Friday, June 24, 2011

2011 Test Scores

In comparing standardized test scores, one has to be careful. I am generally not fond of comparing one grade level one year to the same grade level the next year. It isn’t the same children, and really doesn’t tell you very much. However, I do think that more global comparisons can be helpful.
In looking at DeKalb’s CRCT scores and wanting to show the big picture, I decided to compare our progress against the state’s progress. For example, in 2010, our 8th grade reading scores resulted in DCSS ranking 138th on the Math CRCT. Well, this year, though the percentage passing stayed basically the same, we now rank 154 out of 179 systems. And this is what should be troubling, even where we gain; we are losing ground as compared to the state as a whole. For purposes of this blog piece, I am using the data from grades 3, 5 and 8.
On the CRCT, Social Studies scores improved in almost all grades, though in grades 5-8th, the pass rate doesn’t hit 60 percent. Science scores are also weak and in 8th grade barely one out of two DeKalb students met or exceeded standards. Most changes in scores, whether they were increases or decreases, were very small, probably rendering them statistically insignificant either way. While we have to be careful not to expect too much too quickly, as that can have unintended consequences, DCSS needs to be doing better. We are being passed by school systems with far fewer resources.
Thanks to the regular School Watch contributor who prepared the charts below comparing DCSS' pass rate with the other metro systems. As you can see, we had the lowest pass rates (indicated in red) in almost every grade level in reading, ELA and math. Thanks to Clayton County for apparently not even trying in the non-AYP subjects of science and social studies.
Next week, I will post similar data from the High School Graduation Exam. The trends are similar in that even where we improve, the rest of the state is improving faster.
The take-away message is for people who think things are really ok in the DeKalb School System, they clearly are not. For our elected officials who choose to turn a blind eye to the state of academic achievement in DeKalb, shame on you.

169 comments:

travelingjoe said...

Thank you for these sobering statistics. I also wondered how many of the students who "Pass" fall in the exceeds category. And is the number of students in the exceeds category increasing or decreasing and how does this compare to other urban school systems with similar demographics?

resident2012 said...

The programs, the coaches and the C&I leadership have lost the battle. If DCSS was a corporation that needed to satisfy its shareholders there would have be widespread housecleaning done by the board of directors. Bowen needs to offer the public some response to this overall failure. If not I think there needs to be a recall effort.

Stnuocca said...

Let’s stop the hypocrisy of the pro and con DCSS for a moment here and think.

The sin of most or all urban school districts is that they accepted that poverty, the prime factor for low achievement, could be neutralized by good teachers.


Having accepted that, they are incapable of making any sustainable or reproducible progress no matter what remedy is used WITHOUT curing poverty.

The medical profession does not play those games. It tells it like it is. To wit, this cancer article:

Cancer death rate gap widens based on education

http://yourlife.usatoday.com/health/medical/cancer/story/2011/06/Cancer-death-rate-gap-widens-based-on-education/48536566/1?csp=34news

Since poverty and education are so intertwined, do any of you good bloggers suppose that the oncologists will be beaten, berated, or humiliated for the poor outcomes of their uneducated patients? No!? You and I will blame the non college graduate cancer victims as the cause of their own doom. That is actually the right and fair thing to do while we try to change that by increasing the numbers of college graduates (real degrees--not hollow ones!!)

If not, why is it different for teachers? It is different because careers, high income, and prestige are built on these lies at all levels.

I accuse most of the county, state, or federal professional educators of pandering to MANIPULATED public opinion while commanding huge salaries knowing full well that they have a mission both impossible and illogical.

Stnuocca said...

To be clear DCSS is perpetrating fraud when they are using one program here, one program there, for a year here, for two years there. It's all misdirection to pull the rabbit out of the hat (rabbit=academic improvement). The "real" administrators know it is a game---and so do the politicians!

I suspect if any principal, school district, or state said "&%%%#@ that"---We are not participating in these games and you measure your academic progress and report your AYP as you wish---We will teach students and let that speak for itself---this silly silly game would end.

themommy said...

I would think that the purpose of the cancer/education research was actually to spur public health officials into examining the differences and coming up with a solution. My friends in public health would certainly agree that the solution to the problem cannot only be to have a more educated population.

There is absolutely no easy solution when it comes to the challenges associated with educating poor children. However, is it wrong to expect DeKalb to do at least as well as Clayton and Atlanta?

2010-2011 FRL Rates:

DeKalb -- 70%
Clayton -- 82%
Atlanta -- 76%

Marietta City had 66% FRL -- look at their scores compared to DCSS.

Stnuocca said...

In the case of Atlanta Public School, the rabbit was cheating and cover-up in high stakes testing.

Of course, the Bill Gates, W., Ted Kennedy and others had their guilty private or PSINO ( or public school in name only)conscience assuaged that they were offering "private" education to the poor!

Stnuocca said...

@themommy

They live in Marietta!

I rather my son went out on a date with a "free & reduced lunch" teenager from Marietta than go on a date with a Dekalb "free & reduced lunch" teen. Without being too ugly, the odds are that the Marietta teen would at least be on birth control.

Poor people live everywhere, of course! The poor people who live in Marietta and Gwinnett have reliable cars....DCSS & APS kids do not need cars with MARTA.

We can't even compare districts because there is CHEATING and MANIPULATION of scores. I assume the richer districts do it better any way.

My accountant can do my tax in such a way that you'd wonder how the heck I pay my mortgage in 303XX zipcode!

Cerebration said...

@Stnuocca - I have -- and others have - many times stated on this blog that low performing schools and poverty go hand in hand and that you can't improve schools without addressing the issue of poverty... However, isn't that what Title 1 was supposed to address? We have had several posts lately addressing the nearly half-BILLION Title 1 dollars spent in DCSS in the past 5-6 years... with sore little positive results. Seems most of that money was used to beef up the "jobs" program for adults --- leaving the children still in the lurch.

Stnuocca said...

@Cere

I feel that we (you and I) are pretending that Title 1 money is a cure. It is a bandaid. Properly administered, it
would do "some"---only a small portion of good!

So berating Bahamas Berry for this failure of increased scores is not fair. It begets more programs and more charlatans (charlatans=any DATA DRIVEN superintendents! period!)

I blame all the politicians, all of the gun-for-hire superintendents, all of the Bill Gates of the world for creating and encouraging conditions and scenarios for the Lewis, Berrys, and Beasleys of Dekalb County to play their games while earning millions!


I want to live in a County where these folks would say no to these games and teach as best as they can!

Stnuocca said...

Did we just hear the Mayor of the great city of Atlanta say that because of the Beverly Hall cheating controversy, donations (DONATIONS!!) to the Atlanta Public Schools have fallen drastically!!!

My God, we want our public education to be like Sweden, Luxembourg, or Japan but we running it like a charity!!!

Is our the national public education of the United States to function as a charity depending on donations (often with poison pills!)??

Stnuocca said...

Nothing cracks me more than when urban district claim that they have X-numbers of Gates Millennium Scholars!

If available to wealthy students Westminster, Lovett, Galloway and Paideia would 200 hundred Gates Scholars!

And what is the label of a Gates Scholar? Poor but smart? Poor but self-educated?

But what is the message to society? See---it's not about poverty, it's about good teachers!

Never mind that the teacher who inspired the 1 Gates Scholar from Slumville High School also taught 10 future prison lifers!!

So how do we on one hand praise this teacher the scholar and on the other blame him/her for the lifers?

You've got some 'splaining to do!

Kim Gokce said...

Stnuocca, try as I might, I have not been able to follow your reasoning regarding Gates Millennium Scholarships.

Can you elaborate on your thinking? I am not sure where you're coming from on this point. My experience is that the Gates and similar efforts are specifically trying to ensure against what you observe - that Westminster, Lovett, etc. would have the overwhelming majority of recipients if the awards were not reserved for financially weak, minority students who achieve at a high level.

I think it is easy to under-estimate the intensity of the natural segregation that takes place in our society and educational systems (public and private). As a practical matter, I suppose it boils down to whether or not one believes that we should minimize, exaggerate, or ignore this dynamic.

The private schools you mention struggle to recruit minority students in significant numbers even when financial aid is available.

Why do you think that is so?

Just this week, Coca-Cola Foundation announced a major award to Wesleyan to help them recruit minorities via financial aid. I think the reason why major institutional non-profits are subsidizing minorities' access to higher education is not because they are minorities - I think it is because they are more often poor and "under-represented" in many areas of our society.

Sadly, poverty most often begets poverty and wealth most often begets wealth. Of course, there are exceptional cases but I think the generalizations above are well founded.

atl said...

@Stnuocca
Public education is the ONLY way to break the poverty cycle. Do not dismiss half of a billion dollars on Title 1 funding by saying it will only produce a "small" improvement. Half a billion, targeted property can have a huge impact.

Not every child in a Title 1 school needs small group instruction, but the rate of Students with Disabilities (that's the group that ALL school systems have a hard time seeing adequate yearly progress with) is higher in low income schools. They account for many of the discipline problems and take up an enormous amount of the regular education teacher's day dragging down the scores of many of the other children. High pupil teacher ratios is ruinous for classrooms that have a high percentage of Students with Disabilities. This relatively small group of students needs a low pupil teacher ratio in the regular ed classroom with a competent teacher, double dose math and/or reading with individual or small group instruction by a competent teacher skilled in reading and/or math instruction, access to WORKING technology (a great way to engage students and provide individualized instruction at the level they are on), and a clean and safe environment.

DCSS upper management has not asked teachers what works with these children so that the money can be spent in an efficient and effective manner. Until DCSS upper management talks to teachers and designs programs based on their input, they will continue to fail our students.

I agree that Dr. Berry does not shoulder all of the blame. In addition to Dr. Berry who is the Executive Director of the Office of School Improvement, her supervisor Dr. Beasley must take some responsibility, and Ms. Tyson who has overall responsible for student achievement needs to be accountable. Finally, the Board of Education has the responsibility to ensure students are learning to read and write given the funds they allocate and the fact that they hire the superintendent.

The reason you have seen Dr. Berry's name so often connected with declining student achievement is that she was promoted to the position of Executive Director of the Office of School Improvement 6 years ago. Therefore, she is the one constant in terms of using the hundreds of millions in federal funding to narrowly target those students who are not achieving at grade level. Dr. Beasley and Ms. Tyson have only had their positions for a year.

The approach the county has used pretends every student in every Title 1 school is below grade level. This is not true - it is tracking at around 30% of our total school population (somewhat higher in Title 1 schools). Why not use this money to specifically address those children's learning needs? The programs that target everyone in the school (Parent Centers, Instructional Coaches, Books written by DCSS personnel, bought with Title 1 funds and distributed to all students, conferences for Central Office personnel, etc.) simply are not working. But don't give up on these kids. They can learn and achieve. Look at other school systems with similar populations.

Look at the way Marietta City performs with a student base that is very similar - although somewhat poorer and with more students classified as Students with Disabilities has handled their federal funding. Look at their student achievement. Our students are not different or deficient. Being poor does not mean you can't learn

Stnuocca said...

@Kim & Atl

We are in agreement that title 1 moneys can help if properly administered. We disagree that it is properly managed.

I am arguing that it will continue to be mismanaged by Berry and those who follow her (as it is in Chicago, Philadelphia...etc...) as long as the public has these warped miraculous expectations about teachers, students, testing..etc.

These expectations are the "cover" that allows the charlatans and their staff to thrive. In some cases, these charlatans impede under a great cover of PR and hoopla (for example Beverly Hall of APS).

With more realistic expectations and pressures, I think more logical and thoughtful deployment of resources could achieve better results.

Going back to Gates and others, it is clear that a "disadvantaged" student at Wesleyan has a better shot at a future because of the ENVIRONMENT of Wesleyan, Lovett, Westminster...etc.... That better shot is not a consequence of the TEACHERS of Wesleyan, Lovett, Westminster...etc....It is a consequence of the PEER ( other students) interaction that changes the mindset and the expectation of the disadvantaged student now at Wesleyan. It is also a consequence of being liberated from the IMPOSSIBLE expectations of the urban public schools.

If Gates gave $1 000 000 annual paycheck for 5 years with $500 000 retirement to all of the Lovett teachers and staff and placed them UNDER the current rules, resources, and pressures in the McNairs of Chicago, Dekalb, and Detroit WITHOUT any other change, we'd soon see that it is NOT teachers that is the problem.

Stnuocca said...

CORRECTION:
We are in agreement that title 1 moneys can help if properly administered. We AGREE that it is IMproperly managed IN DEKALB.

YES---WE SHOULD GET RID OF ALL THE COUNTY ADMIN---but I am afraid that we will replace them with a mirror image from elsewhere because these guys have their clones in Chicago, Dallas, etc...

Sagamore 7 said...

A further look at a school by school breakdown of DCSS schools will be available from the State DOE the week of July 4th.

I think the creation of a Title 1 Parent/ Teacher (PTA?) Task Force would be helpful. Something needs to be done for the kids NOW!

We could meet with each Principal at each Title 1 school, address the schools needs, determine the best solution for their specific situation and implement the program.

Our elementary school didn't make AYP last year (We're not Title 1) and the PARENTS took responsibility for the LACK of SUPPORT from DCSS and volunteered various forms of support for the kids that needed the help.

Early AM tutoring in math for the student population. Most of these kids rode the bus and were at school for their free and reduced breakfast. We have a captive audience and offered math tutoring every day to these kids.

On weekends we went out into community and offered on site tutoring with volunteer teachers and parents. We had determined where a majority of kids lived and went to them. Not just parents and teachers but the honor roll students from the feeder high school offered support to the ES students also.

I am excited and nervous to see the results from all the hard work we put in the past school year to help the kids who needed it the most.

This is a PRIME example of a community taking responibility of THEIR school and helping EVERY child within the school.


My point about the Title 1 Task Force is this is also a prime example of what the "Office of School Improvement" should be doing and is lacking.

Our Title 1 tax dollars are being spent on ineffective programs and services. I'm sure there is some impact on the needy but there has not been a measurable impact that has benefitted the kids that we have seen.

Trenton Arnold is the Executive Director of Accountability and Assessment for DCSS. He is in charge of publishing the individual school results for DCSS when they are released by the State DOE. (I wonder what else he is in charge of with his title? Accountability?)

I will make sure these results are posting for review, examination and ACTION!

Have a great weekend!

S7

atl said...

@Stnuocco
"We are in agreement that title 1 moneys can help if properly administered. We disagree that it is properly managed."

No disagreement from me on that point. DCSS has not properly managed Title 1 money. It has become a piggybank for whatever the Central Office wants to fund.

No one who has taught in low income areas (most of my experience) expects miracles. But miracles are not as dependable as properly allocating these funds so students receive more direct instruction by competent teachers in small groups that allow for individualized instruction.

Clearly, the upper management in DCSS is not capable of managing these funds in an efficient manner. Resources need to flow back into the physical classrooms at DCSS, teachers at the classroom level need to be involved in the decision making, and programs that aren't working need to be discontinued.

Kim Gokce said...

"@Kim & Atl

We are in agreement that title 1 moneys can help if properly administered. We disagree that it is properly managed."

I haven't made one statement about Title I funding and its management (mis-?) in DCSSS.

I'm still wondering what you make of my question about why our area private schools cannot seem to recruit significant numbers poorer, minority students even when financial aid is offered?

Also, I still do not understand your messages about Gates Millennium Scholars. Having worked closely with a few such individuals, my take is that they are incredibly talented, motivated, and high achieving young people that accomplished much by their own dedication and via the support of excellent faculty in every case I know.

From what I have seen, the main point of the Gates is to pluck from relative obscurity individuals who are worthy of the praise and investment. And while there is no disputing that there are potentially more high academic achievers in our area private schools (I think that is part of your message??), by their very (general) condidtions these are individuals who do not live in obscurity. Nor are they individuals who (generally) lack for recognition, networking opportunities, and financial resources to apply to their education at will.

The Gates purpose is to open doors to these same opportunities to equally worthy individuals who otherwise (generally) do not even know these doors are out there. Gates is as much a leadership development initiative as it is a fund for academic scholarships.

Sorry to harp on these points but I am trying to understand your concern about theses programs.

Kim Gokce said...

Stnuocco: "It is a consequence of the PEER ( other students) interaction that changes the mindset and the expectation of the disadvantaged student now at Wesleyan."

I want to make sure I understand this point, too, as it sounds very important to me. What is the mindset of the disadvantaged student before and after being among Wesleyan peers?

I know this is hypothetical but I think it will illuminate the discussion.

Kim Gokce said...

S7: "Trenton Arnold is the Executive Director of Accountability and Assessment for DCSS."

