Saturday, July 16, 2011

Triage! That's what they're calling the plan to improve test scores.

The Powerpoint from yesterday's called meeting is posted on the school system's website for the public to review. Click here to download a copy. To watch the video of the meeting, click here.

The speakers and their topics include:

− Triaging the Lowest Performing Schools – Dr. Morcease Beasley
− Accountability Training for Principals – Trenton Arnold
− School Operations Steps-up Accountability – Robert Moseley
− Title I Recalibrates to Impact Success – Dr. Audria Berry

To understand who the people that created this plan are and where they sit on the org chart, click here.

Basically, their plan is to have principals identify struggling students with low test scores, create a plan for remediation and then the "Coordinators" will monitor the teachers to ensure they are complying.

Here's their monitoring plan:
  • Coordinators from Special Education, Educational Media, Professional Learning, Title I, Career Tech, English Language Learners, etc., have been assigned to each school to provide direct monitoring and support of school’s actions to implement appropriate interventions for all level 1 students each week.
  • Coordinators have been grouped into teams to conduct Focused Walks at the school to assist in the school’s implementation of the curriculum. Focused Walks will occur monthly with priorities for the year as follows:
    • Ensure the teaching of the written curriculum and use of instructional resources as provided by the district
    • Appropriate student engagement and differentiation
    • Coordinators have been grouped into teams to conduct random Teaching and Learning Inventories monthly with a focus on intervention.
    • Results from Focused Walks and Teaching and Learning Inventories will be reported to the Interim Superintendent, Deputy Chief for School Operations, Interim Deputy for Teaching and Learning, and Area Assistant Superintendents.
    • Reports will be discussed and challenges addressed during regular meetings for the Division of Teaching and Learning and the Division of School Operations.
  • A Teaching and Learning Advisory Council has been developed to serve as a coalition of administrators and teacher leaders to guide the work of teaching and learning in DCSS. Monthly meetings will serve as a forum to prioritize the work and to strategize to overcome the challenges.
  • The role of Title I Instructional Coaches has been expanded to include support for teachers in all core content areas by providing professional development to teachers daily except for one day a month of professional learning and content training.
There is also a plan to reassess how and where Title 1 funds are used.  It is explained in the Powerpoint. 

110 comments:

Cerebration said...

Consider the leaders of this plan:

Dr. Beasley was a math teacher for a while before Johnny Brown brought him to Texas as a consultant and promoted him to deputy. When Beasley returned, he was placed as principal at Columbia for a year or two and then given the skyrocket of a promotion to "Interim" Deputy Superintendent of Teaching and Learning by Ms. Tyson herself (who only has 2 or 3 years experience as a business ed teacher). Beasley reports directly to Tyson and no one else. There are a whole bunch of people who report to him. People who had been there long before he arrived. People he skipped past to jump from principal to his current power position.

Mr. Moseley has been Deputy Chief Superintendent over operations for as long as I can remember. That job involves structures, buildings, transportation, plant services and support. Not much about education in Moseley's job description.

Trent Arnold was a principal at one time. I don't know a lot about him. Anyone?

And Audria Berry, well, she was placed in a very powerful position handling millions and millions of Title 1 dollars by Dr. Lewis. I'm not going to say any more about that. We all know the 'rest' of the story.

Stnuocca said...

More of the same? Will any individual of these supervisory/inspecting layers roll up his/her sleeves and directly help a student?

dadfirst said...

I spent the better part of the morning actually viewing the meeting. I can be found on PDS-24, Video on Demand.

Perhaps you might want to actually view the meeting before passing judgment?

teacher said...

Teachers already make such plans up for every child who does poorly on the CRCT. Why are teachers being monitored by Coordinators? Why aren't these people helping over loaded teachers with helping these children? This is what has been happening for some time and more of the same isn't going to fix this problem.

Really when is a DCSS administrator going to take the bull by the horns and make some changes?

themommy said...

Many of these tools are commonly used in school systems across the country. Because DCSS has long viewed itself as better than other systems, we are just getting to them and only because the system's back is against the wall. (Dreadful test scores and what is rumored to be a dreadful AYP report should the state ever release it.)

We need a new superintendent. Our Board of Education failed miserably at their most important task.

teacher said...

@ dad first

This plan is exactly what should be happening in our schools already. Teachers make up plans identifying the areas of need for the children who did poorly on the CRCT. The teacher identifies things that she is going to do with the child and has meetings with the parent (when she can get the parent to actually come to the school) to discuss what is happening with the child, the plan, and any improvements the child is or is not making and why. Teachers with over loaded classrooms or many of these children in their class do not have time to teach the regular curriculum and give the child what he needs. There just isn't enough time. The coordinators need to be teachers who pull these children out and help them in small groups. We don't need more coordinators or administrators. We need more people working with these struggling kids and identifying the problems and getting the kids the help they need. You see the problem lies, in the fact that many of the coordinators are not certified teachers, have never set foot in a classroom and have no business telling a teacher what she needs to be doing, as they have never been there.

themommy said...

The Title I Department has overhauled select processes to ensure
schools obtain the maximal benefit from use of Title I funds
− Strongly encourage Title I schools to maximize their human resources
with Title I funds.
− Improve transparency by adding a Title I link to all Title I school
websites to include:
The school’s Title I Budget Plan
Parent Involvement Policy
Compact
Survey
Title I Plan (CSIP)
School Improvement Plan (if applicable)

themommy said...

Someone has been reading the blog!

Cerebration said...

These are some notes sent in by an involved parent who attended:

--Honestly, both Ms. Tyson and all the Board members seemed truly heartfelt and earnest in the ways they discussed really needing to do things differently in order to help elevate the achievement of students who are struggling most.
--Beasley presented that by a date in August, principals will identify each and every child who is performing below grade level. Parents will be invited/called in to go over exactly where these kids stand right now and where they need to be. Teams will be formed to modify instruction and closely monitor these kids' progress. In the Q&A, Walker asked if there's any way we can require that parents really participate in that process (and have the teeth to enforce that requirement), instead of merely "inviting" them -- I suspect he means something akin to the way families are referred to the solicitor's office for excessive truancies.
--Much of what some would call Beasley's "busy work" -- uploading lesson plans everyday, sixteen "links" for principals to fulfill -- are being put back within a principal's discretion. Those sixteen "links" for principals are now reduced to one, and it's a site-based decision for each principal as to whether teachers have to upload lesson plans, etc.
--The Title I instructional coaches have to report to the principals, and the principals will now evaluate those coaches. Moreover, they are to increase their time spent in classrooms (not just on campus, but in the classroom) to all but one day a month (I pretty sure that's the number - that one day being for professional learning).
--Principals and APs will spend less time out of the building for administrative meetings -- certain meetings or trainings for prinicpals and APs that would have been conducted at AIC will now be by webinar.
--Trent Arnold did a presentation on CRCT modules they will be conducting for principals and APs. These modules essentially are designed to help these administrators and their teachers to know how to identify and hone in on CRCT subjects or domains where specific students need the most help.

teacher said...

How can we have coaches without teaching certificates teaching the children? This makes no sense.

These children are already identified through EIP. Parents are notified and the reports teachers create are shared with them when they show up.

What we need is for the best teachers in the district to be identified and given the job of Title One teacher and put them in our schools full time. We cannot have coaches without teaching certification working with our kids. They do not know what they are doing and these kids need the most pin pointed, focused help that they can receive to move them along quickly.

Maybe it's a change, but not a big enough change that is really going to help our children.

Cerebration said...

Um, weren't these the people in charge during the worst drop in test scores in the history of DCSS? Especially in Title 1 Schools! Beasley was completely, totally, undeniably the wrong choice for instructional leader. Ramona put her faith and trust in him. Bad decision. And Berry was allowed to flourish and expand her power base under Tyson to the point that she is solidly locked in place, due to so many people owing her for their well-paid positions monitoring those pricey $65,000 teachers.

The only thing that can fix what ails DCSS is a new superintendent. ASAP! 90 days (or 70 something) is too long to wait!

If our board can't bring in someone in the next 70 or so days (the end of Ramona's extended contract), then SACS will lay down the gauntlet and the Governor will be free to step in. If they plan to wait it out, they may as well go ahead and hire Brad Bryant - as for sure, this is who the Governor will put in place anyway.

Why can this board not get this done? I can't believe what has transpired over the past year. And now, at the 11th hour, and sounding very sincere, the current leadership presents a "triage" plan of remediation. (I guess they have now come to view themselves as real doctors!)

Too little too late, IMO. At this point, they are obviously simply trying to cover their own you know what's.

Cerebration said...

That said, Robert Duron is still in the running. Why is our board so adamant against him? He has a proven track record with a mostly poor district (93% vs DCSS 60% poor).

For an interesting post discussing Bryant vs Duron, read this

A Dunwoody View: DeKalb schools superintendent position demands attention

Instead of hiring an impressive candidate from a large school district in Texas, our school board remains deadlocked, while the city of Atlanta, Cobb County and Fulton County school systems all successfully hired new superintendents in time for the start of their school systems’ fiscal year.
Recently Dunwoody Sen. Fran Millar suggested Brad Bryant become our new superintendent. Bryant served on the DeKalb board for 12 years and more recently served on the state’s Board of Education. The problem with Bryant is that he is a DeKalb insider and has no classroom experience. If a person like Bryant is hired, he needs to quickly surround himself with experts in curriculum.
It’s no secret DeKalb has a bloated central office and a new superintendent is needed to clean house. Much of this bloat was started when Bryant was on the board. Also, Bryant is very familiar with the problems in DeKalb schools. Why did he do nothing regarding DeKalb while he had his power position on the state Board of Education?
Our next superintendent needs to be from outside of Georgia. We need fresh ideas and a new set of eyes and ears in DeKalb.

resident2012 said...

By definition and practice triage does not fit the concept of NCLB as the method offers to not help to those who can't be helped. The method also steers resources away from those who can recover without any help. Yet another poor use of terminology by DSCC.

atl said...

