Thursday, July 21, 2011

AYP results are in and Choice plan is posted

The 2011 AYP reports were released today. As expected, the results are pretty dismal, not just in DeKalb but at the state level. Just 63 percent of all schools in GA met the goal of making AYP. In DeKalb, about 34 percent of schools made AYP. These numbers will rise in September when the summer retest is included. Last year, as a result of the summer retest, the percentage of schools making AYP increased by 6 percent. (Atlanta schools are not included in the state report, so you can expect the state percentages to drop when they are released.)

One third of the schools that made AYP in DeKalb have some kind of admission requirement. They are either theme, magnet or charter. The percentage of traditional DCSS schools making AYP is actually lower than 30 percent.

At the high school level, only Arabia Mt, DECA, Druid Hills, DSA, Stephenson, and Redan made AYP. (Stephenson and Redan remain in Needs Improvement status as they have to make AYP two years in a row to exit NI.)
At the middle school level, things are really pretty dreary. Only Chamblee Middle, Champion Theme, and Columbia Middle made AYP. PATH Charter school (which is actually a start up charter school and has little to do with DCSS) also made AYP. Champion and Path are purely choice schools and a chunk of Chamblee Middle’s population is in the selective magnet program. Columbia Middle also hosts a magnet program, though I don’t know the size. Not looking so good.

At the elementary level, a big chunk of schools missed the mark as the state raised standards. It looks like a little more than 50 percent did not make AYP and a little less than 50 percent made it. These numbers will increase with the summer retest.

For comparison purposes, look at Clayton County, where every single school is Title 1. Fifty three percent of schools made AYP while 47 percent did not.

I am doubtful of what AYP means as you approach the need to get 100 percent of students on the same level. It is probably meaningless. However, there is no doubt that our schools could be doing better. It does take a partnership with parents and the community, but until our bureaucrats hire better principals and staff at the central office, I am afraid that the status quo is all we can expect.

You can search the GA DOE database here for any school in the state. (Atlanta's scores have not been released yet.)
http://public.doe.k12.ga.us/ayp2011/search.asp

Choice plan is posted here:
http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/school-improvement/public-school-choice/enrollment

For a quick glance at a couple of overviews, click the charts below:



114 comments:

Cerebration said...

The scores aren't really meaningless. I think one good thing NCLB did was point out the there are small groups of students who consistently fall short of having their needs met. That is important to know and it's important to hold schools responsible for each and every student. In the past, a school could look really excellent, however, their special education students or new immigrants were falling through the cracks. NCLB shines a light on those shortcomings. That said, I completely disagree with the response - allowing transfers to anyone in the schools or adding parent centers or coaching teachers to "do better".

Targeted, one on one intervention is the only way to bridge the gap for those 'left behind'. If that involves sending in a whole new staff, or putting students in groups of 2 or 3 or 6 for reading or math, then that's what should be done.

RUKiddingme said...

RTI- Response to Intervention to the rescue! Data monitoring, data talk with individual teachers consistently!!Intervention meetings must be required! The information on what to do has already been outlined with RTI. Call on Sandra Mason to shine the light and get this train on the track for student success! Student outcomes CAN be improved using RTI!

atl said...

AYP stands for Adequate Yearly Progress. Adequate Yearly Progress is based on CRCT, EOCT and GHSGT scores. These standardized tests present students with reading passages in which they are asked to name the main idea and supporting details, distinguish between fact and opinion, divide in double digits with a remainder, interpret a graph, calculate percentage, etc.

Being able to read and compute at a basic level are skills that every child needs in order to be employed in the 21st Century. There will be a small percentage of students who will never be proficient in these skills (thus the nonsense of 100% of students making AYP). However, MOST students have the mental ability to read, write and compute on a basic level.

DCSS established the Office of School Improvement SOLELY to increase the number of Title 1 schools achieving Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP):

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

"Our goal in the Office of School Improvement is to provide a coherent and sustained system of support and a systematic process for continuous improvement. Schools and centers are provided with the tools and resources to facilitate academic progress, including intensive support for schools not making adequate yearly progress (AYP)....Title I programs must be based on effective means of improving student achievement and include strategies to support parental involvement."

The tens of millions that have been redirected from classrooms to the scripted learning programs such as HSTW, Springboard, America's Chioce, and the tens of millions that have been spent on Instructional Coaches ($10,000,00 a year for 100 coaches) and the millions that have been spent for the Office of School Improvement Central Office staff ($2,400,000 Annually in salary and benefits for 25 employees) has been predicated SOLELY on the need for students to Meet Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) as measured by standardized test scores.

Dr. Berry just added millions of dollars to add on-teaching Instructional Coaches to meet the requirement for Adequate Yearly Progress even though the Instructional Coach program has not proven efficacious to meeting AYP.

Dr. Beasley, the head of Curriculum and Instruction, who has 3 1/2 years in the classroom was hired for his ability to "raise" standardized test scores.

HUNDREDS of millions of dollars have been drained from the classrooms and funneled into non-teaching positions and programs with the rationale of Making Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP). This has had a deleterious effect on Title 1 and non-Title 1 schools.

These are phenomenally poor scores. Taking the macro view shows that the DCSS administration has literally driven student progress into the ground.

teacher said...

RTI only works when teachers have a manageable number of kids needing help. Some of our classrooms have way too many kids needing RTI for a classroom teacher to help. Title One teachers, helping children is what we need, but will never get given the current administration and climate.

msbssy said...

just happened to compare the middle schools that made AYP and their 8th grade ITBS scores:

Chamblee 77% tile for Reading, 76%tile for math, 78%tile composite

Champion 51%, 48%, 53%

Columbia 30%, 33%, 35% composite

If I were a parent at any of these schools I would be worried, AYP means nothing. Chamblee is supposed to be the cream of the crop for MS in Dekalb and not even in 80th percentile.

Remember, the CRCT tests the most basic skills and answering less than 50% of the questions correctly is meeting expectations!!!

Really?? What is needed is a complete curriculum overhaul IMHO

Cerebration said...

How strange. Columbia scored so low on the ITBS?

Cerebration said...

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msbssy said...

Mistake in my last post, scores are for 7th graders.

Nish said...

Well we are disappointed that we didn't make ayp. We have always made it. Alson we have been a receiving school for nclb students. I guess we knew failing to make ayp was inevitable. We are motivated however to do our best this year.

Annexes do not work if the kids are not in the building. We could not get the annex kids to consistently attend summer school. They all had to attend their homeschool. We were busy with our own summer school program and getting the kids here daily.

We need to decrease class sizes.
Use title 1 money to fund staff.
Coaches should work with small groups of kids and be held accountable for them.
ISS needs to be staffed by a certified teacher.

We were told that we have to share our coaches with another school. This does not help with consistency. We are paired with another school and their coaches will be at our school 2 days a week. Again, no consistency for staff or kids.
I guess Dr. Berry can now tout the fact that she has doubled the number of schools that the coaches serve in order to justify their salaries. This is not the entire picture.
Dr. McBride was asked specifically if the coaches could work with students. She responded that it was up to the principal. We will see. We will be watching.

If Dr. Berry did not do split coaches, local schools would have to pay for their own coaches. WOW! Local control and money out of hands of Dr. Berry, this is what we want!!! How many schools would keep their coaches, I wonder?

NotTheOtherDunwoody said...

I'm glad my local high school and middle school did not make AYP. That keeps attendance down and keeps trailers to a minimum. I fear the summer scores will put us in the "made" category. The summer retest is a huge scam - nearly as big a fraud as the Atlanta cheating scandal. Kids fail after being taught all year suddenly pass? Yeah, right.

themommy said...

Summer scores don't come out in time to change a school to a receiving school.

Virtually no high schools find that their status changes with the summer retest. Students who fail any part of the graduation exam have multiple opportunities during their senior year to retake it and most will wait and not bother with the summer retest.

Additionally, a student can pass the Graduation Exam for graduation purposes but not score high enough for AYP purposes. The feds didn't think the state's cutoff was high enough, so to count as passing for AYP purposes, a student has to score higher.

Grace said...

I noticed that Chamblee High and Kingsley Elem. are listed as receiving schools, however neither school made AYP! How is this possible?

travelingjoe said...

The state sought and received a waiver from the federal government for the high school math. This year the bar was supposed to be 82%. But Barge pled leinency on the ground that the GHSGT math section was changed to reflect the new curriculum and this was the first year of the new test. So the feds allowed GA to drop the bar back to 76%. And look how many high schools still stumbled. Just think what the carnage would be if 82% of students had to pass the math section of the GHSGT.

Folks I am embarrassed to admit that my children attend school in this school system.

themommy said...

None of the receiving elementary schools made AYP. However, they are not Needs Improvement because it was only the first year of missing the mark. There are only three elementary schools that can send students -- Indian Creek, McNair Learning, and Oak View.

