Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Office of School Improvement: An Oxymoron

Since 2003-2004 – for 7 years! – DCSS has NOT made AYP. In 2003-2004, 18 of 132 DCSS schools (14%) did NOT make AYP. Fast forward to 2009-2010. Fifty (50) of 133 DCSS schools (37.6%) did NOT meet AYP!

That’s a 23.6% increase in FAILING to meet basic requirements!

Since the Class of 2010 entered middle school – and earlier – DCSS students with learning needs have NOT gotten the help they needed from the Office of School "Improvement." These students have graduated further behind than when they started. Millions of dollars have been spent on friends-and-family and useless "programs" without ever addressing the real problem, straightforwardly and effectively.

So, that naturally raises the question: Why do the folks charged with school improvement still have jobs?

If you or I had failed so spectacularly at our jobs we would have been fired.  The people in school improvement got raises!

That’s right. Raises.

According to Open.Georgia.com, between 2008 and 2010 (the only documentation publicly available), Employees in school improvement enjoyed an average raise of 7.5%.

Umm … Teachers? How much of a raise did you receive during those years?

Did these employees lose DCSS’s retirement contributions during that time period?  How many days were they furloughed during that time period?

Five (5) of the fewer than 30 employees in the "Office of School Improvement" on the payroll in 2010 received more than $100,000 per year. Another 15 "improvement" employees received from more than $50,000 all the way up to just under $95,000. This includes a data entry clerk paid $50,532, an administrative assistant (1 of 5 administrative assistants in a department of fewer than 30 people) paid $51,561 and two accounting associates each paid more than $52,000.  Most of it paid with federal Title 1 funds –  It looks like federal funds have become a playground full of money trees!

Thanks again to Sandy for her great research on this subject. This was originally posted in the comments of her post entitled "FOUND! DCSS Has The Money for Education Excellence"


Anon said...

And just wait to see what a huge disaster AYP transfers are going to be this year.

Atlanta Media Guy said...

Audria Berry and her Army = Epic Failure!

America's Choice = Epic Failure

DCSS Leadership Grade = F

Does the BOE really think Ms. Berry and her "army" is doing a good job? Teachers how do you feel, that a person with no direct instruction with the students gets a six figure salary and you're trying to make ends meet as you're furloughed and your retirement PROMISES are broken?

If the economy wasn't so screwed up, there would have been a mass exodus of good teachers over the last year. I guess that's one good thing for the DeKalb stakeholders. Bizarre....

Gayle said...

$128,000,000 is the federal funding DCSS received last year. This includes the stimulus money (ARRA) as well as some other federal funding. The lions's share of these dollars is under the Office of School Improvement which serves Title 1 schools.

Almost all federal funds are targeted to Title 1 schools. Even AYP student transfers (and thus NCLB sanctions/penalties) are only for Title 1 schools although non-Title 1 schools must be receiver schools to Title 1 school students who do not meet AYP. In other words, the transfers only work one way. The penalty is that you will lose federal funding if you don't offer transfers, tutoring, etc. to Title 1 school students who don't make AYP.

The reason DCSS got $128,000,000 ($50,000,000+ in Title 1 funding and the rest in other federal funding - much of that being ARRA and the upcoming RTT) is that we have so many Title 1 schools. And the decisions for spending that money is made by Audria Berry in the Office of School Improvement. Now you can see how she has achieved such a center of power and patronage. Many non-teaching highly paid and highly placed and connected teachers depend on her decisions regarding their programs and continued employment.

The Office of School Improvement exists for the academic improvement of Title 1 schools. The few non-Title 1 schools we have are served by the regular curriculum directors who report to Morcease Beasley.

This is why the decisions on $128,000,000 made for Title 1 schools academic improvement are so critical. This was an enormous part of the DCSS budget (14%) last year.

Ms. Berry has held this position or that of Title 1 Director since Crawford Lewis came into office in 2004. Her decisions on the hundreds of millions have resulted in the DECLINE of Title 1 schools making AYP (lowest percentage in metro Atlanta.

She has had SEVEN YEARS and HUNDREDS of MILLIONS of dollars in funds to improve the number of Title 1 schools making adequate yearly progress. DCSS Title 1 school students deserve better and they deserve a change in leadership.

Go to the state weblink below, drop down to choose DeKalb and then click the Revenue button:

Gayle said...

