Saturday, May 14, 2011

Another discussion about gifted points and programs - are we offering what's required?

We have once again veered off topic on another post onto the topic of the points allocations and associated programs for students labeled as gifted.  The gifted label provides what we call FTE (full time equivalent) points of 1.667.  As a comparison, a typical high school student with regular services counts for 1.0 FTE points, a kindergartner counts as 1.6585 points and special education students can range from 1.3 to 2.5 or more. Principals are given point totals for the students in their buildings and use them to hire the necessary staff. In doing so, they have to follow the legal requirements for services for special education and gifted students.  We often hear that some principals may be pooling these extra points to fund school wide benefits like art, music and PE, with the stated reasoning that "the special ed and gifted students also enjoy these extras."  We also often wonder exactly how the magnet programs for high achievers are funded, and if they are causing harm to students who are identified as gifted, but do not win a seat at the magnet table in the lottery and must take the services offered at their assigned neighborhood school.

For more information on the gifted points allocations, read our recent post on the subject:

Gifted and Magnet School Data Now Available

Additionally, you can click the link below to access the FTE assignments by school proposed in the 2012 budget.

Proposed 2012 Budget

For more in-depth but easy to understand information on FTE, click here to download a great Powerpoint called FTE for Dummies written by Paige Cooley of the Savannah-Chatham County Public School System.

Also, click here for the FTE resources produced by the state.

Here is a link to the state's requirements for gifted labeling.


Anonymous said...

Oh --- FTE's

After research & discussion we decided:

-FTE funding with its 6 segments and one day snapshot view funding is merely a mechanism giving an appearance of legitimacy
-The state computers crunch the numbers with an antiquated formula and give a printout of allocations by category... then the state gives us much less funding than recommended = austerity cuts
-The county receives the mass numbers and then breaks them down by school
-FTEs are assigned at will by the system to the school house
-FTE's can be given or removed at will by the system to the school house as "projections" change
Demographic Projections are not explained
-There are no overt checks on the assignment of points at the district to school level

Our questions are those of ignorance:

If a student is gifted but no class is available the school loses gifted funding for the student. How this is reported, tracked and how this student once again becomes profitable as gifted is not known by us
FTE counts from the county can change dramatically from the OCT count to the March to the beginning of the school year. Principals are expected to staff with the counts they have.

Principals may file an appeal if they are unable to staff with the counts they are given but many principals are quite creative and good at using pints to their best advantage -- It is an art

Anonymous said...

So, basically, then, if you have a gifted kid, you r principal spends the points on another administrator, puts 30 kids in a classroom, only 4 are gifted, hires a gifted certified teacher, provides no support and tells the teacher to make sure the lower level students pass, and the gifted students get no benefits of these funds.

Meanwhile, we have high achievers lotteries, with low requirements and not enough seats. Where is the accountability to gifted students?

Where do I find the approved and anually assessed and revised gifted curriculum the county is required by the state to have? How do I find school level assessments of gifted learning outcomes? Who do I ask for this information when the local administration stonewalls and the county personnel dont appear to have a clue? County responses are typically centered on the small gifted population and the difficulty in address ing their that really an acceptable response for tyson's administration? So, these kids don't qualify for appropriate services and accountability because there are too few of them to matter outside of the magnets?

It will be worse for these kids this coming year, I can assure you.

Anonymous said...

Is Anonymous back in business? Yeah!!!

Anonymous said...

It varies so widely from school to school. We have a large Gifted population, so the kids are in separate classes with a max size of 25rather than 34. So there is extra money spent per student, since more teachers are required.

Not sure that the expenditures for extra teachers equates to the amount of Gifted funding, though.

Anonymous said...

At a recent meeting we were told they get no extra funding for gifted students. If this its the case, where are the state dollers going?

How do we trace this funding? more importantly, how its it linked to outcomes? If what we were told recently, that the county is doing away with use of a disvovery model is true, and gifted certified teachers do not get smaller course sizes and have to essentially teach two classes in the same room, eg. Cluster model:
a. Where its the money going, and
b. What teacher would want to do this, and
c. How many can do this well, with elementary class sizes between 25-34 students eith mixed level abilities?

Anonymous said...

Sorry for typos.

teacher said...

The district will never be upfront with their use of funds. It goes against the grain. Until a gifted parent sues for lack of gifted instruction and has extensive documentation that their child isn't being served, this will continue. I have seen classroom teachers with gifted certification write up all of this fluff to say that they are teaching to their gifted students, when they did the same thing will all of their children and the gifted students received nothing extra or spectacular.

Cerebration said...

I found it interesting that kindergartners carry about the same weight as gifted students, yet the class sizes are not limited to the same low levels (17 or 19?) as gifted classes. Maybe that's due to adding a para?

Anonymous said...

K classes above about 19 have to have a para.

The number was 18 but with the increase in class sizes it went up.

teacher said...

Does this para have to be designated to that classroom or can this person be used to do lunchroom duty, with gym classes, and other duties as the principal sees fit?

Anonymous said...

No. The para is suppose to be with the K class -- can do lunch duty when they are there -- pe with them etc. The para can also do lunch duty when the class is in specials, if she/he is not needed there.

I know that there are probably principals who mismanage them

Open+Transparent said...

"DeKalb revamps staffing formula"

DeKalb County is changing the way it staffs schools next year to address concerns about imbalances in resources and to ensure every school will have an art and music teacher.

This year, 41 DeKalb schools, about 28 percent, had no art positions, and two schools did not have music positions, according to the district. Those variances and others have long been on the radar of school officials but were highlighted again recently during a districtwide rezoning, which closed eight schools and reassigned 6,000 to 7,000 students.

“I think the district is really taking a step forward in trying to address the equity issue,” said Marcus Turk, DeKalb’s chief financial officer.


How freaking sad is it that CFO Marcus Turk is the DCSS administrator in this article addressing academic inequity instead of busy work king/reverend/consultant Morcease Beasely and the still on staff despite the out of country traveling on p-card Audria Berry???

Cerebration said...

I found that a bit odd too O&T. Why is Marcus Turk, head of finance, commenting on educational equity for schools? Is it strictly financial? Why not Ramona? Beasley? Dickerson? Cohn & Wolf? A PTA president?

September said...

I'm glad that the school system has decided to address the lack of music and art in our elementary schools. We have known for a long time that music instruction promotes brain development and that student who are enrolled in school music program earn higher SAT scores. If I had a gifted child in school today, I would want these programs. There are children who are gifted in music and art. These classes and opportunities should be offered to every elementary school child.

Anonymous said...

We're in one of the schools without music, only band for 4th and 5th. PE was determined to be important for all students every day, but the principal determined that we didn't need a part time discovery teacher. Now the gifted kids really get nothing. Principal has said it is appropriate to group with high achievers and teachers to this entire group. 3-4 kid out of 30 are gifted. So, this year was basically lost. My kids are bored...they finish their work, get the concepts then do extra worksheets or play games on the computer.