Ms. Tyson and the BOE should have known what they were doing when they cut teaching positions (600+ in 2 years) to save non-teaching jobs. Scores fell precipitously. Now the same crew wants to try the same thing - but on steroids. They will do EVERYHING but provide more direct instruction for students.

Focused walks and checking up on teachers will not solve the problem. Teachers in DCSS are not the problem. Supervisors and coordinators who do not understand the educational process in the classroom as well as classroom sizes that preclude individual attention to student needs are the problems DCSS has.

I don't care how fantastic a teacher is, she CANNOT give the individual attention students need with 30+ in her class when 40% to 50% of her students need remediation. There are so only so many minutes in a day, and a teacher must divide that by the number of students. Dr. Beasley is a former math teacher (for 3 1/2 years). Has he forgotten basic division?

This group has just moved the deck chairs on the Titanic and asked us to "believe" in them. This will not work because students learn from teachers, and students who are struggling to learn concepts need small group direct instruction and "double dose" reading and math instruction - especially in the early grades. There are NO shortcuts.

There is no plan here for small group instruction and "double dose" math and reading during the instructional day for EVERY child in DCSS who is significantly behind in math and/or reading. There is no recognition that the regular education teacher with 30+ class size cannot reach EVERY child.

Where are DCSS's Master Teachers' involvement and input into this plan? Where is the plan for regular education teachers to evaluate this plan if it is not working for their students?

Ms. Tyson, Dr. Beasley and Dr. Berry are showing their lack of classroom experience. The students will be the ones to pay the price.

Write Ms. Tyson and Dr. Beasley and your BOE members and demand they put more personnel in the schoolhouse doing direct instruction of students, in particular directly instructing struggling learners. Ask them to explain the teacher involvement input for this plan. In addition, ask them to release the Teacher Turnover numbers by school for DCSS for the last five years.

Ramona Tyson:
ramona_tyson@fc.dekalb.k12.ga.us

Morcease Beasley:
MORCEASE_J_BEASLEY@fc.dekalb.k12.ga.us

Audria Berry
AUDRIA_BERRY@fc.dekalb.k12.ga.us

Cerebration has a link to the entire BOE on the right hand side menu bar on the home page of the DeKalb County School Watch.

Cerebration said...

Curious Sagamore7 - were you able to figure out if the parent volunteers who worked intensely one on one with struggling students at Sagamore were able to have an impact in their test scores?

If so, maybe Tyson should consult Sagamore ES leadership - staff and parents.

bu2 said...

Two things disturb me about this. One is the coordinators to make sure the teachers follow the policy. The 2nd is Walker's comment about requiring the parent to attend.

Both of these things fall into the teacher's common complaints of being treated with disrespect. The resources are being focused on the "evil" adults (teachers or parents) who are supposedly the cause of all the problems, instead of the children. The intent is right, but the tone is kind of offensive and doesn't involve taking personal responsibility by the leadership.

Stnuocca said...

Between August 26th and September 9th, there are 9 school days. A teacher with 20 or more at risk teacher has to come up with 20 plans and schedule 20 meetings with parents?

Meanwhile the inspectors are inspecting and the coaches are having daily training for the teachers????

By the way in triage you let the dying die and leave the lightly injured to be taken care of later.

atl said...

What is support to this DCSS administration? Support seems to consist of data collection and analysis, monitoring, professional development, and putting in place an accountability process.

Where is the additional direct instruction for struggling students? Where are the small groups and "double dose" instruction that these learners MUST have in order to move forward academically?

I watched the video, and it's pretty scary to seethe levels and layers of non-teaching

Dr. Speaks gave a good assessment - these things are the things that the district says we have been doing all along - but achievement has remained low.

Ms. Tyson asked why Instructional Coaches could not directly instruct children.

Ms. Tyson got it right by saying that additional help for struggling students needs to be a teacher directly instructing them and said she asked Dr. Berry why the Instructional coaches could not directly teach the students concepts that they have not mastered. Dr. Berry cited Federal laws to say why she COULDN'T provide any additional direct instruction for students via Instructional Coaches. Dr. Berry should have taken Ms. Tyson's excellent idea of direct instruction for struggling students and started figuring out how to provide that. Dr. Berry is long on excuses, but Ms. Tyson is beginning to ask her the hard questions.

Stnuocca said...

Regarding ATL post "Dr. Berry is long on excuses, but Ms. Tyson is beginning to ask her the hard questions."

Is the public to think that:

a. Ms. Tyson only asks/tells/discusses with Dr. Berry at Board meetings?

b. these meetings are not choreographed insofar as the Superintendent is concerned?

To state the obvious, any speaker/presenter on the DCSS payroll is briefing/reporting on the BEHALF of the superintendent but have a deeper well of knowledge.

teacher said...

If instructional coaches can't provide instruction, than they should have an administrative role to their title. Instructional coaches in any other district that I have worked in or have friends working in-in other states-directly work with the children on their areas of need. They are not hired hands waiting for one to make a false move only to go and report to their leader. The coaches that I know are actually some of the best teachers in their field and understand how to help struggling students. They are the most successful teachers and they work just as hard as a classroom teacher trying to make improvements in the children's knowledge and skill set.

I believe what Berry wasn't telling Tyson, is that many of the coaches can't teach children because they aren't certified. The question wasn't answered honestly IMHO. You can't teach if you don't have teaching certification.

atl said...

@ Stnuoccoa
Ms. Tyson acknowledges that struggling students need additional instruction. Dr. Berry does not say that struggling students need additional instruction. She only has an excuse as to why DCSS can't use the Instructional Coaches for additional instruction.

Dr. Berry says that 10% of federal dollars must be earmarked for Professional Learning. She then says that "we" (meaning Dr. Lewis and Dr. Berry) chose to use the Instructional Coach model. If the Instructional Coaches aren't moving students forward, other models can be used. So why aren't they? And where is the other 90% of Title 1 funding going?

Go to this website and you will see what federal funds are being spent on in DCSS. It's not anywhere as detailed as it should be (like an online check register), but you can see get an idea of what DCSS is using federal funding for.

Out of $129,401,532, federal dollars DCSS spent in 2010, 15% ($19,830,821) was spent on Teacher Salaries.

http://www.open.ga.gov/psa/poeMain.aud
Click on Payments
Organization Type: Choose Local Boards of Education (LEA)
Organization: Choose DeKalb Board of Education
Funding Source: Federal

Stnuocca said...

These BOE are dog and pony show. Tyson should tell Berry and Beasley to carry out. Is she not in charge?

The Berrys and Beasleys cannot carry out directives yet they want over supervise teachers.

wondering said...

One definition of triage is; the sorting of and allocation of treatment to disaster victims according to a system of priorities designed to maximize the number of survivors. In this scenario, the victims would be struggling learners, and the treatment would be a plan for intervention to help them survive academically. The problem in DCSS is that in most Title1 schools, the majority of the students will need triage services. In disaster situations, when there are elevated numbers needing triage, plans are implemented to send in more “hands”. These hands are not limited to positions of observation and management; they are there to provide direct hands on assistance to the victims. These direct hands on contributions increase the potential for more survivors, not the allocation of more observers and administrators.
The DCSS administrations can be as heartfelt as they want to be, but until they recognize and administer the correct triage services there will continue to be numerous victims. It appears as if they have misidentified the patients in need of triage. They are providing “overseers” to ensure that teachers are meeting student needs. These observers would more effectively utilized by getting into the trenches, and providing the needed hands on assistance to these student /victims.
In order to correct a problem it has to be clearly identified. .It appears that the DCSS insist on directing the problem onto the teachers. They are continuing with the same triage that has proven ineffective in the past. It appears that they think that a change in name constitutes a change in procedures, which of course is flawed. It is similar to calling a furlough day, a calendar reduction day. The name has been changed, but the consequences remain the same.
It is noted that they have determined that instruction coaches cannot provide direct instruction or triage to the students. The solution seems obvious here; they are not needed in this triage solution. If they cannot be effective in the way that they can best be utilized they are a hindrance rather than a help. Use the Title1 funds more effectively. Place those coaches back into the classroom where they can use their alleged superior skills to provide students with the best triage service available; thereby meeting the goal of more survivors. Their addition back into the classroom will benefit all students as class sizes will be reduced across the board.
Some will point to the fact that there are studies that indicate that reduced class sizes are not linked to increased student success. These studies have been conducted in situations where the majority of students are performing on grade level. This is obviously not the case in Title 1 schools; therefore the studies are not applicable to this situation
The more things change at DSCS, the more they actually stay the same. They have chosen to use band aids in this triage situation when major surgery is indicated. Their chosen method of triage will not by any means contribute to nor will it increase the number of academic survivors.
.

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

How can we have coaches without teaching certificates teaching the children? This makes no sense.

I've seen this comment several times over the past few weeks and found this strange. I checked PATS and saw several job openings with descriptions for Instructional Coaches. They had the following requirements:


EDUCATION AND/OR EXPERIENCE:
Master’s degree from a Professional Standards Commission approved accredited college or university in an educational field required.
Minimum of five (5) years experience as a classroom teacher required.

CERTIFICATES, LICENSES, PERMITS:
Valid Professional Standards Commission approved certificate at the level T-5 and above required.


Which is it?

Teacher2 said...

I'm a DeKalb teacher and I'm dismayed with this so-called Monitoring Plan. More of the same. My comments below are enclosed in parentheses.

RE: Here's their monitoring plan:
• Coordinators from Special Education, Educational Media, Professional Learning, Title I, Career Tech, English Language Learners, etc., have been assigned to each school to provide direct monitoring and support of school’s actions to implement appropriate interventions for all level 1 students each week.

(Each week, huh? That’s some pretty intense “monitoring.” What about the essential work that these people are already doing? Maybe not so essential? And these Coordinators have been assigned to each school? There are lots of schools in DCSS – I hope there aren’t that many coordinators!!)