Very interesting ... Mr. Arnold was the first DCSS principal I met when I started volunteering and advocating for CK area schools. He was the principal of Sequoyah MS and he was immediately transferred to Stone Mountain MS (I think) my first year.

He was considered a super-star for his elevation of Sequoyah MS performance and I believed he was moved as a "turn around" principal. My brief interactions with him were very positive. Sad for the kids of DCSS that he is now in an office out of the school house now.

Cerebration said...

I think that is a problem - promoting good principals out of the schoolhouse. No one in the central office (except maybe the Area Supers, CFO and Superintendent) should earn more than a principal. This should be "the" job sought after in a school system - "the" most respected job in the school system - because (along with quality teachers, who are hired by quality principals) these are "the" people who impact the education of children the very most.

Stnuocca said...

@Kim,

I hate writing in this box. Here it is. The main reason Slumville High School is failing is its population ( and all that it entails) not because of the talents or lack thereof of the teachers.

If you take a kid or 2 out of Slumville High and place said kid(s)at Wesleyan, you remove the "all it entails" part. They become pseudo middle class and gain the advantages the Wesleyan population.

But there is a "tipping" point---I don't know what it is...

If Wesleyan were to pick up more than a certain percentage of disadvantaged kids then Wesleyan would suffer a possibly negative social change. If that happened, advantaged black and white parents would remove their kids from that school because they are actually trying to avoid these social issues for their kids.

To be very blunt and ugly as an open minded flaming liberal, if I invited 90% of disadvantaged (financially, linguistically, socially.....etc...) kids to my son's 10th birthday party at an Ice Skating rink the results for my advantaged child would be much different then if I only invited 10%, right?

Stnuocca said...

<>

EXACTLY! But this will never happen. How can any administrator command a salary north of $100 000 a year if that is all it took to improve? And you and actually know that is ALL it takes to improve incrementally and over a period of time.

The current atmosphere is providing cover for the type of people running our systems....the "reformer for $300 000 per year superintendents". This is not neurosurgery!

Stnuocca said...

Kim,

You are a true prince of a man!

I respect the Gates Scholars and I am very proud of them.

The issue I have is that they serve as poster boys for what Slumville High School can produce if it has more great or caring teachers. That is the seed-thought that is planted.

Likewise when we offer as example the few Slumville High kids who made it into the Westminsters and actually succeed there to further beat up on the Slumville High teachers of the nation.

By the way, do we know how many of the Slumville High kids don't measure up at Westminster?

FieldsGrove said...

What a pitiful performance! When will our entire BoE recognize that new leadership is needed NOW to clean house in DCSS and renew our commitment to actually serving the children in Dekalb county? We have plenty of bright children, involved parents, and dedicated teachers. What we lack is instructional leadership who will take the necessary steps to utilize resources effectively and cut the waste in our bloated central office. When those steps are taken, we can improve teacher morale by eliminating furlough days, restoring salaries, reducing class sizes, and supporting teachers’ efforts to create well-disciplined and engaging classroom environments.

September said...

There are some big differences between private and public education. First, a child who attends a private school is guaranteed a spot in a class of well-behaved students. Children who are disruptive are not tolerated and are asked to leave if they don't conform. Private schools don't lower their standards. Most private schools have the students wear uniforms. That means that the scholarship student looks just like the student whose parents donated the gym. Teachers might be able to identify the scholarship students, but most of the students won't.

All of these things make for a very different school culture. When you place an at-risk student in a middle class/private school environment, that student steps up and meets the standard. Look at it this way. The student wants to fit in, so if all of the other students are reading this student will do the same. You learn your math facts because you don't want to have to admit that you can't do algebra because you can't multiply.

Can we do this in a public school? Yes. You really need good leadership in the school building and you have to promote a school culture that encourages academic achievement.

I think that one of the major differences that I've seen between DCSS and Gwinnett is discipline. Another difference is the way that staff development is handled. Finally, we need to stop the "acting white" accusations that are made against minority students because they are doing well academically in school.

Cerebration said...

I think the private school debate is not relevant here. Only about 5-7% of all students in GA attend a private school. We really should compare other public systems - here and in other states that do a better job. Why reinvent the wheel all the time? Why not just adopt a curriculum from say, Massachusetts and find a good leader from somewhere else and give that leader permission to do the job...

September said...

Connecticut and Massachusetts have good schools, there is no doubt about it. Their programs are expensive and there is a lot of local control. School systems New England are generally small. Every community has its own elected school board. In my hometown school board members are unpaid. There are regional school systems, but they are also small. They actually have school board meetings where the community weighs in on things like whether to reassign a teacher from one building to another.

My mother-in-law used to have a sign in her kitchen that read, "It's hard to get rich in a small town, everybody's watching. " Believe me, most New Englanders would not allow what is happening in DeKalb schools to go on for very long.

dundevil said...

@ September
One would think that DCSS would swallow its (misplaced) pride and ask Gwinnett for some ideas, suggestions, and help. After all it is, or it is supposed to be, "for the children".

Differences between DCSS and Gwinnett
(I am going to take the heat for this one)
A superintendent and BOE of a certain ethnicity not favored by certain of the DCSS BOE members. It probably is the same for the administration.

The Gwinnett School system superintendent, BOE and administration seem to have educating children as their core business and not creating good paying jobs for mediocre (or no) performance and pursuing personal agendas as in DCSS. Gwinnett will decline just as DCSS and APS did as the minorities take over the positions of power. It is just a matter of time.

Anon said...

My sister-in-law is a teacher in New Orleans. We argue about things. She's adamant that a key factor in education (her kids have been enrolled in public schools in Georgia, Massachusetts and in Louisiana and in private schools in all 3 states) is the quality of the underlying education of the teachers themselves and the development they get along the way. A while back a teacher posted a really inteesting comparison of what Los Angeles did for teacher continuing ed that was vastly different than DCSS in allowing and encouraging teachers to take sumemr classes at a masters degree level in their field -- what they were teaching. I believe that there in an overall lack of really educated and well trained teachers within DeKalb -- don't get me wrong and don't throw too many rocks -- we have had our share of truly amazing teachers -- many of whom were trained under the British system in the islands or in London. Not too many of them were trained here. Many of the poor ones were trained locally. I've heard stories of teachers-to-be being afraid of Auburn because it was going to be too hard. It's high time we get our acts together and treat teaching as a profession and expect our teachers to be well educated, to speak and write English well and maintain their training. Then we need to allow them to teach reasonably sized groups of kids with appropriate resources and with creativity and without all of the BS by supervisors that aren't any better educated than they are. The supervisors need as much or better educations and at least a decade of experience doing the job that they are overseeing. And, yes, Cere & Kim G, the principals need to the bighest paid ones in the system. No bonuses to flee to administration -- this is about eduating kids so the money needs to be where the educating is taking place.

themommy said...

Auburn's education program is competitive, students are selected for it, you can't just opt in.

It is highly respected.

Ask any former DeKalb teacher who has gone to work for Gwinnett what one of the biggest differences is and they will tell you that it is professional development. They way content is delivered and the expectations of teachers is very different than DeKalb.

DeKalb would never bother to look at Gwinnett because Dr. Lewis and his staff had always believed that they know everything.

Fred said...

Anon, you have a point! A few years ago, the talk was having a "highly qualified teacher" in every classroom. That was because everyone realizes that is where the rubber meets the road.

I agree with many of the comments made by Stnuocca. I spent several posts attempting to explain to atl that Title 1 (with $37 million dollars spent on it in the 2010 school year. The half a billion figure that keeps getting tossed around represents all Federal dollars over 5 years which are NOT for Title 1) comes with regulations and mandates as to how the money can be spent. While the Fed sets the regs, they originate from citizens that want to make sure the money is spent a certain way. Blaming the program administrators for doing as the regulation specifies is not productive, especially since it ultimately provides resources for the students.

If the only measure you are looking at is AYP, which is flawed in itself, you are not being fair. Have you asked a teacher in a Title 1 school if the resources provided from Title 1 has provided any benefits yet are not demonstrated yet on standardized tests?

How is this for productive, suggest a modification to the regulation that specifies how long a program can be implemented before changing it if no measurable results are realized? If you did this, you might have a situation where you are changing programs every 3-4 years and never getting any traction.

Cerebration said...

I think you are exactly right, Anon. The teacher you have, along with the make-up of the students in the classroom, will make or break the progress the group in that room makes in a year. Oak Grove once had this wonderful, experienced third grade teacher. She was loving but firm and focused. When she retired, the third grade test scores dropped. Nothing else had changed.

I hate to say it, but I've never been thrilled with the quality of teachers coming out of UGA... Georgia State seems to be a better job. One of the best teachers I've encountered came from Vanderbilt. The teacher training at the college level really needs to improve.

We also need administrators with more classroom experience - and technology leaders who are up to date and can train teachers every semester on how best to use software and Promethean Boards, etc.

I would even say that in DeKalb, we need more social workers and family counselors. The Parent Centers aren't getting to the core of the problem. These families need stronger intervention and help. You can't lay that on the teachers. It's up to the administration and support to create a strong foundation, an environment conducive to learning and strong support for teachers and discipline in order to allow them to get the job done. If we provided the very best environment and support, we would attract the very best teachers.

themommy said...

Fred

Title I money comes with regulations but systems have lots of options on how to utilize it. DCSS has chosen a top down approach, Gwinnett has chosen a bottom up approach.

DCSS use to have a bottom up approach. A few years ago, DCSS had to return upwards of a million dollars to the feds because the money never got spent. Dr. Lewis became embarrassed and switched the chain of authority with Title One monies. Of course, no one was fired or held accountable. All schools were treated the same.

America's Choice works best when you have a strong principal at the helm of the school that understands how to really use the program.

DCSS has many weak principals who really understand little about instruction and school management.

This is the part of the problem.

Fred said...

@themommy, technically you are correct but what many don't seem to understand is the process of HOW the money ends at the local school. In collaboration with the local school improvement teams (a Title 1 regulation), recommendations are made as to how to use the Title 1 money for that particular population. This is typically done as a part of the School Improvement Plan (another regulation that must be submitted for review and approval).


Guess who are the members of the local school improvement team? Principals, Teachers, and Parents. These are the stakeholders for the local school. That's where you want your decision making to take place. The Title 1 coordinator ensures that the plan submitted meets the regulations of Title 1 and approves the release of the funds. Given DCSS has over 90 Title 1 schools, why do people still want to insist that someone sitting in the central office would know the unique needs for each Title 1 school?

Accountability begins at the local school for instruction. If the right teachers are not there, the principal is accountable. If the right principal is not there, the area superintendents are accountable. If the right area superintendents are not there, the superintendent is accountable. If the right superintendent is not there, the BOE is accountable. If the right BOE members are not there, the citizens are accountable.

This has been my point all along. Accountability exists with everyone.

dadfirst said...

Fred's point about the School Improvement Plans is a valid one. How many of you have actually reviewed your schools CSIP? Each schools plans can be found on the school system website. Take a few minutes out of your Sunday afternoon and peruse these documents, along with the individuals on each school's council.

Here is the link to the list of each schools CSIP:

http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/school-improvement/consolidated-school-improvement-plans

themommy said...

You are right about the school improvement plans -- sort of.
We have mostly very weak principals in DeKalb and when they are told to jump by central office people, they generally ask how high?

Most DeKalb schools have teachers that are afraid to speak up, so America's Choice has been implemented pretty widespread without much input from teachers.

I know that some teachers like it and I know that some parents believe it helps. But most schools aren't going to opt out because their principals won't say no.

Our system currently pretends to know what is right for each school -- and that is a huge part of the problem. Dr. Beasley can't seem to think any other way so all schools, whether they have a 50 percent pass rate on the CRCT or a 95 percent pass rate are subject to the same dictates.

atl said...

@ Fred

I see you are "Blogging for Berry" again. I hope she appreciates your efforts.

Everyone who works for DCSS knows Title 1 funding expenditures is "top down." Very few funding decisions are made at the local level. America's Choice was chosen by the Central Office and consumes $8,000,000 of Title 1 funding. If a principal doesn't elect to use America's Choice, it's not like he/she can take the money and use it for science and technology equipment or for tutors or a Title 1 Reading or Math teacher for struggling students. It's not like that his/her faculty can come together and make decisions on that money.

When Title 1 money is left over, Dr. Berry has made decisions on programs brought to her from Language Arts and other coordinators in the Central Office. Look at the disastrous Read 180. Millions spent at the request of the Language Arts coordinators and yet the Central Office personnel didn't do their homework, didn't realize Read 180 needed it's own servers in the schools, and the program lay unused for a year since there was no money for the critical technology servers. All anyone in the schools could do is shake their heads and say what a waste of millions - all Central Office decisions.

What if a principal does not want a $100,000 a year "Instructional Coach" (we spend $10,000,000 a year on the "coaches") - many do not - they have told me they need teachers - not another coach. Can he/she decide to pay a regular teacher for that responsibility with a teacher's pay. No - the "Coaches" are all hired by Berry and paid by the Office of School Improvement.

What if a principal does not want his/her parent involvement to be through Parent Centers (most are not certified teachers and have no experience in the field of education) - these Parent Centers cost DCSS $4,000,000+ in salary and benefits. They are paid more than teachers. If a principal wants to use retired teachers or para professionals for his/he schools' parental involvement (an option under federal guidelines). He/she and his/her faculty cannot make the funding decisions. They are stuck with whoever Dr. Berry has hired and placed in his/her school. The Parent Center "Coordinators" do not report to the principal so he does not even give them their evaluation.

Top down is the way it is in DCSS although DCSS has tried to portray it otherwise.

Fred said...

@themommy,
"We have mostly very weak principals in DeKalb and when they are told to jump by central office people, they generally ask how high?"

You won't get many arguments on that. I'm old school and believe the best principals come from the classroom. Good principals are those that have been in the classroom at least 10 years and have demonstrated good judgement while serving in leadership capacities. They are truly the instructional leader for a school because they have walked the shoes of a teacher and can share experiences. They get respect because of this. They are firm but fair in their decisions. They do much more than manage their school, they actually lead. Not everyone good teacher is cut out to be a principal.

I get frustrated when I see someone that has been in the classroom for less than 5 years and take leadership classes, with the hopes of becoming an AP the following year. How can someone like that mentor their staff if they've only been in the classroom for a few years. Simply taking a class does not make one a good leader.

As Dadfirst said, citizens should look at the School Improvement Plans, perhaps even volunteer to be on the team for that school. Simply criticizing central office staffers for releasing funds and ensuring they are spent as the regulations specify is not productive or fair. I'm not aware of any situation where positive change is made by making false statements and encouraging the accused to disprove them. Positive change is made by understanding how the process works, evaluating it, then making continuous improvements as more information becomes available. I believe everyone now calls this making "data driven decisions".

atl said...

@ Fred

Until accountability is placed on the people at the top (Berry of the Office of School Improvement, Beasley as the head of Curriculum and Instruction, Tyson as Superintendent of DeKalb Schools, and the members of the Board Of Education), DCSS student achievement will continue to decline.

How ludicrous to suggest that the people managing the school system and the educational process have no responsibility or accountability!

At some point they need to put on the "big boy pants" and take responsibility for their actions. The teachers have taught exactly how they were told down to the scripted learning systems that are Springboard and America's Choice.

Teachers did not make the decisions to have 30+ to a class while cutting, consolidating and outsourcing was taken off the table in order to ensure jobs preservation for the admin and support side.

Teachers did not ask for scant and non-working technology. The decisions for purchasing the ActivBoards was made in MIS and presented to the BOE by Ms. Tyson. AFTER the decision was made, principals were given the right to place the boards where they wanted (and even that was a struggle since the Central Office coordinators argued that they needed to decide what teachers got these boards). Principals did not decide on the number of computer labs or how many computers per classroom. That was an MIS decision. If you have 2 teachers side by side and one doesn't use computers and the other does, a principal cannot even move the computers from one classroom to the next. The classroom that doesn't use them just lets them collect cobwebs while the other teacher tries to get along with the 2 student computers he/she was allotted.

Teachers did not make the decisions to teach in trailers because upper management in DCSS was so sloppy and inept with SPLOST money.

This is the reality in our schools and to suggest otherwise is simply attempts to obfuscate the issue.

Compare DCSS to Marietta Schools. They have basically the same demographics and poverty level, etc. as DCSS. They have been very successful with student achievement. It starts at the top, yet DCSS's leadership wants to "hide" in the shadows and blame parents, teachers and students - anyone but themselves.

Fred said...