Yet the principal presents to the parents a show of how what we're doing now is so much better. And says we do not get extra funding for gifted students.

This AJC article indicates that they are using state funds as they please. I anticipate that schools with administrators like mine well be short shrifting gifted students even further, as they now have to fund these full school programs.

They need to open a fully gifted program that all so identified students can enter, not lottery based, so all gifted students can receive appropriate services.

It will never happen because the county doesnt care about this population.

Anonymous said...

September, I do agree these should be available to every elementary. But, would you be ok with taking dollars from special education students to do it? I suggest that this is what is happening, even as the state has identified gifted as falling in the same status.

Beyond this, why its there such disbelief that these kids need services?

Anonymous said...

Wonderful bloggers, when posting about your experiences at a school, could you please say whether it is elementary, middle, or high school?

As I'm finding out, there are vast differences in how gifted students are served in elementary vs. middle vs. high school.


September said...

"But, would you be ok with taking dollars from special education students to do it? "

I personally question the assumption that gifted money is going to pay for art and music instruction in our schools. Can you pull this information out of the budget?

Take a few minutes and look at the DeKalb budget. After you scroll through all of the written material, you will see the teacher allocations for every school in the district. I was surprised to see that the school my children attended only had 6 FTEs for gifted and didn't even qualify for a half-time teacher. I also know that they have a gifted teacher. I don't know the rules and I don't know how you get the school system to explain the rules. Do you have to hire a teacher? Is it OK to have a regular classroom teacher with a gifted endorsement? I have no idea.

BTW My gifted child wasn't allowed into a gifted class until he reached 9th grade. I knew when he was in kindergarten, because he was tested by a private psychologist, that my son had a verbal/linguistic gift and an IQ over 130. That wasn't good enough for DeKalb County. He had to meet schools system criteria. It was a struggle and I don't think a Discovery class would have helped. Why do the homework? I can read the whole chapter in the time that it takes my classmate to read the first 3 paragraphs aloud in class. Why should I have to sit and listen? Grades didn't mean anything until he got to high school. He chose joint enrollment as soon as he was eligible.

There are a lot of things wrong with gifted education in DCSS schools. Is there a difference between a truly gifted child and a high achiever? Probably, but sooner or later gifted kids have to figure out how to live in a world with average people. Today my son speaks three languages, holds a masters degree and just finished law school. I am very proud of him for setting and reaching his personal goals. He didn't quit just because he didn't get to go to Discovery.

Anonymous said...

You need to look very, very closely at the new STAR program because that will control resource assignments this year. Many parents complained about the lack of "equality" between schools and the STAR system is the result.

The BOE at a meeting a month or so ago forwarned that many parents and teachers may be unhappy with the new "equitable" system. Nancy Jester asked for more information so she would understand it.

I fear that many may regret getting what they asked for.

Anonymous said...

Under the old points system, it wasn't just the "gifted" points that got spread around. Look at any of the school-within-a-school magnet programs or the Montessori programs and try to tease out how those points are being used. Often, some of the points assigned to the special program wind up being used in other ways. While you might argue that that is only fair for the other children in the building, it makes it very hard to know what the true cost of the special program is. If a magnet point is being used for an art teacher for the whole school or a Montessori point is used for a parapro who splits her time between a Montessori class and a regular class, the special programs look more expensive then they actually are.

Anonymous said...

Anon 4:18

The remarks were made about being unhappy were made mostly in relationship to small schools that have tremendous amounts of staff, especially at the administrative level.

These schools will be losing that staff to larger schools, some of which are understaffed. However, we clearly have too many assistant principals on staff.

Many of these schools are in the districts of board members who meddle constantly.

It is time to make sure that every student gets the basics.

STAR is far from perfect, but it is a start.

teacher said...

I leave you this about AR

Star Reading has many faults as well. Students can take the same test and come up with different reading levels. A fourth grade child with an 8th grade level reading level should be monitored on the books she/he gets, as many 8th grade books aren't appropriate for fourth graders.

As a reading person, I do not trust the results of Star reading tests and could do without AR. I'd rather see class sets of well written literature that goes with what is being taught at that grade level used to enhance the curriculum and introduce children to quality literature and authors.

Anonymous said...

bummer... anonymous is back. I don't post too much to this blog but I do enjoy reading it, and I found it to be much more respectful, intelligent and on-topic the too few weeks that anonymous was banned. BlogMaster, please reconsider your decision to allow us back! Big Mistake!

Cerebration said...

That's funny - you asking to turn off anonymous posting, as you post your own request anonymously.

You all may have noticed the other day that Blogger went completely down - nationwide. It was a 27 hour fiasco. Slowly, Blogger and bloggers have rebuilt our blogs but it's not been without hitches. One thing I forgot about was the setting for moderation. I did not reset it and really just noticed that today.

I'll let it go for a bit - but operating without a net allows for spammers to leave comments (Viagra, thesis writing, etc) - so if the spam returns, I'll go back to requiring IDs. In the meantime, please be prepared - go ahead and create an ID at OpenID. It's very easy and you would be doing the blog a favor by helping to reduce spam and keeping the conversations organized. It's so hard to keep so many anonomi straight!

Anonymous said...

"That's funny - you asking to turn off anonymous posting, as you post your own request anonymously."

Cere... glad you got the joke ;)

Cerebration said...

Oh you anonomi - you're all glad to be back so that the rest of us have to guess at who is saying what...

Kim Gokce said...

What is the accepted criteria for "gifted" classification in DeKalb/Georgia? Back in the dark ages when I was in public high school, it was simply being in the 95th percentile on accepted IQ tests.

If there is a similar criteria today, we're talking about less than 1,700 high school students.

How is it that we have multiple "high achiever" programs and other "prestigious" magnet programs with barely enough "gifted" children to fill up one modest sized high school????

Dear DeKalb: You have nearly double the schools and administrators you need to run your high schools for both the gifted and not-so-gifted! *sigh*

OFF TOPIC: I spoke with someone wel placed to understand the situation at MLK vis-a-vis Arabia in terms of needed enrollment relief. Yes, Arabia has "relieved" MLK ... of about 200-300 of its best students. Another "brain" and resource drain is thriving near Henry County!

Anon said...

The criteria are set by the state. To get identified as Gifted by the IQ test alone, which in DeKalb is the CoGAT, a student must be in the 99th percentile. The CoGAT is reallyu

Otherwise, a student must qualify on 3 out of 4 measures. Here are the specifics.

Anonymous said...

