also relieves Hightower a bit, which is also overcrowded. Not as much as these schools need, but it's a start, and certainly better than what we have now.

Dunwoody Mom said...

What do you mean how does it relieve Chesnut. It relieves it because there is a net loss of students at Chesnut which is currently overcrowded.

I am starting to think people are being purposely obtuse.


Don't be insulting. 115 out of Chesnut, 66 in - that's 49 student difference. After redistricting, DES will have 95 open seats.

Please explain that rationale.

Anonymous said...

What about making Nancy Creek a Pre-K Center?

Anonymous said...

That was my comment, about the Pre-K Center. This was a suggestion that Lynn Jackson mentioned in her meeting with Budget committee.

Dunwoody Mom said...

Sorry, I don't know why my name isn't appearing...

Cerebration said...

For enlightening perspective on how the board has effectively consistently stopped all consolidation action and refuses to take a real look at ANYTHING that would save money and advance the mission of education - check out some quotes from the February 9, 2010 (nearly a year ago!) minutes from the Citizen's Task Force meeting. (You remember them - the group of citizens once again lured into believing that they would be able to research, investigate and make recommendations that would be implemented?)

Ms. Sarah Copelin-Wood commented that it was “odd” that only schools in the southern part of
DeKalb County (or schools concentrated in one particular district) had been targeted. She said that the impact on taxpayers/businesses would be lop-sided. She asked if all schools were being looked at. Mr. Drake answered that for Phase I, only clusters of under-utilized elementary schools were being considered.

Ms. Roberts commented on students in the southern portions of the county being unduly burdened with long transportation rides / travel times and recommended re-drawing attendance lines countywide.

Mr. Drake reiterated that the change in travel times for displaced children would only increase, at the most, by one and a half times, in total. Children would not be subjected to 15 or 20 mile commutes.

Ms. Copelin-Wood added that earlier bus pick-up times and longer commutes would be a hardship on
elementary school children. She indicated that the data presented was biased and unreliable. She asked if attendance lines could be redrawn or if other ways to save money had been considered. Mr. Drake repeated that there would be no overcrowding and that commute times would not be increased to the point that they were a burden to young students.

Cerebration said...

Nonsense. Non sequitur. Irrelevant.

Sarah Copelin-Wood needs to dig down in her soul and speak up - she should say - fine - get on with it - consolidate my schools, but send in some support teachers and work on results in the classroom. Children are waiting. Teachers need support. Work must be done in the classroom. It doesn't really matter where that classroom is located.

Anonymous said...

DM, 49 seats net loss is about what Chesnut needs. There are currently two trailers in use there. 49 fewer kids would about take care of it.

I don't know how to explain redistricting DES to not have enough kids to fill it out the outset unless they anticipate growth. In any event, it will certainly be closer to capacity than it is now.

Are you suggesting that kids slated to go to Nancy Creek instead be sent to DES?

Anonymous said...

A couple of things specific to Dunwoody.

Be careful when you extrapolate current enrollment at the elementary schools to future enrollment at the middle and high schools.

Study this map carefully:



You will see that while 100s of students attend the elementary schools from the apartments/condos on Ashford Dunwoody Road, far fewer attend P'tree and Dunwoody. There are nearly 600 elementary age children from the apartments that feed Vanderlyn and Austin. There are less than 200 middle and high school students from these same complexes. Given the high rent prices, this is unlikely to change.

Dunwoody Mom said...

Are you suggesting that kids slated to go to Nancy Creek instead be sent to DES?

According to the figures provided by MGT, after redistricting, (Centralized Option), Austin will have 16 open seats, Dunwoody ES 95, Kingsley 19, Vanderlyn 32. That is 162 open seats. Why are the Chesnut children being sent out of the cluster when adding seats at all the other schools could allow our children to stay with their friends and playmates?

Anonymous said...

http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/www/documents/redistricting/resident-attendee-north-map.pdf

Forgot the map

Cerebration said...

The thing is, this is a countywide issue. It has a domino effect. In order to move Kittredge and fill up Nancy Creek, students need to be placed there from the current fairly crowded schools. The only way to implement a plan that strictly compares schools located within the City of Dunwoody boundaries would be to create a City of Dunwoody school system.

Doable? Who knows. Does anyone care enough to try? (I actually think that Dunwoody breaking away would be good for the system overall - it would allow leaders to focus their attention on other areas - areas where students really need some attention.)

Dunwoody Mom said...

But why do we need to "fill up" Nancy Creek? There is just not enough overcrowding in that area to justify keeping it open, so MGT has come up with, in my opinion, a crazy attendance zone just to keep it open. This will in no way, shape or form, be a neighborhood school

Anonymous said...

Dunwoody mom, the goal is not to fill every empty seat in a school. The goal is to make sure each school has the minimum number of pupils for state funding and to alleviate overcrowding. It is smart to leave a few seats empty at each school to accommodate shifts and bubbles. The number of empty seats left in dunwoody in this plan is about one per home room. Not really that many when you think about it.