@atl, actually there are MANY employees in DCSS that are appreciative that accurate information is being shared rather than simply throwing stones. This information that can be cross referenced and validated.

I could care less whether you personally like Dr. Berry or anyone else in the central office. At least make sure honest information that can be backed up is provided. For someone to suggest that the SIP teams at the local schools have no say in the instructional programs is ridiculous. That is to say that teachers have NO input in that which is NOT TRUE. Do the decisions have 100% support of the teachers in a school? Probably not but I bet it is done by a majority with the principal having the final say.

You can ignore the regulations in Title 1 but it won't change the facts, everyone is accountable. That has been my point from day 1.

themommy said...

Fred

It is the DCSS Central Office that is responsible for the quality of principals in DeKalb. When America's Choice came back to DeKalb, teachers were not asked their opinions.

By the way, I have served on the School Improvement Plan at two schools both multiple times. My children attend schools were most parents are educated and even then it is hard for parents to want to participate in such an undertaking.

I have read many school improvement plans and suspect that at many schools, parents sign their names without being clear on what they are signing.

I have had the displeasure of working with several weak principals and the experience is horrible. They refuse to stand up to the central office even when they know what is being asked of the school is wrong.

A few years ago, the central office asked that non- Title 1 schools have their PTAs pay to mail report cards. Are you kidding me? Not one principal said no, but you better believe that the PTAs rose up and pitched a fit.

Our bureaucracy is a mess. Excusing their behavior isn't going to make them better. It is really damaging the children.

themommy said...

Also, we use to have Title 1 reading and math teachers in each Title 1 school. I am unclear if we still do.

I understand the Title 1 rules, especially as it pertains to staffing.

Marie said...

You amuse me, Fred. You really do. By and large the posters to this blog are not late to this party: they are the parents who have served on committees to create school improvement plans, on county-wide task forces aimed at improving status quo, and on principal selection committees. These are folks who know their way around DCSS and when the teacher can't solve it and the principal can't solve it, they've taken their issues to a higher pay grade. And there, they find a BoE member or administrator who will smile and nod (or in the case of Gene Walker, tell you off) and things will proceed as they've been. Certainly parents, teachers and administrators are culpable in in the decline of Dekalb schools. But ADMINISTRATORS at the top set policy, enforce it, and hire the educators to deliver instruction. And it is these administrators (as so many posters are trying to explain to you) who are deciding to spend copious amounts of money on salaries for individuals who are not qualified for the roles they're in -- i.e. coaches and parent center supervisors. The most salient question is this: if the student population of Dekalb schools is unteachable, the parents untrainable, because of abject poverty, then why do schools with similar demographics (Marietta, Clayton, heavily-Hispanic areas of Gwinnett) perform so much better?

Fred said...

@Marie, are you reading the same blog? Are you really saying that people have posted accurate information regarding how various processes work? Even when I posted links to information that contractadicted it from the State government?

I believe higher ups in any profession get too much credit when things go well and too much blame when things don't. Whether anything works is based on the ground troops. You could have the best strategy but if your ground troops don't buy into it during the implementation, it will fail. Yes, there must be training to ensure success and higher ups should be accountable if that is not properly factored into the plan.

If Johnny can't read, is it because of someone in the central office, the principal, the teacher, the parent, Johnny or the citizens? I say all are accountable.

themommy said...

Where do you see in Title 1 regs that DCSS has to buy prepackaged programs? Instructional Coaches?

Can you show me that?

I believe that federal and state mandates require having central office staff that "serve" those programs. I understand that. Cities that accept federal funds have the same issues. The GA Dept of Education actually shows the funding source (federal or state) for each of its positions.

I hold DCSS bureaucracy responsible because for the last decade or more there has been a huge slide in the quality of principals. Mostly because those with connections got the positions over better qualified people. I think longest serving high school principal is at something like 7 years. Are you kidding me? There are whole school clusters with every elementary school principal having less than 5 years experience as a principal.

This is not a healthy situation and it has been created by the ineptness of the central office.

A great ass't principal in our community just left for Fulton. It is a real loss but he will be happier in Fulton.

themommy said...

Additionally, the higher ups in DCSS have turned a blind eye to the reality of many of DCSS' lower performing schools. By instituting programs, rather than simply requiring solid teaching strategies, smaller class sizes and great instructional support, the bureaucrats have ignored the fact that some DeKalb schools have 50 percent teacher turnover a year. (This turnover has been mitigated by the economy, though Gwinnett just announced they are hiring 500+ teachers.) This means that training, for something like America's Choice, is complicated and complex.

Fred said...

@themommy,
"Where do you see in Title 1 regs that DCSS has to buy prepackaged programs? Instructional Coaches?"

It does not say DCSS has to buy prepackaged programs. This is merely one of the options available that DCSS chose. Look at the earlier blog where atl and I were going back and forth. Georgia is a part of the Common Core Standards and AC is one of the resources that can be used in conjuntion with this.

AC is merely a set of "Best Practice" that can be applied to help both teachers and students. What type of evaluation period is needed to determine effectiveness given DCSS has used this for 2 years?

Title 1 regs say that 10% of funding must be set aside for Professional Development. DCSS chose the IC model with a "Train the Trainer". ICs are senior teachers (formerly called master teachers in earlier iterations) that work with teachers in need of assistance at the local school. ICs take their direction from the principal, the individual that should know the strengths and weaknesses of their staff.

Be careful in how you pass judgment on what model works and what does not. It is fair to say over time, DCSS has tried every model and has insight as to where they have gotten the most bang for their buck. Simply hiring additional teachers is good IF they are all highly qualified and know how to work with poor children.

Just because a teacher is successful in a middle class school where most students have two parent households does not mean they will be successful in low income schools where most children live in single parent households or with grandparents. Just because you spend additional money through Title 1, it doesn't mean you will see results you expect. Remember, Title 1 has been around a long time. If it were that easy, someone would have come up with the model that should be used across the country.

atl said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Fred said...

For anyone that is interested, you can find the regulatons at:

http://www2.ed.gov/programs/titleiparta/legislation.html

Let me forewarn you, we are talking about the Federal Government and it can be difficult to follow. Because of the mix of Title 1 schools that DCSS has, including some that have consistently failed over the years, rules regarding how the money can be used for those is more confusing.

See section 1118 regarding Parental Involvement policies. See section 1119 regarding Professional Development. How many of you knew that Private schools receive Title 1 money? In summary, there is a LOT to Title 1 that most don't understand, even teachers that have been employed for many years.

atl said...

@ Fred

Go to the AJC and compare the scores at DCSS and the other metro systems.

Please compare the Title 1 "pass rates" between similar schooAYP l systems.

Please compare schools like Marietta City School System that is almost identical to DCSS in demographics, Economically Disadvantaged and Students with Disabilities. Now compare Marietta student achievement with DCSS.

The information comes directly from the state of Georgia DOE website and the links have been published here many times. Do you need them again? Surely, the Central Office has access to this data since they give the data to the state.

atl said...

@ Fred
The Central Office does not deal in true data analysis with respect to moving students forward. They collect data and may even analyze it, but they do not know enough pedagogy or have enough classroom experience to use it effectively for students. Dr. Beasley, head of our entire Curriculum and Instruction Dept., has 3 1/2 years of classroom teaching experience in the mid 90's (do you need a link to his online resume?) Ms. Tyson has 2 years as a Business Ed teacher in the late 80's.

The data decisions that the Central Office has made have not been implemented effectively. For example, Ms. Tyson as head of MIS made the recommendation several years ago to purchase a new $11,000,000 SDMS (Student Data Management System) and eSIS to gain real time data regarding student mastery of concepts taught.

Central Office coordinators were pushing for a more comprehensive SDMS in order to meet NCLB SDMS requirement. In other words, NCLB said/said teachers should be provided with real time data assessments throughout the year to show which students were not mastering specific concepts. The purpose was to streamline the instructional feedback process so it would be timely, would take the burden of laborious paper and pencil assessments from the teachers, and allow them to harness technology for formative assessment. In other words,the instructor in the classroom should have real time data analysis as to which students know how to do double digit multiplication and which ones do not, which ones are having problems with division with a remainder, etc. This should allow teachers to individualize instruction and allow for more efficient grouping of students.

The way SchoolNet and eSis should work is that benchmark tests should be taken by the students on computers (10 minutes to spot check who knows the skills that were taught during the last learning unit), analyzed within hours, and delivered to the teachers' desktops that very afternoon in a usable format. That's what we call formative assessment from a SDMS, and that's what Schoolnet and eSis were supposed to be.

Since DCSS never had the computer access for students, Dr. Beasley required students to "bubble in" the answers with paper and pencil, and then required teachers to "scan" in hundreds of answer sheets. What a 1950s way to gain student feedback!

Ms. Tyson and the Central Office should not have tried to implement a system that required student feedback without abundant student access to technology. They never should have put the time consuming burdens of "bubbling in" on students and "scanning in" hundreds of papers every 6 weeks on teachers. Ms. Tyson and Mr. Hunter should not have recommended this $11,000,000 expenditure until all the details were worked out. But they never took the time to analyze the situation in the classrooms before making this decision. This comes when you have scant classroom experience and are too removed from the schoolhouse.

$11,000,000 in taxpayer dollars and countless hours of student and teacher time completely wasted.

BTW - I don't know Dr. Berry or Dr. Beasley. I've heard Ms. Tyson speak, but don't know her personally. Results are all taxpayers are interested in, and results have been lower for DCSS than comparable school systems

atl said...

@ Fred
"It is fair to say over time, DCSS has tried every model and has insight as to where they have gotten the most bang for their buck."

That sounds like:
We didn't know what to do so we spent a staggering amount of taxpayer money to try everything. Now we know and will try in the future to choose what works. We're really not to blame. Give us another chance.

Meanwhile, many, many DCSS students have lost their educational opportunity and will never regain it. They should have been in the Gwinnett or Marietta or Rockdale school systems for a better chance to achieve content mastery. No wonder so many people are upset in low performing schools in DeKalb where they are underwater in their mortgages and they can't move.

It will be interesting to see how many high school make AYP this year. Does anyone know if that data is out yet?

Fred said...

@atl, do you know why DCSS had to purchase a new Student Information System? The old one was at end of life and no longer could be supported by the original vendor. This information was also split across two systems, one for elementary schools and one for high schools. Whether or not you like eSis as the tool, something had to be done. DCSS made mistakes with respect to not enough teacher training and not having enough powerful machines to run the application. As those issues were addressed, the number of problems went down. Did you hear as many issues this year with eSis as you did in year 1?

It should be noted that people that are "change adverse" tend to complain a lot. Many teachers are known as change adverse, especially if they have a routine that has worked successfully for them for many years. This is not to say they were not justified in many cases but it should be noted.

It should also be noted that before DCSS purchased a new student information system, they solicited feedback from the community and staff. For some reason, that fact gets lost in many postings.

Regarding Ms. Tyson, I'd prefer to have someone more experienced as the interim superintendent, especially once the BOE recognized her tenure was lasting longer than expected. She has provided some stability and citizens should be appreciative of that. At the same time, we should remember that the primary mission of the school system is to educate children. I question whether she has the strongest people in instruction to help with that mission.

See atl, I'm fair but balanced.

Anon said...

Fred -- please take a look at the websites for Gwinnett Title I schools -- they post their Title I budgets "front and center" -- the paerents and their community all have input. There is alot to be said for "ground up" input to what the community within the Title I school needs to comply within the parameters of Title I funding. Dr. Berry has had 6 years to prove herself. DCSS' CRCT scores are horrible, particlulary when compared to systems with similar demographics -- DCSS is absolutely failing its students and the way DCSS allows its Title I funds to be spent (compared to systems like Gwinnett and Marrietta) is front and center as part of the problem. These are our federal "tax dollars at work" and these are our future citizens lives on the line. If these children do not get their educations, they will not be productive citizens in society in 10 years. Where will they be? On welfare? At McDonalds? In jail? In the military? Just how many options will they have as we continue to allow Dr. Berry and Dr. Beasly to fail them with our top down methodlogies with their lack of overall teaching experience in these very high and very powerful positions over so many tens of thousands of children. Meanwhile our most talented teachers and administrators on a local level are indeed leaving for better environments -- wouldn't you? But the children? Those who can't go private, they don't have those options.

Stnuocca said...

@ATL 11:52AM

Your 11:52AM post is dead on! No mistake there.


I will argue that the exuberant and illogical need/desire of public and politicians to "turn around" schools and lay blame on school systems is the root cause of creatures such as Beasley and Tyson....

@ATL 11:51AM Comparing Marietta's disadvantaged groups (immigrants, ESOL, or free and reduced lunch) makes no sense. There is a reason that these folks CHOSE to live in Marietta----to avoid the Clayton, APS, and Dekalb population. I suggest that these families decided on higher rent in return for a better education. Lastly, Marietta is a small district with far fewer administrators and room to shelter incompetence.

Stnuocca said...

"Did you hear as many issues this year with eSis as you did in year 1?"

YES.

My friends tell me

1...that eSIS was fielded with all the conveniences and graphics of WINDOWS but had to be downgraded to a MS-DOS like speed and graphics. We paid for 2011 Dodge Caravan instead we have to drive a 1990 model.

2...They stopped complaining because 2 or 3 years did not help.

Fred said...

@Anon
"please take a look at the websites for Gwinnett Title I schools -- they post their Title I budgets "front and center" -- the paerents and their community all have input."

Coming soon to the school's website. Be on the look out for this. Also look out for Parent Center usage stat's. All as a means of making this more transparent. This is one of the positive recommendations that came from this blog. On the flip side, once you have this data and can calculate the allocations based on the student population, how can you make suggestions unless you know the students?

atl said...

@ Fred

"...do you know why DCSS had to purchase a new Student Information System? The old one was at end of life and no longer could be supported by the original vendor."

I know all about the AS 400 and its limited lifespan. But SchoolNet was very, very expensive. Its main reason for being expensive was/is its powerful data analysis tools. That's why DCSS went with this system versus any other system. eSis is part and parcel of the set-up. The coordinators in the Central Office wanted the ability to access data analysis throughout the school year, and the formative assessment piece sounded just perfect to align with NCLB goals.

The payment set-up for SchoolNet was to be 4 years. We've been paying millions a year in scarce taxpayer dollars for Schoolnet and eSis (we're paying on the installment plan), and we still don't have the increasingly necessary formative assessment benefits other systems have with this Cadillac simply because MIS and the Central Office didn't do their homework. They are disconnected with the realities of technology that is needed in the schoolhouse (and is not there) to support so many of their decisions. Taxpayers are tired of tax dollars being used for programs and non-teaching personnel who in the end are causing an unprecedented decline in student achievement.

Real time student data analysis is critical in today's educational environment. Other school systems are providing this critical data to teachers in a timely and easy manner. Not DCSS. We are behind the times and will continue to remain so until new management produces a new way of thinking. Teachers cannot do anything about the lack of technology or data analysis that they would like to have. Remember - coordinators and coaches don't instruct these children. Teachers do - they need the technology and data analysis to make "turn on a dime" decisions in instructional delivery to reach students who do not master concepts. No one has asked teachers what data they want, when they want it, and in what format they want it.

atl said...

@ Fred
"Coming soon to the school's website. Be on the look out for this. Also look out for Parent Center usage stat's. All as a means of making this more transparent. This is one of the positive recommendations that came from this blog."

Why should it take a community blog to make this common sense decision? This should have been in place for the last six years since the Parent Centers were established ($24,00,000 later).

Parent Centers must be directly linked to student achievement. If we're going to spend scarce dollars that could be used to decrease class sizes and hire teachers to work with small groups of struggling students (two moves that we KNOW will improve student mastery of content), then Parent Centers need to show the data that is directly linked to student progress. We cannot afford programs taking resources from the classroom that do not pay for themselves in terms of student achievement data.

Stnuocca said...

"Real time student data analysis is critical in today's educational environment. "


This is bunk! This is just an excuse for software/tech companies to make a dollar off public education.

Real teachers KNOW what their students KNOW.

To buy this education nonsense, you have to suspend reality! We might as well start equipping the police and sheriff with scanners to detect the vampires and werewolves of True Blood.

Fred said...

@atl, please tell me you understand that for major capital procurements by school systems, you understand that payments are usually made over a term since they may not have the entire monies up front? Please tell me you are not making a point about this but merely wanted to mention it. You do recall with SPLOST III, the district issued a bond to be paid back with future SPLOST revenues since "today's dollars" are usually better than tomorrow. I see this as standard operating procedure more than anything else.

You have a problem with investing in a logitudinal student information system to provides visibility to student records from the parents to those at the central office? I don't recall being able to do that with Making the Grade.