I am very concerned about the "brain drain" comment. I've heard this many times. These are individual students we are talking about. Not cattle. They should not be forced to stay at a school b/c it will help the overall school (i.e. test scores). I've heard several times that this is one reason that the high achievers program (Kittredge, etc) has remained small. Regardless, of what a students IQ is, the high achiever's program should be replicated as much as possible through out the county. I have children in it, it is not hard to see why most students would benefit from it. If you have kids that are motivated, have involved parents, and don't have any special needs~ they will ALL do well in that environment. Even though some do not believe it~ there are many in the county who do fall into this category and should be able to benefit from this program without winning the lottery. Most parents want what is best for their kids. If there is an opportunity to get them into a better situation (Arabia, in your example), they will go for it. They are looking out for their kids which is their job. Keeping the test scores up for the entire county (i.e. reducing brain drain) is not their job and in my opinion is a bad way to look at the big picture.

Anonymous said...

Agree 712. As well, its not like the local schools are providing a challenging environment for these kids. the focus is entirely on the bottom. Kim, what should we do as parents? I've been fighting the fight to get the local elem. School I'm at to provide a curriculum that challanges and engages this population, but have met only resistance as the interest is in providing whole school resources. Meanwhile, these kids are bored and learning to hate school, as they get to do extra worksheets and take home projects. Instruction for these kids in local schools is not happening, at least in the school that i'm at which eschews a discovery teacher and uses a cluster model.

I'm giving up, and am sad for those left behind. I'm tired of hearing that parents of these kids should stay in schools that are only interested in the bottom so they can make ayp. If gifted kids were getting what they need, the brain drain comment may have some validity, but in my experience at the elementary level, it simply isn't happening.

Anonymous said...

for some reason, just being identified as gifted is the cat's meow (no offense, cats) to some parents. the program is supposed to provide assistance for children who are performing at least 2 grade levels above their academic grade;therefore, need additional services to meet their needs. As a school counselor who's worked in several states, Im not impressed with DCSS gifted program. the gifted identifier doesnt give you more points during college admissions nor does it seem to be challenging students that have already mastered concepts and need to move forward. Students need to be reevaluated every 3 years to ensure that their needs are being met. parents need to ask what their child is doing during these pull out sessions with the gifted teacher...just like you did with the regular ed. teacher.

teacher said...

I have known many parents that pull their children out of Discovery for these reasons Anon 8:44.

Parents will do anything to get their child labeled gifted in DCSS, as they know that is the ticket to better classes (academics and student wise) for middle and high school, and frankly I can't blame them.

Cerebration said...

There really is data available on this at the DCSS website.

First, here is a listing of schools and the students identified as gifted who attend. The chart also shows the number who do not attend their home school, they attend either Kittredge or Wadsworth. (Of the total 3,289 gifted students in DCSS elementary schools, 415 attend Kittredge and 153 attend Wadsworth according to the chart.

Cerebration said...

Another file at the DCSS website shows where the gifted students live on a map. It's interesting as they are quite clustered. Is this due to the gifted kids all living near each other or do they have better teachers and home instruction? Or perhaps certain schools are just better at testing and identifying gifted students?

Anonymous said...

C: I've looked at these data. This is my point exactly. There are many many more gifted kids than are being served by kms and wadsworth. I believe that some elementary schools are serving these populations. Others however, and I suspect more than the county will admit, indeed the county is complicit, are claiming that these kids are getting services when they are not.

83% of kms students, a/c to dcss website, are gifted, about 38% at wadsworth. So, clearly these schools are serving high achievers as advertised, not just gifted. So, the lottery system is clearly benefitting only a small proportion of gifted identified kids.

My issue is that the county clearly does not follow up on programing for so identified kids outside of the magnets, and thats alot of kids. Clearly some schools with large proportions of gifted and admins who are interested in their needs are doing ok. Other kids bring money in through fte, however, and are getting nothing.

Please stop criticizing parents who "brain drain" these schools. They leave because these kids' needs matter too. I'm still at a local school, but am throwing in the towel...its time to get out. I get why these parents leave. They do it because excitement for learning is not the focus of schools that have crct pep rallys.

teacher said...

What do parents do who live in the areas where there are clusters? Are they Emory or Tech professors? Scientists for the CDC? Doctors in the hospitals? I believe that this and good parenting has more to do with the number of gifted children than the teachers in the school.

Cerebration said...

Giftedness crosses all socio-economic and racial lines. The problem is, it must be identified early and then nurtured.

Below is a link to a series in "Gifted Child Quarterly" debunking 19 myths about the gifted. Members can access full articles, but I'll list the topics below.

Gifted Child Quarterly - Myths

Myth 1: The Gifted and Talented Constitute One Single Homogeneous Group and Giftedness Is a Way of Being That Stays in the Person Over Time and Experiences

Myth 2: The Gifted Constitute 3% to 5% of the Population. Moreover, Giftedness Equals High IQ, Which Is a Stable Measure of Aptitude: Spinal Tap Psychometrics in Gifted Education

Myth 3: A Family of Identification Myths: Your Sample Must Be the Same as the Population. There Is a “Silver Bullet” in Identification. There Must Be “Winners” and “Losers” in Identification and Programming

Myth 4: A Single Test Score or Indicator Tells Us All We Need to Know About Giftedness

Myth 5: Creativity Is Too Difficult to Measure

Myth 6: Cosmetic Use of Multiple Selection Criteria

Myth 7: Differentiation in the Regular Classroom Is Equivalent to Gifted Programs and Is Sufficient: Classroom Teachers Have the Time, the Skill, and the Will to Differentiate Adequately

Myth 8: The “Patch-On” Approach to Programming Is Effective

Myth 9: There Is a Single Curriculum for the Gifted

Myth 10: Examining the Ostrich: Gifted Services Do Not Cure a Sick Regular Program

Myth 11: A Comprehensive Continuum of Gifted Education and Talent Development Services: Discovering, Developing, and Enhancing Young People’s Gifts and Talents

Myth 12: Gifted Programs Should Stick Out Like a Sore Thumb

Myth 13: The Regular Classroom Teacher Can “Go It Alone”

Myth 14: Waiting for Santa Claus

Myth 15: High-Ability Students Don’t Face Problems and Challenges

Myth 16: High-Stakes Tests Are Synonymous With Rigor and Difficulty

Myth 17: Gifted and Talented Individuals Do Not Have Unique Social and Emotional Needs

Myth 18: It is Fair to Teach all Children the Same Way

Myth 19: Is Advanced Placement an Adequate Program for Gifted Students?

Anonymous said...

I love what you do with this blog. But you don't seem to be keeping up with what is being discussed here. The problem is that DCSS is not doing enough to teach to all gifted or high achieving students (regardless of where they live). The county is much more focused on the kids who are not doing well, b/c it is reflected in their AYP status and CRCT scores. I feel like we are going around and around the same issues when it seems so clear to me. I don't think it makes a difference if you technically qualify as gifted. If a student is motivated and can do the work, they should be challenged. This to me is one of the biggest problems in the county (among others).

Cerebration said...