DCSS Title I schools are not making adequate yearly progress at the rates of EVERY other metro school system.

More importantly, the percent of Title I schools dropped from 80+% in 2008-2009 to only 50+% making adequate yearly progress in 2009-2010.

For example, Clayton, Gwinnett, etc. had almost the same percent of Title I making adequate yearly progress in 2008-2009 (80+%) BEFORE and 2009-2010 (80+%) AFTER strict test monitoring. 100% of Clayton's schools are Title I. ALL of the metro area schools take the SAME tests and are under the SAME rules for Title I expenditure of funds.

This is not a question of legality (although the precipitous drop in schools making AYP proved so in APS). This is a question of competence. Title I and federal funds allocated to personnel and programs should be moving Title I schools forward, not backwards in making adequate yearly progress.

When the DCSS Title I schools (BEFORE strict monitoring) were making adequate yearly progress, the Office of School Improvement was taking the credit. Now that we have strict test monitoring, and we can see in reality how many Title I schools are NOT making adequate yearly progress, the Office of School Improvement must take the blame and be held accountable for a lack of student progress that is commensurate with the other metro systems.

There are many ways to meet Title 1 guidelines. Ms. Berry has chosen to meet the guidelines by filling the schools with highly paid non-teaching personnel and purchasing expensive learning programs. For example,she could use paraprofessionals or part time retired teachers to staff the Parent Centers freeing up more money for direct instruction personnel. She could be allocating more staff development decisions to the local schools who could then contract with educational experts that customize staff development to that schools' particular need. There are many ways to meet the guidelines. The ways she is choosing are NOT producing the results other systems are getting.

Here are the links for posters to see for themselves what's happening in Title I schools. The superintendent and the BOE need to be looking at this data:

DCSS Title I 2008-2009 (see Number of Schools by Adequate Yearly Progress Status) BEFORE strict monitoring of tests:

DCSS Title I 2009-2010 (see Number of Schools by Adequate Yearly Progress Status)AFTER strict monitoring of tests:

Clayton Schools Title I 2008-2009 (see Number of Schools by Adequate Yearly Progress Status)BEFORE strict monitoring of tests:

Clayton Schools Title I 2009-2010 (see Number of Schools by Adequate Yearly Progress Status)AFTER strict monitoring of tests:

Gwinnett Schools Title I 2009-2010 (see Number of Schools by Adequate Yearly Progress Status)BEFORE strict monitoring of tests:

Gwinnett Schools Title I 2010-2011 (see Number of Schools by Adequate Yearly Progress Status)AFTER strict monitoring of tests:

DCSS taxpayers want results, not excuses. Title I schools and their teachers and students deserve better.

teacher said...

A problem with the Office of School Improvement, is that there is little money going to help the children. I went to a Title One school growing up, and at it I received help from my Title One Reading teacher who worked with me individually and in small groups to improve my reading ability and comprehension. Without his help, I would not be the avid reader that I am today. This man was also paid on the teacher salary scale, not on one above it.

I myself have worked as a Title One reading coach, and my job was to work with small groups of students and help teachers target instruction to meet their children's needs. We used data from DIBELS to see where student needs were and designed centers and instruction around the children's needs. Doing this job, I was paid on the teacher scale and had just as much work as a classroom teacher, as I was working with with teachers and students from pre-K to 8.

Our coaches are more concerned with how things look. Are standards posted? Are you reading America's Choice script correctly? Than where, the children are, what the children are learning, and what is being done to get the children to move ahead.

Knowing that more coaches are being hired makes my blood boil. Knowing that more schools will fall into Title One funding which means even more money, makes me very angry and upset, and wonder when are the children and their needs going to be part of the Office of School Improvement's master plan? Knowing that some of the coaches aren't certified teachers is even more infuriating.

The Office of School Improvement needs to go. Everyone falling under that category needs to go. Instead principals should be given points to hire teachers as Title One Resource teachers who help children learn the skills that they are missing and help teachers to ensure that more kids aren't slipping through the cracks. These coaches should be paid on the current teacher salary.

We have no school improvement. Our schools continue to get worse. The board and administrators continue to waste money and always seem to have their hands out for more. Our kids suffer and no one in the district with authority cares.

Daniel said...