Of the receiving middle schools, only Chamblee Middle made AYP. Again, the other schools are not in NI.

concerned said...

why are those the only receiving elementary schools. What about Vanderlyn, Oak Grove, and Fernbank? Not to mention Austin, Briar Lake, and Montgomery. I guess DES is still to new. Looks like a conspiracy to me. No predominately white elementary school is a receiving school. HMMMM

themommy said...

No requirement on the mix of students. And given the rising expectations to make AYP, by next year there should be almost no schools that make AYP

The schools you listed don't have room. The feds prefer that systems use schools that have ample space.

Again, at the elementary level, there are only three schools that are eligible.

travelingjoe said...

"The schools you listed don't have room. The feds prefer that systems use schools that have ample space."

Hmm... Chamblee High School is at least 600 students over capacity and over half the student body will be in trailers. Hey Mr. Moseley and Ms. Tyson, WHY is it a receiving school?

Open+Transparent said...

Why oh why doesn't just one Board of Education member have the sense and cajones to say: The Office of School Improvement, Dr. Audria Berry and Dr. Morcease Beasely are failing at their duties (and it doesn't help that Berry, Beasely and Tyson hardly put in any time in the classroom).

Cut the entire OSI budget, and put that money back into the classoom, and give good principals some flexibility away from the paperwork obsessed Central Office.

Millions upon millions wasted on OSI staff with their high salaries and benefits despite no ROI, ridiculous and no ROI programs such as eSIS and America's Choice, etc.

Just by having the OSI so fully funded with millions upon millions should be enough for the BOE to clean house. But nope, they look they other way, are led by Mr. Feckless, and many of them are busy protecting jobs for family and friends.

Cut the OSI (and parent centers too), put that many directly into the classoom without all the paperwork, and you'll see some real student achievement.

This BOE allows and enables the mess, as proven by the latest AYP news.

themommy said...

The failure lies with Beasley, Berry and Moseley, who this time last year would have known that most of the schools offering choice for the 10-11 year would have to offer it again for 11-12. They would also know that the test score requirements were going to go up.

They promised new and innovative solutions. They did not deliver. In a year where there are going to be something like 8 empty buildings, this is inexcusable.

Ms. Tyson isn't going to fire them, but the Board of Ed needs to demand some kind of action. (They won't, but a girl can dream right?)

atl said...

@ themommy

"They would also know that the test score requirements were going to go up."

Actually, the test score requirements didn't go up.

Look at the requirements for the system meeting AYP. The standards went up last year. But they stay at a steady rate for couple of years. So they should have been the same this year as last year.

Here is what I mean:

2009-10:
Meets + Exceeds Rate >=67.6%

2009-08:
Meets +Exceeds Rate >=59.5%
2007-08:
Meets + Exceeds Rate >=59.5%

2006-07:
Meets +Exceeds Rate >=58.3%
2005-06
Meets + Exceed Rate>=58.3%

Our standards rate is exactly the same as it is for Decatur City, Clayton County, APS, Marietta City, Gwinnett, etc.

DeKalb:
http://www.doe.k12.ga.us/ReportingFW.aspx?PageReq=103&CountyId=644&T=1&FY=2010

..and click on Academic Performance. Then look at the Meets + Exceeds Rate. Go back in time to look at this for past years. The schools mirror this.

Clayton:
http://www.doe.k12.ga.us/ReportingFW.aspx?PageReq=103&CountyId=644&T=1&FY=2010

..and click on Academic Performance. Then look at the Meets + Exceeds Rate. Go back in time to look at this for past years. The schools mirror this.

Gwinnett:
http://www.doe.k12.ga.us/ReportingFW.aspx?PageReq=103&CountyId=667&T=1&FY=2010

..and click on Academic Performance. Then look at the Meets + Exceeds Rate. Go back in time to look at this for past years. The schools mirror this.

......etc......

So they had the SAME standards which makes it even worse to see this decrease.

msbssy said...

Innovative & DCSS can never be used in the same sentence. Keep doing the same thing over and over again = Massive Failure.

Personally, AYP means nothing to me because it's a test created by the bozos at the state level and they can tweak the scores however they like. I always look at a school's ITBS and SAT/ACT scores--these tell me more than CRCT/GHSGT

If a school like Narvie Theme ES makes AYP for several years consecutively, yet their ITBS scores are in the 60 - 70th percentiles. This concerns me.

themommy said...

You are correct ATL, but for high schools the math requirement was to go up. The state got a last minute reprieve from the feds and the standard remained the same. It was suppose to go up to 80 something percent. The state just received permission in the last few weeks to not raise it.

Thus, DCSS should have been better prepared.

But like innovation, being prepared doesn't go hand and hand with DCSS.

atl said...

From the AJC :

"Trenton Arnold, DeKalb's executive director of assessment and accountability, said while the number of high schools on the Needs Improvement list grew, the number that didn't make AYP remained static."

What a misleading statement. Most of our high schools didn't make AYP last year and most didn't make it this year.

Mr. Arnold conveniently omitted the fact that only 47 DCSS schools made AYP this year while 83 made AYP last year.

Trenton Arnold is not a Public Relations employee. He is over Assessment and Accountability. If the person over Accountability can't or won't tell Ms. Tyson and the BOE how dire the situation is for students and DeKalb County, who else will? Is Ms. Tyson surrounded with YES MEN/WOMEN who tell her what she wants to hear - that everything is fine in DCSS.

Can anyone in the administration give taxpayers an honest appraisal of what DCSS is up against?

A Blue State of Mind said...

The reason for all the terrible spin on AYP, all the shenanigans in the supt hiring process, all the fiscal misconduct, and all the lies and misinformation is that the top honchos responsible for the mess this system is in know that, if they lose their jobs, no one else is going to hire them based on their public track records.

Even without all this baggage, no good school system focused purely on students' interests would pay them what they're making at DCSS.

It's all about selfishness, greed, incompetence, ignorance, and fear that these bozos would have to live on what the poor DCSS teachers make.

I guess they could use Jay Cunningham's reference for a job at McDonald's.

A Blue State of Mind said...

BTW, Trenton Arnold's and his $100+K salary was listed, for a job title, as Miscellaneous Services in last years Audits & Accounts Report.

If he's "Executive" Director, I wonder how many people labeled just "Director" are working under him. And what might they make, I wonder?

With the responsibility inherent in that bloated job title in a pay for performance world, he'd be looking for a second job to cover his living expenses after this year's AYP numbers.

Cerebration said...

I find it interesting that the mantra is that the "passing requirement increased", however, the failing categories not only failed to make the bar, the rates went down over last year. I will post the overall charts at the end of the article, but basically, the only sub-groups that made AYP were American Indian, white and multi-racial. Interestingly, the Asians missed the mark, along with black, Hispanic, students with disabilities, English language learners and economically disadvantaged. (Obviously, some students count in more than one category, but black - well that's over 70% of our system so to have the black category in failure is to have a majority of students not meeting the bar.)

Worse, our graduation rates dropped significantly over last year in every single group. Those American Indians who made academic performance as mentioned above, saw their graduation rate drop from 92.9% to 72.5%. (Of course, there are only 14 students in this graduation class category!) But whites dropped from 90.7% to 85.9%, blacks dropped from 77.4% to 72.3%, Asians, from 87.6% to 83.4%, and Hispanics from 78% to 69.4%.

This is not "Improvement" in any sense of the word.

resident2012 said...

A bad cycle every way you look at it. I don't support the entire NCLB/testing mandate as a method to improve schools. Yet the OSI buys into it making it the prime directive and focus of everyone in the educational trenches. Then OSI fails miserably in this misdirected mission. There are so many other ways to measure what makes a good school this is not one of them. The leaders of DSCC could not recognize a good school if by chance they wandered into one.

Cerebration said...

Are you kidding Fred? It's coaches or nothing? I think that simply cannot be true. I would imagine, if given the true options of how to spend the allocated Title 1 funds, principals would use the funds in the best way for individual schools. I don't think I'm mistaken when I say that could be additional support teachers, who are not there to coach other teachers, but who are there to pull out small groups of students or tutor students one on one in areas of deficiency - something a classroom teacher with 30 students with differing needs cannot do. Something Sagamore parents did with terrific results.

Problem is -- several years back, DCSS had to return a large amount of Title 1 funds because principals did not spend it all. This is when Dr. Lewis decided to reel that money into administration - and make sure it got used. The obvious alternative solution - hire more experienced, knowledgeable, better principals. Train them in the options available in using their school's allocated Title 1 funds and help them access those options (including teacher coaches if the principal deems that necessary.)

Cerebration said...