Again, this has only been implemented for two years, with much publicized bumps in the road. What type of analysis do you think one should be able to make now, this early in the implementation? Again, it seems like you have some unrealistic expectations regarding when the data can be used to make analysis.

Like Stnuocca, we have a lot of students from poor families. The Title 1 money is not the end all to curing the needs of poverty. Yes, it provides breakfast, lunch, and additional instructions resources for the child but they still have to go home. We have GREAT teachers in DCSS but there are some things that even the best teachers cannot overcome.

Tell you what atl, come up with the cure all for poverty and we can market it around the world. Title 1 does help but it is not the end all to curing the problems many of these students experience daily.

Remember, about $37 million dollars was allocated to DCSS through Title 1 Part A for about sixty thousand children for the school year ending 2010. That is about $617/child. You seem to have the answers, what would you do with that?

Fred said...

@atl,
"Parent Centers must be directly linked to student achievement. If we're going to spend scarce dollars that could be used to decrease class sizes and hire teachers to work with small groups of struggling students (two moves that we KNOW will improve student mastery of content), then Parent Centers need to show the data that is directly linked to student progress. "


tsk, tsk, tsk. Again you are showing your lack of knowledge about Title 1 regulations. If you look at section 1118 of the Title 1 regulations, you will see that for the parental involvement component, you receive the funds IF you have activities like this. If you don't, you don't receive the money. You don't swap if for something you think provides greater value.

Too bad you think that helping poor families learn more about helping their children is not a necessary component expediture. Why do you think this is a part of Title 1?

Finally, it you want a change like this regulation, take it up with the Feds. Seems like I said that earlier to you....

Stnuocca said...

@Fred:


I hope that you are not suggesting that Dekalb County is taking everything provided by Title I monies regardless of merit/applicability?

I suggest that perhaps the indirect expanded mental energy and the indirect dilution of focus by top management as well as the direct counter-productivity of unneeded programs degrade achievement.

Stnuocca said...

"Real time student data analysis is critical in today's educational environment. "


Does the County office or principals really need to know that 5 third graders from Mrs. Smith class can't spell words ending with XYZ if Mrs. Smith is aware and is re-mediating the problem? Specially that it cost Mrs. Smith about 1 hour to input the entire class to yield this PRECIOUS data?

DATA DRIVEN= CHARLATANS

Fred said...

@Stnuocca,
"I hope that you are not suggesting that Dekalb County is taking everything provided by Title I monies regardless of merit/applicability?"

Actually I was explaining to atl how this allocation works. I actually believe Parent Centers provide value, have merit, and are a part of the solution. You should visit the one at Clarkston and see the parents taking advantage of the resources. I've attended a Microsoft class at another one and found it helpful. atl seems to believe they don't yet cannot quantify this belief.

atl, have you been to any of the Parent Centers and seen it for yourself? Not just one visit but over a period of time? I have and found that parents took advantage of it. I went to one that also provided GED training for parents. I wish more parents would take advantage of them but happy for those that do. I guess I don't understand why you believe they provide no value.

atl said...

@ Fred
"tsk, tsk, tsk. Again you are showing your lack of knowledge about Title 1 regulations. "

Title 1 is supposed to level the playing field for students in Title 1 schools. Parental involvement can be done many ways.

Posters, go to http://www.open.georgia.gov/

Look at the state Salary and Travel audits for other school systems. Look at the terms Parent Coordinator or Family Facilitator. They are using certified teachers or in many instances (e.g. Clayton Co.) certified paraprofessionals - none I could find use uncertified personnel - especially ones related to BOE members (present or past) and high ranking DCSS managers.

atl said...

@ Fred
"You have a problem with investing in a logitudinal student information system to provides visibility to student records from the parents to those at the central office? ....
Again, this has only been implemented for two years, with much publicized bumps in the road. What type of analysis do you think one should be able to make now, this early in the implementation? "

No problem with longitudinal studies as I have seen many school systems who have had very effective Student Data Management Systems in place for many years. I do have a problems with your recollection of dates of purchase and implementation.

See BOE notes below that we purchased SchoolNet in 2007 and we still haven't received the benefits Mr. Hunter promised taxpayers:

"DCSS BOE meeting notes (6/8/2009):
“Rationale: The application was launched in 2008. Currently it is providing principals and administrators with real time data such as standardized test scores and student demographic data. Pilots are underway which provide the pilot teachers with student section data and benchmark assessment results grouped by class/school. Loading exercises are underway which will ultimately result in availability within the application of curriculum resources (lesson plans & weblinks) aligned to the Georgia Performance Standards.

Quick Summary / Abstract Presented by: Mr. Tony Hunter, Director, Management Information Systems
Details: This application was approved by the Board of Education on December 20, 2007 and the approval (RFP 8-12) included a five-year payment schedule with required annual BOE approval. Future payments are as follows:

December 20, 2007 $1,600,000.00 completed
July 1, 2008 $1,600,000.00 completed
July 1, 2009 $1,600,000.00 current request
July 1, 2010 $1,058,383.00 future
July 1, 2011 $ 927,350.00 future
July 1, 2012 $ 464,003.00 future
TOTAL $7,249,736.00”

“Goal #1 - To narrow the achievement gap & improve the graduation rate
Goal #2- To increase rigor and academic achievement in Reading/Language Arts, Mathematics, Science and Social Studies in Pre-K Mathematics, Science and Social Studies in PreK-12
Goal #3-To ensure quality personnel in all positions
Goal #4-To ensure fiscal responsibility in order to maintain safe and healthy learning environments” "

"BOE meeting Notes (7/20/2009):
“Mr. Tony Hunter, Director, Management Information Systems, recommended that the Board of Education approve the purchase of up to four hundred printer\scanner units to support the roll out of the new Benchmark\Assess module from SchoolNet, Inc., at a cost of $189,364.”"

Add in the $4,000,000 for eSis which was a corollary for SchoolNet.

Do you think DCSS taxpayers will ever see the attainment of the educational goals Tony Hunter listed above?
Where are the objective measurements to know if these goals are met?
Where are the administration’s benchmarks?
Will anyone ever be responsible for ensuring this system provides DCSS students with these benefits? Where is the accountability?

atl said...

@ Fred
"You have a problem with investing in a logitudinal student information system to provides visibility to student records from the parents to those at the central office? ....
Again, this has only been implemented for two years, with much publicized bumps in the road. What type of analysis do you think one should be able to make now, this early in the implementation? "

No problem with longitudinal studies as I have seen many school systems who have had very effective Student Data Management Systems in place for many years. I do have a problems with your recollection of dates of purchase and implementation.

See BOE notes below that we purchased SchoolNet in 2007 and we still haven't received the benefits Mr. Hunter promised taxpayers:

"DCSS BOE meeting notes (6/8/2009):
“Rationale: The application was launched in 2008. Currently it is providing principals and administrators with real time data such as standardized test scores and student demographic data. Pilots are underway which provide the pilot teachers with student section data and benchmark assessment results grouped by class/school. Loading exercises are underway which will ultimately result in availability within the application of curriculum resources (lesson plans & weblinks) aligned to the Georgia Performance Standards.

Quick Summary / Abstract Presented by: Mr. Tony Hunter, Director, Management Information Systems
Details: This application was approved by the Board of Education on December 20, 2007 and the approval (RFP 8-12) included a five-year payment schedule with required annual BOE approval. Future payments are as follows:

December 20, 2007 $1,600,000.00 completed
July 1, 2008 $1,600,000.00 completed
July 1, 2009 $1,600,000.00 current request
July 1, 2010 $1,058,383.00 future
July 1, 2011 $ 927,350.00 future
July 1, 2012 $ 464,003.00 future
TOTAL $7,249,736.00”

“Goal #1 - To narrow the achievement gap & improve the graduation rate
Goal #2- To increase rigor and academic achievement in Reading/Language Arts, Mathematics, Science and Social Studies in Pre-K Mathematics, Science and Social Studies in PreK-12
Goal #3-To ensure quality personnel in all positions
Goal #4-To ensure fiscal responsibility in order to maintain safe and healthy learning environments” "

"BOE meeting Notes (7/20/2009):
“Mr. Tony Hunter, Director, Management Information Systems, recommended that the Board of Education approve the purchase of up to four hundred printer\scanner units to support the roll out of the new Benchmark\Assess module from SchoolNet, Inc., at a cost of $189,364.”"

atl said...

@ Fred
Add in the $4,000,000 for eSis which was a corollary for SchoolNet.

Do you think DCSS taxpayers will ever see the attainment of the educational goals Tony Hunter listed above?
Where are the objective measurements to know if these goals are met?
Where are the administration’s benchmarks?
Will anyone ever be responsible for ensuring this system provides DCSS students with these benefits? Where is the accountability?

Stnuocca said...

What does Mr. Hunter know about testing or tracking student achievement? How did he come to Dekalb schools?

Did he come like many others selling something and ended up staying?

Fred, you seem in the know.

By the way, I am told the scanner/printer devices Mr. Hunter speak of for benchmark are protected like the "enigma" code breaker of WWII----unless it is benchmark (every 6 weeks) it takes a veritable Seal Team 6 of teachers to use during hours of darkness! Is that true, Fred?

atl said...

Stnuccoa
yes - The company that sold DCSS it's fiber optics network.

Stnuocca said...

I see.

And this fiber optic network needs eSIS and IDMS...

And eSIS and IDMS needs students...

And students needs teachers...

Really!

Once again, you see the filthy hands of profiteers taking advantage of national educational landscape as wrongly portrayed by media and sky is falling crowd.

atl said...

@Stnuccoa

There's nothing nefarious about the DCSS computer network. DCSS's data network runs the Internet and Intranet for all of the schools and administrative offices. All school systems have data networks.

Mr. Hunter's lack of background in education is a problem when he recommends programs that have student achievement progress as their goal. That's what happened in SchoolNet, eSis, and many of the other technology programs teachers have not seen work well for their students. Teacher input - particularly Grade level and Content Area teacher input - needs to be a part of every Central Office and MIS decision. That is not happening now. It needs to.

themommy said...

Also, the fact that Hunter and those who came before him, never consider the sad state of teacher's computers and internet networking in our school buildings speaks volumes.

atl said...

Regarding SchoolNet, here is the press release dated December, 2007. DCSS has not seen the ROI in terms of student achievement we were promised for $11,000,000 of taxpayer money:


"Board Approves New Data Management System

In a 6-0 vote, DeKalb County’s Board of Education approved the proposal to purchase the SchoolNet Instructional Data Management System (IDMS).

The SchoolNet Instructional Data Management System (IDMS) is a centralized, open, content neutral solution that provides:

• Student Data Management and Reporting

• Curriculum and Instructional Management

• Benchmark Assessment Management and Administration

• Communication and Collaboration

• Professional Development Management

The application has the ability to capture and report real-time data from a role-based perspective. Using IDMS, teachers will be able to report and capture data at the classroom level, principals at the school level, area superintendents from a group level, the central office administrators, and Board of Education members at the district-wide level. Additionally, SchoolNet will enable administrators, educators, and parents/guardians to analyze data, assess performance, individualize instruction, align curriculum with current Georgia DOE standards, track professional development, and manage communication and collaboration.

“We are very excited about implementing this web-based Instructional Data Management System (IDMS) that will help us transform our data analysis from retroactive to real time,” said Ramona Tyson, Associate Superintendent of Management Information Systems. “IDMS will provide DeKalb's teachers and administrators the power to make data driven decisions to better individualized instruction in an technologically advanced and fresh way that will undoubtedly help DeKalb build more efficient educational programs, thus, positively affecting student achievement.”

SchoolNet will create a cohesive framework for data management in DeKalb County School

System (DCSS) and will take the place of aged standalone systems. This IDMS will be implemented using a seven-phase process that includes preparation, discovery, design, building, qualifying, deploying, transforming and the ultimate launch phase.

More information about the Board of Education’s approval of SchoolNet for DCSS can be found at http://www.gsbaeboard.org/cgi-bin/WebObjects/eAgendaDekalb.woa.
"

Money spent for student achievement, and then when student achievement declines, DCSS upper management wants no accountability. The only thing DCSS upper management does not want to spend money on is the classroom.

Here is a link to the press release:
http://www.schoolnet.com/corporate/NewsEvents/NewsDetails.aspx?NewsID=136&NewsEvents=Press+Releases

Marie said...

Fred, Fred, Fred.
I'll say again: we want efficacious programs. Parent Centers that ASSIST FAMILIES would be a great asset. In fact, I suspect this is what the feds WANT Title 1 funds used for. But in DCSS, they are wholly ineffective, except to the degree they employ well-connected, unqualified relatives of highly-placed administrators. So - the notion that DCSS is following the "rules" you continue to articulate it pretty laughable, isn't it? And let me ask one more time, on behalf of atl, themommy and the rest of us: how do you explain the achievement in other schools in other counties with demographics similar to Dekalb? You haven't really addressed this. So call Dr. Beasley or whomever is giving you your talking points and ask him to spin a good yarn to explain that.

atl said...

See this press release regarding the $11,000,000 SchoolNet and eSis purchase. Upper management makes decisions on spending the money, but wants NO accountability when those decisions don't give the ROI they promised. All slick talk and poor results.

Weblink:
http://www.schoolnet.com/corporate/NewsEvents/NewsDetails.aspx?NewsID=136&NewsEvents=Press+Releases

"Board Approves New Data Management System

In a 6-0 vote, DeKalb County’s Board of Education approved the proposal to purchase the SchoolNet Instructional Data Management System (IDMS).

The SchoolNet Instructional Data Management System (IDMS) is a centralized, open, content neutral solution that provides:

• Student Data Management and Reporting

• Curriculum and Instructional Management

• Benchmark Assessment Management and Administration

• Communication and Collaboration

• Professional Development Management

The application has the ability to capture and report real-time data from a role-based perspective. Using IDMS, teachers will be able to report and capture data at the classroom level, principals at the school level, area superintendents from a group level, the central office administrators, and Board of Education members at the district-wide level. Additionally, SchoolNet will enable administrators, educators, and parents/guardians to analyze data, assess performance, individualize instruction, align curriculum with current Georgia DOE standards, track professional development, and manage communication and collaboration.

“We are very excited about implementing this web-based Instructional Data Management

System (IDMS) that will help us transform our data analysis from retroactive to real time,” said

Ramona Tyson, Associate Superintendent of Management Information Systems. “IDMS will provide DeKalb's teachers and administrators the power to make data driven decisions to better individualized instruction in an technologically advanced and fresh way that will undoubtedly help DeKalb build more efficient educational programs, thus, positively affecting student achievement.”

SchoolNet will create a cohesive framework for data management in DeKalb County School

System (DCSS) and will take the place of aged standalone systems. This IDMS will be implemented using a seven-phase process that includes preparation, discovery, design, building, qualifying, deploying, transforming and the ultimate launch phase.

More information about the Board of Education’s approval of SchoolNet for DCSS can be found at http://www.gsbaeboard.org/cgi-bin/WebObjects/eAgendaDekalb.woa."

Stnuocca said...

Nothing nefarious? maybe! Surely useless? Certainly!

Buying and installing this high tech fiber optic network is something NASA might need for exploring Mars.

I made sure I had a driver's licence before I bought the Porsche Cayman R.

Am I the only one who finds it ridiculous "digitize" every test question or track student down to minutiae when a trained and competent teacher could tell you who gets multiplication or long division in a second?

atl said...

Would you consider DCSS a data driven system? Are we award winning?

See weblink below for full article by SchoolNet:
http://www.ecampusnews.com/uncategorized/schoolnet-webinar-the-key-to-writing-a-winning-innovation-grant-proposal/

"Schoolnet, Inc., the nation’s leader in data-driven decision making today announced they have teamed up with nationally recognized education and technology experts to host an exclusive Interactive Workshop; Data-Driven Achievement: The Key to Writing a Winning Innovation Grant Proposal. The webinar is designed to bring lessons learned and real-world best practices to school administrators, teachers, and IT professionals.

Between now and the spring of 2010, $650 million in Innovation Grants will be awarded to districts to help close the achievement gap and improve student performance. These experts understand the unique opportunities and challenges that districts face when applying for this important funding. This interactive workshop is designed to show participants how to get the funding they need to meet key innovation goals.