I do understand that point, anon. I am just trying to provide some data. I think we are under-identifying gifted children in some areas of the county and I also think that perhaps some of the money the county earns for the gifted is going to fund students in programs for high achievers - programs that use gifted funds, even though the entire population is not gifted.

You have to liken it to special education. If a school gets money for 50 special ed students, they can't just put it in the general budget, hire a part time person to "work" with the special ed students for part of a day and then use the rest to fund a PE teacher schoolwide -- or worse, not actually send the money due that school to that school - instead sending a bulk of the overall "special" money to a "special" school that serves some special needs students and some 'typical' ... People see it when you use this kind of analogy - they don't see it when the special students are labeled gifted... they think they'll be fine no matter - which if you read any of the documents on "myths" is not true.

So high achievers are not necessarily gifted and therefore should not usurp funds from other gifted students.

All schools should be able to host a "high achiever" program. My child attended Kittredge and believe me when I tell you that Kittredge isn't any better than many regular education programs in quality schools across this country. Fairfax Virginia, many districts in Massachusetts, and other areas all offer much stronger, "achiever" programs as their standard package.

Cerebration said...

The problem with the county is that for years, instead of actually fixing what's ailing failing schools, they simply have offered transfers to other schools or special programs to those who have the wherewithal to access these programs.

Check out our post on the north/south and see how the mass exodus of students from schools in Sarah Copelin-Wood's district has now caused those schools to be under-populated and finally closed. How did that plan fix anything?

North vs Central vs South - what's the deal?

Cerebration said...

FWIW - the issue is that there are many students considered "high achievers" by DCSS who are using services paid for with money earned by gifted students - leaving gifted students at home schools who didn't win a seat in the lottery with "less" services.

All schools should have an educational track for high achievers -- they should not have to transfer to a magnet school that uses more than it's share of funding to get a better education than those they "left behind" at the home school. The home schools need fixed - yesterday.

Anonymous said...

@Anon 1:05 I agree that the focus on testing/No Child Left Behind pushes teachers/school staff to focus on those who don't meet standards.

However, if parents advocate for their gifted children and find a responsive principal, things can change. My son's middle school principal has listened and understands that parents want their kids to be in the "Exceeds" CRCT category, rather than just the "Meets" category. We need to be just as vocal and firm in not accepting mediocrity, whether your child is officially labeled "gifted" or not.

PS. CERE, I LOVE your analogy of gifted education with special education.

Cerebration said...

Ironically, the gifted services actually falls under the special services umbrella. Not only is it not right to use these additional funds to benefit other students, it is against the law.

Anonymous said...

Cere and Anon: This was the point that I was trying to make, just not so succinctly, on the last post that opened up this new version of an old topic.

I do think that if you have a principal that is willing to go the distance with the county, they should be able to make changes at the school level.

The problem is, the principal has to want to. I'm at a central elementary school and know of many parents who have been begging and pleading to get services for these students, to no avail. So, now at least 4 families have left, and I know of several more who are looking.

I hear you saying that people can get together to push for change at the local level. BUT, we shouldn't need to - it is the LAW, but they are dancing around the issue. I've even tried following the money trail. It is now no longer worth it. I'm applying for a transfer. Yes, it needs to change for everyone...but facilitating a change that will take years is too late for these kids. Many of the transfers are occurring because they have fought the fight and lost. These years are finite for our kids, they need the services now.

The article in the paper clearly indicates that the county has no interest in addressing this population. Yes, things need to be right sized across schools. But, where is the money coming from? If is is from these kids, it is not legal.

Aren't these dollars supposed to follow the kids? How do we determine that the schools are using them appropriately? Is there follow-up by the county to ensure that they are?

Anon said...

If a parent feels that a school isn't meeting the state requirements for gifted education, they can file a complaint.

Here is how, contact:

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

Several years ago, an elementary school in my community went to the model of gifted certified teachers with differentiated instruction. With a wink and a nod from the principal, there really wasn't much differentiation going on.

One formal complaint from parents to the state, and discovery was back in place.

Kim Gokce said...

Anon 712: "Brain drain"

My point is not about "poor old MLK." It is about the 301st, or 400th kid who did not "win" a spot at Arabia. I could not care less about which HS or family "wins" or "looses" in this ridiculous, resource scarcity scramble.

The fact is that the "choice" programs in DeKalb have rotten roots and have not solved anything but for a few, lucky families. I don't blame any parents who avail themselves of these great opportunities - that's like asking me to damn parents putting their kids on the only lifeboat in a sinking ship. I can't do that. And, that is not a policy for managing a system.

I'd rather be talking about how to get the damn ship back out to sea and off the rocks. That's where I am. I am so tired of the provincialism and boosterism that drives our public policy in education.

Whatever the mascot at the school, no matter what the address, I expect my thousands of dollars in contribution to be managed more wisely, equitably, and effectively than it is.

I have become convinced that fundamentally the reasons for our predicament are that we have too many programs, too many school buildings, and too many bureaucrats. I am equally convinced that the apparatus will not be able to perform the type of dramatic operation that is necessary to put it on the mend as a system.

Therefore, I say cut, cut, cut the number of schools and programs to remove all the cover they provide for bureaucrats and cronies. It is a painful prescription but the only one I think that will ever succeed with this mess and provide the savings necessary.

Like the Otttoman Empire, DCSS is the "Sick Man of Atlanta" and will contiue to bring us major upheaval until we demand equitable and ethical management of our greatest civic asset.

The Cross Keys Foundation has adopted seven schools that span Brookhaven, Chamblee, Doraville and beyond. That is because all seven of them need help and are at the end of the gravy train when it comes to "Goodies" from the process.

All the other public school Foundations in DeKalb are for individual schools and, with the exception of Warren Tech, are mostly the progeny of parent groups. We need to broaden our view of stakeholders and the critical nature of education to our community's future.

I applaud any parent who works to improve their own child's opportunities - that's what a parent should do. The system is responsible for the delivery of educational opportunities to ALL children and must be guided by a different, higher standard.

No Duh said...

Will someone settle something for me? Is Arabia Mountain a choice/magnet school or not? Is there a designated attendance area directly adjacent to the school from which students are automatically assigned.

I ask because it has come to my attention that ninth graders from Arabia Mountain are eligible to apply for STT.
And students attending magnet programs are not permitted to apply to or attend STT.

Which begs the question? If you are already sending your child to the latest and greatest school in DCSS, a school that sits next to a science/nature preserve, why do you think your child needs to take a space in a program very high achieving students from "disadvantaged" schools are desperately trying to get into.

And why is DCSS letting you?

Anonymous said...