• Coordinators have been grouped into teams to conduct Focused Walks at the school to assist in the school’s implementation of the curriculum. Focused Walks will occur monthly with priorities for the year as follows:
◦ Ensure the teaching of the written curriculum and use of instructional resources as provided by the district

(Bureaucratic solution for all problems – form a team. Focus walks ensure nothing - they will amount to monthly dog-and-pony shows and provide no useful data)

◦ Appropriate student engagement and differentiation
◦ Coordinators have been grouped into teams to conduct random Teaching and Learning Inventories monthly with a focus on intervention.

(Conduct random monthly inventories? Of what? I suspect that these inventories will involve teachers doing extra work to compile worthless data gathered from poorly-written benchmark tests.)

◦ Results from Focused Walks and Teaching and Learning Inventories will be reported to the Interim Superintendent, Deputy Chief for School Operations, Interim Deputy for Teaching and Learning, and Area Assistant Superintendents.

(Really? All of these higher-ups are going to analyze all of the “data” derived from the focus walks and the inventories? Sounds like a lot of paper-pushing to me. But , hey these people need something to stay busy.)

(I’ll describe a Focus Walk from the teacher’s perspective: I’m teaching class and suddenly my door opens and in walks three or four adults with notepads in their hands, all looking very serious. They walk around the room examining walls, bulletin boards, etc., taking copious notes. They often pull students aside to ask questions like “Can you recite the standard?” or “Where is the standard posted in the classroom?” Now, I’m supposed to continue my lesson as if these people aren’t there. It has the feel of an IRS audit and or an INS raid and puts everyone on edge, including the students.)

◦ A Teaching and Learning Reports will be discussed and challenges addressed during regular meetings for the Division of Teaching and Learning and the Division of School Operations.

(Another bureaucratic solution: meetings!) Again, they need something to keep them busy and justify their jobs.)

• Advisory Council has been developed to serve as a coalition of administrators and teacher leaders to guide the work of teaching and learning in DCSS. Monthly meetings will serve as a forum to prioritize the work and to strategize to overcome the challenges.

(And more meetings)

• The role of Title I Instructional Coaches has been expanded to include support for teachers in all core content areas by providing professional development to teachers daily except for one day a month of professional learning and content training.

(Say what? That’s not even a coherent sentence!
I think what they meant to say is this: The role of Title I Instructional Coaches has been expanded to reduce the valuable and precious planning time for teachers in all core content areas by pretending to provide professional development to teachers daily which really means that one day a month we will require them to attend a meeting so that we can teach them how to teach their subject of which we know little or nothing.)

teacher said...

Well put Teacher2.

Open+Transparent said...

Are we allowed to ask for internet usage logs for DCSS employees? If so, you'd find that many of Audria Berry's Instructional Coaches/Instructional Supervisors are working on their online degree's while on the clock.

And a whole lotta others throughout DCSS are working on online diplomas (which aren't worth blank in most cases), while on the clock. Ramona Tyson used to be in charge of MIS; you'd think she'd be on top of this
malfeasance.

I'd personally like to see Jamal Edwards internet usage log.

wondering said...

While looking at the requirements for instructional coaches, did you also note their salaries? Their salaries max out at 99,228.00, for having a master’s degree. A teacher with a Doctor’s degree (DCSS’s title) maxes out at 80, 798.00. The discrepancies in salaries are indicative of the lack of educational respect given to teachers by DCSS.

atl said...

Trenton Arnold:

“We have varying levels of understanding for each one of the domains… Now you still have some students in that domain that are doing quite well. We have a couple of students that have scored in the 100 Percent – have gotten all their questions related to that domain correct and 2 that are 86. Those are students that a teacher could use for peer-to-peer instruction. You take these students and allow them to help with those other struggling student which is one of our instructional strategies we have used throughout the district. “

Just what parents of gifted and high achiever want – their children used as remedial education teachers as DCSS “upper management” refuses to put certified personnel in place to work with struggling learners.

No wonder parents of Gifted students and high achievers in South DeKalb want to transfer their students to theme schools and magnet programs and schools in North DeKalb. Can you blame them?

Gifted and High Achieving students should not be used as “remedial teachers” just because DCSS won’t use literally hundreds of millions in Title I and federal funds and General school funds to place certified personnel in the classroom directly instructing small groups of struggling students.

You've read many posts on this blog from parents of high achievers that complain about this. Now you can see why they complain. Per Trenton Arnold, DCSS has an official policy to use high achieving children to remediate struggling students rather than invest in additional teachers to remediate students who have not mastered grade level content.

atl said...

Trenton Arnold is totally out of touch with reality. He does not understand the value of "real time" data. He is trying to use scant information that is many months old to give teachers feedback - too little - too late. Student minds are flexible and ever changing, and good teachers are as well.

Mr. Arnold has not asked teachers what data they need to move students forward.

He had absolutely NOTHING to add to improving student achievement. How did he get this job?

atl said...

Ms. Tyson and the BOE cut 600+ teaching positions. Parents/taxpayers and the children are reaping what they sowed.

teacher said...

The district did not have to cut teaching positions. Those in charge chose to go that route, so that they could keep friends and family members in high paying jobs that really are not necessary for running a school. As a former teacher in DCSS, the district does not need more money to provide our children with a better education, they simply need to use the money that they have in a financially responsible way. There are many layers of administrators and support staff that should have been cut before teachers were ever touched. There should have been more thought about paying for multi-million dollar programs and other expenditures such as Esis, the palace, America's Choice, contracts for textbooks, etc. Our board and superintendent are not asking the right and enough questions. They are allowing those with little experience to make big decisions without asking teachers what they want or need. Follow the money trail and you see that many friends and family members have benefited from these poor decisions.

Our board members need to ask more and tougher questions, and start making those running the district responsible for what they say. Of course this is difficult, when the board also has family members that could lose their high paying job because of decisions that they make. This is why we need a board that cares more about the children, than the employees working for the school. We need someone like the interim superintendent at APS, but our board doesn't have the guts to hire someone like that as they'd spoil the gig that they have going for them. They'd rather more of the same and no one in the administration has the guts to call them out on this.

atl said...

Dr. Berry’s remarks about Instructional Coaches, “They are not District Level sit up here staff.” Does that mean that the Central Office staff is “sit up here” personnel?

$10,000,000+ for non-teaching Instructional Coaches ($100,000 each in salary and benefits), and Dr. Berry is adding more millions to this program.

Here is a list of Dr. Berry’s personal staff in the Office of School Improvement:
Data Entry Specialist $50,532
Executive Director $117,012
Coordinator $88,520
Parent Community Liaison Specialist $62,682
Coordinator $104,784
Assistant Director $90,084
Accounting Associate $52,861
Executive Administrative Assistant $51,561
Coordinator $68,005
Coordinator $92,592
Coordinator $102,732
Coordinator $80,815
Parent Community Liaison Specialist $67,343
Accounting Associate $52,384
Coordinator $104,784
Coordinator $94,980
Administrative Assistant $32,004
Director of DeKalb Graduates $115,308
Administrative Assistant $37,231
Parent Community Liaison Specialist $61,021
Director of DeKalb Graduates $109,740
Administrative Assistant $36,527
Coordinator $77,580
Coordinator $89,457
Administrative Assistant $26,198

$2,300,000+ in salary and benefits for 25 employees – approximately $100,000 per employee annually.

Close to $7,000,000 for the ineffective learning program America’s Choice

And not one teacher for struggling learners. Historically poor performance for Title I schools.

Someone needs to remind us of why Dr. Berry still has her job

Cerebration said...

"sit up here staff"?!! geeesh.

I will refer you all to an old post where we discussed the confusion among these job descriptions,

I'm still confused - there are "Instructional Specialists" (which we've determined are "specials" teachers like art, music and PE) and then there are "Instructional Coaches" who are Title 1 school employees whose job I don't understand, and then there are "Instructional Coordinators" who implement curriculum (? not sure what that means) and then there are "Instructional Supervisors" - what do they do?

Clarity on the "Instructional Specialists" vs "Instructional Supervisors"

We learned there that the Instructional Coaches (a DCSS term) are listed as Staff Development Specialists on the state salary schedule.

Here's another post where we tried to sort it all out -

More on the "Office of School Improvement" $$$

Apparently, this office has blossomed under NCLB and the RTTT.

Cerebration said...

We also have an older post you all may want to read that takes a look at Morcease Beasley's record in Texas -

The Data Behind the Man

Cerebration said...

Also, wasn't it mostly Instructional Coaches who attended the America's Choice conference in Hollywood? Did they share what they learned out there with the teachers?

dadfirst said...

Many that I have spoken with feel this plan (still to be "tweaked" based on Board feedback) is a crucial step in the right direction. Is it perfect? Probably not, but there is no such thing. As another poster indicated, many of the steps outlined in this approach are followed by other school systems. On this board it seems that the same handful of people want to complain and dissect in their same usual negative manner. I am left with the impression based on omments that some individuals are more concerned with their own agendas and personal bias than with any concern for the students in this school district. Anything positive post very shortly becomes negative and ultimately ends up with the same people posting the same old, same old.

I am reminded of a phrase I hear often "haters gonna hate". If you really want to make a change for the students, get out from behind the anonmity of a message board and contact the Principals of these low performing schools, offer to setup mentoring sessions for the students, coordinate a group of high school students that are performing and match them with elementary students that are struggling. Setup a school supply drive for children in Title schools. Setup a book drive for teachers who would like extra books for their ELA students. Or is it just easier to sit at a keyboard all day long? CNN Founder Ted Turner had a plague on this desk that said "Lead, follow, or get out of the way".

teacher said...

@ dad first

What you as a parent don't realize, is that teachers already do this for their students that do not make the cut on the CRCT. This is already being done. More of the same isn't going to help those in failing schools. A teacher does not need yet another administrator. They already have the AP, principal, area super, Beasley, and now a coach. Many of the coaches have no teaching certificate and no classroom teaching time. How are these people going to know what best practices are? How are they going to help a teacher who has tried everything that they know and the child isn't learning?