Dekalbparent said...

My paradigm has shifted. Anon 9:58 says DCSS needs to shelve ALL the special programs (theme, magnet, choice, etc.) and use the money to improve ALL DCSS schools until we have a solid county-wide system of good education K-12.

Anon, you are right! We are endlessly debating whether one or another program uses extra money, but it is not debatable that these programs are sucking up the kids and families who would make a difference in their home schools.

DCSS has some fine programs, such as high achievers and IB, and I don't want to see them go away - I want to see them shared out. I had a child at KMS, and I kept thinking that the way they teach there should be the way they teach everywhere. ALL kids can benefit from it - they are NOT doing rocket science there, no matter what some proud parents will tell you. Same with the IB program (k-8). In the IB schools, it is taught to all the students, not limited to some level of test scores. So, use these teaching methods, for goodness sake!! The IB curriculum has proven that it can produce good test scores, even on CRCTs, when it doesn't teach to the test. Somehow, the kids get what they need anyway...

For those who have argued that the high school IB program is an expensive extra available only to a select few, I would remind you that it requires the student to prepare by taking accelerated courses in 9th and 10th grades, and keep a decent grade in these courses. Access to the accelerated courses is determined by what you take in middle school most of the time, but not always - a child can decide to take them even if s/he did not take them in middle school. (It might be harder, but it is allowed.) Similarly, a child can enter the IB program in 11th grade without having taken the accelerated courses in 9th and 10th (again, harder, but it has been done successfully). It is a writing and thinking intensive program, which turns some kids off, hence the lower numbers, but that is the kid's choice, not due to some selectivity on the part of the school. (Additionally, some kids feel that AP is a better choice for them - it's just as challenging, so it siphons off some of the kids.)I would like to see IB get some better press and wider PR - it turns out well-rounded students, and you don't need to be a genius to do it - spread it around!!

Dunwoody Mom said...

The goal is to make sure each school has the minimum number of pupils for state funding and to alleviate overcrowding

With all due respect, I'll counter each point.

1. The "new" Nancy Creek School will barely enough students to meet the 450 seat minimum for state funding. What happens if some of those parents turn to private schools, as I have heard mentioned from Dunwoody parents and Montgomery parents being redistricted to Nancy Creek DCSS has AGAIN created a small school - something which goes against their goals of creating larger schools. Remember the slide from the MGT Presentation. The goal is to have 900 students for ES.

2. This plan does not alleviate overcrowding at Chesnut or PCMS.

Dunwoody Mom said...

I will be curious to see the plans for the new Chamblee HS. Will it follow the recommendation of High Schools housing 1600 students? If so, is DCSS planning to house the new school at the same location? Can a school that size even be built at that location? I say no.

Oh Well said...

Sorry, Cere, a City of Dunwoody independent school district will not happen any time soon. (Cere, 2:05PM). The Georgia State Constitution proscribes any and all new independent school districts in favor of county systems (Article VIII, Section V, Paragraph 1). This provision dates from 1945, and city and county school districts have been consolidating ever since. Existing independent systems were grandfathered in at that time, which explains the Atlanta, Decatur, Marietta, Buford, etc., school districts.

To allow for new independent city systems would require an amendment to the State Constitution, requiring General Assembly and statewide voter approval, a difficult and unlikely prospect. Even as the creation of the City of Dunwoody was a bitter pill to swallow for the South DeKalb power structure, that process would have been a picnic compared to the vitriol a movement for independent school systems within the County would generate.

The only potentially effective option available to well defined communities like Dunwoody and Tucker, which are essentially coincident with their high school clusters, is through the creation of Charter Clusters, which is currently in the works in Dunwoody and perhaps Chamblee, and a twinkle in the eye in Tucker. Charter clusters are a blank page within the state academic system, and it remains to be seen how potentially effective they will be in defining and supporting neighborhood school interests that might be contrary to the goals of the county system at large. See your blog discussion from back in September, 2010, http://dekalbschoolwatch.blogspot.com/2010/09/weber-pushes-charter-school-charter.html.

I, for one, would welcome an update or a web reference to the charter cluster movement in Dunwoody or Chamblee, to follow and perhaps support those efforts.

Interesting articles and blog entries on the Dunwoody charter I’ve noted include http://dunwoodynorth.blogspot.com/2010/07/thoughts-on-dunwoody-charter-cluster-by.html and http://www.thecrier.net/articles/2010/12/07/front/weber.txt.

Cerebration said...

I think the ultimate (2020) plan is to build new elementary schools that will hold 900. In the meantime, they are trying to utilize what we have to gain the best funding per pupil that is possible.

Dunwoody Mom said...

Here again, I ask, why was all that QSCB money spent on building one high school, especially if the Magnet program is being moved out?

2 elementary schools that can house 900 students could have been built with that money.

I think our 2020 Vision is going to turn into a nightmare.