Data-Driven Achievement: The Key to Writing a Winning Innovation Grant Proposal is set for Tuesday, November 4, 2009 2–3pm EST (11am-12pm PST) Get up-to-the-minute information from K-12 district leaders and ARRA experts on writing winning grant proposals. Click here to register or copy and paste this link to your browser: http://event.on24.com/r.htm?e=168521&s=1&k=748FC53654AE86D46F82BAB9D3A863C9

Join us as education experts Pam Moran, Superintendent, Albemarle County Schools, Eric Gordon, Chief Academic Officer, Cleveland Metropolitan School District, Ramona H. Tyson, Deputy Chief Superintendent, City Public Schools of DeKalb and Christopher W. Porter, Associate, Brustein & Manasevit provide an up-close and personal look at proven data-driven education programs in place at Cleveland MSD, Albemarle County Public Schools and DeKalb Public Schools."

atl said...

@ Stnuccoa
"Nothing nefarious? maybe! Surely useless? Certainly!

Buying and installing this high tech fiber optic network is something NASA might need for exploring Mars."

The DCSS network is no different than any other school system's network. Internet is not a luxury in the 21st Century. Does anyone think it is?

Stnuocca said...

These technology awards and praises, if you really check them out, is like the "sugar industry" praising the "ice tea industry" in South Georgia for "sweet tea".

atl said...

@ Stnuoccoa
"Am I the only one who finds it ridiculous "digitize" every test question or track student down to minutiae when a trained and competent teacher could tell you who gets multiplication or long division in a second?"

Do you really think a high school math teacher with 150 to 180 students a day knows which student knows which objectives? You must not be a high school teacher. There is a need for real time data delivered to their desktop for teachers overloaded with students. DCSS spent millions on this premise, but could not get it to work. More wasted tax dollars.

Stnuocca said...

@ATL 9:32PM


You are making my point about the anti-learning nature of too much technology.


Yes, teachers should know the strength and weakness of their students. (Do we really think that no written communication happened before emails??)


Yes--- As the teacher grades or check the work, he or she knows who knows what. ( Of course, we can't have the poor teacher wasting hours inputting data from silly benchmarks and suffering Beasley's gyrations instead of taking quality time to grade or check!!)

From what I understand, math teachers like to see the process by which students arrive at answers something your automation CAN'T do!

Math teachers might have been able to shed 5 students off of their roll with millions of wasted technology.

In other words, we should be reducing class loads to help the teachers not waste money on the Porsche just to have it stowed in the garage.

We all would be ticked off if our children's teachers showed me an EKG of their "learning" instead of articulating what they know and need to know.

September said...

@atl

When you are working with 150 students, it can be difficult to remember exactly what each student knows. Part of planning for instruction means knowing what topics, if any, need to be reviewed with the class. If you are using flexible grouping, this data will help.

This program is new and complex. it is going to take a while for teachers to learn how to use it. It can be frustrating even for someone who is good with computers. After you are trained you still have to work to be proficient.

Fred said...

@atl,
"Title 1 is supposed to level the playing field for students in Title 1 schools. Parental involvement can be done many ways. "

Duh, most know knows what the intent of Title 1 is. Unfortunately intent does not always guarantee results. Title 1 legislation was passed in 1965 as a part of the War on Poverty. Guess what, there are still poor people in the US. Did the country fail?

Yes, parental involvement can be done different ways. If you bothered to read the links, you would know that the programs developed are in collaboration with parents that used the services. Oops, I forgot, atl knows what is best for poor parents so we should simply do that without getting parents involved thus violating the regulation.

@marie,
"I'll say again: we want efficacious programs. Parent Centers that ASSIST FAMILIES would be a great asset. In fact, I suspect this is what the feds WANT Title 1 funds used for. But in DCSS, they are wholly ineffective, except to the degree they employ well-connected, unqualified relatives of highly-placed administrators."

Reading is fundamental, instead of THINKING what the Feds what, why not read the requirements and regulations for the program and KNOW what the Feds want. Then ask the Feds if DCSS is meeting the requirements. Given Title 1 funds does not guarantee the hoped for outcome for the recipients.

Also Marie, do you have hard evidences that the Parent Centers are not assisting families? If so, you have something that can be taken to the Feds. We'll wait to hear how this turns out.

Remember what I said at 12:56, $617/student in DCSS in 2010. For a class of 30 Title 1 students, that comes to just over $18,000. Yes, I guess that will buy a lot of teachers and resources.

Fred said...

@Stnuocca,
"You are making my point about the anti-learning nature of too much technology."

You seem to be all over the map with your comments. You have an issue with technology in education as a tool to help academic evaluation, performance and instruction? Next you will say that we still need to use rocks for counting (with the occasional abacus) and the mimeograph machine to make copies. What world do you want to prepare our students for?

In case you haven't noticed, the auto plants in metro Atlanta have shut down along with most manuafacturing jobs. We are more of a service industry now. Knowledge of technology is a must if you want to compete for jobs in the global economy.

It should be noted that providing ACCESS to technology is another one of the benefits of Title 1 Parent Centers. Many are blogging at home on a Sunday using their personal computers on high speed internet yet many families don't have access to that.

Yes Marie, Parent Centers ASSIST poor families in many ways. You might go visit a Parent Center but don't let the poor people know you don't think they should have access to the facility for helping their family.

atl said...

@ Fred

Don't try to frame this debate as no one likes poor families. The BEST thing you can do for these low income families is pour resources into the classroom so that every child is educated.

EVERY child in DCSS has a right to:
1. A competent teacher in a reasonably sized classroom
2. A safe, claen and orderly learning environment
3. Abundant access to cutting edge science and technology equipment

DCSS children (especially ones in Title 1 schools) do not have these educational components. Cut, consolidate, outsource, figure out the least expensive way to run these non-teaching programs. I don't know a parent in DCSS that doesn't want the above for their children.

what_what said...

Sorry to go a little off topic but my curiosity has gotten the best of me.....

Stnuocca (or simply "accounts" spelled backwards), do you use Google translate or some other package to convert your postings from another language into English? It almost seems like your original posts are in (say, just a guess) German, then get translated into English. Your phrasing, sentence structure and logic are sometimes very curious.

Regardless, thanks to everyone for contributing to a lively discussion!

Fred said...

@atl, Title 1 has been in existence since 1965 and has not eradicated poverty. Has it helped many to escape poverty over the years? Of course it has, we still see that with the number of first generation students going to college, many from poor families. It happens in DCSS also. Many adults are getting their GED and other resources through the Parent Centers, to help their families and their children. These are FACTS.

Don't believe me, request the information regarding Parent Center stats for yourself. Instead of flaming about things you don't know, why don't request the information for yourself and see. This along with the links to the regulations I provided should help you understand what Title 1 is, the regulations associated with it, along with the measures put in place to determine if it is helping.

Here is another fact, not everyone that receives assistance from Title 1 takes advantage of it. You blame that on the central office? Again, if you have the secret to making any person take advantage of any government resource, let's go into business together and market it. The rest of the world will want to know how to do it.

There is enough blame to go around...

atl said...

@ Fred

Let's talk technology since you brought it up. But let's talk in terms of students since DCSS is in the business of educating students. Student access to technology is the worst in metro Atlanta. In most DCSS schools, our students have access to 2 student computers for a class of 30+ students. The few labs available to entire student body allow for a visit to the computer lab 2 or 3 times a MONTH in most schools. Wireless access points are few and far between creating a nightmare for teachers in trailers who have laptops and making technology integration/use for students in trailers virtually impossible. Often the technology does not work. Posters please ask the teachers in the schools your students go to how they feel about DCSS technology - does it work for them and their students?

Little access to computers is exactly why DCSS students are forced to "bubble in" the benchmark tests with pencil and paper on a scantron sheet, and the teachers are forced to "scan" hundreds answer sheets every six weeks. This makes any data analysis delivery to the teachers so slow that it's useless for most teachers. Many teachers try to perform their own analysis "by hand." This is totally unacceptable. What is Dr. Beasley thinking? Again his inexperience in the classroom is showing. Or perhaps he knows but feels awkward going to his supervisor Ms. Tyson. Ms. Tyson was after all the MIS person who recommended this system. If she had taken the time and looked into the classrooms and crunched the numbers she would have known that the student computer infrastructure would not support this very expensive benchmark system taxpayers are still on the hook for.

Title 1 schools have little compared to Fernbank and Oak Grove and Vanderlyn and Austin who PTAs who have bought technology for their children.

Make technology abundant and equal for ALL students.

Marie said...

Trying one more time, Fred:
Please share your explanation why districts and schools in the metro with similar demographics outperform DCSS. I mean seriously. Fred. The numbers are disastrous. The trend is devastating.

As for Parent Centers: they exist to support improved achievement for students. That is the point. In DCSS, it is not disputed that they provide jobs for the well-connected who do not have the teaching certification to be allowed in a regular classroom. The news stations have covered this. We have seen the salary schedules that confirm this. Perhaps if the Parent Center supervisors were REAL TEACHERS who could lend support across the building, who were paid in line with peers, there would not be the outrage. Moreover, setting up a room with internet access for families without computers should not be a multi-million dollar proposition. Fascinating that a bi-lingual translator - whose skills can be TRULY, TRULY a lifeline for an immigrant family - is paid at parapro levels compared to those with a different pedigree. You're outta gas on this one, Fred. Stop drinking the Kool-aid and stand up for children who are being shortchanged on their future.

Fred said...

@Marie, I'll tell you the same thing to told atl and Stnuocca also said in so many words, correlation does not imply causation. You really have enough information to make the conclusion you have drawn? College Board will want to hire you given they also said it difficult to compare ACT/SAT scores across states because of the many variables involved.

And since you obviously don't want to read the policy for yourself, I'll share it below from Section 1118:

"(1) IN GENERAL- A local educational agency may receive funds under this part only if such agency implements programs, activities, and procedures for the involvement of parents in programs assisted under this part consistent with this section. Such programs, activities, and procedures shall be planned and implemented with meaningful consultation with parents of participating children.

(2) WRITTEN POLICY- Each local educational agency that receives funds under this part shall develop jointly with, agree on with, and distribute to, parents of participating children a written parent involvement policy. The policy shall be incorporated into the local educational agency's plan developed under section 1112, establish the agency's expectations for parent involvement, and describe how the agency will —

(A) involve parents in the joint development of the plan under section 1112, and the process of school review and improvement under section 1116;

(B) provide the coordination, technical assistance, and other support necessary to assist participating schools in planning and implementing effective parent involvement activities to improve student academic achievement and school performance;

(C) build the schools' and parents' capacity for strong parental involvement as described in subsection (e);

(D) coordinate and integrate parental involvement strategies under this part with parental involvement strategies under other programs, such as the Head Start program, Reading First program, Early Reading First program, Even Start program, Parents as Teachers program, and Home Instruction Program for Preschool Youngsters, and State-run preschool programs;

(E) conduct, with the involvement of parents, an annual evaluation of the content and effectiveness of the parental involvement policy in improving the academic quality of the schools served under this part, including identifying barriers to greater participation by parents in activities authorized by this section (with particular attention to parents who are economically disadvantaged, are disabled, have limited English proficiency, have limited literacy, or are of any racial or ethnic minority background), and use the findings of such evaluation to design strategies for more effective parental involvement, and to revise, if necessary, the parental involvement policies described in this section; and

(F) involve parents in the activities of the schools served under this part."

Too bad people like you and atl want to get rid of outreach to poor families like this because you "think" it is not providing value. I guess the rest of the school systems in the country that are using Parent Centers as a means of helping poor families help their children are failures like DCSS since poverty still exists in the US since 1965.

There is enough blame to go around...

atl said...

@ Fred
"I guess the rest of the school systems in the country that are using Parent Centers as a means of helping poor families help their children are failures like DCSS since poverty still exists in the US since 1965."

School systems are designed to increase student achievement. That is the ONLY reason DCSS exists. BTW - teaching children how to read and write and compute is the quickest way out of poverty. DCSS has failed to do this on a grander scale than the other metro systems that have the same poverty level. I have not ONCE heard you speak about increased student achievement for DCSS students even though that is the main point of this post.

If the Office of School Improvement stopped making excuses and started to ask teachers what works and what does not work in classrooms, we might actually begin to see some improvement in student achievement - especially in our Title 1 schools.

Hiding behind state and federal regulations will not work anymore. Taxpayers are reading the state and federal regulations and comparing how DCSS meets these regulations with other comparable systems with greater student achievement meet them.

Upper management and in particular the Office of School Improvement must take responsibility for student achievement or we will never have student progress. We desperately need a change in management. It's not fair for kids to keep the same unproductive group in charge of their education.

Fred said...

@atl,
"School systems are designed to increase student achievement. That is the ONLY reason DCSS exists."

What?? We both agree that the core mission of any school system is to educate children. Whether they achieve is up to each student. There is this thing called personal responsibility you still can't seem to acknowledge.

There are some that would say the purpose of schools is to create skilled workers. Some will say the purpose is to develop active and engaged citizens. How do you measure this, based simply on standardized test results?

"BTW - teaching children how to read and write and compute is the quickest way out of poverty. DCSS has failed to do this on a grander scale than the other metro systems that have the same poverty level. I have not ONCE heard you speak about increased student achievement for DCSS students even though that is the main point of this post."

Again, what measure are you using to come to this conclusion, the results of the CRCT? Are you suggesting you know how to better use Title 1 dollars than it currently is for DCSS? Can you provide trending information since Title 1 dollars have been used in DCSS to validate your conclusion? I don't think so.

I can point to many children that are better off because of Title 1. Another aspect of this is the Free and Reduced lunch program. Have you seen the amount of food that gets thrown away in school lunch cafeterias? Should we eliminate that program because the children don't eat all their food? Perhaps some chilcren can't demonstrate academic improvement on a standardized test but they are better off getting the additional resources Title 1 provides.

atl, I believe there are too many variables involved for you to come to a conclusion that DCSS in not utilizing Title 1 dollars in the best way possible. For example, if you took a poor child from DCSS and placed them in Marietta, GCPS, or any other metro school system, are you suggesting they will do better with no other changes in their life? That is what you are suggesting in attempting to compare program effectives across school systems. I don't believe you have enough data to make that kind of comparison and draw a firm conclusion.

I think you or someone else said earlier, because a program worked in another school district does not guarantee it will work in another. How do you know unless you try it, especially if the data suggests it can help?

There is enough blame to go around....

atl said...

@Fred
I certainly think Title 1 students are better off in Marietta schools. Every one of their schools are Title 1 yet they have a much better achievement rate even with our non Title 1 schools averaged in. DCSS should hope to have their Title 1 money spent so well. Have you ever looked at what Marietta schools offers their Title 1 students?

It's obvious from your posts that the Office of School Improvement has no idea how to increase student achievement in Title 1 schools.

resident2012 said...

Upon taking control of C&I Beasley stated (I can't recall the exact quote) that in so many words or less if things did not improve teachers would be replaced. Contracts went out before the final results were in but I have not heard any noise coming from the chopping block. Empty threats or just a lot of strutting?

themommy said...

I think that poor children may do better in the other systems. For one, Gwinnett has a much firmer hand on school house management, stronger principals, state of the art professional development, structured and data based instruction for LEP students, etc.

Fred said...

@atl,
"It's obvious from your posts that the Office of School Improvement has no idea how to increase student achievement in Title 1 schools. "

Obviously they don't have that silver bullet for increasing student achievement that you believe they should have. The same applies for the principals, teachers, and parents that make up the local school improvement teams. I guess we are just wandering and waiting for the messiah to show DCSS the way.

Of course I'm being facetious as we both know there is no silver bullet for increasing student achievement, at least one that taxpayers are willing to pay for. We could have one teacher per 5 students in Title 1 schools as a part of early intervention. The focus should be on reading, reading comprehension, and basic math skills. This will work but who would be willing to pay for this for poor children? Given Title 1 Part A in DCSS provided $617/student in 2010, it makes it difficult to stretch the dollars.

There is enough blame to go around...

teacher said...

Why are teachers to blame? They are only able to do what the administration tells them to do. What the administration is wanting the teachers to do along with the programs like America's Choice, and lack of small group instruction that meets student needs rather than over paid coaches that work with teachers, lack of discipline, and lowered student achievement/education demands placed on students by administration are all to blame for the low test scores.

I am not saying that there aren't teachers that should not be in the classroom, but there is more to the low test scores than teachers and their performance. All in the district are to blame and should be on the chopping block.

Fred said...

@themommy, I can agree with you. I also read into you post that the issue may be pervasive in DCSS, starting with who they hire as teachers.

Making an assumption that most GCPS principals were former GCPS teachers, one could say that they do a better job at hiring. Perhaps as you say, they provide a better overall structure for employee development. Based on that, should DCSS look to poach GCPS for principals, both for schools and to help with professional development?

Fred said...