Here's an example of a situation we had warned about on the blog. Clarkston HS has a very large immigrant and refugee population. These students need a principal with vast experience in handling such populations and improving their learning. But what did our leadership do? Promoted the daughter of a high-ranking DCSS official from Asst. Principal at Chamblee HS (a school with none of the same issues) to full principal and leader of this very challenging school.

She failed. We're not surprised. In fact, last year, at least the black and ELL categories made AYP in academic performance - this year they did not at Clarkston. Worse, the graduation rate for blacks at this school dropped from 82.6% to 67.9%.

This school met the AYP criteria for Test Participation.

This school did not meet the AYP criteria for Academic Performance.

This school did not meet the AYP criteria for Second Indicator.

This school met the AYP criteria in 5 out of 11 categories

SummaryNeeds Improvement Status

Bhutrasgolly said...

OK, you get to take Dr. Beasley’s job or Audria Berry’s. You have many schools that test below the required annual minimum objective. Let’s look at Redan Elementary, a school not making AYP. Only 79.8% of their 3rd grade passed the reading test and 80% needed to pass for AYP. For math 69.7% passed the test and 75.7% is needed to make AYP. Oh boy! In your new duties all you have to do is provide support to raise the scores at Redan a smidge in reading and you need 6% more of your students to pass math. WRONG! Next year you will have to have 90.8% of your students pass the reading test and 83.8% will have to pass the third grade math test. Did I mention that 12% of Redan's students miss more than 16 days of school?

So in your new job you have to increase the number of students in the third grade who pass the Reading test by 10.8% in schools already making AYP and more in the ones that did not. Likewise for the schools making AYP this year you need to guarantee that 83.8% of the third graders pass math- an increase of 8.1%. That will be interesting (in the sense of the Chinese curse-“May you have an interesting life”.) It means that schools like Rowland Elementary who made AYP this year will not make AYP next year unless you can make sure that the teachers at the schools increase the number of students who pass the test. Thank God only 9.4% of all Rowland students miss more than 16 days of school a year. No need to worry about the year after that because by then there will be very few schools that make AYP.

Finally, what about that very good middle school that makes AYP regularly, but if they had two more English Language Learners so that they had a sub group of 40 or 4 more students with disability (also bring that subgroup to 40) they would have failed to make AYP in the last three years?

Then to top it off, there will be all these people who want you fired.

Fred said...

I had a former colleague take a look at the posts here and they came to the conclusion that the Office of School Improvement is an incorrect title that most seem to misunderstand. As atl indicated at 6:38, this is the Office for Title 1. This department oversees the federally funded Title 1 program that comes with many strings attached. They receieve their funding allocation from the state who received it from the Federal government. The department provides assistance to the schools with regards to how they use the money. The principals of Title 1 schools decide how to use the money as they should understand the needs for their population. The Title 1 office makes sure they use it in accordance to regulations set forth by the Federal government. They help with the paperwork so the principal can focus on the day to day operations at their school.

Remember when Sagamore 7 asked with the Office of School Improvement didn't help their school? The answer was they are NOT a Title 1 school and not eligible for that funding. Sagamore 7 never responded to the question of the value of the services provided by the volunteers. It would be GREAT if that could be repeated at the over 90 Title 1 schools in DCSS however I don't believe it could happen.

atl says that more teachers are needed to reduce class sizes. No one disagrees with that. The question is how do you pay for them, especially when you consider a shrinking budget?

Cerebration shared Ms. Tyson's comments at a meeting that indicated about 1200 employees are considered Central Office while the over 12000 are associated with the schools. By simple math when you look at the number of students and teachers, there is a 16:1 ratio. We are smart enough to know that this varies from schools to students. Again Federal law dictates class sizes and services that are needed for special needs students. When compared to most school districts, DCSS does a good job in educating special needs students. There are people that move to DeKalb from around the state because of the services found in our school district.

NCLB requires that all schools make AYP in 2014. I don't think it will happen, especially for those districts that have high concentrations of poverty such as DeKalb. Fayette County was the only metro ATL system to make AYP and it has the lowest concentration of poverty, a correlation. The problems seen here in DCSS are occuring around the country. NCLB has brought greater attention to students that got "left behind" years ago but it has also opened our eyes to other problems that have always been around.

Cerebration said...

From the DCSS website:

THE OFFICE OF SCHOOL IMPROVEMENT

Our goal in the Office of School Improvement is to provide a coherent and sustained system of support and a systematic process for continuous improvement. Schools and centers are provided with the tools and resources to facilitate academic progress, including intensive support for schools not making adequate yearly progress (AYP). Listed below are just a few of the support systems utilized to help improve schools and student academic achievement.

Cerebration said...

Title I
Title I is a part of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) of 1965 (formerly the No Child Left Behind [NCLB] Act of 2001). This act provides federal funds through the Georgia Department of Education to local educational agencies (LEAs) and public schools with high numbers or percentages of poor children to help ensure that all children meet challenging state academic content and student academic achievement standards.

These funds may be used for children from preschool to high school. Title I programs must be based on effective means of improving student achievement and include strategies to support parental involvement.

Under Title I, local educational agencies (LEAs) are required to provide services for eligible private school students as well as eligible public school students. These services must be developed in consultation with officials of the private schools. The Title I services provided by the LEA for private school participants are designed to meet their educational needs and supplement the educational services provided by the private school.

Title I schools
needs improvement schools
supplemental educational services
public school choice

Stnuocca said...

@Bhutrasgolly,

You describing the "targets" the state investigators (fine lawyers) called impossible.

Basically, we are asking for the 2011-2012 rd grade to do 10% BETTER than 2010-2011 3rd grade.

An impossible task/mission only serves to hide incompetence because both a competent and incompetent staff would achieve the same results!

The difference is that a competent staff would achieve possible results.

Cerebration said...

@Fred, who is your former colleague? Could it be Dr. Lewis? He certainly has a deep need to make certain that Dr. Berry remains employed.

Stnuocca said...

You describing the "targets" the state investigators (fine lawyers) called impossible in the Beverly Hall and Atlanta Public Schools cheating investigation.

A clear nefarious consequence of NCLB. Without the test mandates of NCLB there would be NO Beverly Hall, Beasley, Lewis, or Berry.

We, the public, if accept one (NCLB package) we must also accept Beverly Hall, Beasley, Lewis, or Berry-management.

An impossible task/mission only serves to hide incompetence because both a competent and incompetent staff would achieve the same results!

atl said...

The DCSS administration aka Fred conveniently ignores the fact that EVERY school system in Georgia has EXACTLY the same AYP requirements. Comparing school systems with the SAME demographics shows DCSS students are drastically behind. No one expects 100% but 34% is unacceptable to everyone except the DCSs administration. Compare apples to apples (demographically similar systems) to see how bad this is. Fred moans and groans about our students, teachers and parents but Clayton and Marietta City have parents and students who are poorer than ours and our teachers are highly qualified just like their teachers. So where is the problem. It lies with the administration and the BOE. This is just common sense.

Fred would like you to believe our students are somehow the most inferior, our teachers the laziest, our parents the most univolved and our population the poorest. This not true, and anyone who lives in DeKalb knows that's not true - with the exception of "Upper Management". Fred's comments show they have lost not only their educational focus but their belief in our students, teachers and parents. They need to move out of DCSS and let an administration come in who has confidence in our classroom members and their parents.

Cerebration said...

Well, we still would have had Lewis. But without SPLOST, we wouldn't have had Pope.

atl said...

Fred

I didn't compare DCSS with Decatur City Schools since I don't think this system has our same demographics so you post is somewhat confusing to me.

Cerebration said...

That's a sad report, Fred. What sub-group are you blaming for our system's not making AYP? I hear a lot of people blaming low income or non English speakers, but as I read the report, it seems to me that we have a huge failure rate among blacks and low income. That's a majority of our system. Are you really saying that a majority of our students "cannot learn at the same rate" as others? Really?

Nish said...

@Fred
Then why do schools have to share instructional coaches? I was told if they didn't, then these funds would go to local principals to use as they please. Is this not true? If not, then what is the reason we now have to share instructional coaches? The ones we have now are not respected and now we will see them less? Are their salaries covered under professional learning in the regulations? I am sure local schools could do a better job in some cases rather than have coaches. Let the local schools hire, recommend coaches.

Nish said...

I would love to work with a group of parents to help our kids at our middle school. Look for an email parents, I will contact you,especially those who are good in middle grades math.

Also, what schools have found RTI easy to implement and follow through on for teachers? I would love to mention to my school's administration for collaboration.

atl said...

If the DCSS administration (aka Fred) thinks Decatur City Schools and many other school systems are manipulating scores, they have a responsibility to go to the Governor's Office of Accountability and bring their concerns to that group. Casting aspersions on all the other school systems' administrations to deflect blame from the DCSS administration.

Perhaps the DCSS administration needs to focus on how to have DCSS students on par with comparable school systems rather than suggesting that the other systems that have good scores somehow cheated or manipulated scores.