Cerebration said...

IMHO, that was a last ditch effort by the board to boost Redovian's chances of winning the election. He really used that as campaign fodder - "I brought $58 million to Chamblee HS!" PLUS - it was the easiest way to grab the money. As I understood it, you had to make an in-depth proposal for each school project you planned to use the funds for. Obviously, it was easiest to make one plan.

That said - who's to say that the new Chamblee HS couldn't be placed on the same property as Cross Keys?

Dunwoody Mom said...

I tend to agree with you Cere - it just made no sense to spend all that money on one project.

Whose to say is right, Cere. There certainly is enough land at Cross Keys to build a large high school.

Anonymous said...

Doesn't anyone care about the kids IN the magnet program? Why is the magnet program allowed to draw such disgust out of people when it is a school full of kids like every other one? These are kids getting a good education, not something intrinsically evil. How can you justify the argument that it's unfair for Tucker HS kids to be rezoned to a "lesser" (educational) school like Clarkston (or Fernbank to Briar Vista or Livsey to Smoke Rise) but it isn't exactly the same situation to send magnet kids back to their home schools? Why is it okay to destroy the educational environment these kids are in now? I'll tell you why - because this isn't about the kids; it is about the parents. If all of this blog complaining were really about the kids, you would rally for NO kids to have a lesser educational experience after all of this is over. When all of this shakes out, everyone's educational experience should IMPROVE - everyone. Tearing down the magnets doesn't improve Rock Chapel or Clarkston or Stone Mountain. Period. Focus on raising the others up instead of bringing everyone to a mediocre middle. Instead of a laser focus on the top, why don't you laser focus on the bottom? We know it isn't a money issue. The money is stuck in the hands of the over-stuffed central office, and there's plenty in there to bring up every failing school. In no way do I condone the inequity, but you don't fix it by knocking off the top - you do it by bringing up the bottom.

Cerebration said...

No. Sorry. It's about the money. These programs cost more than regular programs and suck resources from "regular" students. Are you insinuating that some students are entitled to more than others?

Anonymous said...

@Anon 3:52
WELL SAID!!

Why can't we just consolidate the small elementary schools in the south and not do anything else until the 2020 Vision is complete?

I fear this would be called "racist" but it really should enable the resources for those students to be increased.

All this other stuff, especially what we will do about school choice programs such as magnets, needs to be dealt with separately. Maybe we'll centralize the magnets. Maybe we'll do away with them. Maybe we'll replicate them. But it's silly and irresponsible to make a major move such as centralizing them until we have answered the long term vision.

Anonymous said...

One other point about sending the high achiever magnet kids back to their home schools so those kids and parents can improve the home school - been there, done that, doesn't work. At least in this incarnation of DCSS, parents cannot improve the school, especially when the parents who are active are in the minority in a school FULL of problems that are not fixable from the outside. I reported all sorts of violations and problems - special ed policies, gifted ignored, moronic teachers, excessive teacher absences, lazy principal - all of which paled in comparison to what was going on at the central office, so, surprise, nothing was done. And it didn't matter how many letters, calls, meetings, or rallying other parents I did, nothing was going to make the school system replace bad teachers or the principal in the end. I work full-time, so improving one school became my part-time job, and absolutely NOTHING worked. I know this isn't the case for the kids from really good schools in the Dunwoody area, but for a lot of kids whose parents sought out the magnets, it is a genuine lifesaver. I am also one of those parents who believes the entrance criteria should be raised to the point where there is no lottery. Everyone above x% should have guaranteed admission, and schools with x% of gifted or high achiever already at their schools need not apply. No luck of the draw. Then LASER FOCUS on the schools that are just not doing the job. No more AYP transfers - load that school with tutors and help and actually improve it instead of diluting the problem with transfers. I could go on and on, but, if someone's goal of destroying magnets is to send those kids back to their home schools and improve them, it won't work in some situations.

Cerebration said...

Why can't we just consolidate the small elementary schools in the south and not do anything else until the 2020 Vision is complete?

I actually very much agree with this. We need to have certifiable data in order to make the best decision regarding what to do with the magnets, etc. But what we DO know right now today, is that we have been wasting a whole lot of money subsidizing some very under-populated schools. Phase 1 - consolidating those schools - should be a slam dunk. Then, tackle Phase 2. The rest of redistricting and the magnets.

Cerebration said...

Good ideas, Anon 4:07 PM. Your experience sounds horrific. Let's hope the school system can get back on track so that no one has to deal with what you did. It won't be easy - but it's certainly a goal to set our sights on.

Anonymous said...

"Everyone above x% should have guaranteed admission, and schools with x% of gifted or high achiever already at their schools need not apply. No luck of the draw. Then LASER FOCUS on the schools that are just not doing the job. No more AYP transfers - load that school with tutors and help and actually improve it instead of diluting the problem with transfers. "

Do you really think that the Office of School Improvement is going to spend those hundreds of millions in Title 1 funds putting Title 1 teachers instructing small groups of struggling students? There is no political gain in that (versus - dispensing those same dollars on new titles and promotions - it's called creating a "power center"). The parents of those students left behind will not know how to advocate for that LAZER FOCUS, and their children will languish in even worse circumstances than before.