We really need to be careful about judging AYP results just as a pass or fail measure. You have to remember that if a school misses the mark on just one measure, the entire school gets the label. For example, SWD has just been recognized by the College Board for the results in AP US History and AP Macroeconomics, but the school has missed AYP because of the GHSGT math test. It hit the mark on all other measures.

teacher said...

Sorry Daniel, I disagree. AYP in this day and age is EXTREMELY important to me as a parent and educator. I will not send my child to a school that hasn't met it. I don't care what the reason. I don't want my child to be an experiment. Maybe, I know too much as an ex-teacher, but I don't want my child to become another DCSS statistic.

Our schools aren't improving. If they were, we'd have more kids in the exceeds area for CRCT. With the CRCT in elementary school, there is NO excuse why more of our schools are not making AYP. Shoot you only have to get a 50% to pass, which means that you barely have to understand the skill.

In today's time, AYP matters. The reason not getting it doesn't. Too many excuses are made in DCSS and to me this is yet another to add to an already long list.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Daniel that sometimes a school that excels in some areas might still not make AYP. But that is the point. Schools have to serve all students--both the ones taking AP courses and the ones struggling with math. If they do not, they are not adequate.

As a teacher, I hate the emphasis on testing. But that emphasis stems from the fact that our students continue to struggle when compared to those in other systems. If we were doing right by our kids--ALL of our kids--the statistics would take care of themselves.

Daniel said...

Teacher, don't worry, 100% of schools will be failing nationwide in 2014 when the threshold for passing tests is 100%. One student fails CRCT or EOCT (that's replacing GHSGT at high school), then the entire school fails. Don't worry, no school will have a 100% pass rate. AYP is a joke.

teacher said...

Daniel, as a teacher, no regular education child should not make AYP, if he is taught well. The problem with DCSS, is that the Title One money that should go towards the children's education, goes to funding high paid jobs that really are not necessary and have little impact on student instruction. Title One funds should be used to help children in the early grades get a strong foundation, so that they can make it through middle school and high school with minimum struggles. Title One funds should go towards helping kids in all grades struggling to understand concepts and giving them the extra help that often times makes a huge difference. I have worked in schools all around the country and have never seen Title One funds used in this way in schools that work and do their job.

You see Daniel, it's not AYP, it's not having enough money to educate our children. It's using what we have in the best, most efficient way possible. That doesn't happen in DCSS.

I left DCSS, because I couldn't teach my class or hold them to the standards that I would want for my own children. I can't trust DCSS with educating my child, as they don't care about educating our children, they only care about making and keeping jobs for under qualified, over paid friends and family members.

Sorry but AYP matters and as a parent of a young child, it's the first thing that I look at when I chose the school district that we purchased our home in. Any educated person does the same.

Daniel said...

Teacher, as I said, good luck finding any school anywhere in this country that will make AYP in 2014. It doesn't matter if it's a regular education, special education, economically disadvantaged, ELL, etc.... if one student in a school fails the test, the entire school misses AYP. As an educator, you should know to dis-aggregate the data and see what is actually happening. Also, as a educator, I would hope you would not place too much emphasis on these tests.

teacher said...

I understand about AYP, however, just because the inevitable is going to happen, doesn't mean that we shouldn't be giving our children a better education. Right now, too much money is wasted and never reaches our children. Spending this money wisely has the potential to make the inevitable take a year or two longer than would necessarily be.

I put a great deal of stock in standardized tests. Not the CRCT, but in ITBS and other nationally normed tests. Nationally normed tests tell us where our kids really stand with the children across the country. The CRCT is one of the worst state tests that I have seen. A child doesn't need to know much to receive a meets expectations on it.

Taking tests in today's society is important. I don't put a great deal of stock in CRCT and meeting expectations, but I do put stock in knowing where my child stacks up to other children his age across the country.

Gayle said...

@ Daniel
AYP may be a joke to you, but I assure you it is not to the students who cannot read a passage and discern the main idea, correctly work a problem with double digit multiplication, tell the difference in a reptile and a mammal, or interpret a simple graph.

These basic skills are tested on the CRCT which is the measurement used to calculate adequate yearly progress.

In addition, so few of our high school Title 1 schools making adequate yearly progress has resulted in overcrowding in our very few that do make AYP. That has had a very negative impact on the few schools making AYP. Ask the parents at Lakeside how they like their children having science classes in trailers.