Cerebration said...

"Everyone knows you must have at least 40 students in a subgroup for it to count. If you are close to that number, you do your best to discourage additional student in that subgroup from attending your school. "

Yikes.

@Nish -- good for you!! I think that for the foreseeable future, it will be up to the parents, principals and teachers in local communities to roll up their sleeves and do what's necessary. Sagamore did it - and I'm sure their PTA leaders will share their techniques. We simply must take back and lay claim to OUR public schools as we wait for the board to arouse from their deep sleep and find a new leader with the educational knowledge, the leadership skills and the pure moxy to turn this ship around.

Go team!

Fred said...

@atl, you are right, I provided a school district that has fewer poor students to explain how to REALLY analyze the data. Here is the link for Clayton County. They did a pretty good job with econ. disadv. in the few schools that I reviewed however the same points I raised earlier apply.

http://public.doe.k12.ga.us/ayp2011/631.asp

Fred said...

@Cerebration,
"Are you really saying that a majority of our students "cannot learn at the same rate" as others? Really?"

A 5 year old enters Vanderlyn while another 5 year old enters one of the many Title 1 schools in DCSS, either in the Buford Highway area or in Southeast DeKalb. Statistically speaking, the 5 year old at Vanderlyn will enter school better prepared to succeed in school.

This is not to say the 5 year old at the Title 1 school can't or won't succeed. There are many examples of poor children pulling themselves up by the bootstraps and achieving great things. I have seen them myself. I believe on average the 5 year old at Vanderlyn will have a head start with school because of their family stucture (more than likely two educated parents and possibly with one that stays at home) and nurturing they received from birth to 5.

Look at the CRCT scores for Vanderlyn and compare it with any other school in the district. A statistician could look at that data and draw conclusions about the demographics of that school simply by looking at the results. The only schools with similar scores are Kittredge and Wadsworth.

I should point out that I taught math long ago. Statistical analysis is what caused people to take a closer look at APS. If you disagree with this analysis, I'd welcome hearing why.

There are students that can learn and achieve in spite of their home life. It may take them longer but they can make something of themselves. Those a special people when you meet them in life.

Fred said...

@Nish,
"Then why do schools have to share instructional coaches? I was told if they didn't, then these funds would go to local principals to use as they please. Is this not true? If not, then what is the reason we now have to share instructional coaches?"

As I understand the regulations in Title 1, Part A, if the IC is based at one school, the Feds look at this person as a local resource and says they should be paid with local dollars. By making the IC itinerant (going between schools), they can be paid for with Title 1, Part A dollars.

If I may expound on your question, some say the women's rights movement contributed to the decline in education. Strange but interesting if you consider that at one time high achieving women college students considered education as a career. This is partly because there were not many opportunities for women in the business world. As those doors began opening (some say in the mid to late 60's and forward), many of the high achieving women college students began going into the business world. This contributed to the overall quality of teachers going down.

Add to this, in the teacher colleges, they don't adequately prepare teachers for teaching some combination of minority or poor students along with handling discipline. That's why teacher turnover is extremely high in the first 5 years, well meaning teachers that have a passion are placed in situations they were not adequately prepared for. This can be verified by looking at any of the major teacher organization's websites.

The ICs job is to help teachers to be more successful in the classroom. They are teacher's that have a proven track record of success (in our case with Title 1 students) with the hope of mentoring current classroom teachers to help them become more successful. If ICs can help these teachers and simultaneously help reduce the turnover rate, the students will win. One of the other challenges in Title 1 schools is the revolving door of teachers. That impacts learning also.

Good luck with your outreach to assist middle schools! Don't let others define what your schools are. We have many good students, teachers, and schools. Sometimes all they may need is to know that the community cares.

Stnuocca said...

AYP scores are (probably) manipulated by school systems in our nation in the same manner that my CPA/estate planner manipulates my income/assets so the IRS gets as much from me as some poor or uneducated or both (regardless of color or religion) making $200000 less than me is paying!

Does anyone really disagree with that fact?

Stnuocca said...

@ Cere 1:28 PM and Fred 3:02PM,

We can't, if we subscribe to science, dispute Fred on the Vanderlyn 5 year old compared to a 5 year old from a Title 1 school.

In Dekalb County, a Title 1 school is predominantly black. These are not disputable facts.

If we educated the Title 1 5 year old instead of COMPARING (via tests) with the Vandelyn 5 year old the Title 1 kid might be a LOT closer to the 5 year old Vandelyn kid in the 12th grade!

Instead, we create conditions in which charlatans thrive!

Where do we find these charlatans? In majority urban and black districts where the symbiosis of White guilt ( we deserve some of it) and Black shame (the Black middle class deserves some) can wage their proxy wars on the back and misfortune of the innercity kids!

Fred said...

@Stnuocca,
As I've said MANY times, there is enough blame to go around.

I think you are harsh in saying a 12th grade Title 1 student is where a 5 year old Vanderlyn student is. Maybe you said that for shock value. Even if the two 5 year olds learned at the same pace once they enter school, the 5 year old at Vanderlyn will still be ahead in the 12 grade. This is because they started ahead early on.

Stnuocca said...

If we educated the Title 1 5 year old instead of COMPARING (via tests and other metrics) with the Vandelyn 5 year old the Title 1 kid might be a LOT closer to the 5 year old Vandelyn kid by the time they reach 12th grade!

Comparing includes all these annual farces that urban districts peddle as "improvement plans" and all the unqualified and qualified "chefs" they send in to "supervise" the cooks (teachers) while they try to make the onion soup (title 1) taste like lobster bisque (non-Title 1).

Nish said...

Ok-since we are talking demographics, can we really talk about another demographic. If the answer is no, then just ignore.
I had a friend who taught at Avondale ES. She felt she could reach every student and it was a total African American class. The only one she felt she ever failed was a little boy she still thinks about today and she later heard he ended up in special ed.

The question is-does the demographics of the staff impact student achievement and why can't African American as a group help their own succeed? Is that a crazy question. My friend had many parents request another teacher because only a black teacher can teach/reach a black child was the argument. Well, why aren't they doing it then?

Has the African American community ever had this discussion? As a human race, we are all responsible for all children, I agree, but it would seem a race would want to do WHATEVER it takes and make it happen especially for their own in addition to all kids in their class.

I know we don't look at children in terms of race, but be honest, we do to an extent, and when you see a report that shows large disparities, you do look at the kids differently.

I have asked this question for all races of parents and teachers, no one seems to have the answer to the african american question. It just seems with the large number of african americans at the top of dcss administration and leading our schools and teaching, they should have some of the answers.
I am not saying a person of a different race can do better, but I think since the Vanderlyn example was brought up. Something to be said on the demographics of staff and environment. Of course, there are some exceptions, but not in DCSS.

We all need to get it together as a people. I will do my part to help all I can, but who can understand someone better than their own. I heard that argument a lot so let's do something for your own then. If yours is doing ok, then help others. If yours is not doing ok, work on it til is is ok.

Just a thought as I try to get parents involved!!! Sometimes we can't get them in and we only have our staff.

atl said...

@ Fred

Compare DCSS with other systems with similar demographics.

Apples to Apples.

You compare Vanderlyn, a high income school, with the typical Title 1 low income school. You compare DCSS with many more low income students to Decatur City with many higher income students.

DCSS should be compared to systems with similar demographics and Title 1 schools in DCSS should be compared to the student achievement rates in Title 1 schools in other school systems.

Until the administration comes clean and does a reliable and valid comparison, nothing will get accomplished for students. You come across as very defensive and more interested in ensuring no one makes the DCSS administration accountable than people who want to move children forward. You do not want to compare DCSS to other comparable systems, but the push is on for you to do that. It is the fiscally prudent and educationally responsible way to conduct school system business.

It is clear from the "Triage" 90 day plan hastily thrown together when Ms. Tyson put Dr. Beasley's and Dr. Berry's feet to the fire over this PR nightmare that the DCSS has absolutely NO idea on how to turn this ship around. The "Triage" plan is MORE of the SAME. More focus walks, more coordinators, more training, more paperwork for teachers, etc. The policies of Dr. Beasley and Dr. Berry got us into this mess. Now they want to "double down" on those policies.

dekalbga said...

Attended a conference today at which both Tyson and Beasley spoke. Tyson said--so many times that it became a mantra--"We have an emergency state of urgency." Hated it at first, but it kinda grew on me.

She spoke a lot about AYP but didn't seem to offer any solutions. She did say that there is an excellent team in place in the office of school improvement.

She also stated that confidential negotiations are in the works and that a new super WILL be hired before her 90 days are up.

Last, she stated that some changes were going to have to take place at the central office, and that some of them were going to make people very uncomfortable. She said it is not her job to keep folks comfortable until the new super takes over.