Cere, are you ever going to expand your tirade against Kittredge to include ANY school in DCSS that uses its gifted money for anything other than gifted? One of the Anons on here has said that about 1000 times. The existence of Kittredge is not what is making this person's experience bad - it's a horrible administrator and a county that is too mired in other problems to care about 30 gifted kids in one elementary school. Getting rid of Kittredge will not fix Anon's problem at her elementary school. Other than the fact that Kittredge is high achiever as opposed to gifted, I haven't ever heard of allegations that the lottery was fixed. This is as opposed to Arabia, where I feel like county employees' kids are "protected" from the rest of the "riff-raff." There are definitely messes to clean up in DeKalb, but they don't start at Kittredge. I had children at Kittredge like you, but, unlike you, I feel like it is a jewel in DeKalb, and I think it should be emulated, not torn apart.

Cerebration said...

Gee, didn't mean to offend so badly. I just mean that the gifted points should and must be used for gifted students - not high achievers or anyone else. We have been wondering if Kittredge drains resources from other places that's all. I don't advocate dismantling Kittredge, just making it strictly for gifted students - if you're going to use an abundance of gifted resources to run the program. If they can function with the same funding formulas as other schools, then they should be free to do so. Strict use of the formulas should be job 1 here. Like I said before, you wouldn't do that with special education students.

Anonymous said...

I suspect that Arabia Mountain is a theme school, though the system seems reluctant to call it that. It owes its current configuration to the very powerful theme school parents who pushed hard, yet quietly, for a theme middle school, now Champion and then for a high school.

DCSS can't afford any more magnets because they spend extra dollars on those schools, in spite of the fact that most of them earn extra funds from the state because of their populations. So, DCSS couldn't call it a magnet.

Your question about STT is a valuable one and one that should be raised with someone.

Perhaps the problem is timing, kids apply for STT before they know if they have gotten into AM?

I believe the programs should be mutually exclusive and perhaps no one realizes they aren't.

Anonymous said...

There are currently students at KMS who are not there legitimately including the child of a parents who were essentially "bribed" with a spot at the school in return for keeping quiet about the very well connected principal at their previous school.

Anonymous said...

Kittridge parents often has that the program be emulated, but almost never acknowledge the extra costs the school have and the local funds that are used to cover these costs. On average, based on the system's own reporting, we are spending 11,000 dollars per student at KMS, which spending 7500 or so per student at a school like Fernbank.

Give every school several thousand dollars extra per student and I bet the benefits would be outstanding.

Anonymous said...

@ No Duh, Arabia Mountain High School does not have an attendance area. They have two programs, magnet and career pathways.

Info is at the DCSS website under Support Services, then School Choice. The link is

Regarding STT, non-magnet students, those in the career pathways program, from AMHS can attend STT.

I don't agree with this, since those students have already gained entry into a School Choice program and it doesn't seem fair that they can also get STT

teacher said...

The money is there to emulate Kittridge. It would require the district to right size the palace and other administrators in terms of employees and salaries. No one has the guts to do this, so it's not going to happen and we'll hear how it costs too much to do for other schools. If we can't do it for everyone, we shouldn't do it at all.

I am tired of the haves and haves not in terms of education in DCSS. I am not saying that I want everyone to have America's Choice,as that is not the answer. I want everyone to have the high expectations of schools like Kitteridge.

Anonymous said...

Quite frankly, I'm tired of the whole elitist discussion that one child is worth more than another and that we should spend more to educate a "gifted" child than to educate a "high achiever" or heaven forbid, a child in "reg ed". All kids deserve a good and equitable education, period. This is why I put my money where my heart is and pulled my kid out of DCSS.

teacher said...

I agree Anon. 8:58. My son won't be going to DCSS, because even the "best" education in DCSS is simply mediocre anywhere else. Wake up People!

Cerebration said...

I agree with you both, teacher and Anon. Problem is, this is how the funding comes in - students are assigned a variety of point values and the school system is expected by law to use those extra funds for programs to benefit the students who earned the funding. It's not that anyone is choosing to spend more here or there, federal and state laws require it. DeKalb is distributing that additional money and that's wrong.

Teacher you are so right. $1.2 billion should be enough money to educate 96,000 students. Our current leadership seems to not understand how to get it done, except to hire more administrators and buy into more programs.

FWIW - Arabia is a magnet the same as Chamblee and SW DeKalb are magnets. They offer magnet programs within a regular school. The difference is that Arabia does not have an attendance zone, so they can choose who their "regular" population is. Also, Arabia requires uniforms, which detracts a lot of students.

Read the application instructions here -
2011 – 2012 Arabia Mountain High School Magnet and Career Pathways Programs Student Selection

Copy and paste this link to view all of the magnet and theme program applications -

There is a note at the bottom stating that "House Bill 251 is not available at this time." What they mean is that transfers mandated by GA House Bill 251 have been suspended. Anyone know why? Again, this is a law. All of the theme/choice/magnet programs offer transfers to students who are then "selected" by application, essay, lottery or some other means. HB 251 and NCLB AYP transfers are supposed to offer legal transfers for students who are currently in schools that are crowded, failing or otherwise undesirable.

Anonymous said...

The mediocre education at DCSS resulted in three Tucker students getting scholarships to Havard this year.

Anonymous said...

You do not apply for STT in the 9th grade. It is a 9th grade class. You apply in the 8th grade and there are no 8th grade classes at Arabia Mt.

Anonymous said...

After you are accepted to STT you may attend any High school that you are legally entitled to attend and still participate in STT. Likewise if you are accepted to a special high school program such as the arts magnet, Chamblee or Arabia Mt. you may opt out of STT.

Cerebration said...

That's great about the Harvard scholarships. No one is saying you can't get a good education in pockets of DeKalb - it's just very uneven and the range is vast. We have students like these Harvard-bound grads, and then we have many who are functionally illiterate. We are advocating that everyone at least receive an education that provides an opportunity for a successful life - whether that be as a plumber, an auto-mechanic, a hair-stylist, a micro-biologist or a lawyer or doctor. The world needs all of them.

sharon said...

I am missing something here. Gifted funds are not awarded and spent at will.

Gifted FTE funds are earned only if you have

1. A student identified as gifted by state criteria

2. A teacher teaching that gifted student using one of the five state approved models of gifted teaching.

The funds thus earned then pay for the teacher’s salary.

So please explain to me what law is being broken.

Are we falsely identified students as gifted?

Are we saying that there is one of the five approved models in the schedule that is not really there?

Are we using teachers that do not have gifted certification?

If a gifted teacher does classes for the limited number of gifted students but also does other classes for non gifted students is that illegal?

I know special Ed has very strict ways that special Ed fund can be used and not to provide special Ed is a federal no no.

Maybe if you could cite the law the DeKalb is breaking. It can not be that they are not using gifted funds for gifted students because that is the only way the funds can be obtained.

Cerebration said...

It's not that simple, Sharon.

Below are some items on the subject from past discussions we've had here.