@teacher,
"I am not saying that there aren't teachers that should not be in the classroom, but there is more to the low test scores than teachers and their performance. All in the district are to blame and should be on the chopping block"

I agree. Some are looking for a simple answer to a complex problem. There are MANY variables involved in determining why Johnny can't read. Is in Johnny's mother that may not have used proper nutrition while carrying him. How about the doctor that may have misdiagnosed him when he was sick and did not realize Johnny had hearing problems. Johnny's parents (assuming both are involved in his life) made some bad decisions in their life but are struggling to make ends meet. Johnny hears more curse words than what could be found in a Dr. Suess book, thus has a limited vocabulary.

Now Johnny is in teacher's room. He qualifies for free breakfast and lunch. Teacher recognizes Johnny has some attention problems to go along with his limited vocabulary. Teacher refers him to the Student Support Team (SST) to get strategies on how to help Johnny. Despite the best efforts of all the professional educators, Johnny fails the CRCT.

Who do we blame???

It should be noted that in many cases, Johnny gets passed along to the next grade with the hope the next teacher can make a difference. This decision is made OVER the recommendation of the primary teacher. Haven't we seen this before?

Stnuocca said...

@Fred 1:34PM

Where is the Tyson-Hunter fiber optic cable in all this Johnny story?

This constant quest for better technology obscures the facts.

This obsession with title I money does too.

Focus on letting teacher teach and supporting the teacher with what he/she needs.

See, Fred, you did not mention IDMS or eSIS once....and so it should.

dundevil said...

The IDMS system was authorized in 2007. There was a demo at a recent Board meeting. They said that it should (I am not sure if I heard "would") be ready for this year. The teachers still have to be trained Four years to get this on line is a disgrace. In the software business in 4 years there are probably 2 new generations of the product.

@Fred and ATL DCSS is NOT in the business of educating children. It is not a real school system dedicated to that purpose. Look at it like one of those charities where 90% (maybe a bit high here) of the money (taxes) collected goes to the officers (here administration) and what is left goes to the people (here students) for whom the charity is intended.

Teachers, Title I,coaches, etc... yada yada. No meaning here. There is no desire to have the competent people to accomplish what is really needed. The majority of the BOE has too much at personal stake to allow this to happen.

atl said...

@ stnuocca

The focus is in Title money because we've spent close to half a billion dollars in federal funds in the last six years and most of it has not gone to personnel who directly instruct students.

The focus on technology had been because we've sent hundreds of millions on technology and how effective has that expenditure been for students?

I'm pointing out where the money trail lies. Federal funding and technology dollars have not been used wisely in DCSS. DCSS has chosen to steer a staggering amount of money away from the classroom into policies and programs that are not working for students.

Stnuocca said...

@What-what,

Are you a language teacher? I think most public school teachers are getting a raw deal in today's educational debate. And people are getting rich or building careers without contributing.

S*T*NU*OCC**A is a Vietnamese fish sauce I stumbled upon in Ho Chi Minh City in my travels. Couple letters are missing because of transcription.

Agreed. I am a poor writer. I often leave out articles/pronouns and fail to proof before I send.

Fred said...

@Stnuocca,
"This constant quest for better technology obscures the facts."

Where do you think this quest for better technology comes from? It is driven by the citizens. Look at some of the questions asked by atl. This is reflective of putting business measures on education. There is this desire to know more about trends with hopes of using predictive analytics to drive curriculum development and help with student remediation.

To be clear, atl and I agree that measures are needed to determine various types of effectiveness. This could be employee, instruction, curriculum or program. This is all to help the student. Unfortunately I don't believe having all this information can give one an exact answer but it can provide enough information to make reasonable assumptions of what to try.

Have you been in a doctor's office lately? Tell them your symptoms and the run an application to help determine what may be bothering you. This is much faster and cheaper than running a lot of tests that may be time consuming and help the patient get well.

Educating children regardless of income is not an exact science. I believe making decisions from information such as standardized test should be done carefully. Real people are impacted by these decisions, not widgets on an assembly line.

Each child is unique and brings their own background with them to the classroom. We ask our teachers to take a mixture of personalities and abilities then help them all achieve. Yes, all children can learn but they each may need something unique to process then act on information provided.

There is enough blame to go around.....

Fred said...

@atl,
"I'm pointing out where the money trail lies. Federal funding and technology dollars have not been used wisely in DCSS. DCSS has chosen to steer a staggering amount of money away from the classroom into policies and programs that are not working for students."

And what measure(s) are you using to draw this conclusion? Are you simply looking at the scores of the CRCT for Title 1 schools? Have you talked to any parents using a Parent Center? Are you asking any children that can count on two meals a day? Are you asking any teachers at Title 1 schools if having a ESOL/Reading/Math Specialist is making a difference?

You mentioned earlier you taught in the 70's. Would you agree that the family unit in DeKalb is different than what we see today? Would you agree that children were far more disciplined back then that today? Would you agree that teachers were more respected and also knew they had the support of their principals more then than today?

Comparing today's child to yesterday's child to the one in another metro school district to one in another state or country is difficult.

atl said...

@ Fred
@ fres

LOL
Do you have any data or statistics to add to the discussions or are you just assigned a blog hijacking (blogjacking) job to try to deflect blame from the Office of School Improvement who has tanked student achievement?

No data. Just excuses. I guess this what DCSS pays you for - is there a title in the Office of School Improvement for personnel who sit all day on a blog to just keep saying there is enough blame to go around. Translation- don't blame us - we just run the school system.

Cerebration said...

@Fred -- You said, "We both agree that the core mission of any school system is to educate children. Whether they achieve is up to each student. "

So, are you saying that the reason DeKalb is at or near the bottom for test scores (the topic of this post) is due to the children? That's probably exactly what is wrong with the system. People do a mediocre job, and then blame their lack of success on the 'customer'... and keep on doing the same thing over and over with no change in results.

Fred said...

@Cerebration, I'll say the same thing I've said over countless times, there is enough blame to go around. Citizens elect the BOE members who select a superintendent who oversees hiring of all the employees for a school system. Yes, some of the students lack motivation but that does not stop our teachers from trying their best each and every day.

Can you or anyone else say that one person or department is responsible for all the academic failures of our school system? Dr. Beasley has only been in place for one year so do you blame him? Ms. Talley was there for 4-5 years, so do you blame her? I think Dr. Maynard preceded her as the head of instruction. Do you blame her?

What we see in DCSS did not happen overnight but over a period of time. For some reason, many of you want to take a snapshot in time and simply blame those currently in central office positions. Yes they share in the responsiblity with those that preceded them, those in the school, and those in the community.

I've said the same thing over and over again but it seems as though there is a witchhunt to blame certain people for where we are today?

There is enough blame to go around...

dundevil said...

Follow the money. Money is wasted.. no results obtained. Why is this? Because DCSS does not have the proper people. The "power people" both deliberately mis spend (create bloated bureaucracy to satisfy their own agendas, a number of the BOE members and maybe even the Bishop) or do not know how to spend it (incompetent to mediocre talent hired as a result of the first point).

This has been going on for a long time and has been amplified by the CLew group who have been in power for about six years. Results keep declining.

Einstein's definition of insanity... keep repeating the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Does anyone expect the current CLew power group to produce a different result?

Marie said...

And sadly, Cere, I suspect Fred's perspective reflects the culture of the DCSS Central Office. They have concluded there is no way to fix this failing system - so why not at least get the most out of it for me and mine? I believe his is the Pope and Lewis philosophy - (something they may be rethinking as their criminal trials near.) Fred's notion that there is enough blame to go around - and therefore the vast sums spent on Parent Center patronage don't really matter - is simply a way to shirk responsibility and maintain status quo. It explains a lot - like why the corruption continues unabated and the ineffective cast of characters at the Palace are still receiving paychecks.

DinoMom said...

"There is enough blame to go around."

What a nonsensical mantra. How about "The buck stops here"? You can "spread the blame" around all you want, but at the end of the day, it's the leadership of DCSS that holds the responsibility for providing every student with equal opportunity to get a decent education and for providing wise stewardship of the funds that are intended to accomplish this. DCSS is failing to do either.

teacher said...

I believe that most in DCSS leadership are afraid of the truth. It's easier to have a blind eye to what is really going on and what is seriously lacking. If you are making a really good salary in a job that really isn't needed, of course you're going to defend how money is and isn't spent in DCSS.

We must remember that most in the Palace look at DCSS as an employment agency and not for the purpose of educating children. When I taught in DCSS, I often would say that policies were not in the best interest of the children and was told that I was a trouble maker. The powers that be don't know how to educate the children, so they make well paying jobs for friends and family instead.

As much as I would like to believe that the climate in DCSS will change and I had high hopes that the two new school board members would challenge more of the status quo, I have come to the conclusion that things won't change. I know that my child can't attend DCSS given the current environment and lack of care and concern for the education of our children.

atl said...

The present administration was hired by Crawford Lewis - Fred included.

Look at this 2008 AJC article:
"Huge drop in number DeKalb schools meeting federal standards
Math test pushed 34 elementary schools below the line

By KRISTINA TORRES
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 07/25/08

The number of DeKalb County schools that met their federally mandated academic standards dropped precipitously to 53.6 percent — a 23-point decline from last year — according to results released Friday by state officials...

There is no magic wand that I have," said DeKalb schools Superintendent Crawford Lewis, who presented those results to outspokenly disappointed school board members Friday. "Staff and I certainly acknowledge we have a lot of work to do."

Note Lewis' words as he attempts to duck responsibility:
"There is no magic wand that I have"...

What does Fred (1:20 pm) say:
"Of course I'm being facetious as we both know there is no silver bullet for increasing student achievement.... "

Sound familiar?

Kim Gokce said...

@Fred: "I've said the same thing over and over again but it seems as though there is a witchhunt to blame certain people for where we are today?"

Well, I pretty much stay out of that game (and this discussion thread) but ... that is human nature. Moreover, I think the fact is that both sides of this thread are right. How?

While it is true that it has taken years of neglect and poor leadership to get to this place we all agree is unacceptable, it is also true that the public has a right to demand change and results.

While perhaps blaming the current leaders for the sins of the past may not be fair, I say it is fair to blame the current leaders for not leading in a new way with system-changing decisions. I haven't seen that yet and the signs are that there is more status quo on the way for the foreseeable future.

Surely, I can blame the current leaders for that, right?

Where is the vision for public education in DeKalb? And I don't mean a new slogan or web site ...

Where is the courage to defy political pressure and accelerate consolidation?

Instead of defending themselves from unjust blame, let our leaders shout out their plan for the future. Let them grab US by the collar and explain the path forward. I'm not hearing it ... We can blame them for that, can't we?

Are "we" part of the problem? Of course, but for us to be part of the solution the current leadership must acknowledge the problems, articulate solutions, and invite "us" to be part of that solution. Until then, we are just the infamous "background noise" ...

September said...

Thanks Kim Gokce finally a reasoned approach!

It took years for DCSS to get to this point. It will take some time to fix all the problems. It isn't going to happen over night. When you take on the job of cleaning up a very messy house you have to choose a place to start. You can't start everywhere at once.

atl said...

I just want to add that the current administration is really the same administration wemhavw had for six years. As Kim has said they have shown us nothing but the status quo. They always say things will change and yet they remain the same. Have we seen anything that would lead us to believe they will chart a different course? I do believe parents and taxpayers have offered to meet with them and lord knows they should be seeking teacher input. We still have way to much money spent on non-teaching personnel. How long do we wait - 10 years, 12 years? IMHO our students who entered Kindergarten in 2006 when Dr. Lewis appointed Dr. Berry Executive Director of School improvement are now entering 6th grade. Six years is half of a child's school experience. Waiting even more seems like a cruel and unfair option for those children.

Fred said...

@DinoMom,
"You can "spread the blame" around all you want, but at the end of the day, it's the leadership of DCSS that holds the responsibility for providing every student with equal opportunity to get a decent education and for providing wise stewardship of the funds that are intended to accomplish this. DCSS is failing to do either. "

And who is responsible for holding the leadership of DCSS responsible? You might consider looking in the mirror.

There is enough blame to go around....

Fred said...

@Kim,
"While perhaps blaming the current leaders for the sins of the past may not be fair, I say it is fair to blame the current leaders for not leading in a new way with system-changing decisions. I haven't seen that yet and the signs are that there is more status quo on the way for the foreseeable future.
Surely, I can blame the current leaders for that, right?"

Good post, at least you acknowledge one of the key points I have been making. I've NEVER said the current leadership does not have ANY responsibility. I began by clarifying misconceptions about how the Title 1 allocations and how the decision making process on using those funds work. Several insisted that principals, parents and teachers don't play a part in the decision making at the local school however when I pointed out they do through the school improvement teams, some still scoffed at that. Stronger oversight is provided at the central office to ensure the money is intended according to the regs however each local school has a say in what they believe they need to improve. They are closest to the students so that is where the decision making should take place.

I've said I'm not happy with the current state of affairs however I don't find it productive to sit at a terminal with an alias and simply blame people, especially when you may not know what they do. I look in the mirror and ask what I can do for children other than my own to make sure they maximize the opportunities provided for them.

I like what Stnuocca said in the 3rd post of this topic, it is tough making sustainable progress no matter what remedy is used without curing poverty. Can someone point to a successful model anywhere in the world were that is happening? We thought is was happening in APS until we found out there was systematic cheating going on.

As I have asked atl, if someone has the silver bullet for curing poverty and helping poor children in schools, tell us so we can try that in DCSS. I have not seen any problems solved by simply throwing stones.

I am a blogger on this site and I share part of the blame for where DCSS is today. Is there anyone else willing to say that? If not, that has been my point all along, there is enough blame to go around....

Fred said...

Some of you read Maureen Downey's GetSchooled blog on the AJC. Following a an excerpt that reflects partly what I believe.
"Children’s Defense Fund president Marian Wright Edelman also spoke at the charter conference and amplified Booker’s theme of ending the cradle-to-prison pipeline.

“Public education is the battleground for the future and soul of America, ” she said. “Today education is the Freedom Ride and the sit-in movement of this era.”

Edelman described the moment in which she realized the desperation of many poor children’s lives. The day after the murder of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in Memphis, Edelman went into Washington, D.C., schools to warn students not to riot or loot because arrests would hurt their futures.

A boy about 12 looked Edelman in the eye and said, “Lady, what future? I ain’t got no future. I ain’t got nothing to lose.”

“I have spent the last 40 years and will spend the rest of my life proving that boy’s truth wrong, ” Edelman said. “I had no idea how hard it would be. This boy saw and spoke the plain truth for himself and millions of others like him.

“Despite great progress for some over the last 40 years, so much peril remains to snuff out the hopes and dream of children like him, ” she said. “Incarceration is becoming the new American apartheid, and poor children of color are the fodder.”

America’s most pressing dangers come not from an enemy without, she said, but from a failure within to invest in its children.

Quoting Frederick Douglass, Edelman said, “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.”

If someone out there has the answer, I'm listening. I'm not satisfied with the current state of affairs but refuse to simply stand back and point fingers at those that are at least trying. Yes, I hold them accountable but I let them shoulder that alone.

themommy said...

In fairness, Fred, we each get two votes for board members. In the last election, in the midst of huge scandals and declining student achievement, only two board members lost their seats out of 5 up for election. My board member lost. My community sent a message. Most communities did not.

I do not believe there is an easy fix. However, the last administration made things substantially worse by hiring weak principals.

I have sat on several panels for hiring principals. In addition, I am person that many people confide in about their challenges with DCSS. Consistently, there has been disbelief that many of the candidates were even being considered for principal. Many could not even answer basic questions.

Yet, Dr. Lewis claimed some schools councils made bad choices and he eliminated the participation of school councils in the process. First, they could only make bad choices if the candidates themselves were bad. Second, Dr. Lewis got upset when some of his friends weren't chosen and he had to personally try and convince the school councils that they had made a mistake.

Now, no council interviews and still weak principals. Who is responsible?

themommy said...

Also, many of the bloggers on this site have contributed 1000s of hours to DCSS. They speak at board meetings, write letters to board members, volunteer tirelessly in their local schools, etc.

With our boots on the ground, we see how broken things are in the Central Office.

There are some really good people working at the central office. Great people.

However, there is an acceptance of mediocrity that literally blows my mind.

This isn't new -- Dr. Halford never fired anyone either. The few board members who are inclined to change this find that this is a wall they can't climb.

atl said...