You see, more of the same isn't going to make DCSS better. This plan is just more of what is already being done, just adding another administrative level and more busy work for teachers. DCSS can't afford to lose too many more good teachers because of the BS and paper work. Teachers are tired. Their classrooms are over crowded. They aren't able to have high expectations for their students and have to grade the same paper two, three, four, five times and then have busy paper work on top of that.

As a parent you really don't understand what teachers are already doing. When they are already doing something like this, doing it on a grander scale isn't going to help these kids. These kids need smaller classrooms and more intensive learning. They need a Title One teacher working with them on a regular basis to help them get the skills that they are lacking. They need the district to stop passing kids on that are lacking skills and for the district to raise the bar on what is expected of its students.

You see Dad First, I would love more than anything for DCSS to improve and to be able to send my child to a DCSS school. But until the board and superintendent get real on what the kids need and ask teachers that are working with the children that know, more of the same BS that has happened for at least the past 4 years that I am aware of and most likely longer isn't going to improve our schools. I am keeping it real and praying that someone will come in and really give a darn about our kids and make the necessary improvements.

I believe that those on this blog want more than anything for the schools to improve and for all children in DCSS to receive a quality education. The leaders in place do not have the knowledge, experience or know how to get that job done. Those are the facts sir. Parents need to wise up and talk to teachers to find out what is really going on and their ideas on how to better help the children. Maybe then you'd see that those on this blog aren't so far off base.

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

@ dadfirst

Are you satisfied with the declining student achievement in DCSS?

Do you realize that this declining student achievement has been under the same leadership Dr. Lewis installed in 2005 and 2006? How many years would you give them to "get it right"?

Why do you think the same "upper management" implementing the same processes will produce any different result?

Do you believe that placing 30+ students with as many as 40% to 50% reading and computing below grade level (often 2 or 3 years below) in a class with one teacher will provide these students with the individual attention and direct instruction they need?

If you don't believe that class sizes are this large, then you need to go to some of the schools and count the number of children in the classes.

I'm not sure why you assume posters to this blog do not teach and volunteer in the schools. How would they know what goes on in the schools if they didn't?

I like your last sentence. ""Lead, follow, or get out of the way"." That's a very good policy for the DCSS administration and BOE members to follow.

September said...

I must agree that a lot of what is in that PowerPoint is more of the same. It is possible that some schools are not doing these things, but that should be addressed at the school level. Perhaps that is the point. If you are doing what you are supposed to do, this shouldn't be a problem.

That said, I'm not convinced that more Focus Walks are going to help improve instruction. These walks take a lot of time and they disrupt instruction. They make teachers nervous and distract students. One person quietly sitting in on a class is very different from having a group of several people with clip boards wandering around your room and talking with students while you are trying to teach. Bulletin boards, commentary, and posting standards can be checked before or after school. Principals/APs have copies of lesson plans, so they know what you are working on. When they step into your room, they know what you should be teaching.

Good principals and APs know what is going on in the classrooms in their building. IMHO the best plan for improving instruction is to make sure that a qualified principal is working in every school building.

As for the Teaching and Learning Advisory Council, again not sure it will help. We already have a Teacher Advisory Council (Committee?). A few years ago we went from having an elected representative from each school to assigning the teacher of the year at each school to serve. This change resulted in a less effective organization. Many of the teachers who are honored as teacher of the year are not all that interested in serving on this committee. At one time teachers could have their concerns addressed in these meetings and minutes for the meetings were shared with teachers. These days you often get justifications and excuses when you raise a concern.

Cerebration said...

@dadfirst... I wish you could know the bloggers I know. The people posting here by and large, are THE people who have done everything on your list and far more over the course of about the last 15 years. Please don't admonish them for what you perceive they are not doing. I would wage a bet that the people posting on this blog have done far more than you can even imagine. I know many of them. I know this to be true.

Stnuocca said...

Every time we ask for increased achievement, we ask for more stupid bureaucracy and management from public school districts.

As long as achievement is measured by AYP and EOCT/CRCT, increasing achievement is impossible.

Add to this proposal that the State doctors these test yearly and cheating has been demonstrated throughout the USA, we cannot even establish a real and honest baseline for achievement.

ATL makes some brilliant points that can work if only he did not suppose the better outcomes he expects were measurable by the current tools.

Anon said...

The problem is that until we address the poor quality of the leadership both in our school houses and in the central office, we can't really think things can get much better.

Here is the deal, weak central office personnel support weak principals. Weak principals hire weak teachers, so that the teachers won't challenge them. This doesn't happen in communities with strong active parents. It happens in the poor communities, where parents don't know better.

(See Atlanta City Schools for validation of what I am saying.)

Open+Transparent said...

Have said this before: In the Decatur school system, each principal has to sit in on one full class per day. Principals focus academics, and don't get stuck on minutiae, the background noise,
facility this and that, Central Office politics, etc.

Decatur doesn't have a bunch of overpaid, busy work assigning instructioanl coaches and supervisors. And while their demographics are different than DCSS, they still have more low income students than you think.
And you don't become a principal there without years in the classroom, or with an advanced degree from an online diploma mill, or from being a family member of a bigshot, unlike DCSS.

Point is, the principals in Decatur are actively involved on the academic side, and they work hard to give teachers the tools they need to succeed. They definitely don't micromanage proven vet teachers.

Our BOE enables and allows the massive Office on School Improvement bureuacracy, despite its failure to provide any return on investment. Tens of millions are dispaced on the OSI that should be used in the actual classroom. Can't wait to hear Tom Bowen's re-election platform.

DinoMom said...

@Atl
"Do you believe that placing 30+ students with as many as 40% to 50% reading and computing below grade level (often 2 or 3 years below) in a class with one teacher will provide these students with the individual attention and direct instruction they need? "

This, to me, is the nitty-gritty, crux of the problem. No matter how many walk-throughs and instructional coaches you add, nothing is going to improve until you get class size down to a manageable size. It confounds me that our administration believes that struggling students can get what they need in this environment. This is not education - it is warehousing. And I can only imagine that we are going to lose many of our best teachers because we're burning them out and making it impossible for them to do their jobs.

I come from a family of public school teachers and administrators and have always strongly supported public school. It was with utmost regret that I finally concluded that my child was not going to be able to get even a decent education in a DCSS classroom and moved him to private school.

dadfirst said...

@atl - I never EVER indicating scores were not declining. We all know our system is in crisis mode. You, atl, are such a pro at turning around a discussion into something it is not. You, atl, are the one who sits behind the keyboard day after day after posting the same old stale information. You do not post anything new. You do not offer any real solutions. Reroute your anger and disappointment into something constructive - something that will actually make a difference in the lives of the students in this school district.

dadfirst said...

Cerebration, actually I do know several of the individuals that post here. I have come in contact with them during my own volunteer efforts within the school system. I also know that there are individuals on this blog who do nothing but send out harassing email to principals, area supers and others. Change will be not affected by anger, bitterness and other negative actions. After a point, these individuals are simply tuned out.

As the saying goes, "be the change you wish to see".

dundevil said...

Definition of "triage" (from Wikipedia). Three categories

1. Those who are likely to live, regardless of what care they receive;
2. Those who are likely to die, regardless of what care they receive;
3. Those for whom immediate care might make a positive difference in outcome.

DCSS fits somewhere between 2 and 3. Low chance of survival unless extreme measures are taken

Teacher2 said...

September wrote: “Good principals and APs know what is going on in the classrooms in their building. IMHO the best plan for improving instruction is to make sure that a qualified principal is working in every school building.”

Absolutely! Placing and keeping good principals would be the single best step that DeKalb could take to improve our schools. Leave them in their position long enough to get strong and effective teachers in the classrooms. Research shows that nothing improves student achievement more. There are no quick fixes here in DeKalb. This monitoring plan is a continuation down the same wrong path.
The problem in DeKalb is that the principal position serves as a stepping-stone to the county office - educational Nirvana for many educators. Easy solutions to this problem would be:
1. Raise the salary for principals. Make it a destination position. Leave good ones in place. Very few CO positions should pay higher than the principal. The principal position is the most demanding and difficult job in the school system, outside of the superintendent (maybe). Promotion to the CO for an administrative job should result in a significant pay cut! The fact that these promotions usually result in a pay increase is absurd!
2. Reduce the number of CO positions to which principals might aspire. Cut the bureaucratic fat.
3. Allow the principal to do his/her job. Don’t micro-manage. Don’t constantly pull them out of their schools for county-wide meetings. Our principal and APs are regularly out of the building for county meetings during the school day!

RUKiddingme said...

This is all so ridiculous!! The roll out plan from last year was the know all and end all! Now another one!! Where are the results of all of that? Lessons learned? What worked well? What didn't? Come on people!!! How many times are you going to restart the clock with the same runners! America's Choice-show the results!!! Another 8million dollars in about to roll into those cofers again this year! Does anybody care?

The big meeting in Hollywood with America's Choice was a bulletin board display showcase!! Ask the coaches what they had to haul out to Hollywood? Ask the participants how useless the conference was. Only Debbie Rives had fun counting her money and laughing about the fact that Berry and CLEW gave her such a bonus package! OMG, DCSS!!! RUKiddingme???
Can someone ask the coordinators to include video clips of their work in the classrooms? Technology affords such in teaching and learning situations. This could be a reality tv show!!! For sure it would be entertaining!

Drop in on a school and see for yourself all this "Up front" gooblygok!!!

This tirage plan is going to send teachers straight out the door!!

Accountability is not new!!
Oh! don't say anything about Trent Arnold. He's the product of Debbie Rives' golden touch! He's a golden boy!! He IS "America's Choice!"

atl said...

@ dadfirst

You imply that this administration that has been in charge for so many years will somehow change and turn this school system around. Yet the "Triage" method Ms. Tyson presented bears a striking resemblance to the policies and procedures that have been in place for years.