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

All of these are found under superintendent - budget items accessible on the DCSS home page.
January 16, 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tucker is listed as having 95 gifted FTE, but receives no extra points (except 1.0 for federally funded ROTC).

Dunwoody is listed as having 178 gifted FTE, but receives no extra points (except 1.0 for federally funded ROTC).

Cerebration said...

We put in a serious effort to find the data as to how many students are labeled as gifted at each school and how many points each school was proportionately allotted. It was impossible. The numbers were completely different - depending on if you got them from the state, DeKalb County or the individual schools.

Cerebration said...

It's not that DCSS is breaking the law, but it could be that some schools are handled in the easiest possible way (using a teacher for the gifted to teach them during certain day sections) vs pooling money from countywide sources to host a very special program for "lottery winners"...

Anonymous said...

Though I am not optimistic, I truly hope that when those three Harvard-bound students start their freshman year, they will find that they were well-prepared by their DCSS school for the rigors of Harvard and that their high school education was the equal of their peers in their class. If not, they have a very difficult four years ahead of them.

Cerebration said...

Maybe it's simply time for laws regarding spending on gifted education dollars be rewritten more specifically. As with Special Education, there should be little room for interpretation and much more parent input.

Cerebration said...

More comments from a past discussion -

No - we were looking at Local Funding - this is additional funding paid for with local funds - DCSS funds - for extra teachers due to the magnet programs. Apparently, principals handle the gifted services at regular schools in a variety of ways - this is obviously something that needs to be addressed and parents need to be assured that their gifted child in a regular school is getting as good an education as students enrolled in the "high achiever" magnets who won a seat in a lottery and may or may not be identified as gifted.

As I understand it, students labeled "gifted" mathematically count for about 1.6 times as much FTE credit as a "regular" high school student (1.0). All of these total points are combined to determine an FTE number - a point credit if you will - to be exchanged for teachers by the principal. Of course, the principal has to take into account all of the services required by law, such as special ed and gifted, so the principal must offer whatever will satisfy the law for those students and divvy up the rest.

Now, for the magnets - they are given several additional teachers which are paid with local funds - DCSS tax dollars. (Not state or local.) This is where the inequity comes in to play, IMO.

To clarify - the magnet's extra teachers are for magnet points. We just compare the gifted qualifications between schools, as the stated reasoning for the extra funding has always been because the magnets serve so many gifted students in one building... but as you can see - so do other schools - and those schools have to make due with the basic FTE points they accumulate - they don't get "extra" points for magnet or otherwise - except federal points for ROTC. (These points show in the boxes labeled "federal" and "local".)

(Someone had asked somewhere earlier to show where the extra local funding was for magnets - I don't think that person thought it was true.)

Look at Atherton. The FTE count says they have 0 gifted students, but looking at their school website, they have a gifted teacher who is there Mon. and Tues. for a full day and half day on Friday. She has a schedule for her grade levels.

This same FTE document says Browns Mill has 0 gifted students. Yet according to their website they have the Discovery program.

This document says Clifton has 0 gifted students, yet their website says they share a gifted teacher with McNair.

It says Austin has 70 and is allotted 4.38 teachers. Their website has 2 teachers just to teach the primary students. I'm assuming the 4th and 5th are served within the classroom.

Evansdale is listed as only 18 students, but has 3 Discovery teaches according to their website although one appears to teach art part time and gifted part time. Ms. Rios has been there forever and has so many students she only teachers 4th and 5th.

Henderson Mill says 8 gifted students, but their website lists a full time gifted teachers who has so many students that she depends on the classroom teachers certified in gifted "differentiating" instruction to help serve the 4th and 5th grade.

Livsey ES lists only 34 students, but the website says they have too many for the fulltime teacher so the ESOL teacher also gifted certified spends half her day teaching gifted as well.

Please note that almost all of the website state these gifted kids are only served 225 minutes a week (3.75 hours) so it's not like they're seeing the students an enormous amount of time.

There is something terribly wrong with these numbers. They are totally inaccurate as far as gifted is concerned.

Cerebration said...

Re Gifted FTE count - here is an excerpt from the Georgia Department of Education -

Resource Manual for Gifted Education Services

The FTE count is not a student "head count," but a "service" count. A Gifted FTE might be one student served in a Gifted Education Program all day (one student X 6 segments = 6 segments = 1 FTE); or it might be six gifted students getting one segment of gifted education service (6 students X one segment = 6 segments = 1 FTE); or it might be three gifted students getting two segments of gifted education service (3 students X 2 segments = 6 segments = 1 FTE); or any other combination that equals 6 segments of instruction.

Twice a year (on the first Tuesday in October and the first Thursday in March) school systems report the amounts and types of instruction they are providing, and those days serve as samples for calculating systems' earnings from the state funding formulas. (There is a third count for Special Education in December of each year.)

Cerebration said...

FTE funding for education is such a convoluted tangled mess that even one of its creators is asking the state to revamp the system (and they apparently are in the process of doing this).

Here's a link to our report on Joe Martin's visit to an Emory Lavista Parent Council meeting - it was very enlightening!

Emory Lavista Parent Council hosts Fran Millar, Mary Margaret Oliver and Joe Martin (Part 2)

Square Peg said...

I've asked before: why do gifted students disappear when they get to high school? Is it because they take AP classes instead of gifted classes?

Quoting Cere at 10:46:

Chamblee MS is listed as having 233 gifted FTE credits...
Chamblee HS is listed as having 100 gifted students...

Chapel Hill MS is listed as having 116 gifted FTE credits...
SW DeKalb HS is listed as having 32 gifted students...

Henderson MS is listed as having 200 gifted FTE credits...
Lakeside is listed as having 116 gifted FTE...

Peachtree MS is listed as having 234 gifted FTE credits...
Dunwoody is listed as having 178 gifted FTE...

Also want to point out that the 11:00 post shows the elementary numbers are funny, too. Evansdale is listed as only 18 students... Henderson Mill says 8 gifted students... According to another document mentioned in this thread, there are 110 gifted students at Evansdale (118, less 8 at Kittredge) and 78 at Henderson Mill (103, less 23 at Kittredge and 2 at Wadsworth).

Anonymous said...

Glad that it's now possible again to leave comments anonymously. Having to leave a traceable ID makes it too risky for DCSS employees to use this blog. Even though MIS can't deliver functional technologies in the classroom, their ridiculous "Webwasher",which limits what teachers can access and show students for teaching purposes, works all too well. I believe that they'd be very efficient at identifying employees who post on this blog, too. From many sites, you can't access this blog, which suggests that they're already on the case.

Cerebration said...

And one more --

Funding Inequity: how it works in DeKalb

Check out the per pupil funding chart at this post given to us via a Freedom of Information Act request.

Square Peg said...

Issue is the difference between FTEs and students.

Kittredge: budgeted for 347 gifted FTEs. We guess they have about 347 gifted students out of 415. Certainly they have no more than 415 gifted students.