@ Fred
I worked to unseat my BOE member, and that member was unseated. But I do not allocate funding, retain or let go employees, eliminate teaching positions, increase class sizes, make decisions on outsourcing, contract with construction firms that finish their work late and shoddily, oversee the personnel who are responsible for having up to date and working technology for teachers and students, etc. Ms. Tyson and her upper level managers do this. This mis the same group that has been making these same decisions since Lewis was there (minus Pat Pope). They refer to themselves as Upper Management and the "chain of command" is more important than student progress.

At one point the Central Office Sought to institute that no one "below them" could get an email to them. They wanted to actually screen out teacher emails. The arrogance is frightening.

I will be doing everything I can to unseat the BOE members that are a carry over from the Lewis regime. It really can't get any worse for so many of our schools. At least the teachers can choose to leave. Our students can't.

Fred said...

@themommy, I agree to a point. I definitely sense balance is many of the things you have to offer. I also agree seems to be an acceptance of mediocrity in parts of the community. It seems as though some don't know what good is regarding schools.

There are many great people working in our school system, attempting to help make it better. By the same token, there are people in the school system whose motives are questionable, at least from the outside. I know of innocent people that have been harmed by flaming comments that are not accurate. If someone has to spend time defending what they do instead of working to help make the schools better, is that a good use of their time? There has to be a balance.

Some advocate for a widespread house cleaning. How long would it take to recover from that? I don't think anyone has that magic bullet to will solve the issues our schools face.

I don't have the answer but don't believe the solution is simply sitting on the sidelines pointing fingers. You mentioned volunteering as a partial remedy and that definitely helps, when a principal invites parental involvement. I've seen schools offer to feed parents while providing childcare services yet only a handful show up. I've seen some schools go into the community after hours to attempt to connect with residents only to be cursed out and told to mind their own business. While this does not lessen their desire to help the children they wish to serve, it does take a toll both physically and mentally.

Sitting back and simply saying DCSS mismanages Title 1 money without offering tangible ways it could be done better serves no purpose. You see that throughout this topic. It is easy to simply sit back and point fingers.

themommy said...

As far as I can tell, the system isn't defending itself. In fact, my motives for reporting the test data is that I want there to be no sugar coating.

A big failure in DCSS, right now, in my opinion, is the inability to admit how dire things are. In part, this is because we have multiple board members who refuse to acknowledge this and don't want it said out loud.

I don't think it is reasonable to expect that DCSS can have the highest test scores in the state. What I do think is essential is that we figure out why we are essentially going backwards or at best staying the same, when systems with equally or even more challenging demographics are moving forward, even if only baby steps.

Fred said...

@themommy, again I agree. Some might say that is a type of management style, praise in public then criticize in private. Whether one believes in that is up to the individual but culturally speaking, you see that more in the South than other parts of the country. Not making any excuses but an observation.

DinoMom said...

Parental and community involvement are indeed essential to improving the conditions at our schools. Yet, there is just so much that we, as parents and concerned citizens, can do.

On the small scale, we can be incredibly effective, mentoring students, providing support to teachers and administration, supporting our principal's efforts to improve the conditions at our local schools, lending our hands and our minds as needed.

However, we can't make the big changes, the ones that are so desperately needed in DCSS. Only the DCSS leadership has the authority to stop the cronyism and nepotism, to eliminate the waste, to get rid of expensive programs that have proven to be ineffective, to funnel our resources back to the teachers and the classrooms where they can be put to good use, to distribute those resources equably among all students and schools. Until that is done, our individual efforts only serve as a stopgap, at best.

That is why the buck stops at the DCSS leadership and until we see an honest and concerted effort to make these changes, you will continue to see much frustration and criticism voiced on this blog.

atl said...

@ Fred
Here are some very specific suggestions for Title 1 and the Office of School Improvement. Do posters want to add any others?

1. All programs funded by Title 1 should have measurable objectives tied to student progress. Teachers, parents and local school administrators should be an integral part of the evaluation of ALL Title 1 programs.

2. Most Title 1 funding decisions should be occurring at the school level. One size does not fit all. For example, a school with a heavy ESOL population has different needs than a low income school that has few ESOL students. The Title 1 coordinator can ensure that school based programs meet federal regulations and work with the principals to facilitate this.

3. Parental Involvement programs should be less expensive and more effectively measured in terms of student progress. Parent Involvement should be flexible and based on the needs of the local school. The local school personnel should have input into and some evaluation responsibility over the Parental Involvement program at their school. ALL parental involvement programs should be staffed by certified personnel with a considerable amount of classroom experience in the regular education classroom - either teachers or paraprofessionals. The Coordinator of the Parental Involvement program should be a certified teacher with classroom experience. Retired master teachers should be considered for this program on a part time basis. Flexibility, cost effectiveness, and student achievement objectives should be included in the benchmarks of this program.

4. Instructional Coaches should be paid no more than teachers and rotated back into the classroom every 3 years. Instructional Coaches should have a minimum of 5 to 10 years in the regular education classroom (Grade level or content area - math, language arts, science, or social studies) and be master teachers in their field. Instructional Coaches should be spending 30% to 50% of their day in the classrooms modeling lessons for teachers. Instructional Coaches should have some responsibility for improving student achievement. Instructional Coaches should report to the principal in the school they serve. The principal should observe the Instructional Coaches as they model lessons and should have expectations of the Instructional Coaches that align with the goals their school. The teachers that the Instructional Coaches serve should have some formal input into the evaluation process as well.

5. Title 1 Reading and Math teachers should be in EVERY Title 1 school teaching small groups of struggling students. These Title 1 teachers should be well versed in teaching students who are behind in content mastery. ALL students in DCSS elementary schools who are behind in reading and math should be getting "double dose" instruction EVERY day in the subject(s) they are struggling to master. Educational expectations should be that most students in Title 1 reading and math will eventually be on grade level.

6. Title 1 under the Office of School Improvement should be posting an open check register so that every expenditure is transparent to the public. The Office of School Improvement should be publishing their employee titles, number of employees and pay grades. The Office of School Improvement should be publishing the measurable objectives and the benchmarks for meeting these objectives on the DCSS school website. The actual performance of each program funded by Title 1 based on the measurable objectives should be published as well.

Stnuocca said...

@ATL 11:59AM

Very good points. Your plan looks like the basis of a very sound plan.

I think we may have to let "real common sense" provide the "measure". These things can't really be formally or rigorously measured because of the individuality of the students, parents, and teachers. Real common sense can be a adequate substitute.


Instructional coaches should get something for being in effect super teachers. Otherwise they will stay in their own classroom. ( non-permanent supplement would do). Of course, they should get mileage reimbursement for going between schools.


These coaches should have been successful classroom teachers for at least 7 years and should spend at least 50%-75% of their day in schools!

BOE members, are you reading ATL's powerful suggestions?

travelingjoe said...

Fred, I find your posts redundant and boring. You have repeatedly rejected every criticism of the school adminstration, rejected every single suggestion that teachers and parents (some who are teachers) have made. Themommy has politely and patiently pointed out the fallacies of your repetitious posts and the downward trending of the DCSS.

You have finally pulled out the decade long hand wringing "but we can't solve poverty."

YET YOU HAVE NOT OFFERRED A SINGLE SOLUTION - NOT ONE. Just the status quo.

The statistics, data, and every other factor undeniably point to the fact that DCSS is steadily sinking into a hole so deep that it may never climb out of it. The same statistics, data and history show that many urban, poor and diverse school systems have made improvement using curricula, support and programs other than America's Choice.

You admit in many posts that you are not satisfied with the current situation. So PLEASE, provide just 3 bullet points describing 3 changes that your would make to improve the academic learning environment in DCSS schools.

Cerebration said...

I would bet that if we gave Kim the $250,000+ salary that we now give Ramona Tyson - and let him go to work, he could do a much better job of redirecting this school system and the achievement of our children than she. In fact, I could think of a number of people who could do better. That is one big chunk of change to pay for steady declines - and it doesn't even include the $2,000 per month she gets for "expenses" (which she doesn't even have to track!)

We need a strong superintendent and we need one TODAY!

what_what said...

Surprised this wasn't posted yet

DeKalb interim superintendent to remain another three months

http://www.ajc.com/news/dekalb/dekalb-interim-superintendent-to-991244.html

what_what said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kim Gokce said...

Cere: "I would bet that if we gave Kim the $250,000+ salary that we now give Ramona Tyson ..."

Whoa, there! First off, I would never accept a penny over $160,000 (+ cost of living raises). :)

Secondly, to my surprise we never seem to address the core problem with our public system management. If we had the most wonderful superintendent, they would still be stymied by the real problem.

We all say we don't like busy-body board members who try to meddle in the management of the system or individual schools. We remind our board members that doing so is a violation of the most core principles and ethics of board operations.

Yet, the first thing we do when we see something we don't like is to call, email, write a letter to our board representative and demanding that they "fix it." And if they do not "fix it," we hate them, berate them, and vote them out of office.

On top of that, whatever any Superintendent may want to do will never see the light of day without support from the board. This is why most votes, except for the most controversial, tend to be close to or unanimous. Before anything comes publicly from the Super's office to the Board, they are close to 100% sure
it will pass a vote easily.

All this verbiage is to say that the innovative, disruptive ideas that would represent positive, significant chnage

Atlanta Media Guy said...

Fred, I've been pointing fingers at folks at the Palace because time and time again the numbers prove that the current leadership has pushed DCSS to the edge of the cliff. The BOE is about to push it right over for the flight to the bottom.

I volunteer and work at the school level. Principals depend on the parents now more than ever since the Palace has failed them so many times.

The deck chairs are being arranged for the titanic and the life rafts will be for the survivors only like Tyson's cronies, formerly known as CLew's cronies. The very same people that are still there and in charge!

Fred, Tyson has had over 14 months to make changes and she has made none! Redistricting was a joke, her own staff and a blue ribbon panel made the same recommendations months before the Charettes even happened. The Office of School Improvement is an embarrassment, 1.2 Billion dollars is not enough to give teachers their step increases, no furloughs and the DCSS match into the pension plan? Please! How about the mismanagement of Title 1 funds? Bahama Mama needs to go!

It's time for us to listen to people like ATL. It's time for new blood. It's time to clean house! Sure we'll have some rough patches, but it can't be any worse than it is now. The nepotism MUST stop! The funds must go to the schools. DCSS must become education centered, not a jobs programs for a select bunch of friends and family. The public want their school system back. These folks had their chance, two people that hired and led these folks have been fired and indicted on RICO charges. Tyson does NOT have experience to educate our kids! She might be able to run a department. But shouldn't a supervisor know if an employee, a son of a former BOE chairperson, actually reported for a new job and taking a $15K raise, but hid in a school for six months, never reporteing to his new job until parents asked CLew directly, why this man was still working in their school, after a huge raise and a new job. Tyson was the supervisor at the time, matter of fact the son is still on payroll. This kind of stuff would NOT happen in the private sector.

Hey Fred these are facts! I was in the room when Clew and Ms. Loeb, Asst. Super, called Tyson to tell her that her hire never reported for a new job, with a raise for 6 months. You should have heard her stammer on for several minutes trying to explain how a son of a BOE Chairperson can get away with such a fraud.

See Fred that's why we need change. Francis Edwards and Ramsey still holds something over the BOE and Clew's old inner circle. She will not have her way if a newbie comes in and ruffles some feathers. How this woman has so many family members still working for OUR system is unreal.

DCSS is broken and until the current staff of upper elites, who have failed our kids, go nothing is going to change.

Fred said...

@atl,

All worthy points you mention.
#1 is somewhat in place with local school improvement teams. Success is typical measured at the local level by standardized test results. Though many have concerns about NCLB, it did offer measures that had not been done before at the local school.
#2 is also being done, once again through the local school improvement team.
#3 is being done for the most part. Again the goal of the parent involvement component of Title 1 Part A is to help parents become better parents. While there should be standard participation measures, I’m not sure how one could extrapolate that into determining the impact on student achievement.
I disagree with the compensation for ICs you mention in #4 since they should be master teachers along with being a coach hence a higher salary should be expected. There should be established and verifiable qualifications for the position. I like the idea of this being a rotating position.
I agree 100% with #5
#6. I mentioned before that early intervention strategies that include pullout with smaller reading and/or math groups would be a remedy to consider. It should be integrated as best as one can with parental involvement.
#7 is being asked for around the country. I shared information about Title 1 payments however I believe you want them more at a detail level. I believe this is something the Feds should set as a requirement.

Overall a good post!

Fred said...

@travelingjoe
Actually I believe you were not reading what I have consistently said. I said we are all to blame for where our schools are today. I also said,
“We could have one teacher per 5 students in Title 1 schools as a part of early intervention. The focus should be on reading, reading comprehension, and basic math skills. This will work but who would be willing to pay for this for poor children?” @ 1:20pm on 6/27. My belief is centered around strong early intervention strategies to help children. I believe atl and I are in agreement with this. I disagreed with those that said to simply fire those in the central office because that is a simplistic solution to a more complex problem. Weakness would still exist in other parts of the school system.

The focus of most of my posts have been to clarify how Title 1 and those that administer it work. Many seemed to believe that teachers had no say however I pointed out that local school improvement teams include both parents and teachers. The school district is only as strong as the weakest links. As I’ve repeatedly said, there are weak links throughout, from unengaged parents, misbehaving students, weak teachers, ineffective principals, central office staffers that may have already checked out, uniformed board members, and uncaring citizens.

I shared an excerpt from the blog on the AJC site yesterday. Several of those that commented shared several points that I made. Dr. Trotter highlighted on discipline not being in our schools impacting learning for those that really want to be there. How can you blame someone in the central office when everyone is fearful a lawsuit will come about if you discipline a child for disrupting learning? Have you ever dealt with a parent that cursed you out for pointing out their child needs additional services or may need to repeat a grade because they are not prepared for the next one? I have but it does not stop me from doing

Tucker Parent said...

This may sound a bit naieve, but can someone explain to me what it takes for a school to qualify as a "Title I" school? I'm curious because my family is not poverty level nor is my neighborhood, but the elementary school a mile down the road has been Title I for several years. This past year, it was stated that the school "lost out" on Title I funding. I was not sure what this meant, but I did feel resistannce when I refused to fill out the form for the free/reduced lunch program. Is it possible that these applications are not been screened properly so that more people could be deemed "poverty" and the school could get more money via Title I? I am not trying to suggest anyone in the school system would actully change responses on a completed form (that would never happen in DeKalb County), but just curious if anyone here might be able to explain why the school does not reflect the neighborhood.

Tucker Parent said...

In Kansas City, FYI, voters refused to approve tax increases to send a message that they would not give any more money until the board proved they could be responsible with the money they had and started to show progress.

teacher said...

Title One is based on the number of free and reduced lunch children a school has. I believe the percentage is 55%, but I am not sure about this. This percentage was supposed to change.

It has been my experience that teachers and administrators tell parents what to put on the forms so that more students qualify for free/reduced lunch as that equals more money for the school.

Also if there are kids that are bused in not from the immediate neighborhood, this could bring the number of free/reduced lunches up. For example, in a school that I worked at, few students from the immediate neighborhood actually attended that school, most came from apartments in the attendance zone or from transfers from NCLB.

Wish we could follow the lead of Kansas City.

I hope that others read Fred's comments and open their eyes as to why our schools are failing. Atlanta Media Guy, you are right on track. Our schools are never going to improve until we get total new leadership, higher student standards, and allow teachers to teach.

resident2012 said...

Title 1 funding is based on FRL numbers. When parents apply for FRL I do not know who audits the applications or if they are audited. I have always felt there should be some other standard for determining Title 1 schools other than this application. Getting Title 1 status gives the schools a lot money money to play with. In many ways this is a crisis waiting to explode, large discrepancies in FRL qualifications could blow the entire federal program out of the water considering the current political situation in congress.

atl said...

@ Fred
You are not correct and you know it. None of the suggestions I put forth are in effect at DCSS or I wouldn't have suggested them. Your Coaches do not report the principals nor do they spend their time modeling lessons for teachers nor are teachers able to be part of the Coach's evaluation. The Coaches so not have 5 to 10 years of REGULAR EDUCATION experience. DCSS Parent Centers are one size fits all and staffed by personnel who except for a few are not certified teachers and have little to no experience teaching students. I looked every one of them up. There are thousands of students in DCSS that should be getting double dose reading and math instruction but Dr. Berry has chosen to spend the hundreds of millions in other ways. No objectives or benchmarks or measurement of the Title 1 program published. No personnel, pay grade and titles published. No check register published.

It is easy to say you are implementing these common sense proposals, but you cannot direct taxpayers to weblinks that prove anything you say.

atl said...