I agree that volunteers and parents working in schools is important, but at the end of the day, the leaders of the school system must be responsible for success or failure.

... " You do not offer any real solutions."

Here are my very specific suggestions for the Office of School Improvement and Title 1. Feel free to add to this list.

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.

atl said...

@ dadfirst

You seem to think that this administration who has been in charge for so many years will somehow change and turn this school system around. Yet the "Triage" method Ms. Tyson presented bears a striking resemblance to the policies and procedures that have been in place for years.

I agree that volunteers and parents working in schools is important, but at the end of the day, the leaders of the school system must be responsible for success or failure.

... " You do not offer any real solutions."

Here are very specific suggestions for the Office of School Improvement and Title 1. Feel free to add to this list.

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.

atl said...

@ dadfirst

"Change will be not affected by anger, bitterness and other negative actions."

Agreed. Change will be affected with new leadership for DCSS.

nikhowall said...

I am a teacher in a Title I school. I already do this. It is called RTI. And I didn't have enough time to implement interventions and complete the paper work before. What I need is to have the workload decreased. If half my class is level 1, when do they each get interventions and when do I teach everyone else and when do I complete the paperwork required for each student? Assessing younger students takes much more time than assessing older students. I fear Dr. Beasley knows nothing about the needs of teaching younger students. All coaches should be sent to schools and now called by some other title so that they can pull groups of struggling students and administer the interventions, document the interventions and record the results.

dadfirst said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
atl said...

@ nikhowell

"I fear Dr. Beasley knows nothing about the needs of teaching younger students. "

Dr. Beasely taught high school math for 3 1/2 years in the 1990s so you are right that he has absolutely no experience with younger students.

I taught regular ed - 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th grade, and IMO the early grades are the critical intervention years.

Students below grade level should be pulled for "double dose" reading and/or math every day for small group instruction by Title 1 Reading and Tile 1 Math teachers. DCSS has the Title 1 money to do this. It's just not how the Office of School Improvement chooses to spend Title 1 money.

Teachers with 30+ in a class cannot provide individualized lesson plans for every student and execute those plans. Yet that is what Dr. Beasley is proposing. His plan is physically impossible and is so much edubabble.

Walkthroughs with clipboards will do NOTHING to improve student achievement. In fact, it will have the opposite effect, as it is distracting to classroom instruction. In addition, meetings with teachers to discuss the walkthroughs drains valuable planning time.

This administration is short on educational experience, and this is proving detrimental to students.

Cerebration said...

Ok people, obviously this is an emotionally-charged conversation, but let's try to stick to the facts. No need to "yell" at people here. Be respectful of each other and allow for differing opinions. I had to remove an angry comment just above the most recent - and if I have to do it again, I'll have to put the blog on moderation and I'll have to review every comment. I don't find that fun.

Anon said...

One of the thing that should make you go Huh and scratch your head is that a teacher at McNair Learning may have 28 4th graders this year, 40 percent of whom may have scored level 1 on the CRCT while a teacher at Wadsworth will have 17 and no level 1 students.

We are clearly doing something backwards here in DeKalb, but no one wants to talk about it.

Dekalbparent said...

Anon, I knew both of those facts, but never quite put them tohether in the context of this discussion.

I'm indeed scratching my head and going "Huh". Indeed backwards. It is wonderful to give our "high achievers" the advantage of a small class (they can go up yo 20, I think), but the at-risk kids need it as much or more.

atl said...

McNair had 37% score at level 1 in Reading this year while 51% scored at Level 1 in Math. Can a teacher with 28 or even 30 students be expected to write individual plans every day for 15 students in addition to the regular plans for he 30 students and execute these plans? What would the Coach being doing all day as she stays in the classroom for "support"? Will she just take notes, walk around the room, read a book? What exactly is support if you are not interacting with students while a teacher teaches?

On the other hand Wadsworth with very small class sizes had 100% of their students above a Level1 in math and reading.

This seems very unequitable not just for teachers but also for students.

Struggling students need small classes and Title 1 Math and Reading teachers who will pull them for remediation and intervention. Anyone with any classroom experience knows this. Hopefully, parents reading this will now know this as well.

teacher said...

Excellent point Anon.

bu2 said...

@atl
Regarding your suggestion: at our non-Title I school there are specialists who pull out children with issues such as reading and give them small group instruction.

My impression was that these specialists were in most, if not all the DCSS elementary schools.
Maybe one of the current elementary teachers can clarify that.

M G said...

bu2,

Reading and Math Specialists that pull out small groups of students are not available in all elementary schools. It all depends on how the principal chooses to use their points and/or advocates for additional points for that purpose.

Several years ago there were schools who were successful because they assigned all the specialists to a homeroom and thus reduced the class sizes overall. This was how it worked in my school when I started 10 years ago. Our largest class size was 15, so there was no problem providing interventions for struggling students AND enrichment for advanced students.

I know they aren't present in ALL elementary schools, or even all Title 1 elementary schools. I'm not sure of an actual percentage though.

atl said...

@bus2

You have indicated in former posts that your school is Fernbank. Fernbank has may teacher points due to the high number of gifted students that accrue a substantial amount of money over the state allotment. Since all teachers at Fernbank are certified in Gifted, you only need one gifted teacher to coordinate gifted (she also does the IB coordination) and the gifted money can go for additional teachers at the discretion of the principal. In addition, the parents pay for a foreign language teacher and a hands-on science teacher. Fernbank is really not the norm for Title 1 schools or even non-Title 1 schools.

Some schools have a teacher dedicated to small groups of struggling readers. Some do not. Some have a teacher dedicated to small groups of struggling math students. Most do not.

Why do you think many schools have quite a few special education teachers? Parents and teachers are so desperate to get help for struggling learners that they push to have children staffed into special ed, and the new push is for 504 plans. Many students are not special education students. They are just behind in reading and/or math need remediation for a year or perhaps even two. Once they catch up, they are able to keep up with their peers.

All children who are behind in reading and math should be receiving extra help daily from a competent reading and/or math teacher. Right now DCSS has plenty of non-teaching Coaches - Math Coach, Reading Coach, Instructional Coach, Literacy Coach, Prevention/Intervention Coach (they're the ones who by and large are not certified teachers), ELL Coach, Instructional Change Coach, Graduation Coach, etc.

atl said...

@ MG

"This was how it worked in my school when I started 10 years ago. Our largest class size was 15, so there was no problem providing interventions for struggling students AND enrichment for advanced students."

Low pupil teacher ratio in the regular education classroom is the best of all possible worlds. That's why it was exciting when former Gov. Barnes plan mandated very low regular education class sizes. It was phased in over 3 years ago so 10 years ago was when it hit the lowest pupil teacher ratio.

Under the Barnes plan, class sizes could no longer be "averaged" - for example, count the number of students in grades 4 and 5 and divide by the number of teachers. The three Grade 4 teachers end up with 30+ each and the three Grade 5 teachers ended up with 24 each depending on the number of students in the respective grades. On paper it looks like every teacher has 27.

Barnes plan (which ran for 3 years in the early 2000's) lowered absolute class sizes for regular education (grade level and content area) teachers. If the class size was set at 25 and each 4th grade teacher had 25, then when the next child to come into the 4th grade, it meant DCSS had to hire another 4th grade teacher. Every class in 4th grade then went down to 19.

Grade level and content area teachers loved it. Superintendents hated it. The superintendents kicked and screamed that they didn't have the money, but the law said they had to hold the line on regular education class sizes. Superintendents had to trim in the admin and support ranks and fund the regular education program. Of course, when Barnes went out, so did the small classes.

Perdue immediately upped class sizes. Lewis came in as Perdue did this. Lewis upped class sizes in regular education, and took the extra money to establish a host of admin and support jobs. He could not have done this if he had to hold the line on regular education class sizes unless he continually raised the millage rate, a politically sticky proposition (although he did that too, but mainly he drained the money from regular ed).

Small grade level and content level class sizes only lasted three years so most teachers do not even remember how effective it was for students.

Your principal was wise and had a lot more flexibility back then. Very small regular education class sizes are the best of all possible worlds. Unfortunately, Title 1 will not fund extra grade level and content area teachers. This is called "supplanting" services. Title 1 requires funding to go for something over and above the regular education classroom - isn't that always the way it is?. That's why IMHO dedicated Title 1 Reading and Math teachers are the next best thing.

The regular education teacher has larger class sizes, increased paperwork and training demands, requirements for greater parent contact, and little support with discipline. He/she simply does not have the time to remediate 40% to 50% of his/her students who may be below grade level (a common occurrence in DCSS.) Ms. Tyson, Dr. Beasley and Dr. Berry would know this if they sat down and had a real dialog with grade level and content area teachers.

If I had a magic wand, we would have almost every teacher as a grade level and content area teacher since this is where MOST students spend MOST of their day and acquire almost all of the skills schools are supposed to be accountable for providing.

Fred said...

@dadfirst,
"Change will be not affected by anger, bitterness and other negative actions. After a point, these individuals are simply tuned out. "

A very true statement! I took a look on the title page on this blog and saw the following,
"Hosting a dialogue among parents, educators and community members focused on improving our schools and providing a quality, equitable education for each of our nearly 100,000 students."

I agree with you that recently the tone has an edge along with a touch of bitterness throughout. It's as though education vigilantes have taken over and are working to suppress countering opinions and verifiable facts. This blog may soon become irrevelant if meaninful dialogue is discouraged and is only viewed as a place to simply throw stones.

Cerebration said...

In reviewing past "initiatives" from school system leaders and in particular, Ramona Tyson, I have found many interesting promises made in the past, that never quite came to fruition (or even made it past the verbal promise stage). I predict the same will happen with this initiative. It's how the school system has worked for a very long time. I could find exactly the same pattern with Lewis – a series of identifying an emergency, breathlessly presenting a plan of action and then on to the next emergency - completely forgetting about the current promises an never actually following through on those public promises. In fact, I guess you could describe DCSS as in a constant state of triage.