Beasley talked a lot about getting rid of the busy work that teachers have to do and stressed that everything that happens in the system is interrelated. He went on to say that he hopes every child will do GOOD in he upcoming year.

atl said...

@ dekalbga

"She (Ms. Tyson) did say that there is an excellent team in place in the office of school improvement..."

That must be why our schools have failed to improve.

dekalbga said...

@atl, my sarcasm may not have come across. It was all I could do not to raise my hand and ask who those team members might be.

teacher said...

@ atl 5:23

You nailed it on the head.

Keeping those in charge in DCSS will keep giving us similar results.

Cerebration said...

@Fred 3:02 PM - Yes, by and large students from stable families with involved, educated parents (actually this is regardless of income) will do well in school. This is not to say that they "learn at a better rate"... I do disagree with that statement. They do not learn faster. They are not inherently brighter. It's been shown over and over that there are gifted, bright, fast learners in every single school in the world. Perhaps the poorer schools are so busy focusing on the social needs of many in the classroom that they are unable to push forward with the curriculum. Could they, do you suppose, if the teacher had a class of say, twelve? AND - that teacher could send out 2 or 3 who are struggling with reading or math to a specialized reading or math tutor who uses different techniques with those children to double-teach the concepts? You don't think that there is some way to bridge that gap so that poorer children are able to learn at the same level as their wealthier counterparts? Isn't that the true purpose of Title 1 in the first place - to level the playing field?

At any rate - that's still no excuse for the poor test results as the CRCT is not all that hard, it strictly tests content (not really ability) and the passing cut score is pretty low.

Stnuocca said...

AYP and the "easy" testing does not factor in the Matthew Effect.

http://www.wrightslaw.com/info/test.matthew.effect.htm

Cerebration said...

I didn't read Stnuocca's comment the same way you did Fred. I interpreted it to mean that although the Vanderlyn 5 year old starts out ahead, and has full family support throughout, the Title 1 5 year can catch up by 12th grade if properly educated [and with social interventions] if we would just knock off the ridiculous testing mania. The testing itself, along with the harsh consequences, is what is interfering with the teachers' abilities to truly focus on the needs on individual children.

Besides, I think your argument is totally moot. Who cares if some schools score higher than others? No one is saying everyone should score the same. We're just saying that our bell curve is inverted - we have far too many students failing to meet the low end of the bar. Comparing them to high achievers with the excuse that they can't perform as well, is not even relevant. I'm quite sure I wouldn't have done well at Harvard, but a public university in Ohio was just fine and I've had a happy, productive life.

Cerebration said...

The Matthew Effect - very interesting! Thanks for sharing Stnuocca!

The "Matthew Effect" is a term coined by Keith Stanovich, a psychologist who has done extensive research on reading and language disabilities. The "Matthew Effect" refers to the idea that in reading (as in other areas of life), the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.

When children fail at early reading and writing, they begin to dislike reading. They read less than their classmates who are stronger readers. And when children with disabilities do not receive adequate remediation, they read less – and learn less from reading - than non-disabled children.

As a consequence, they do not gain vocabulary, background knowledge, and information about how reading material is structured. In short, the word-rich get richer, while the word-poor get poorer. This is called "The Matthew Effect".

Because some IQ subtests measure information learned from reading, poor readers will score lower on these subtests. Over years, the "gap" between poor readers and good readers grows.

For children with disabilities in the primary grades, reading and writing failure is pervasive. Nearly all children who are identified as having a disability have reading and writing difficulties.


Seems much of low performance is a vortex of low expectations and little intervention. Reading is key. If students don't read well by 3rd grade, they are on a very slippery slope. One that too often leads to dropping out and crime. Then, interestingly, society is more than willing to pay the tab.

Stnuocca said...

@ Cere,

I'm quite sure I wouldn't have done well at Harvard, but a public university in Ohio was just fine and I'VE HAD a happy, productive life.

With the "I'VE HAD", you seem to announce your upcoming passing. I wish you health and a long happy life.

I wanted to say that I thought the 2 5 year olds would be a lot closer. They really cannot catch up. But if the Vanderlyn kid graduates from UGA after 4 years and the Title 1 graduates from West GA after 5 years, the 2 will be a lot more competitive. This proportionality would happen in 3rd grade, 5th grade, etc... if everything remained constant. I fear that the Title 1 kid might succumb to one or more of the many obstacles of his environment.

atl said...

@ Stnuocca

Here is a link to a terrific article regarding a Brookings Institute study on Title 1 and it's problems:
http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/brookings_papers_on_education_policy/v2000/2000.1farkas.html

Here is some excerpts from the article about the problems Title 1 can encounter from the educational elites running it:

"Practices and structures often endure through the active efforts of those who benefit from them......This emphasis upon school district and education school elites and their use of power in the pursuit of self-interest via all means available... the selection of new recruits, the socialization of successors, and control over the conditions of incumbency," provides a necessary background for understanding the implementation of Title I in the nation's school districts....

The districts we have observed display intensely networked management structures, supporting almost constant strategic behavior by individuals and groups.

Classroom teacher is the lowest status among professional staff. Advancement out of this status typically requires the support of the school's principal and assistant principal.... The higher one seeks to rise, the...more important are network connections. Every principal was once some other's assistant principal.

And the real jump in power, prestige, and compensation is out of the schools and into the central administration, a step requiring patronage by individuals already there...."

Does this sound like APS and DCSS?

Cerebration said...

Oh! Didn't think of it that way -- no, I'm fine!

Stnuocca said...

@ATL

I know your heart is in the right place. Fred's heart is also in the right place. But both of you are missing the point.

You say that Dekalb should have higher results in AYP (all the stuff that goes with it..). Fred says the path to AYP success is what the Dekalb county charlatans are seeking given our demographics. You say that you can overcome demographics with better management.

Both of you NEED BLOATED management. I say let's do away with the tests (punitive, paperwork, non teaching people) and the BLOATED management goes away.

You and your link have just described a cancer patient. Then you ask me does this patient look like Farrah Fawcett and Patrick Swayze.

All I have been saying is to remove the voodoo doctors who are in charge of the teachers. The patients have a better shot with real medicine (teachers) than with the Beverly Halls and other charlatans.

But as long as we demand that Patrick and Farrah survive we can begin to work on Michael Douglas, on Roger Ebert, Christina Applegate...etc...

atl said...

@ Stnuocca
" I say let's do away with the tests (punitive, paperwork, non teaching people) and the BLOATED management goes away. "

If you're going to get rid of bloated management, you need hard data because the more bloated they are the more firmly they are entrenched. Just saying you want them gone will not get them gone. "If wishes were horses...." Opinions are easily brushed aside. The only hard data anyone has are the scores from standardized testing.

If you can show with hard data that this bloated management is negatively impacting student achievement, there is a good possibility of getting it pared down to size and getting resources back into the classroom where they belong. Otherwise, you are a voice crying into the wilderness or perhaps I should say into this blog.

I think your heart is in the right place as well, but Fred is the alias a number of people in the DCSS Central Office are using to comment on this blog so I wouldn't say "Fred" has a heart.

SHS said...

Albert Einstein defined insanity as "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."

But, it's not Tyson, Beasley, Berry and the rest of the overpaid, under-talented Clew-less Cronies Gang who are insane. They are doing exactly as planned -- no insanity there. Their job is not to educate children -- it is to keep the gravy train running, paying them far more than they could ever hope to earn in the real world, successful or not.

And the Clew-less Cronies Gang are definitely NOT successful -- except for keeping the big money flowing into their pockets and those of their friends-and-family.

We know how to teach children -- and we know that one-on-one teaching -- especially with the neediest, poorest, most underserved students -- is most successful.

"Coaching" experienced, trained, certified teachers by disengaged, way overpaid, non-certified people with fake degrees who could not legally teach in a Georgia classroom and who are only in it for the money they can make in DCSS and nowhere else, has proven to be highly UNsuccessful in terms of teaching children.

John Evans, your grandson cannot read. Are you going to wait until he becomes a discipline problem and/or drops out of school before you get angry enough to stop wasting your time with useless, ineffective public comments to the BOE and take real, effective action?

It's time to take the gloves off, people. In the inimitable words of Pogo, "We have met the enemy and he is us."

Former Sequoyah parent said...

I have sat on the sidelines for months since our family left DCSS last summer for Virginia but need to point out a couple of important facts about Trenton Arnold. First, he was a very effective principal at Sequoyah Middle for a few years. Second, he moved to the county office in January of this year. To determine his success or failure in 7 months is simply not fair. I don't care what he said to the AJC, I don't care how much he gets paid and I don't care for the general tone here over the last few days. I don't agree with everything attributed to him lately but holding him personally responsible for this year's test scores is wrong.

Stnuocca said...