Dr. Lewis moved the decision making responsibilities for Title 1 into Dr. Berry's control, and since then Title 1 funds have gone more and more into non-teaching personnel and expensive learning programs and less into teaching personnel. A scant percent is now spent on personnel who directly instruct students - something that must happen for those students or they will not improve in achievement.

While your idea is great for high achieving students with involved parents, it is devastating for those children left behind to the devices of the Central Office. If you as an educated and involved parent could get nowhere with the DCSS administration, can you imagine the wasteland the schools would become with no one left to advocate for those students left behind?

Anonymous said...

Why can't we just consolidate the small elementary schools in the south and not do anything else until the 2020 Vision is complete?


Great idea. Take care of 1 side of town first while using more money & resources on that side of town in return for leaving the other side as is? I say that is a deal.

Anonymous said...

/@Dunwoody Mom 10:10

Actually there may be a slight difference. The teams at Henderson have 4 core classes wtih 4 teachers. The general kids have classes together with the same 4 teachers that the gifted group has with those 4 teachers. High Achievers used to also be a separate group, but space issues have forced high achievers to be mixed with general kids, not with gifted kids. So, the cohort of general/high achievers go to eachof the 4 teachers, but their classes are coded as regular. the cohort of gifted kids goes to the same 4 teachers, but their classes are coded as gifted, or as high achiever/accelerated, depending on the teacher's certification and number of kids in the class. Some of the 4 or 5 grade level teams have 3 gifted certified teachers and some of the 4 or 5 grade level teams have 2 gifted certified teachers. Some of the teams only have 1 group of Gifted kids, and some of the teams have 2 groups of Gifted kids. The teams with 2 groups also have the students who are taking the Hybrid math courses: 6 and half of 7th, 7th and half of 8th, and 8th plus part of high school Math 1. It makes scheduling easier. The hybrid math classes by and large are composed of gifted students, but not entirely as the there are different qualifying scores.

BUT, to address a previous post, a child who is Gifted in Science may not have a Gifted Science teacher, whereas a Gifted Math student may or may not have a gifted math teacher. Students do not cross out of their teams to be placed in gifted classes with a gifted certified teacher in their area of giftedness. One just hopes that there is not a big disparity with the subjects and that one is assigned to a team with the correct gifted teacher if there is a disparity. I haven't encountered it, but I believe that the administration might be open to moving the student to a different team in such instances. I've never heard of it happening though.

Anonymous said...

@Anon 4:44: "Great idea. Take care of 1 side of town first while using more money & resources on that side of town in return for leaving the other side as is? I say that is a deal."

If one side of town uses more money and resources, it's because the schools are big enough to EARN that money from maximizing state funding. This allows those schools to provide many more resources for their students.

The other side of town can also EARN that money, with appropriately sized schools. Why is closing the small schools all bad? If closings permit students to have more access to PE, art, music, language, what's wrong with that?

Plus, other posters have said that some schools with few gifted students do not receive gifted services, or that those services are not of high quality. Consolidation should provide more students, a critical mass of gifted students, which again would be a positive thing.

Consolidating schools should permit choosing the BEST administrators and teachers, again benefiting the students. I would think the south would seize this opportunity of getting attention and focus on their needs.

My kids' school was closed, and we survived. The strongest teachers and administrators were chosen and the overall quality was not reduced.

Anonymous said...

@6:01

What I am saying is:

1. Leave north of Memorial Drive alone as is.

2. Consolidate South of Memorial and spend/use the resources directly on students---not admin, not games or gimmicks.

In return the North leaves the south alone while they fix the problem for the next 2 years or so.

Anonymous said...

@Anon 6:11

Sorry I misunderstood. I guess we agree!

Anonymous said...

Clarkston is NORTH of Memorial Drive. Could we please realize that the Memorial Drive Corridor has it's own set of needs that are being completely ignored?

Anonymous said...

Stone Mountain & Clarkston are to be annexed to south Dekalb.

Anonymous said...

Think of Ponce and the train tracks as a dividing line then.

Cerebration said...

In evaluating the 2010-11 budget, here are the numbers budgeted for comparable schools --

Kittredge - of the 418 students, 268 are labeled gifted and get extra funding. KMS is awarded 6.0 "extra" points (teachers) plus 22.28 points, and .75 special ed points, $31,304.96 for expenditures and $5,715.58 for media.

Briarlake - of the 412 students, 25 are labeled gifted. They are awarded 23.75 points (teachers) and 7.75 special education points.

Expenditures - $34,357.40 and media - $6,170.92.