Cerebration said...

For example, just last May, Tyson made these promises regarding a new salary audit -

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.


May 9, Part 2: Ramona Tyson's report on the 2004 Ernst & Young audit and plans for a new audit

Cerebration said...

Here's another - from the ELPC meeting 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, 2009 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”.

And I believed her.


Makes me want to cry really.

Cerebration said...

My ears perked up when Ramona used those very same words, "laser-light focus" regarding this new "Triage" initiative. Yep - another "laser-light focus" on students.

C?Y!

Cerebration said...

Here are some promises made by Beasley to turn around low-performing schools -- what ever became of these plans? Were they implemented? Were they successful? Do they sound suspiciously exactly like some of the plans in the new "Triage"?

Notes from the board's May 9 business meeting

Presentation led by Dr Beasley:

DCSS - Recipient of $34 million in RTTT
$400 million in total to GA
Our Focus – Graduation from high school, teacher training (Class Keys, Leader Keys – new evaluation system) Data – Teach For America – Merit Pay – Address lowest achieving schools

4 core areas:

A - Recruiting, preparing, rewarding & retaining effective leaders & teachers (priority from Dr Hooker – support effective teachers and weed ineffective ones)

B - Adoption of standards (common core GPS)

C - Building data systems – teachers have 24/7 access

D - Turn around lowest achieving schools

A – Interviewed 99 candidates – selecting up to 75 Teach for Am candidates – select 2 teaching fellow – train to be APs – Will train at Columbia University
B – July 2010 – renamed to GPS – all will be addressed – Common Assessments being developed – implemented in 2014-15 -- Phase 1 – administrators, Phase 2 – teacher leaders, Phase 3 all teachers
C – Data system (Instruction Improvement System). To be seamless. All teachers have access and will use the data. Used p-20. State will use the data as well.
D – Turnaround schools – 4 intervention models: Turnaround, Charter EMO, School Closure & Transformation – We’ve selected the Transformation model. Have identified schools. Towers application looks good so far. Must ensure extreme instructional makeover – Clarkston & McNair implementing improvements now. STEM – all ES and MS make Science the 2nd AYP indicator in lieu of attendance beginning in 2013.

Cerebration said...

At that same meeting, Dr. Hooker from the state had this to say,

Dr. Hooker – collaboration with the state

Board and super – it’s a pleasure to stand before you. You have shown that it’s not only head, it’s heart driving these initiatives. I encourage you all to listen to what Mr. Tolen mentioned. It’s about heart – what we need for turnaround.

20 schools in GA that we’re working with. DCSS selected Transformation. We’re in the right zone – headed for great things. I look forward to more students in the future like Mr. Tolen.

DeKalb county - $34 million. You bought into the following:

Summer leadership academy – required to attend. Rollout common core and evaluation standards. Keys – will be streamlined. Everyone needs standards-based instruction and assessment. Collaboratively with state DOE. Re-emphasizing the roles of school administrators – remove 'administratia' so that principals can get into the classroom. We also expect the students to do their part and step up their game in the next 2-3 years in this strategy. Seek to entice Teach for America teachers so that they decide to teach as a career. This district has asked me to look at candidates for the turnaround model. I expect great gains in these schools because I saw what the teachers want for the schools and I’ve seen the leadership ask for guidance. Yes, there will be struggles, but I don’t find a struggle working with DeKalb schools as you have asked me in on the front end.


These promises were made over two months ago in May. These initiatives should be already in the works - as many were promised for summer. Did anything happen? Did DCSS work with the state? Did they find Teach for America teachers? I haven't heard.

atl said...

@ Cerebration

"By July of 2011, a public advertisement of the RFP will occur."


Regarding the new and improved Compensation audit that Ramona promised, has the RFP been posted yet?

Has anyone written or called their BOE member to see if the Compensation audit RFP is meeting the target date promised by Ms. Tyson?

I agree that the same words are used over and over and over - laser focus, data driven, supporting teachers, focus walks, accountability, monitoring, etc. The only words I don't hear are Direct Instruction.

Cerebration said...

So, in reviewing these promises from DCSS leadership over the past year, we would like to follow up to find out if any of the following occurred -

Was an RFP created and sent out requesting bids for a new salary and compensation study "partnering either with a college or university or a company that specializes in organizational structure/compensation study"?

Did Ramona "continue to evaluate and streamline the central office and other areas of administration"?

Did Ramona "protect services that are closest to students.” ?

Did she "do a forensic audit to take a hard look at the programs that are not working"?

Did she "offer things in return [to teachers], such as eliminating some of their paperwork, creating a venue for communication and creating a classroom environment that allows teachers to do their job"?

Did Tyson "put on blinders, allowing all "that" to live on the sidelines, while executing a “laser light focus” on the task of rebuilding our school system?"

Did she “put the students in a cocoon and push through”?

Cerebration said...

Did Beasley fulfill his promises?

Recruiting, preparing, rewarding & retaining effective leaders & teachers.

Building data systems – teachers have 24/7 access

Turn around lowest achieving schools

Selecting up to 75 Teach for Am candidates

Select 2 teaching fellow – train to be APs at Columbia University

Implement a Data system (Instruction Improvement System). To be seamless. All teachers have access and will use the data.

Address Turnaround schools – implement the Transformation model at Towers Clarkston & McNair

STEM – all ES and MS make Science the 2nd AYP indicator in lieu of attendance beginning in 2013.

atl said...

Here are some more "buzz" words used over and over:
Collaboration, streamlined, standards based, implementation, staff development, modules, deliver training, coordinate, coach, measurement tools, etc.

The missing ingredient in this is more teachers directly instructing students.

Like your February 25th post entitled:
"Too Many Chiefs and Not Enough Indians"

http://dekalbschoolwatch.blogspot.com/2011/02/too-many-chiefs-and-not-enough-indians.html

The numbers in that post are scary for kids and taxpayers.

Stnuocca said...

@Cere 10:46AM,

Dr. Tolen's speech was as if she were grateful to be in Dekalb. Her tone was one of collusion and flattery.

I thought I was listening to one of the Joel Osteen feel good TV Sunday morning sermons.

It's all in the name of test scores. As stated before, repeal prohibition (our actual No Child Left Behind) and we remove all of these gimmicks (focused walk, teaching the test...)

Stnuocca said...

Dr. Hooker not Dr. Tolen....

Do we have a CV or bio on Dr. Hooker?

Cerebration said...

This is all I can find --

http://gcel.org/Sylvia_Hooker.html

Cerebration said...

I'm certain that some of these promises were kept and some weren't, however, it is becoming tiresome to hear the same promises repackaged, often using the same terminology, and never reporting on the status of the former promises. It's like that movie "Groundhog Day" -- we keep replaying and replaying the same day.

Stnuocca said...

Thanks, Cere.

She has a biblical quote and is choral director! Perhaps it is where my Joel Osteen vibe came from. Not sure if religious zeal and public education are a match made in heaven. No disrespect intended here.

Dr. Hooker's accomplishment come from Hartford, CT. It reads like Beverly Hall early bio in Newark. NJ.

Stnuocca said...

@Cere 11:50AM

As long we the public continue to worship at the altars of the unholy saints of AYP, CRCT, and EOCT and surrender our common sense (that tells us that we are comparing apples to oranges) to the apostles of the new religion of Data-driven, we shall continue to fed the gospel of the 4 Dekalb evangelists (Morcease, Ramona, Audria, and Bob)!

Stnuocca said...

Harry Potter must be the greatest movie of all times based on statistics. Sure, it made $168 000 000 in 3 days.

If we count screens and the latest cost for a ticket, we might get another picture.

In the same manner, we can't begin to compare a Lithonia High School to a Lakeside High School or compare similar demographics to each other; a Lithonia High School in GA is very much different to a Lithonia-like High Schoolin Hartford, CT.

concerned dcs teacher said...

Dekalb's approach to education reminds me of the similarly ridiculous approaches to dieting-buy exercise outfits, secure a gym membership, employ a trainer, purchase necessary magazines and books, inventory all food at home, buy better, lower sugar, less sugar, magic food but ignore the most obvious and necessary action: calorie reduction.

I think we need to use the APS cheating scandal-with its national coverage-to incite state and federal legislators to act on the morally and financially corrupt public education systems that are dooming Dekalb county and its citizens.

Like Sandy Spruill, I wrote a letter to the AJC editor asking him to fulfill his obligation to give a voice to the “average person” and put forth the same effort in investigating Dekalb County Schools. I provided numerous suggestions from examining degrees, types, and institutions attended for the various sub-superintendents, directors, coordinators, and coaches to the evaluation procedures put in place for these well-paid “educators” as well as the instructional initiatives and policies and professional learning programs and their measured "effectiveness," especially if scores have remained stagnant or plummeted as these policies have continued to be mandated.

Whether Ramona Tyson was grandstanding or not, I imagine many policy makers and taxpayers share the same question: "Why aren't we providing more explicit instruction to smaller groups?".

Please write the AJC, NYT (which had an article about APS in its Sunday Review yesterday), and CNN. If enough of us teachers (in my case ), parents, taxpayers, and business owners ask the same questions and raise the same concerns, people will have to act.

atl said...

@Stnuocca

I have to disagree.

If we gave up all standards of measurement, we would have an "Upper Administration" that is accountable to no one. Do not for one moment think that they will dismantle the vast army of non-teaching admin and support personnel (8,500+ compared to 6,400 teachers).

Viewing student performance is NOT going to go away. Even when there was no AYP, the newspaper routinely published ITBS scores and prospective homebuyers bought according to the test scores.

DCSS has students in high school that cannot read or compute on the most basic level. Some of our elementary, middle and high schools have a great many students that cannot read or compute on the most basic level. We will always have a certain percent of students that are not on grade level, but in DCSS we have a greater percentage of those students than any other metro system with comparable demographics.