Fernbank: budgeted for 52 gifted FTEs. They have about 145 gifted students, of whom 7 are apparently at Kittredge. (There are no titles in the enrollment-high-achievement-magnet gifted-elementary pdf, so I'm guessing what the columns really mean.)

Cary Reynolds Elementary: budgeted for 6 gifted FTEs. They have about 67 gifted students, of whom 6 are apparently at Kittredge.

I picked Fernbank and Cary Reynolds as examples because I was looking for schools which had a significant number of gifted, but not a lot at magnets. This is because I wasn't clear whether I should subtract the magnet number from the gifted number in the enrollment table.

But it looks like gifted FTEs are provided at about 1:1 per student at Kittredge, 1:3 at Fernbank, and 1:10 at Cary Reynolds?

Anon said...

Anon 11:19 am

I once tried to access this site from a computer that have duty nanny protection software on it -- it was at our church library.

I couldn't get to it. The site was considered PG or R rated for language and something else.

Square Peg said...

Stone Mountain Elementary: 18 gifted students (0 magnet), 2 gifted FTEs. Ratio: 1:9.

Those 2 gifted FTEs translate to 0.13 teachers, according to the budget.


Anonymous said...

Sharon, As well, it is the question of whether the county is conforming to state requirements. From what I can see they are not. At my elementary school, they claim they are using the cluster model for providing gifted instruction. Accordingly, when talking to the principal all of last year, she indicated that merely the fact that the instructors were gifted certified met the state requirements. NOT SO.

According to the state doe resource manual, with cluster grouping: Identified students are placed as a group into an otherwise heterogeneous classroom; teacher must have gifted endorsement (this is happening). What follows, however, is not: Teacher must document curriculum mmodifications he/she has made for gifted students by way of (a) separate lesson plans and (b) individual student contracts which show the:
1. Reasons why that particular student needs an advsanced curriculum in that particular content area (pretest grades);
2. Learning objectives for the gifted student;
3. Alternative activities in which the gifted student will be engaged;
4. Dates and amount of time (in segments) the student will be engaged in the higher-level activities; and
5. Means by which the gifted student's learning will be assessed (expected outcomes or products).

I can say that we have requested this information from the school and received a copy of a single teacher's weekly lesson plan. No contract, no discussion of points 1-5. If your student is in this sort of model, I can assure the county does NOT know what it is doing and does no follow up. The school didn't even know these were requirements.

Further, according to this manual: Local boards of education should review and revise its curricula for gifted students at least annually. Anyone know where we can obtain a standardized gifted curricula that is referenced across schools in this county?

Finally, from same manual: It is not the administrative delivery of the model itself that makes the critical difference; it is the quality of the curriculum. How is this being assessed when it is different across individual schools? How is the county keeping track?

Anonymous said...

Square Peg-
The 'gifted' students aren't disappearing from MS to HS, their 'gifted' designation is just being ignored and they aren't being served. Remember, the school needs to actually teach them in one of the accepted gifted instructional models in order to earn the FTEs. My children were designated 'gifted' very early on in elementary school - not because we pushed for it, but simply because they both scored consistently in the 98-99th percentile and they could always handle much more than they were ever given in school. At Henderson MS their core subjects were taught as 'gifted'- only their electives were not; the administrators at HMS seemed to know how to effectively balance the master schedule to maximize the gifted FTEs. However, at Lakeside my children only had at most two or three (out of 7 periods) at a time that were designated 'gifted'. (There don't seem to be any gifted social studies options at LHS, and even my daughter's Accelerated Math is not 'gifted'.) This lack of gifted instruction at LHS is not due to a shortage of gifted students, but may be a result of a shortage of qualified teachers. More likely it has to do with administrators' inability to schedule and disinterest in this type of 'special needs' child.
I have been told by school officials that my children will do just "fine" no matter how they are taught, and that they can be really helpful in their classes as role models for lower-performing students. Good for the other kids, not so good for mine. I truly feel that we are trying to "narrow the gap" by keeping the top down.

Have my kids been "fine"? Sure.
Could they have been "great" somewhere else? Probably.

Anonymous said...

We have found at the high school level that gifted classes too often "lose" the gifted designation because they become over-enrolled. Once they are past a certain size, even if taught by a gifted certified teacher, they are no longer officially designated as gifted.

teacher said...

Your school (teacher/AP/Principal) must write up how they are providing different instruction for the gifted students. This is very easy to manipulate. It's a matter of the teacher writing what she did with these kids. This kind of cheating our children is all over DCSS.

Square Peg said...

2:41, I would like to see more for the gifted at high schools like Lakeside, but don't think it is the system's greatest need. Once my kids got to 10th grade, they challenged themselves plenty with AP classes, extracurriculars, Fernbank Advanced Studies classes, etc. And I'd rather have my child in a large AP class than not allowed to take the class because of overenrollment.

After looking at the numbers, I wonder if the gifted kids who are really languishing are the ones at elementaries like Cary Reynolds or Stone Mountain. I have no firsthand knowledge, but the budget says they aren't getting much service.

Anonymous said...

Anon @ 11:19, if you are a dekalb teacher afraid of being identified do not post on this blog from a DCSS computer- wait until you get home. Posting as anonymous will not keep MIS from tracking you down, if that is what you are worried about.

Anonymous said...

By the powers invested in me by being a helpless, put upon, deprived DeKlab County taxpayer, I hereby declare now
and forever more that:

1. All DCSS students are gifted

2. The parents of all DCSS students are one level above brain dead for letting DCSS exist in its present form

3. The DCSS administration is smart in being able to play all DeKalb County taxpayers as suckers.

4. The members of the BOE are also smart in being able to use the administration to find jobs for their friends and family members.


Go forth from here and send in your tax paymentss

Anonymous said...

Harvard doesn't give scholarships -- only meets need based on the financial status of the parents. That said, it is impressive if three Tucker students were accepted to Harvard.

Anonymous said...

Harvard, the other Ivy's, and most other top tier schools give only need-based aid - no scholarships whatsoever for academics or sports.

Anonymous said...

CRCT scores have been delivered to the scores. Our 3rd and 5th grade teachers were shown their scores today. I wonder which schools made or did not make AYP.

Anonymous said...

AYP status now includes the summer retest for elementary and middle schools. So, it will be July before we know anything..

Anonymous said...

The schools first find out if they make AYP in May or June. After the summer retest, the final statement is made. By the first week in June, the principals can all tell you if they have made AYP.
I have been giving the CRCT test since it started and this is what I have observed.
Soon the state will provide this information.

No Duh said...

Yes. After I left that post about STT, I realized I mis-wrote. I know you apply in eighth grade for STT. Then attend in ninth. Not really the point of my question though! But thanks for correcting it.