So, just from this exercise, all things being more or less equal, it appears that KMS gets 6 more teachers than Briarlake (probably due to the extra FTE credit for so many gifted in one school).

Lisa Lee said...

I just read the January 14 comment about the DeKalb TOTY from a few years back being a teacher of the gifted. Well, I am that teacher and at the time of that incredible honor was, indeed, a happy Chamblee Middle School teacher. Thanks so much for the compliment . . . I absolutely LOVED the work I did in the gifted field at Chamblee Middle as well as Ashford Park Elementary. I thought I'd update all of you because I am no longer employed by the DeKalb County School System. I chose to leave DCSS this November when I was offered an amazing job as Humanities Facilitator and Interventionist in Colorado in the Denver Public Schools. I made this very difficult decision to leave DeKalb after over 20 years of working with amazing students and their truly wonderful families, as well as some dynamic educators and administrators. I MISS YOU, but I don't miss the dysfunction that has defined my beloved system for the past several years. I wanted to go on record as saying that I interviewed for SEVERAL positions for which I was highly qualified and which would have given me the chance to have an impact on a much broader group of people - - students, families, and teachers - - but I became very discouraged because it became obvious that since I wasn't part of the 'chosen' inner circle I would never advance in my DCSS career. It was actually a blessing in disquise, because it made this new world I've entered possible. When those doors continued to shut, such amazing ones flew open, and I love the way my career is already flourishing and advancing in Colorado because my expertise is valued by those in the administration building (not a palace!). I would like to say that I have the utmost respect for DeKalb's Dr. Towns-Dixon, both professionally and personally, and think that she is not the issue. The problem is that gifted education is undervalued in the DCSS, and no one - not even someone who is as passionate about it as I - can make much headway in today's climate. I have blogged on the DeKalb School Watch many times as an anonymous contributor, but am now going to PROUDLY join the ranks of Ella, Nancy, Kim, and others and give my name. I am LISA LEE, former DeKalb County teacher. I'll always consider myself part of the DCSS family, for better or worse, because there are some amazing employees and students whom I am so proud to have been associated with. They are the best of the best, and deserve so much more. I so appreciate the time and dedication many of you devote to bringing things to light and KEEPING them there. Lisa

Anonymous said...

Lisa,
You were the most awesome teacher of the gifted I ever worked with. It was easy to see why you were teacher of the year. I guess I haven't looked at your Facebook page in a while. Congratulations on your new job! They are so lucky to have you. I know how much you loved the classroom and your students. It must have been a tough decision to make, but your family is settled and you positively impacted the lives of so many kids in your 20 years in DCSS so it's your time now.

Cerebration said...

You go, Lisa! I'm so happy to hear that you are so happy. I'm sorry for our loss - as you were one of the best and brightest - but Colorado is a wonderful place and I hope you have a wonderful, successful life there.

All the best my friend!

Anonymous said...

Not sure if this has been mentioned but it is also possible to 'game' the gifted system. As an attempt to get more services for their child, those in the know will prep their children to increase their chances of doing well on the tests. We see the same thing for those that can afford prep test services for the SAT and ACT. If you can pay for these things, you can probably get a bump in your score. Who is to say that on a level playing field, those students abilities are equal to those that did not have this financial assistance?

Cerebration said...

I've often told my story of observing the IQ tests given to my child at 5 years old. It made me come to believe that the tests are definitely culturally biased. Culturally as in - Harvard based vocabulary and knowledge.

Examples (out of a page of 4, not well drawn line drawings) the psychologist said, "point to the drill". Ok, I'm thinking, first of all, these drawings are so bad, I can barely tell which one is a drill. Second, children will only know what a drill is if they have had contact with one and been told (most likely by a dad) that this tool is a drill.

Here's another - "point to the luggage". Well, in our familly, we never use the word "luggage", we use "suitcases". So I asked the psychologist if she could use the "other" word. She said no, it's very specific - and the tests come from Harvard, where they use the word luggage.

My favorite though was, "point to the hinge". Now, this drawing was a close up of the side of a door with a hinge drawn (poorly IMO) on it. So, at 5 years old - knowing what a hinge looks like and being able to identify it from 4 lousy drawings makes you smarter than someone else?

I concluded that these tests should be taken very lightly. And I decided then and there to teach my children everything I could myself. Teach them to think and ponder. Teach them to calculate my gas mileage. Take them to plays and the art museum and ball games to teach them about the world they live in and it's vibrant culture. Teach them to care about others. Teach them their basic math facts (you all realize they don't really do this in school anymore, right?)

Dunwoody Mom said...

RFP for the new Chamblee High - to be built for an FTE count of 1600 on the same site.

Yeah, good luck with that...

http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/administration/operations/bids/files2/ChambleeHS/Chamblee%20HS%20AE%20Request%20for%20Proposals.pdf

Cerebration said...

Moving a comment over -

Chamblee MS is listed as having 233 gifted FTE credits and the school is awarded 3.00 extra locally funded points (teachers) for Magnet.