ATL,

About one year ago, I was making small talk with 2 school board members at a function. One of them was from Dekalb County and the other was from Cobb county. I asked about my perception that there were too many administrators outside of our schools.

They both replied in different ways but the gist of it was Dekalb and Cobb needed a significant staff because of Federal and State mandates to collect data, prepare data, and present data to improve schools. One quote that still rings in my ears is " The Feds want a mound of paperwork to justify every dollar!" This mound of paperwork and test results are what the charlatans use as their "raison d'etre"

atl said...

@ Former Sequoyah Parent

No one is holding Trenton Arnold personally responsible for DCSS's troubles. But DCSS has major accountability issues. The head of Accountability glossing them over is not good for students.

No doubt Mr. Arnold was told exactly what to say to put a positive spin on disastrous results. He is very smart. He knows the trouble DeKalb County is in yet he is making excuses for the administration. Do you really think he would keep his new job with DCSS if he didn't defend the decisions of upper management?

Read the entire AJC interview. Mr. Arnold is caught between a rock and hard place, and can you imagine the ire of Ms. Tyson if he said the student achievement results are terrible?

That doesn't mean posters can't say what he says is misleading.

atl said...

@ Stnuocca
"Dekalb and Cobb needed a significant staff because of Federal and State mandates to collect data, prepare data, and present data to improve schools."

So we need to show with hard data how the DCSS staff is NOT improving schools. That is the ONLY thing that will convince BOE members that they need to jettison the current "Lewis Group" administration and bring in an outsider who will pare this bureaucracy down.

If the DCSS administration claims they need all those non-teaching personnel to improve schools as measured by standardized test scores, then hold their feet to the fire and let them prove how they have done this using those standardized test scores. If the scores show they haven't improved student achievement, then cut them loose and redirect that money to members of the classroom - teachers and students.

Stnuocca said...

A MAJORITY of the BOE members IS the Lewis group!!!!!!

That is the ONLY thing that will convince BOE members that they need to jettison the current "Lewis Group" administration and bring in an outsider who will pare this bureaucracy down.

A MAJORITY of the BOE members IS the Lewis group!!!!!!

atl said...

@ Stnuocca

"A MAJORITY of the BOE members IS the Lewis group!!!!!!"

They hired Lewis not vice versa. And they want to stay in power. Neither Lewis nor Tyson can help them with that. The voters in their districts make that decision. 2 were voted out in 2010. They are all nervous now, and student achievement as measured by standardized test scores is the reason they are nervous about losing their jobs. Their cozy relationship with an administration that cannot improve student achievement is coming to an end. They will have a hard time supporting such an administration.

dadfirst said...

atl, why would Trenton Arnold catch the ire of Ms. Tyson if he made the statement that test results were horrible? She, herself, has made that statement several times.

RUKiddingme said...

DCSS needs to hire a team of "Instructional Chef Ramsey's" to work with principals in lifting the dark veil that hangs over instruction. No holes barred! The teacher must be providing quality standards based instruction with results to prove it or...... Until principals are free to leave the office where they are bound to the computer responding to senseless e-mails all day long- most of which come from three or four people bearing the exact same information. DCSS must get serious about the instructional program as it is played out in the classrooms each day unbeknownst to most.
While some schools have 3-4 APs, they are of no instructional support value to the improvement of instruction because many cannot construct a simple sentence. The secretary can run the attendance office! APs need to be assessed "for real!" The principal, in many cases, is not equipped to model for the APs so the instructional horizon remains stagnant! Ever wonder why it takes so long to get a principal for a school? If the APs were on top of their games, there would be no problem! Who in the "Top Administration" has the responsibility of conducting one on one "Chef Gordon Ramsey" style (minus the profanity)monitoring of APs. That's the kind of laser focus that is needed to start the change that the students deserve.
When the health inspector or fire marshal make a school visit, everybody shakes!! When was the last time any teacher or principal was shaking because someone from "Teaching and Learning" showed up for a non-guided focus walk? If weak principal knew that they had this kind of back-up, perhaps, they would get ahead of the team and do what they were hired to do-monitor teaching and learning! Many principals cannot and do not write any letters of redirection, yet classroom profiles and observations are dismal! When was the last time Mr. Mosely expected Area Assistant Superintendents to get into the classrooms of their assigned schools and write a real report that did not include whether or not there was a word wall in place?
Drop by Arabia Mountain on this Monday and Tuesday and check out the leadership conference that will be conducted by all of the same folks who have already proven that they cannot get results. Who are the key "heavy hitters" in the field that will be present to motivate and guide the team in the direction necessary? If every presenter is a DCSS staffer, go figure!

Does anybody really believe that change is on the horizon for DCSS for the kitchen staff currently in place? An Extreme Makeover is required! Keep Chef Gordon Ramsey in mind!!

dadfirst said...

Mr. Arnold conveniently omitted the fact that only 47 DCSS schools made AYP this year while 83 made AYP last year.

atl, 2 pointsL

1. Final AYP results will not be known until September. At that time it is quite possible that more schools will attain AYP status.

2. Most individuals with common sense realized that AYP was going to be an issue at the high school level across the state, not just here in DeKalb, due to the new Math graduation test.

dadfirst said...

I guess Dr. Berry can now tout the fact that she has doubled the number of schools that the coaches serve in order to justify their salaries.

This is based on Title 1 requirements, not Dr. Berry's own determination. In order for Title 1 dollars to pay for Instructional Coaches, they must serve more than 1 school.

I might suggest, as I did last week, that you should watch the video of the July 15th meeting. This information was brought to the attention of the board.

Cerebration said...

Look up the definition of rhetoric and you will find Ramona Tyson and her empty promises.

Rhetoric: insincere or grandiloquent language

Below is my report from the ELPC meeting waaaay back in April 2010 - Ramona's first public meeting. I was impressed with her at the time - she did promise to reduce the budget and close schools, which she later did, however, some of her promises never quite came to fruition.

The April 21, 2010 ELPC Town Hall Meeting

Central Office.

Tyson gave us some numbers. We have 15,859 employees, 13,873 are full-time and 1,906 are part-time. Of these, 14,620 are school-based and 1,239 are central office staff. The current proposed budget cut eliminates 152 of these central office positions, but they will continue to evaluate and streamline the central office and other areas of administration.
. . . .

Overall, the one take-away message stated by Tyson was, “We need to protect services that are closest to students.” She wants to do a forensic audit to take a hard look at the programs that are not working. She understands that the system is asking a lot of teachers and wants to offer things in return, such as eliminating some of their paperwork, creating a venue for communication and creating a classroom environment that allows teachers to do their job.

. . .

She certainly didn’t sugar-coat the fact that the “train” is coming. We will be in for a world of bad press here very shortly. A board member even indicated that indictments will most likely be filed soon. This is not going to be pretty. But Tyson has steeled her team and they plan to put on their blinders, allowing all "that" to live on the sidelines, while they execute their “laser light focus” on the task of rebuilding our school system. She wants to “put the students in a cocoon and push through”.


Instead, we got budget cuts, fewer teachers due to not replacing those who leave, larger class sizes, shuttered schools, an enormous debate over the non-educational issue of cell towers, inept instructional leadership and poor student performance.

On top of that, we have a board that seems in no hurry to do anything about finding a replacement. They have sabotaged two qualified candidates, wasted untold hours of time and an untold amount of money on the "search" - which is looking to be more and more of a sham. Tom Bowen is incapable of leading - and is quoted as stating that he would like to keep Tyson in place - even though she keeps telling anyone who will listen that she does not want the job.

This limbo is harming the children of DeKalb and no one seems to think this is an emergency -- in fact, it appears as though many from the central office have started coming to this blog in defense of the poor policies and poor student performance. They blame parents and the students themselves -- or the federal government -- or Captain Kangaroo -- anyone but themselves. How can we expect students and teachers to be accountable when no one in this highly-paid administration is held accountable?

Tyson is too entrenched to clean house. Tom and the board know that -- and for some sickening reason -- want to keep it that way.

Children's futures hang in the balance here! Get up off your duffs and get a new superintendent in who can streamline the system, provide excellent principal and teacher training and fix what is ailing our classrooms! Are you people ASLEEP?!!

themommy said...

DCSS' true problem is a fundamental lack of leadership. While the Central Office can't heal all that ails the many poor children in DeKalb, they could assure strong school based leadership. They don't. Instead, the system appoints puppets to be principals and those puppets often hire ineffective teachers and assistant principals. (The principal situation at Clarkston is a great example of what is wrong in DeKalb.)

Poor children are doing better in other school systems. No system has truly closed the achievement gap, but many have done a much better job than DeKalb.

So, Fred, as I have told you before, I really do believe that DCSS central office is fundamentally responsible. Not because of how Title 1 funds are spent or misspent, but because of the hiring and (not) firing decisions that are made.

themommy said...