Our teachers, students and parents are no different than COMPARABLE systems, so the logical conclusion is that the policies and procedures our classroom operate under is responsible. The administration sets those policies, practices and procedures, not students, teachers or parents.

Look at a few of the policies and practices that the DCSS administration has put in place that have proven detrimental to our students:

Out of every 5 employees certified to teach, 4 teach and 1 does not. Only DCSS and APS have these kinds of Teacher to Staff ratios.

The DCSS budget for science supplies and equipment was around 50 cents per child last year. Science is a supply and equipment intensive subject. Ms. Tyson and Dr. Beasley spoke repeatedly of engaged teaching. Student "engagement" is not promoted with a science budget like this.

DCSS has bought expensive and ineffective scripted learning programs (High Schools That Work, Springboard, America's Choice, etc.) rather than investing that money into direct instruction for students. There has been no student progress accountability for these tens of millions of dollars.

Cutting teaching positions has been the primary way Dr. Lewis's administration addressed budgetary issues and funded those 8,500 non-teaching positions. The same "Upper Management" is still in place, and cutting teaching positions is how they are still addressing budgetary concerns.

Technology purchases have been routinely made that don't work for teachers or students. Non-working equipment, software that doesn't deliver the benefits promised, and student access that is among the lowest in the metro area have what we have gotten for the literally hundreds of millions taxpayers have poured into technology.

Non-teaching trainers and coaches with scant classroom experience (and in some instances no classroom experience) have not only been hired, their numbers have been increased over and over while direct instruction has been decreased.

Increased paperwork requirements that drain instructional and planning time have driven many good teachers from our school system and robbed children of valuable instructional time.

I'm sure posters can add many other "initiatives" from "Upper Management" that have disrupted the learning process.

While the current emphasis on standardized test scores is far from perfect, their use underscores what is wrong with the DCSS administration with respect to students and their progress. The DCSS administration is floundering. You only have to view the video of this latest called meeting to see that they offer nothing new.

Atlanta Media Guy said...

Been on vacation. I come home to this. I watched the video and cried. Do they pull out the same video every Summer?

I have lost all respect for Tyson. Last year, she promised change. We have none. It's as if Clew never left!

Berry and her Office of Improvement, failed, yet here she is with the same plan but with MORE people. An extra layer! Are former board member, Francis Edward's grand kids, getting old enough to hold jobs now?

Dad First, I have had a plan for over a year. Find a new Super and start from scratch. What's wrong with that plan?

Robert Moseley and Operations. how does this guy run the system's physical plant and operations and NOT know that Pope and Clew are up to no good? Moseley if you were doing your job, you would have noticed this nefarious stuff early on and maybe blew a whistle on it. But of course, you were probably in on it. So for you the status quo is all good.

Beasley is a waste of my time. When the new Super is here, Dr. B will be gone, I hope.

DadFirst I have a plan. FIRE 50% of the "Up here" Palace staff. put that money to get teachers, tutors, and Para's. Simple isn't it?

Instead we get a powerpoint that shows much of the same, slickly written and shows no true promise in the current leadership.

I am laser-ed focus on cleaning out the Palace of everyone that was hired by Crawford Lewis, Pat Pope, Ramona Tyson and Robert Moseley. Everyone should be shown the door. This presentation is an embarrassment to the taxpayers and OUR 1.2 Billion dollar plus expenditure that is, simply put, a FAILURE!

Where are the words "direct instruction" in this presentation?

Cerebration said...

Below is a link we were sent by a reader - it is an interview about a new documentary on Finland's education system. Guess how they managed to become the "premier" school system of the world? By completely transforming the preparation and selection of future teachers and ditching high stakes tests!!

How Finland became an education leader

Order a copy of the documentary that takes an in-depth look at Finland's education system here -

The Finland Phenomenon

Or buy this book -

The Global Achievement Gap: Why Even Our Best Schools Don't Teach the New Survival Skills Our Children Need - and What We Can Do About It

Cerebration said...

They really think about teachers as scientists and the classrooms are their laboratories. So, as I mentioned -- every teacher has to have a masters degree, and it's a content degree where they're not just taking silly courses on education theory and history. They're taking content courses that enable them to bring a higher level of intellectual preparation into the classroom. That's the first point.

The second point is that they've defined professionalism as working more collaboratively. They give their teachers time in the school day and in the school week to work with each other, to continuously improve their curriculum and their lessons. We have a 19th century level of professionalism here, or worse, it's medieval. A teacher works alone all day, everyday, and isolation is the enemy of improvement and innovation, which is something the Finns figured out a long time ago. Get the teachers out of their isolated circumstances and give them time to work together.

Cerebration said...

And about the book --

Despite the best efforts of educators, our nation’s schools are dangerously obsolete. Instead of teaching students to be critical thinkers and problem-solvers, we are asking them to memorize facts for multiple choice tests. This problem isn’t limited to low-income school districts: even our top schools aren’t teaching or testing the skills that matter most in the global knowledge economy. Our teens leave school equipped to work only in the kinds of jobs that are fast disappearing from the American economy. Meanwhile, young adults in India and China are competing with our students for the most sought-after careers around the world.
Education expert Tony Wagner has conducted scores of interviews with business leaders and observed hundreds of classes in some of the nation’s most highly regarded public schools. He discovered a profound disconnect between what potential employers are looking for in young people today (critical thinking skills, creativity, and effective communication) and what our schools are providing (passive learning environments and uninspired lesson plans that focus on test preparation and reward memorization).

He explains how every American can work to overhaul our education system, and he shows us examples of dramatically different schools that teach all students new skills. In addition, through interviews with college graduates and people who work with them, Wagner discovers how teachers, parents, and employers can motivate the “net” generation to excellence.

Nameless Celebrity said...

Please say no to Brad Bryant! He had his own version of the friends and family plan when he was on the DCSS board!

Passionate... said...

I've read the article, viewed the video, and have read all the blog comments. I've spoken with other blog readers and writers. DCSS needs to make changes that are going to work. Changes proven to be effective: lowering teacher pupil ratio; making time for true collaboration with peers; making time for effective intervention planning and implementation; and making time for designing and implementing authentic assessments. Changes that, historically, have not worked: demanding more "busywork" from teachers; monitoring ineffective teachers without them making significant changes; continuing to support school based administrative and district level staff that are not effective with improving student achievement. Another change that will work: common core standards-a move away from multiple-choice assessments to real learning with authentic assessments. We are doing our students an injustice by accepting "meets" on multiple-choice tests. DCSS at risk students in some schools walk across the stage at Honors Day and receive AB Honor Roll certificates, yet only get 56% of the questions correct on CRCT test in the spring. The teacher doesn't complete a Level 1 plan because the student is doing well, earning A's and B's. It is my argument, however, that the teacher failed the student. The student is not doing well. The student, in fact, did not earn A's and B's, but was given A's and B's. That is the "APS" mentality. That is what needs to change in DCSS. Earned grades need to match authentic assessment scores. GPS is supposed to be a mastery of standards. Many of our students have not been mastering standards. Schools have worried about making AYP. Students will say to each other, "I made a 797, missed it by one question; my mom says I'm not going to summer school and I will be going to middle school." Parent is informed that student missed a passing score by one question, but missed 23 questions in all. Parent has a different attitude and sends student to summer school with a focus on learning material for all 23 missed questions. However, this discussion is not held with every parent. Communication with all stakeholders is a key to improving student achievement. Our students, our children, need our help! They need us to fight for them, fight for a true education, fight for their future.

Cerebration said...

@Nameless, here's the thing. There are no other viable candidates on the table. They can't seem to garner enough votes to hire Dr. Robert Duron. School is starting, therefore, most other candidates will have signed contracts and won't be interested in applying. The summer was the window they had to find a new super - and that window is now closing. Soon, the SACS deadline will be here and they will put us on some kind of probation, allowing the Governor to intervene. Guess who the Gov will surely appoint as superintendent? Brad Bryant. The board clearly has a choice. Hire Brad now, as you're most likely going to get him anyway in October, or hire Dr. Duron - who, in my opinion, is very highly qualified. Also, in my opinion, those against him should check deep within themselves and deal with their own (even admitted) racial bias. I have found these superintendent searches, negotiations, leaks and sabotaging to be the most ugly, racially-motivated nonsense I've witnessed to date from this school system.

Cerebration said...

Some members of the board have manipulated and sabotaged this process so badly that I just don't think they can find their way back without a SACS or State intervention.

I will remind you of Zepora's very bold rant on the subject, including her highly biased opinion of a candidate the board was talking with, but had not entered even a straw vote. Zepora was not privy to any of this information, yet she had extensive knowledge. How? Why?

Zepora: The Rant

atl said...

@ Cerebration

I don't think Mr. Bryant would get rid of the Lewis Group. Perhaps he would place them in lesser positions where they cannot do as much damage to student progress considering they have set in place failed/failing educational policies, procedures, and practices and show no sign of change.

The Lewis Group members are not guaranteed their positions, but their contracts do guarantee them due process - similar to the 176 out of 178 educators in APS who were granted contracts and are now going through due process.

Ms. Tyson did not have to hand all of "Upper Management" contracts, especially in light of the fact that their decisions did not prove efficacious for students. But when she extended this failing group contracts, she chose to obligate DCSS taxpayers to a managerial group that has produced a negative ROI and are now entitled to due process if a new manger comes in and wants to "clean house".

Ms. Tyson has not let go of a single Lewis Group member resulting in student achievement tanking even further this past year, and now she has ensured that students endure more of the same. We are stuck with them as employees for another year, but she has no obligation to keep them in their current positions. While she and the Lewis Group mark time, students will be paying the price, and of course, mainly this will be struggling students who will fall behind even further.

Johnny Brown also inherited a Central Office staff with contracts already in place. He sent many Central Office people back out to the schools into schoolhouse positions. They went from Coordinators in the Central Office to Assistant Principals.