Chapel Hill MS is listed as having 116 gifted FTE credits and the school is awarded 2.00 extra locally funded points for Magnet.

Henderson MS is listed as having 200 gifted FTE credits and the school is awarded 0 extra locally funded points.

Peachtree MS is listed as having 234 gifted FTE credits and the school is awarded 0 extra locally funded points.

Chamblee HS is listed as having 100 gifted students and receives 7.0 extra locally funded teachers for Magnet. Chamblee also receives 1.0 federal funded ROTC point AND 1.0 locally funded ROTC point.

SW DeKalb HS is listed as having 32 gifted students and receives 6.0 extra locally funded teachers for Magnet. SW also receives 1.5 federal funded ROTC point AND 1.5 locally funded ROTC point.

Lakeside is listed as having 116 gifted FTE, but receives no extra points (except 1.0 for federally funded ROTC).

Druid Hills is listed as having 24 gifted FTE, but receives no extra points (except 1.0 for federally funded ROTC).

This is my problem with the "high achiever" magnet -- schools like Henderson, Peahctree, Druid Hills and Lakeside have more gifted points but are missing the extra magnet points-- the magnet points are funds by local dollars. Either the magnets need to be done on the same funding formula or they need to be dropped as it is not fair to the kids in the other buildings --including SWD.

Cerebration said...

If you would like to see the allotments for gifted points for each DCSS, download the 2010-11 budget from on the DCSS website -

Check it out for yourself - search "Briarlake" or any other school you're interested in to see the FTE and points credits.

2010-11 Approved Budget


If you want to strictly look at the school allotments (points) then download this doc

School Allotments

(All of these are found under superintendent - budget items accessible on the DCSS home page.)

Cerebration said...

However, we have found enormous discrepancies between the DCSS budgeted and reported numbers for gifted students in DCSS schools - vs - what you find reported as numbers of gifted students for those same schools at the state DOE website -

The Governor's Office of Student Achievement lists gifted students:

Click the link above. Choose a school, select Demographics, and then Selected Programs.

The numbers posted here, (232 at Oak Grove, 67 at Hawthorne, 571 at Chamblee Charter High School, 225 at Southwest DeKalb High School), are much more in line with what posters have observed.

The Vocational students are also listed on the Governor's site and are significantly larger than those listed on the DCSS budget site.

Cerebration said...

I compared both sources - here's a random sampling of numbers of students identified as gifted (funded at 1.6 FTE each) -

Briarlake - DCSS reports 25 - GA reports 139
Hawthorne - DCSS reports 0 - GA reports 67
Oak Grove - DCSS reports 45 - GA reports 232
Atherton - DCSS reports 2 - GA reports 18
Clifton - DCSS reports 0 - GA reports 32
Fernbank - DCSS reports 45 - GA reports 208
Austin - DCSS reports 70 - GA reports 161
Livsey - DCSS reports 34 - GA reports 106
Evansdale - DCSS reports 18 - GA reports 193 (39%)
(+2 locally funded FTE points for magnet)
Kittredge - DCSS reports 268 - GA reports 396 (95%)
+6 locally funded FTE points for magnet)

Lakeside - DCSS reports 116 - GA reports 393
(and 862 in vocational labs)
Dunwoody - DCSS reports 95 - GA reports 371
(and 564 in vocational labs)
Tucker - DCSS reports (not listed?) - GA reports 133
(and 489 in vocational labs)
Chamblee - DCSS reports 100 - GA reports 571 (38%) (and 564 in vocational labs) (+7.0 extra magnet FTE pts)
SW DeKalb - DCSS reports 32 - GA reports 225 (12%) (and 771 in vocational labs) (+6.0 extra magnet FTE pts)

Not sure why these numbers are so different. We have someone who has volunteered to research the ES data. Anyone willing to take on the MS or HS?

Anonymous said...

I heard a rumor that DCSS points were "being left on the table" by the "strong schools" that would never, ever leave "points on the table" -- the allegation being that the points came in from the state and the principals, who are trusted to use the points, were never told about them. This chart showing the differences in gifted points makes me wonder if this is some of where the "extra" points and money is coming from and then makes me wonder where the money is going. Someone says "follow the money" and in DCSS it seems there's always some money trail to be followed...anyone know enough for some authorities?

Dunwoody Mom said...

I'll take the Middle School and High School data. I assume we want the Gifted totals by MS and HS, GOSA counts, DCSS counts, local points earned for each?

Cerebration said...

Thanks DM - that sounds great.

Dunwoody Mom said...

Looking at the allotment sheets, the only ones getting local points for gifted are the magnets. For all others the gifted points are part of the normal allotment. Does that sound right?

Cerebration said...

No - I think the gifted allotments are the same - they are in the top box and go left to right. The magnets get a boost of (locally funded) points simply because they are magnets. It's doesn't have anything to do with gifted points. Although, the mantra to defend the costs of the magnets has always been that they get more funding due to the fact that they serve a larger percentage of gifted in one building... But really, the additional funding is for "magnet" status - not gifted.