Fred is short on specifics and cannot cite reliable sources. I think he/she thinks BOE members read this blog and they will be confused if they read conflicting posts. Maybe a few BOE members are beginning to ask about that half billion in Title 1 and federal funding. I know taxpayers are interested.

dadfirst said...

@atl - please refer to the Parent Center Newsletters that contain the schedules at each Parent Center. There are difference offerings at each center. They are by no means a "one size fits all". Fred has been respectful in his comments and responses to you, why is it that you do not respond in kind?

Tucker Parent said...

Wow, thank you for explaining the Title I thing to me. I am actually shocked because I had no clue that there was any correlation between the free/reduced lunch program and the Title I funding. I was just asking because I didn't understand the poverty level for the school AND I remembered feeling very pressured to fill out that free/reduced lunch form. The table at registration had more people working it than any other one the whole day. They were literally shoving clipbords and pencils at you the second you walked in the door. I started to fill it out before I asked what it was for. I was told "lunch" and I asked a little more before I was told "to see if you qualify for free or reduced lunch. Just fill it out. You never know. It can't hurt, right." When I said that I didn't think I would qualify, I got a cold shoulder, a dirty look and a back turned on me. It was clear that I was not following the lead of everyone else who had been told to fill it out regardless. Might be something to consider... and makes me wonder why they still need to raise taxes and still need cell towers, etc. Seems like there is quite a bit of money going around. It just is not reaching the kids. Again, naieve here, but this is very eye opening and shocking if you have not followed closely the past few years. Once we were labeled as "not free lunch," we felt a systematic push from all directions to choose a charter school where we would probably be happier.

teacher said...

I do not know if Free/reduced lunches is audited. What I have witnessed in DCSS is that this is free money, so we need as many kids to sign up as possible. I have watched teachers and principals tell parents what to write in for their income, which was a complete fabrication. How can one drive a BMW or Acura and have their child on free lunch?

Free and Reduced lunches should be audited. Families should be audited and fined if they lied on the forms.

atl said...

Parent Centers staffed by NON CERTIFIED personnel with little to no classroom experience is the model for Parental Involvement for DCSS. Schools should be able to choose a Parental involvement that works for their students and community. So yes - DCSS is a one size fits all model when it comes to Parent Centers.

Tucker Parent said...

I agree with teacher about the audit of free/reduced lunch program. I don't know exactly how this ties in, but we were also strongly encouraged to pack a lunch rather than buy at full price. And, even after several notes sent in to school that I wanted my child to have school breakfast every day, I learned that they were not feeding her! I had an online account that would show the meal history and repeatedly it would show that she was not served breakfast or was only given milk. There was no issue of funds in the account. So there must be incentive not only to show free lunch need, but also to NOT show that there are families at the school who can afford full price for breakfast or lunch. (which I believe was something like $1.10 and $1.25).

Tucker Parent said...

To resident2012 - Wow! You are on to something.

Tucker Parent said...

According to the US Census, DeKalb County's total persons below poverty level in 2009 was 17%. Georgia was 16.6%. Interesting how public school population does not mirror county statistics. If you want to review other stats, see this link: http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/13/13089.html

Tucker Parent said...

... or I should say "reported population for public school, per FRL program.

Anon said...

Federal whistleblower statutes give the whistleblowers between 25 and 35% of the amount the feds recover of funds "stolen" from the feds. While everyone looks at Title I as "free money" and the forms are pushed and everyone turns away becuse it's "free money" -- it's really not. It's our federal tax money. Those who are aware of federal tax fraud, which is what this is, should let Cere know at the blog and we can get you to a lawyer who handles federal whistle blowere litigation. This is outrageous.

Fred said...

@travelingjoe
“YET YOU HAVE NOT OFFERRED A SINGLE SOLUTION - NOT ONE.”
I said,
“We could have one teacher per 5 students in Title 1 schools as a part of early intervention. The focus should be on reading, reading comprehension, and basic math skills. This will work but who would be willing to pay for this for poor children?” @ 1:20pm on 6/27. Sorry you don’t think this is a solution worth considering. My belief is centered around strong early intervention strategies to help children. I believe atl and I are in agreement with this.

The focus of most of my posts have been to clarify how Title 1 and those that administer it work. The school district is only as strong as the weakest links. As I’ve repeatedly said, there are weak links throughout, from unengaged parents, misbehaving students, weak teachers, ineffective principals, central office staffers that may have already checked out, uniformed board members, and uncaring citizens.

I shared an excerpt from the blog on the AJC site yesterday. Several of those that commented shared several points I made. They seem to acknowledge the challenges faced by today’s educators. Change out the central office staff without addressing some of the other obstacles in place that inhibit learning, you’ll simply end up with a new set of players to blame.

Fred said...

@atl,
“You are not correct and you know it. None of the suggestions I put forth are in effect at DCSS or I wouldn't have suggested them. Your Coaches do not report the principals nor do they spend their time modeling lessons for teachers nor are teachers able to be part of the Coach's evaluation.”

I’m hurt. I commended you on your suggestions and this is how you address me.
IC’s DID report to principals this past school year. That’s who they take their direction from. If IC’s are not helping teachers that need assistance, the principal has to answer for that. I understand they may go back to reporting to the Title 1 coordinator due to funding reasons, i.e. if they are considered full time at a school, their funding should come from the operational budget not Title 1. As a result, IC’s next year may have 2 or 3 schools they service so that Title 1 can fund their salaries. That’s government regulations for you.

“1. All programs funded by Title 1 should have measurable objectives tied to student progress. Teachers, parents and local school administrators should be an integral part of the evaluation of ALL Title 1 programs.”

I believe I shared the following link with you earlier,
http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/school-improvement/consolidated-school-improvement-plans

You will see school improvement plans going back to the 06-07 school year. Take a look at one. You will see a team made up of the principal, teachers and parents. You will also see what each Title 1 school is doing to serve its population. There are about 50 pages per school consisting of measures, observations and strategies for improving the school. If you want to see the budgets, I’m sure you could request that as they don’t appear in the reports. You see at the local school level, they know what is best for their population. The Central Office merely provides the resources and support to help each school. But surely you knew this. You didn’t need me to tell you.

There are some people that like to throw out accusations and innuendo about others and try to get them to disprove them Can you prove anything you are alleging? I don’t know how to prove the IC’s reported to the principal’s other than suggesting you call a Title 1 school and ask. They did this past school year. Do you believe the school improvement plans are not real? I definitely believe this team made decisions on behalf of the respective schools using the site based management model that has been in place for years.

How about this, can you go to a Title 1 schools’ website and demonstrate they don’t have at least one Title 1 teacher? They may go by different names but if you list a school, we can all check as a homework assignment.

Next time you go to the kitchen, have a big slice of humble pie with a Coca Cola to wash it down!

atl said...

@ Fred
So sorry that Instructional Coaches may not report to principals this year. NO student progress can be tied to this group. $9,000,000 in salary and benefits for 90 Coaches and many more to be added.

Thousands of elementary DCSS students below grade level in reading and math are NOT being instructed daily by Title 1 teachers in small groups.

Cerebration said...

No one needs to eat pie here. In fact, we generally all agree that there is not enough pie to go around - so the fighting for "your" piece ends up being the focus of the schools... there are a lot of issues and problems with the Title 1 program - of that I think we all can agree. Some of us think that those in charge should be replaced with new people who have new plans for better spending (more directly on the students) and some of us (well, Fred, anyway) thinks that no matter what we do, we will have the same problem, so keep things as they are - or complain to the Feds (kick it upstairs...)

Bottom line for this thread though -- our test scores are in the toilet. The good thing is that all of the (seven or eight?) school systems that perform worse than us are very, very small. The scary thing is that if you add them all together - you don't have as many total students as DeKalb. So when WE fail our students -- we do so in mass quantities.

We plan to disaggregate this data further and break it down by schools and areas... for instance, how poorly would our numbers look if we removed Henderson and Peachtree from the mix? How did our Title 1 schools do as compared to non-Title 1? Title 1's purpose is to "level the playing field" for poor students. It doesn't appear to be helping them much in DeKalb. Doing the same thing over and over for the last 6+ years has truly harmed these children.

teacher said...

I believe that there is plenty of pie for the district to run smoothly, it is just using the funds that they have in the most useful way. We have over paid and unnecessary employees that no one is willing to get rid of, because they are friends and family members. Some of these people have had salaries increase while teachers on the front line have had decreases each year.

Until the focus of the administrators-at all levels, and school board members is on educating the children in the best, most efficient way possible, than the schools system will continue to be poorly run and those in charge will think that they are in need of more funds. Currently those running the system are more into making and creating jobs than educating our children.

Would love to see feds come in and ask parents to verify free and reduced lunch forms. People do not realize that when they lie on these forms that the money doesn't come from the trees in Washington, D.C., but from the federal tax dollars that we all pay. I could do so much more with the money, that I pay in federal and local taxes to educate my child than is happening now.

Fred's point of view is shared by many in DCSS. I remember arguing with the Area Superintendent about no zeros and having to give children multiple chances to get work done, this was the year where No Excuses was touted in the beginning of the year. Made me made that we were lowering standards for the children, while my standards as a teacher were increasing more and more.

Bottom line to me is that DCSS has plenty of money to run our schools efficiently and provide children with a very good education, however, those in charge do not understand priorities, budgeting, and needs vs. wants. Those in charge also do not have the children as a priority, but the jobs that the system creates.

To me, DCSS and other districts have too much money to blow and throw away. They should have much less until they can show that they are good stewards with what they are given.

Fred said...

@Cerebration
"some of us (well, Fred, anyway) thinks that no matter what we do, we will have the same problem, so keep things as they are - or complain to the Feds (kick it upstairs...) "

I don't think that is a fair assessment of my position. As I have repeatedly said, simply eliminating those in the central office with instructional administration and oversight responsibilities is not a solution unless you also address the other issues in the school system.

If you recall, McNair Middle was reconstituted (fired the staff) a few years ago because they consistently did not make AYP. Much of the staff was replaced and except for one aberation, they have continued not to make AYP. Did anything change in that community that would positively impact the school? Did they try out of the box organizational or instructional strategies to help the students in that school?

I know teachers that taught at McNair Middle that cried when they got the results of AYP. They cried because they knew they gave their all for those students yet the test results did not reflect the efforts given. Despite that, some were told to put in for transfers. Who was at fault for this?

Cerebration said...

Firing staff is not the same thing as changing the direction by changing the leadership. Teachers have been hog-tied by the system's methodologies and they are obviously not working.

I hear a lot of defensive responses of the administration coming from your Fred, but I really can't figure out exactly what your solution is. Could you try to enlighten us once more - in just a few bullet points please? It always appears to me that what you imply is that it's the children's fault, along with their parents - and that the teachers and administrators are doing back flips to teach these children to no avail. Even it that were the case - there would be a way to address the core issue - which would be more social service oriented. But continuing as we are is just not going to make an improvement.

Cerebration said...

@teacher -- I completely agree. We do have enough money. It's just that the "pie" is half-eaten by the time it passes the administration and is shared with the schools - thus leaving a very small portion for the schools to fight over. (Much like foreign aid...too much bureaucracy clogging up the pipeline to the people.)

Cerebration said...

@Fred - "As I have repeatedly said, simply eliminating those in the central office with instructional administration and oversight responsibilities is not a solution unless you also address the other issues in the school system. "

So, what I'm asking specifically, is for you to identify those "other issues" along with some ideas as to how to go about improving learning by addressing those issues. What other issues exactly are you referring to? We'd really like to have your input.

Our ideas thus far from bloggers have included re-aligning Title 1 funding to go from the schoolhouse UP. Meaning, using the funds to hire support TEACHERS in the schoolhouses whose job it is to work one on one or one on 2-3 on reading and math skills. No child should arrive at the third grade unable to read. Some kind of testing and recovery program should be in place. You simply cannot succeed past the third grade in ANY subject without good reading skills.

Another suggestion has been to invest in family and social counseling. The Parent Centers are a good idea, but they need to be run by professional social workers or counselors. A lot more could be done - perhaps even home visits - having the counselors interact with families in their homes.

We're just brainstorming here. These children cannot go through life with such a low level of knowledge.

Cerebration said...

Update on the cheating scandals -

APS cheating report goes to governor

Investigators looking into cheating on standardized tests in the Atlanta Public Schools delivered a voluminous report Thursday to Gov. Nathan Deal -- the same day that Superintendent Beverly Hall concluded her 12-year tenure.

Deal is expected to make the report public as early as Tuesday, after his staff briefs members of the Atlanta school board, lawmakers and Mayor Kasim Reed, said Brian Robinson, the governor's spokesman. "There are people who must hear about it before it's released to the media."

Alleged criminal acts detailed in the report are likely to be referred to district attorneys for possible prosecution in at least three counties: Fulton, DeKalb and Douglas.

Hall, 64, made no public appearances in her final days as superintendent and has not announced her plans.

betty said...

Speaking as a parent with a child in a much despised magnet school, we must have higher accountability of our teachers, not paperwork. The children should have higher expectations not more hand holding. The parents should stop blaming others and look in the mirror for the problem and the solution. I listened at the redist. meetings and what I heard is "Where is mine?". Get over it and get YOUR kid in gear. Stop the blame game and expect them (teachers, administration, kids,DCSS) do to a better job, NOW.

Tucker Parent said...

I am assuming betty is talking to the parents of those who are falling behind in their work or do not already have their kids "in gear." Because from a parent who has always had her child in gear, let me tell you the sailing is not any smoother for us, either. If you attempt to get or keep your kid "in gear" which I assume means working with them at home and doing what is in your power to keep them motivated and enthusiastic about learning, you will soon graduate to a new level of frustration which is called "boredom." If you teach your child too much and they get ahead of the class, you will soon be faced with an array of complaints from the school designed to slow your child down And, if it does not come directly from the school, then it comes by way of social influences. I spent as much time heling my child un-learn bad habits that were learned at school as I did teaching good habits or good manners before the school year started. There is no single group that can carry this burden. It is precisely the fact that the various groups of adults in these children's lives cannot work together or share a common belief in what is the right way to do anything that is creating the turmoil within them that is preventing them from being able to focus on learning. Children are very perceptive. Just like they can tell when their parents are not getting along, they know that there is no confidence by any group of adults in the system that the other groups can be trusted to hold up their end of the bargain or do their jobs right. Chaos begets chaos. Until it stops, the children will not feel safe, protected or cared for enough to open their minds to learning. They are in survival mode right now because even the people who care are fed up, emotional and unsure of what will happen next. We are all operating in reactionary mode, never knowing if our choices are the right ones or if we just jumped out of one frying pan into another fire

Cerebration said...

This was posted on the AJC blog - not sure if it's true exactly --

Proud Educator
June 23rd, 2011
9:48 am

I’ll let everyone in on a little CRCT secret. Let’s take the middle grades math section. There are 60 questions in that section. To have a passing score (level 2) you only need to have 31 correct answers, which equates to 51% with a score of 800. Has anyone ever passed a class with a grade of 51? To score at level 3 or exceeds, you need to have 50 correct questions, or 83%. I think this puts things in perspective with the CRCT. We need to think about why so many students cannot get 51% of the questions correct. Food for thought: with such a low standard, is this test really a true representation of student ability? We really need to look at why more students are not scoring at level 3.

Anon said...

And to both Cere (on the most recent post) and to Tucker Parent on the chaos comment (which I whole heartedly agree with) -- my answer is -- competition -- Vouchers--- take the money and put it in the hands of the parents and let people "shop" for the best envioronment for their child and let's see how that changes the way things are done in DCSS and Georgia. I don't have any doubt that more than half of our middle schoolers can't pass the math part of the CRCT with 50% correct... the curriculum is difficult and they were put into it midstream with teachers who were not very well trained. It was set up for failure and that's what is showing through in spades. Time for a bit of good old American competetition. Eliminate the monopoly government school system.

Fred said...

"As long as we ignore poverty’s negative effects on student achievement we will not be able to improve the schools in areas hard hit with poverty. Teacher evaluation mechanisms, pay for performance, and any other attempt to overlook the true problem will lead to disaster."

This comment was made by Tony on the GetSchool 7/4 blog about the CRCT cheating story in APS. You can read the blog and comments at,
http://blogs.ajc.com/get-schooled-blog/2011/07/04/crct-cheating-story-in-atlanta-not-just-a-whodunit-but-a-why-did-they-do-it/

Hiring qualified principals that can hire qualified teachers is a must for attempting to make a difference in economically poor schools. Given principals hire their staff as a part of the site based management model, is it really the fault of a mid level employee at the central office if the school fails, according to standardized test scores? Will firing mid level employees in the central office make a difference in the classroom of students in economically poor schools?