There are always positions in the schools since the schoolhouse has such a high attrition rate. Of course, that's one of Dr. Brown's actions that caused so many in the DCSS Central Office administration to dislike him intensely and most certainly hastened the end of his tenure. Ms. Tyson was around then so she must have seen how the DCSS "Upper Management" group will fight for their positions to stay intact.

The question is:
Would Mr. Bryant make the hard decisions regarding managers who have made decisions that have proven so detrimental to students?

atl said...

Regarding "smoke and mirrors" that Ms. Tyson and her team are using, Lewis replaced 24 principals for the 2009 - 2010 year. He used this as his "change" that would improve student achievement. Of course, at the same time he cut teacher positions by 275. If that isn't sleight of hand, I don't know what it. He replaced these principals hoping that would deflect criticism of student achievement in DCSS.

Of course this didn't help students (quite the contrary), but Lewis thought it would buy him and the "Upper Management" group another year, and taxpayers would give him yet another chance the next year with yet another excuse.

This is what this new "same old" Triage plan reminds me of.

Read the article in CrossRoads. It's very interesting:

http://www.crossroadsnews.com/pages/full_story/push?article-New+principals+will+greet+parents+and+students+at++two+dozen+DeKalb+Schools+for+2009-2010+year%20&id=2980194-New+principals+will+greet+parents+and+students+at++two+dozen+DeKalb+Schools+for+2009-2010+year&instance=home_

Cerebration said...

Looking back, that is a very interesting article. Two of the people putting forth the Triage plan are mentioned -

After a decade in education, Brittany Cunningham who joined the DeKalb School System in 2006 as a mathematics and social studies teacher at Sequoyah Middle School, is now that school’s principal. She was assistant principal for two years at Doraville school before taking the top job. She replaces Trenton Arnold, who moves to Stone Mountain Middle School as principal.

Beasley takes over as principal at Columbia High School. He is on his second stint with DeKalb Schools, returning from the Port Arthur, Texas, School District, where he was deputy superintendent for curriculum and instruction and school leadership for the last three years.

Prior to that, he was principal at Stephenson High School from 2002 to 2006.

"Reed replaces Angela Moton, who moves Lithonia High as principal, succeeding Kerry Stroud, who moves to Cedar Grove Middle School as assistan principal."


(You may recall, Moton was given a $10,000 bonus from Lewis for being a "highly effective principal" at Lakeside.

Cerebration said...

As far as the Brad Bryant issue goes -- I will say it again - I'm not endorsing the guy one way or another - I really don't know much about him - I'm just saying that as a former member of the state board of education, and having his name tossed in the hat by Fran Millar, don't you think that the governor is essentially offering DCSS the opportunity to "act as if" they made this decision themselves? He's throwing them a bone here to save face. Truly, in a few months, the Gov will appoint Bryant anyway if the board can't find someone (which, I'm betting they won't).

atl said...

@ Cerebration

Yes. Morcease Beasley:

Head of Curriculum and Instruction - Not certified to teach in Georgia – taught high school math for 3 1/2 years in Birmingham, Alabama.

Dr. Morcease Jamar Beasley
Certification ID: 615163

Exceptional Child Course: Yes

EDUCATIONAL LEADERSHIP (P-12) [FLD704]
07/19/2007
07/19/2007
07/01/2007
06/30/2012

EDUCATIONAL LEADERSHIP (P-12) [FLD704]
05/15/2003
05/15/2003
07/01/2002
06/30/2007

EDUCATIONAL LEADERSHIP (P-12) [FLD704]
08/30/2002
08/30/2002
07/01/2002
06/30/2003

https://www.gapsc.com/Certification/Lookup/look_up.aspx

Sagamore 7 said...

ATL,

I just went to the URL for Dr. Beasley and saw that he has a current Teachers Certificate for a type "L" license for Educational Leadership (P-12) (FLD 704.
His certificate expires on 06/30/2012.

Can you explain what this means? I thought you said he's not certified to teach in GA?

What does the "Exceptional Child Course" mean?

Thank you in advance for your time and explanation.

S7

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

@ Sagamore 7

His certificate is in administration. He has no teaching certificate in Georgia. Therefore, he is not certified to teach any subject in Georgia. There are employees in DCSS with administration certificates that have never received teaching certificates and have never taught. Most of the upper level administrators - e.g. Tony Hunter, head of MIS, Philandrea Guillory, head of the DCSS TV station, David Guillory, head of transportation, etc. have a SUPPORT PERSONNEL LICENSE. I imagine that allows them to have contracts like certified personnel (i.e. teachers).

Ms. Tyson for example has an Educational Leadership and a Business Education certificate so she is a certified teacher as well a being certified in administration:
L EDUCATIONAL LEADERSHIP (P-12) [FLD704] 10/09/1998 06/18/2008 07/01/2008 06/30/2013
PBT BUSINESS EDUCATION (6-12) [FLD783] 04/07/1988 06/18/2008 07/01/2008 06/30/2013

Dr. Beasley was probably certified as a teacher in Alabama in the 1990s when he taught math for 3 1/2 years. He has never been certified in Georgia or he would have a subject listed or a subject listed and marked through if it had expired. I don't know about Texas where he was also an administrator.

It is distressing that he has so little classroom experience so long ago, and yet he is making the instructional decisions for 6,400 teachers and 96,000 students when he would not be allowed to actually teach in Georgia (unless it was on a provisional certificate).

But then again, it's DeKalb. The Gifted Coordinator for DeKalb is not certified in Gifted nor has she taught Gifted classes (you cannot teach a Gifted class unless you are certified in Gifted). How can they be when we have many talented Gifted teachers in DeKalb that have 20+ years of experience and also have Ed Leadership degrees?

http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/support/gifted/

The Exceptional Child course was made mandatory in the 1970's for all teachers and administrators. This class covers all the exceptional students like Learning Disabled, Gifted, Specific Learning Disability, Attention Deficit Disorder, etc.

Sagamore 7 said...

Cere,

From your post that I missed from this weekend asking if the parents had any impact on the kids that needed remediation.

Here are the numbers from the CRCT's in math. (Which is the subgroup of our school that did NOT make AYP last year)

2010 4th grade math
Level 1 / Did not meet expectations / 38 kids

2011 5th grade math / Same kids
Level 1 / 14 kids

That is a 68% reduction in failing kids in just 1 year!!!!!

2010 4th grade math
Level 2 / Meets Expectations / 41

2011 5th grade math
Level 2 / 55

A 34% increase.

2010 4th grade math
Level 3 / Exceeds Expectations / 21

2011 5th Grade Math / 32

A 52% increase.

Overall the 2010 class had 100 students in which 38 kids did NOT meet expectations.62% passing.

2011, we had 101 kids and 14 did not meet expectations. 86% passing.

That is a 39% improvement in one year of active parent participation with these kids.

I care soooo much for ALL of these kids that it breaks my heart that we have 1 child that does not meet expectations. But there are some kids who are having a very tough time with LIFE much less 5th grade math. I wish we could do more. I wish DCSS could do more.

We have a GREAT faculty and great involved parents. Together we DO make a difference!

I will follow these kids to Henderson MS and offer the same kind of support to them in MS, with the blessing of the administration. I did like seeing the outstanding scores from HMS this school year! Way to go Ms. Allen!

My wish is that the CO would commit more resources to the classrooms and offer more control at the school level. The adage "One size fits all" does NOT work for this county school system. The principals and the teachers understand what faces them each day in the classroom and know better than anyone else on Mountain Industrial what it takes to remediate these kids.

It's late so I apologize in advance for spelling or grammatical errors.

Don't give up, don't ever give up on these kids!

S7

Sagamore 7 said...

ATL,

Thanks for the info regarding our instructional leaders at DCSS.

I saw him last Friday at the Triage meeting and he still does not speak proper English.

Watch him use words incorrectly in the video.

You are a great resource for this blog and the educational reform movement within DCSS.

Keep on fighting the fight!

S7

Cerebration said...

That is awesome good news, Sagamore! I hope that Ms. Tyson will take a good hard look at exactly what was done at Sagamore to achieve such fantastic results! I hope the principal and parents will toot their own horns and make sure she knows how they did it!

Sagamore 7 said...

Cere,

We'll see what the interim employees do.

Nobody wants ANY horns tooted or self admiration. I sincerely think we ALL, parents and staff, want the best for ALL of the kids, county wide. I say we because 1 year or 1 class does not change what is happening in 60% or more of the schools in DCSS.

It comes down to execution and we are NOT making it happen! Get in the classroom and make it happen!

I truly believe that DCSS could become a leader in education if we had the right people leading.

I truly believe Georgia could remove itself from 48th place in the nation in education if we had the right people leading.

I want DCSS to be a model of achievement instead of a national headline of failure.

It can be done and needs to be done!

With that said, I'm going to sleep and dream of kids in DeKalb getting an exceptional education.

Night, night.

S7

Nish said...

@Rukidding me

You are right about Trenton Arnold. He was Dr. Rives AP when she was principal at Cedar Grove Middle. When he was principal at Sequoyah, staff were encouraged to go and see his data wall. So I guess, he is considered a data expert. Some felt that esol population was successful because they were given every accommodation possible. Now Sequoyah hasn't made ayp. He was given a huge bonus to go and lead Stn Mtn middle but now they haven't made ayp. It was a good time for him to go to county office. Not saying there is a connection, but u asked about a little background on Arnold.

Nish said...

Let's paint the whole picture. Someone asked about Brittany Cunningham helping with the Triage plan. She was Trenton Arnold's Assistant principal at Sequoyah and was promoted when he left. She was only an AP for a few years. In DCSS, there is always a connection... Let's be real.

Dekalbparent said...

Found this in Education Week - about New York State's alternative certification programs. Don't know my opinion yet (I process slowly), but interesting to read.

http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2011/08/05/37ny.h30.html?tkn=TLZF88cN4R%2FuXsrwnN1dXlHYDka%2BkUWfcFJ%2F&cmp=ENL-EU-NEWS1