Cerebration said...

The thought has to cross your mind - could it be that some of the points for the gifted earned in regular schools are being used to fund the locally funded boost in FTE for the magnets? I certainly hope not.

Anonymous said...

well we always knew that it was a drain, but surely not like this! Thanks DM and Cerebration for digging - I just have to know

Cerebration said...

Well, we're still digging. We'll bring more to a special post when we have gathered all the info we can.

Anonymous said...

Not sure what the values on the DCSS sheets mean. They don't make sense. I know I've talked to the gifted office about the distribution of students at my local school and the number that they noted is not what is included in the budget.

Either the value means something different than the # of students in that category, or someone has misreported these values. Either way, it equates to a lack of funding for services, and for the most part, these services are least likely to be provided where they are most needed.

Anonymous said...

can whoever had the info on the state coordinator for gifted ed, please re-post that info so that maybe DM and the person tallying figures for Elementary school can maybe contact the state person to verify numbers and figures if they are up to doing so for more complete information? Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Annette Eger
Program Specialist for Gifted Education
1766 Twin Towers East
205 Jesse Hill Jr. Drive SE
Atlanta, GA 30334
(404) 657-0182
(404) 651-8582
aeger@doe.k12.ga.us

Great information about what should be happening at this site:



For those who think that it is not important to address these kids needs, particularly if there are just a few of them at a school, consider that the state codes classify these kids as special needs. The county MUST provide services to them and oversight to ensure that services are provided and adequate.

Furthermore, local districts are required to review and revise the curricula for gifted students annually. Anyone know where to find the county's report about such a review?

Anonymous said...

To you all. Thank you. Thank you so much.

Anonymous said...

Just FYI: There's an interesting couple of presentations, including funding formulas and required strategies, found in the lower right hand corner of the state's webpage for gifted education.

http://public.doe.k12.ga.us/ci_iap_gifted.aspx

Cerebration said...

Excellent info, Anon 11:09.

Everyone interested, please go to the website above and download the 2 presentations in the box over the Gifted logo at the bottom right of the state DOE webpage.

Interesting tidbit from the first one -

State Law:OCGA 120-2-152 SPECIAL EDUCATION SERVICES(http://www.legis.state.ga.us/cgi-bin/gl_codes_detail.pl?code=20-2-152)
Relevant excerpts include:(a) All children and youth who are eligible for general and career education program under Code Section 20-2-151 and who have special educational needs shall also be eligible for special education services…..Special education shall include children who are classified as intellectually gifted …..

Anonymous said...

This website: http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/~MuenchP/information.gifted.delivery.asp

describes the various delivery models. Cluster grouping is supposed to be used at my child's school, at least that is what the principal says. When I question the classroom teacher, she laughs and asks me if I have ever tried to differentiate a class of 26 kids from "can't read" to "gifted" and then document the gifted offering. I can't blame the teacher 100% since the principal obviously doesn't care, either. Oh, and the county coordinator doesn't care, either.

Anonymous said...

DCSS is clearly not following up with the schools. The Gifted coordinator for the county has no idea if or how local schools are meeting state law requirements. I have said this repeatedly. I do not think that principals understand that this a state requirement. And the county is doing nothing to education them and/or ensure that appropriate programming is occurring.

Anonymous said...

sorry for the typos

Anonymous said...

Perhaps if the Gifted Coordinator was certified in Gifted or had ever taught a Gifted class, she would be more sympathetic. Only in DeKalb.

Anonymous said...

@ Dunwoody Mom, Why do you hate Chamblee HS so much. Dunwoody has a new ES, MS & HS. Why can't Chamblee have a new school. To the person talked about us in the north having $400,000 homes not very many homes in Chamblee are worth $400,000. I bought mine for $150,000. There are lots of inexpensive appartments and condos around the area to. Right next door to Chamblee is one. We are not all rich and spoiled up here. I am against consolidation. Why to people keep wanting to punish us in the north. I would not want hardship on any one. We are hard working parents just like every one else. I have 4 kids at 3 diffrent schools. I have magnet and non magnet, special ed. I work full time. I volunteer as much as I can. I dont know why these schools are failing in the south but I do know why my kids schools do well, parents. We work hard to make them what they are.

Why does any one think that consolidation of the magnets will work any way. Why do we want 1 super school. We need to have more schools with magnet tracks. What makes the magnet schools work so well? Parents & teachers dedicated to make it work. I dont belive it will be the same if we move and consolidate the magnets. In all honisty the magnet program will loose a lot of teachers and families and will take years to recover.

Anonymous said...

Chris Vance is a lawyer who sues school systems for failing to meet the special needs of children... anyone not being served properly may want to look into forcing the issue ... the kids are entitled to a proper education. There are other lawyers who have similar practice areas (maybe 4 or 5 of them.. it's a small bar).