You are incorrect when you say a student "may" opt out of STT if they get into a magnet. Absolutely not. They may not attend the STT program if they are attending a magnet program in ninth grade. They are required to alert Fernbank when and if they change high schools. This is why you hear Chamblee Middle students who are in the magnet program there say they "can't" go to STT if they choose to continue with the magnet program at Chamblee High. And of course, if they choose not to continue in the program at Chamblee High, they should either have to go back to their home school or apply to another magnet program -- like say, Arabia.

However, it appears, once again that the rules don't apply to the s

tudents at Arabia. I don't understand how you can have a magnet program and something called Career Pathway in the same school -- that has NO attendance zone -- and dare to say Arabia ISN'T 100 percent a magnet school. Only in DCSS.

SHS said...

Do You Think Posting As Anonymous Allows You to Post Safely and Undetected?

I hope that Cerebration will reconsider and re-instate having to register and choose a pseudonym for posting.

If you are posting on this blog from your DCSS computer -- before school, during school, after school, on weekends -- DCSS knows who you are. They can see everything you post and they know exactly which computer and who is posting. Further, DCSS is backing up all computers. So, for the length of time they maintain the backups, they can go back to see what you are posting.

One of DCSS's goals is to keep status quo. Therefore, they can and will use the IT department to see who is a threat.

If you use your DCSS computer to post to this blog and you think posting as "Anonymous" will protect you -- you are living in Fantasyland. NEVER post from your DCSS computer.

Cerebration said...

That's true enough, however, I just don't think we're all that high a level of importance. Of course the school system doesn't want people reading and posting to a blog during school hours - this blog or any others.

This blog is a source of information. If the school system wants to rid themselves of us, they only need to start a reliable, open, transparent blog of their own - one that they certainly can monitor the comments - but one that elicits trust. It's not exactly rocket science.

Kim Gokce said...

Anon May 17 10:11 "The mediocre education at DCSS resulted in three Tucker students getting scholarships to Havard this year."

Amen, brother (sister)! The mediocre education at Cross Keys produced seniors this year bound for Stanford, Pomona, and Williams College among other top institutions. I had the privilege of interviewing the young man heading to Pomona on "Mock Interview" Career Day this spring.

Having arrived at Woodward Es in the 3rd or 4th grade with little to no English, he is now the school's salutatorian, a leader in the service club, junior class president, co-captain of the #1 ranked soccer team among public schools (behind Westminster & GAC), a swim team standout, ninth at State in Cross Country, etc., etc.

When I interviewed him, I thought, "This guy can do anything he sets his mind to and any company would die to recruit him."

Woodward ES -> Sequoyah MS -> CKHS can get you anywhere as well as any other district in DeKalb.

I think many of our attendance areas can produce such scholars and achievement. There are great teachers in virtually every school in DeKalb to provide the core educational opportunites every child deserves.

For me, the issue comes in with the amenities. Does your ES school have a playground worth a filp, music, art, and foreign language option? Does your middle school have a reading bowl team, a robotics club, a math team, an orchestra? Does your high school have an auditorium/performing arts classrooms, art studios, a orchestra, a swimming pool (excuse me, a natatorium!), a stadium, a robotics team, a modern science lab and supplies, AP courses out the wazoo?

The list of inequities goes on and on and on in DeKalb and there is no hint that the habits of thirty years are changing any time soon ... facilities, facilities, facilities ... when will we all realize that the foundation of the system we want is built on equitable, larger scale facilities?

Kim Gokce said...

More teachers, fewer buildings please ... for the love of God, I am begging you, DeKalb, please!

Anonymous said...

Kim...I hear what you're saying--and have been saying--about the bigger buildings.

My concern is this: the really strong students will survive in whatever building they are house. The really weak kids--assuming competent educators--will have their needs serviced regardeless of the building.

I worry about the kids in the middle. When a high school houses 3000-4000 kids, those mid-range kids, the well-behaved, C+ to B- students who sit in the back and just ride the wave...when the schools get bigger, they are more and more ignored.

Sure, that happens with smaller schools, but there is a greater chance that SOMEONE will reach that child when teachers have more contact with the kids. You put 700-1000 per class at a school...I worry about the educational process really suffering.

Cerebration said...

That certainly isn't an issue in Gwinnett. I wonder if we could just ask for some guidance from them. Regardless of the size of high schools (I think the discussion focuses on 2000-2400 max in DeKalb) - we absolutely cannot sustain the huge inventory of tiny schools with full staffs and old buildings. Schools with 300 and fewer students, with their own building, principal, APs, counselors, teachers, cafeteria, maintenance, security, etc - are costing an arm and a leg - arms and legs of students in other schools, IMHO.

Cerebration said...

Excellent questions Kim - questions our board needs to focus the budget on. These are the kinds of bottom up spending initiatives we must demand -- not just for our own children's schools -- for ALL schools!

Use these questions as a checklist of demands for all schools. Please add your own.

Does your ES school have a playground worth a flip?

Do your schools have music, art, and foreign language options?

Does your middle school have a reading bowl team, a robotics club, a math team, an orchestra?

Does your high school have an auditorium/performing arts classrooms?

Do you have art studios?

An orchestra and a band? Marching band?

How about a swimming pool (excuse me, a natatorium!)

Easy access to a stadium?

Does your school host a robotics team?

Does your school offer a modern science lab and supplies?

AP courses out the wazoo?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous @8:35

The school doesn't have to have 3000-4000 students for those C+ to B- kids to be ignored. It's happening right now in our supposed "best" high schools. They get warehoused in those huge classes where they get very little, if any individual attention. Many of these kids could be B+ or even A students with a little extra help, but with class sizes of 30+, that help is not forthcoming. It's just not humanly possible for a teacher to give that many students the help they need to excel. The extra dollars go to the "gifted" kids and the special needs kids. Those kids in the middle get devalued.

Cerebration said...

Very true. The size of the class and the number of students each teacher has on their roster has much more of an effect on student performance than the size of the building or the total number of students in the school. In fact, one could argue that if done properly, a large scale school could offer more opportunities for students to become involved in clubs, sports, drama, music, art, etc...

Anonymous said...

So teachers will be going from 90 students a day to 160... say hello to multiple choice tests in all our kids high school classes and good-by to any sort of hands-on labs.

Anonymous said...

All of this begs the question...what do we want for our kids, educationally speaking? We can warehouse kids and have them pass CRCT's, but not at "exceeds" level, and make AYP and such. But if we don't give teachers the opportunity to truly evaluate students--give feedback on a regular basis and address deficiencies--we aren't doing anyone any good.

Anonymous said...

I am not sure if this is the right topic heading to place this...but dekalb also misuses special education allotments. Once a student earns support the staff member is put into a general extra staff pool doing menial tasks that have absoutely nothing to do with that childs iep. If the child earns para support that translates into the teacher has a instead of that child getting extra support the teacher actually has a personal assistant.