When the AYP report is released in the Fall, you can expect some improvement. However, keep in mind, that only 3rd graders who failed reading, and 5th and 8th graders who failed reading and math get to retake the test. It is hard for middle schools and many elementary schools to make up the difference with these limitations.

Historically, the summer retest has mattered little for high schools. We shall see if the state manipulates the data to change this.

Cerebration said...

"forensic audit"

where's that?

"eliminating some of their [teachers] paperwork, creating a venue for communication and creating a classroom environment that allows teachers to do their job."

what happened to that?

“laser light focus” on the task of rebuilding our school system.

laser show is more like it

“put the students in a cocoon and push through”

yeah, like that happened!

How about the whistleblower hotline?

What became of that? It was promised last AUGUST - and at the budget meeting last week -- TYSON herself admitted that she has held this up!!

Or how about the promised NEW SALARY AUDIT?


TYSON's EMPTY PROMISE on that:

Now today, as a part of the transitional plan, the next steps are to complete the following over the next 6-9 months with a direct focus on central office positions and administration salaries:
By May 30, 2011, we will develop a request for proposal to conduct a compensation study partnering either with a college or university or a company that specializes in organizational structure/compensation study.
By June, 2011, I will transition this plan to the new superintendent and I will include the documents that were found under the E&Y study for full disclosure and receipt to the new superintendent.
By the end of June we will ask the legal team to review the RFP.
By July of 2011, a public advertisement of the RFP will occur.
By August of 2011, the RFP will be acknowledged with vendors that will reply to that RFP.
By September of 2011, the RVP evaluation and vendor selection will occur.
And by October, board approval and award to such vendor.


Rhetoric. That's all this last year and a half has been - empty promises and a steady drumbeat of saying what the public wants to hear, but never following through. This must be what our expensive PR consultants have deemed as a good plan.

Cerebration said...

Can someone provide me the link to the "public advertisement of the RFP" for a new salary audit? It was supposed to be out in July! I'll bet it's being held up by our "legal team" -- if it exists at all...

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

@ dadfirst/Fred

Apples to Apples

Compare the rate of decline in AYP DCSS with the rate of decline in systems with similar demographics to see that DCSS had a much grater rate of decline. Systems with similar demographics to DCSS have the same performance standards to meet.

The students, teacher and parents in those systems are similar to DCSS (some have more low income than DCSS), yet they do not have the rate of decline that DCSS has had. What is the only difference left? Management.

A Blue State of Mind said...

@Fred, Freddie, (you can call me Tom, you can call me Morcease, you can call me Audria, you can call me Jeff, you can call me Ramona) or whatever: "spew"?!?!?

Throwing stones in a house built of dirty, opaque glass, are we?

How much were we paid for this last post?

Fred said...

@atl,
"If the DCSS administration (aka Fred) thinks Decatur City Schools and many other school systems are manipulating scores, they have a responsibility to go to the Governor's Office of Accountability and bring their concerns to that group. Casting aspersions on all the other school systems' administrations to deflect blame from the DCSS administration. "


I forgot to respond to this, Hall County has already been reported, in fact there was an article about it. If you read newspapers around the country, you will see there are many school cheating scandals being investigated, including media darling Michelle Rhee and DC schools. We have not heard much about her lately. I wonder why.

I gave you the number to report misuse and abuse of Title 1 funds, which you alleged is happening in DCSS. Have you called yet? We would like to know the results of this. If they spent Federal tax dollars in a way that did not follow regulations, heads should roll. After all, that is what you would like to see.

atl said...

@ Fred
Readers of this should not take my word as the end all and be all nor should they take your word. They need to look at the information and data for themselves. I always provide links. Let posters/readers decide for themselves.

In addition, posters/readers of this blog and all interested taxpayers need to go through the schools and see the effect increased class sizes have had on students and how little technology there is available for students in DCSS. They also need to talk to the teachers in the schools who actually teach their children and ask if the administration policies are helping or harming instruction.

Here are the direct links to AYP data for 2009,2010 and 2011. All of the other schools systems' AYP data is there as well. It is an Excel file so a simple sort gives you the information.

Here is a direct link to the 2009 AYP data:
http://www.gadoe.org/DMGetDocument.aspx/2009-Needs%20Improvement-School%20Level%20Detail.xls?p=6CC6799F8C1371F67219847C99C2AA2B4225B5AC36778DF493D6B45674CA2BD8&Type=D


Here is a direct link to the 2010 AYP data:
http://www.gadoe.org/DMGetDocument.aspx/2010%20-%20Needs%20Improvement%20School%20Level%20Report_Oct16th.xls?p=6CC6799F8C1371F68E3D80FFAC3259F2040C0599CB0D3200C85AEA2AB33091E4&Type=D

Here is a link to the 2011 AYP data:
http://public.doe.k12.ga.us/_documents/ayp/ayp2011/2011-Needs_Improvement-School_Level_Report%201%2007.21.11%20125pm.xls

themommy said...

Your point about school councils being involved is correct, except for the fact that the system selected the candidates and didn't allow the panels to have very much information.

As someone who served on more than 4 such panels, and who knows many others who served on other panels, the quality of the candidates was often laughable. When a panel would report that they liked none of the candidates, they were generally told, "tough" and pick one.

It was also obvious that the system would rig the process and plant their favorite among rotten tomatoes.

You are on the money about nepotism in the Cherry and Halford administrations. I understand the passing of the trash.

HR has some say in local school hiring, they often prescreen the candidates. Lazy principals often wait for a list of names from HR. The lucky schools are the ones where the principal evaluates resumes from candidates outside of HR.

Again, I don't expect perfection, I just know that students could be getting a better education and having better outcomes if we had a more effective central office.

atl said...

@ themommy

"When the AYP report is released in the Fall, you can expect some improvement.....Historically, the summer retest has mattered little for high schools. We shall see if the state manipulates the data to change this."

You are right about the retests and high schools showing little progress during the summer retests. And since strict test monitoring the made AYP rate on summer retests has fallen dramatically (from 24 to 9 after strict monitoring was instituted).

In 2009 (BEFORE strict test monitoring) 24 more DCSS schools made AYP. You may recall the Atherton cheating scandal was about erasures on the summer retests. Not one of those schools that made AYP on the retest was a high school.


In 2010 (AFTER strict test monitoring) only 9 DCSS schools made AYP after the summer retests. Only one high school - Cross Keys made AYP after the 2010 summer retests.


Here are the links to summer retest data:
2009:
http://public.doe.k12.ga.us/DMGetDocument.aspx/Schools%20Making%20AYP%20(Appeals,Summer%20Grads%20and%20Retest).pdf?p=6CC6799F8C1371F6AD41339FCF26C14CBF8AA66A9B92738DA6F46A5FF6F4A68E&Type=D

2010:
http://www.ajc.com/news/32-more-metro-schools-699125.html

Cerebration said...

This is from "The Patch" --

In the case of Dunwoody High School, it is the second time in the last three years the school didn’t meet AYP. The school did not meet AYP in 2009.

On the English/reading section of the test, the standard for meeting AYP was 90.8 percent. Two subgroups did not hit that level. The Hispanic subgroup missed that mark, scoring a group average 86.2 percent. The economically disadvantaged subgroup scored 85.7 percent.

As a whole, the school scored 93.2 percent.

On the mathematics test, all groups met the standard of 76 percent. As a whole, the school scored 86.8 percent.

The school’s graduation rate fell from 92 percent in 2009, to 90.8 in 2010 to 87.6 in 2011.


Seems Dunwoody isn't doing all that bad a job with their sub-categories even though they didn't quite "pass". Maybe their methods can be replicated?

Cerebration said...

from the same "Patch"

The county has just developed a new Triage method of helping schools deal with meeting AYP, that focused more on individual schools needs, said Trenton Arnold, Executive Director for Assessment and Accountability for the district.

“This is targeted not only for those schools struggling with AYP, but for all of our schools,” he said.

Arnold said the plan helps to limit administrative tasks for school principals so they can focus on problem areas.

“We are making sure we are providing all the assistance we can to help them meet their targets,” he said. “What Dunwoody decides as being a critical need may not necessarily be the same as what we do for another school. We’ll also be listening to schools and stakeholders in that school,” Arnold added.

“We certainly want to take it from a school-by-school approach because each one has different needs.”


Hopefully, since Arnold is fairly new in the job, this time the statements will prove to be true - and not just more rhetoric.

C?Y!

Cerebration said...

Sigh! One more time --

No one is saying there is fraud or misuse of Title 1 funds -- we are saying that it is the opinion of many experienced teachers that Title 1 funds are most helpful to students when used to fund support teachers in the schoolhouse who work directly with students one on one or in very small groups on reading and math skills.

Title 1 coaches are probably helpful in some situations, but if we can only choose one method to boost learning, then direct contact with students is the way to go.