Anonymous said...

No matter where they draw the lines, no matter who they hire, fire, promote, no matter what canned program, no matter how much technology you throw at the schools
the belief public schools can solely and adequately prepare your child to succeed is ridiculous.

Leaving the education of your child solely to the public school system is setting your child up for failure regardless of your ethnicity, religion, or sexual orientation!!!

Education needs to start and end at home! For JHC sakes, just imagine how much easier it would be for a teacher to teach even in kindergarten when the entering class as a whole, is reading ready and not a class of totally blank slates, freshly reformatted and in many cases, absent an operating system that can't even manage directing the child in the simplest of civil behaviors!

Jim Bohica Ben Dover

Anonymous said...

These programs bgin the process of preparing minority students from disadvanted home for an ivy league education in middle school and high school: Prep for Prep and A Better Chance. Has anyone heard of them? Has DCSS ever worked with them? Taken any cues from them? Harvard takes from them....PrepforPre.org: "Once accepted into the program, Prep for Prep students must complete a rigorous 14-month course of study to prepare them for independent school success. Once placed, Prep offers support services and leadership development opportunities that foster our students’ success at whatever they choose to pursue. Prep students pursue their dreams with determination, purpose, and a clear sense of social responsibility."
Or abetterchance.org? "Since 1963, A Better Chance has been opening the door to educational opportunities for thousands of young people of color in this nation. Our mission is to increase substantially the number of well-educated young people of color who are capable of assuming positions of responsibility and leadership in American society. We carry out our mission through our signature College Preparatory Schools Program (“CPSP”), which annually recruits, refers and supports about 500 A Better Chance Scholars at more than 300 of the nation’s leading boarding, day and public schools."

Anonymous said...

DCSS has lost another great teacher, Ms. Lisa Lee. It is so sad to know that with her expertise, she was denied positions due to the fact,she didnot belong to the Family and Friends Plan. This is so typical of why great teachers leave the system.
Hopefully, SACS and Ms. Tyson will honestly review interview sheets and applicants file and see why so many great teachers are not given positions. But, the south end of the county still just dont get it. Even after reading the article from the teacher at SWD, teachers undercover knows he is speaking the truth.

Anonymous said...

I beg to differ about the south end of the county not getting it. As with any geographical location, some do, others don't!
I am a former employee of DCSS. After realizing that advancement was very limited if you were not a member of the friends and family group, I moved on.Race did not make a difference as it happened with blacks and whites. Do you really think that the ones who do the hiring are going to make all applicants' files available to SACS? Of course not. I have seen so many qualified people not even given interviews and the most incompetent ones get the positions. Totally disgusting! These same departments strangely pass the audits by the Federal government! Hence, these audits should be more than what is on paper because they are going to make themselves look good. Speaking of friends and family, has anyone cross-checked to see how many central office staff who were "let go" had positions created for them in another department? Human Resources with excessive staff should be held more accountable. All applications should go through the highly paid head of Human Resources. , then forwarded to the various department heads. After the person is selected, the department head should put in writing why a lesser qualified person was chosen over the more qualified person. Conferences should be held if questions exist.While this may be a simplistic checks and balances process,it is better than what seems to be in place.It definitely won't work if the head of HR is not objective and is himself part of the friends and family group. There have been questions on this site as to why the head of HR could get this position with minimal experience.

Anonymous said...

It seems as if DCSS has a "unique" way of funding gifted ed ... they take our gifted students and apoply per student to the state -- the state funds them "per student" with some constraints in place on how gifted studens are supposed to be educated, but without IEPs ... The county takes the gifted funding, puts it into a "pot" and redistributes it by convertint the funds into points -- no other systems convert the gifted funds into points. The other systemn seem to leave the state gifted funds as hard dollars that go to the schools where the gifted children are. This is why there may be these gigantic disparties between the numbers of gifted kids being reports by schools on the DCSS charts and the state charts ... the schools are being shorted the gifted funds by the county in the conversion of the dollars into points. It could be because the gifted coordinator is not gifted certified. It could be that this is how DCSS has "found" the extra money to actually fund the extra teachers and points for programs at DSA and KMS and CMS -- if the schools with the gifted kids actaully received all of their gifted money, those schoools could all be strong and have programs just like the magnets but instead schools like HMS and LHS have been receiving schools under AYP and apopear to have been short-changed on their gifted funding by the County.

Anonymous said...

Henderson has at least 500 gifted kids so the chart really isn't right.

Anonymous said...

My understanding is that principals get funding for gifted students if teachers have the gifted certification. The more gifted certified teachers a school has, the more funding they receive. The entire formula is a mystery to me and makes no sense.

Many principals will only hire gifted certified teachers, as this brings more funding into their school. Whether the teachers do things for the gifted students is another matter entirely, as anyone can write anything up to make it look like these kids are receiving something special.

I believe that this is what is probably happening in schools where there are no gifted classes and parents are being stonewalled.