Just ask those Sagamore parents!

Cerebration said...

"Think if we replace our central office staff, it will change this FACT?"

In a word, Yes. We can find people with better teaching skills and better success stories to run the so-called "Office of School Improvement".

Fred said...

@Cerebration,
"Seems Dunwoody isn't doing all that bad a job with their sub-categories even though they didn't quite "pass". Maybe their methods can be replicated?"

That is a very simplistic suggestion. To paraphrase former Alabama coach Bear Bryant, I bet if you took the families at Dunwoody and changed them out with the families at a Title 1 high school, that Title 1 high school would then make AYP. Those families would likely be more involved and engaged at that school, holding everyone from the custodian up accountable for the education of those children. They would probably provide tutors or requests those services for eligible students.

This is not to blame all families at Title 1 schools as you do have many that are active and involved. Fact is, many times they get tired of getting the run around from the school in there attempts to make the learning environment better for all students that they simply look to escape on behalf of their children. I'm sure many of those students in the econ. disadv. category at Dunwoody that arrived as AYP transfers also have involved parents.

Increasing Parental Involvement is one of the goals of Title 1. People like atl don't think this is important in a school making AYP thus would get rid of Parent Centers. atl would reduce the size of the Title 1 award to DCSS since the regulation specifically mentions a percentage of the dollars must be used for Parental Involvement activities. What a way to keep those that need those services and help down.

Cerebration said...

well Fred, I am a simplistic person and sometimes, if those who see everything as complicated could see in simplistic terms, they might find a solution.

Fred said...

@Cerebration,
"We can find people with better teaching skills and better success stories to run the so-called "Office of School Improvement"

Actually you could probably fill this position with someone that has accounting skills since their primary function is to oversee the disbursement of funds to Title 1 schools while ensuring the use of the funds meet Federal regulations. Having someone with teaching skills helps as a sounding board for principals that have program requests for assisting their student population.

You could check with the Federal government to find Title 1 coordinators that have done well on their annual audits. They are probably a dime a dozen.

Fred said...

@themommy,
"HR has some say in local school hiring, they often prescreen the candidates. Lazy principals often wait for a list of names from HR. The lucky schools are the ones where the principal evaluates resumes from candidates outside of HR. "

Actually that is what HR does for any organization, prescreen candidates. Hiring is a crapshoot especially for candidates off the street. That is why many organizations (including schools) like referrals. I know of many teachers that would refer their friends to principals for job openings. If this is considered "Friends and Family", yuou cannot escape it as everyone does it.

You do have motivated candidates that read the papers for job openings and approach principals for job interviews. I've seen this happen several times with good results.

There are many unemployed teachers from other school districts around the country that may consider moving to this area. If they were let go simply on the premise of "last hired, first fired", you could find some good candidates.

With that, please let atl know that DCSS was not the only school district in the state or country that increased class sizes as a remedy for shrinking budgets. atl seems to think something sinister was done when in FACT DCSS did not lay off teachers as was done around the country.

atl said...

Title 1 funds earmarked for Parental Involvement can be done many ways. DCSS just chooses the most expensive way. DCSS has no certification or licensing requirements listed. Gwinnett County uses certified teachers, Clayton County uses certified paraprofessionals.

Why not use less expensive paraprofessionals like Clayton or DCSS retired teachers to avoid paying benefits? This is perfectly acceptable. Plow the savings back into Title 1 teachers directly instructing struggling students in math and reading.

Cerebration said...

Someone once suggested pooling resources with DeKalb county libraries. Set up parent centers there - with computers and help. Sounded like a great idea to me!

Cerebration said...

FWIW - we've determined that we had some hijackers on the blog, therefore we have decided to put the blog on comment moderation again. Sorry for the inconvenience.

The DeKalb county school system would be very wise to create their own blog to disseminate the details of their plans and answer the questions of parents and constituents. I've been telling them this for a very long time. They have an enormous amount of very detailed information that the public would like to know. The time has come to join the ranks of the digital web-world and start that open dialogue. We cannot provide it for them here - we don't have the bandwidth.

That said - they should post the Online Check Register at the same time. If transparency really is a goal of the system administration, then these two tasks must be undertaken. Sooner, rather than later, IMO.

Teacher2 said...

@former Sequoyah parent wrote:
"I have sat on the sidelines for months since our family left DCSS last summer for Virginia but need to point out a couple of important facts about Trenton Arnold. First, he was a very effective principal at Sequoyah Middle for a few years."

Yes, he was. And now he's in the county office with no contact with students and MAKING MORE MONEY! I suggested this in a earlier thread and Trenton's story serves to make my point.
Keep good principals like Arnold in place by paying them more. Reduce the CO job salaries so that they are not so attractive. NOTHING will improve our schools more.

Kim Gokce said...

What s/he said! Trenton was the first principal I met in the CK cluster ... two weeks before he was moved :(

Stnuocca said...

Agree--We should insist on keeping effective principals in the schools.

We definitely could use the ultra-high salaries of the central office to increase effective principals salaries.

That still does not reduce the number of charlatans at the central office which is a tougher egg to crack.

teacher said...

Having principals with no teaching experience is even worse than having one with 3 or 4 years. We need strong teachers in our administration positions, not people constantly looking for a larger pay check.

Until we get administrators at all levels with solid teaching experience, DCSS is never going to be able to get out of the mess that it is currently in and that keeps getting bigger.

Cerebration said...

Note about comments: we can't post comments regarding people's professional credentials unless we know for certain that what is posted is true. The previous conversation was removed as it just ventured down a "slippery slope"...

Former Sequoyah parent said...

I wish Mr. Arnold stayed in the schoolhouse, too. But stakeholders are not included in those decisions.

Daniel said...

Don't forget, the state also changed how it calculated graduation rate this year on top of everything else. They said the graduation rates would drop using the new calculation

da99b5c0-7135-11e0-a142-000bcdcb5194 said...

Anybody else find it hilarious/sad that the Druid Hills AYP transfer students will be sent to the old Avondale HS building?

wondering said...

I do find the situation of sending Druid Hill’s free choice students to the old Avondale High School building both hilarious and sad. I also find it to be, as these series of dots imply…..calculating, asinine, ridiculous, condescending, discriminatory, ineffective, and belittling.

It should also be noted that none of the receiving elementary schools on the list made AYP this year. Let’s get excited students and parents. Your child has the opportunity to go a new school similar to the one they just left! They will still attend a school that didn’t make AYP, but only for this year. They have the same identified reasons for not making AYP as your old school, so you will fit right in. Don’t feel left out or jealous middle school students .You too get to transfer to three new schools as well! You fared much better, only two out of your three choices didn’t make AYP. They have similar demographics to your old schools. They also failed to make AYP for the same reasons your current school did not; academics, blacks as well as economic status. The situation should make for as very smooth situation for you.

See, in DCSS the more things change the more they stay the same. This quagmire of a mess is indeed abysmal. It causes me deep sadness and hurt for the children of the DeKalb County School System. Shame on you, DCSS for offering this mess as a real viable option for these students.

Anonymous said...

@themommy & Fred

"HR has some say in local school hiring, they often prescreen the candidates."

I wish that were true. The only thing that HR does is to compile the information on candidates. There is no "weeding out" process. HR does not send a list of top candidates to principals. Principals either have someone in mind for positions or they are asked to give position to either family or friends of other administrators.

betty said...

Did anyone notice they are putting kids at DSA (avondale) and calling it DH annex. What a joke. Why are they allowing transfers to Chamblee? Shouldn't these kids just go to DH annex? Does this mean they are going to move the 200 at the Palace to DH annex?

betty said...

Cere-I have lost track...did they ever audit the Title 1 funds? Did any of the Title 1 funded schools make AYP? Did any come off the AYP needs improvement list?

Cerebration said...

Betty - I'm no Title 1 expert, but I think they get audited every year. The federal government is very particular about how that money is spent. That department has a lot of reporting to do.

As far as Title 1 schools and AYP, you must have missed our recent post,

DCSS Title 1 Schools and AYP: "The Shell Game"

Basically, our Title 1 schools performed very, very poorly last year. Even when compared to systems with similar demographics. Perhaps our leadership had far too many distractions to pay attention to Job #1 -- educating the children of DeKalb.

betty said...

This Friday, the state of Texas will release it's annual report. If you remember, Jester wrote that letter earlier stating support for Dr. Duron. Per Jester, "Dr. Duron's district is projected to meet this standard and receive the "academically acceptable" rating from the TEA". Let's all take a look at the TEA website on Friday to see if we can really get behind this guy or not. His district is listed as SAISD, San Antonio Independent School District.

There is some debate as to how this all relates because Texas requires school districts to account for the whereabouts of all students and follow them through the year. If they do not comply with this rule, they lose points towards an acceptable rating. We'll see.