Clayton and Gwinnett and ALL of the other metro systems have a MUCH greater percent of their Title 1 schools making adequate yearly progress (and 100% of Clayton's schools are Title 1 or low income). Clayton and Gwinnett and ALL of the other metro systems have the exact same parameters as DCSS.

DCSS's Title 1 program under the Office of School Improvement has resulted in more and more schools NOT making adequate yearly progress. Ms. Berry should be asked to resign or be moved to a position where her decisions cannot result in an ever increasing number of DCSS Title 1 schools failing to make adequate yearly progress.

The poor performance of Ms. Berry is ultimately the responsibility of her supervisor Morcease Beasley and his supervisor Ms. Tyson. Dr. Beasley and Ms. Tyson are charged with ensuring schools make adequate yearly progress including Title 1 schools. This is their PRIME responsibility. Everything else they do is secondary. They have supported her disastrous educational decisions for our students.

The performance of Ms. Tyson, Mr. Beasley and Ms. Berry is judged on student performance. If they can't increase the number of Title 1 schools making adequate yearly progress and in fact make decisions that cause more and more of our Title 1 schools to fail to make adequate yearly progress, they have failed in their performance of their jobs. It's really that simple.

Gayle said...

@ Daniel
"if one student in a school fails the test, the entire school misses AYP"

Your statement is simply not true. The disaggregated groups must meet a minimum number of students to count, there are averaging formulas, etc.

Please look at the fact that Forsyth Schools MADE AYP - the ENTIRE system made AYP. Look at this link that shows the Economically Disadvantaged disaggregated group of Forsyth Central High Schools did not make AYP, yet Forsyth MADE AYP systemwide.

Forsyth Central High School:

Forsyth School System:

So to your statement ..."Teacher, as I said, good luck finding any school anywhere in this country that will make AYP in 2014."...

Well, Daniel, Teacher doesn't need luck to find school systems in the U.S. that make AYP. We have several right here in metro Atlanta.

Forsyth County Schools, Rockdale County Schools, Marietta City Schools, and Decatur City Schools all MADE AYP on the SYSTEM level. And F.Y.I. in every instance you will find some disaggregated group that did not make AYP in a school in each of those systems.

This is why I say your statements are not born out by the facts.

Ultimately, the highest level administrators in DCSS MUST be held responsible for student performance. The teachers do what they are told to do by Ms. Berry, Mr. Beasley and Ms. Tyson and teach the way they are told to teach. If more and more of our schools are failing to make AYP, these personnel must take the responsibility.

Mr. Lewis may have hired Ms. Berry, but Ms. Tyson and Mr. Beasley have kept her on even while her educational decisions have had a terribly negative impact on our students.

Decatur City Schools:

Rockdale Schools:

Marietta City Schools:

September said...

Daniel is correct about the AYP standard going up every year. When we started this craziness schools needed to have around 60% ( I don't remember the exact score) of students earn a meets or exceeds score on the CRCT. The required pass rate will reach 100% in the next few years. I just don't see that happening. Also, a child may fit into several subgroups. When that happens that child's score is counted in every one of those subgroups.

If you want to know how well your child is meeting the minimum standards established by the State of Georgia, look at CRCT scores. If you want to know how your child compares to students in other parts of the U.S., look at the Iowa scores.

Kim Gokce said...

With the exception of the system Superintendent, no employee of DCSS who does not report to a school house should earn more than a principal. A principal's salary should never be higher than the highest paid teacher in the building.

I've said it on this blog before but repeat these two principles (!) because I like to keep things simple so I can follow. Every dang dime we pay someone who does not work inside our schools is a dime I question.

I'm with "teacher" above - we need more teachers ... lots of them. How on earth can we afford them? Dramatic consolidation of school plant and a commensurate slashing of the non-school house payroll ... the two things we seem incapable of taking seriously as a community.

Anonymous said...

My oldest son recently graduated from a DeKalb County high school. He applied to 4 universities, 2 out of state. Not one college application that my son completed asked whether his high school, middle school or elementary school made AYP.

Cerebration said...

I think the problem here is that atl is talking about the school system overall (as compared to area systems that are all doing better) and pointing out that virtually all of our Title 1 schools are failing to meet AYP. I am not certain, but I think the "category" they fail is poor and minority - which would be quite a number of students since these are Title 1 schools comprised of mostly poor, minority students.

We have never said that you can't get a good education in DeKalb - you can! We can always highlight success stories - however they are overshadowed by the large number of students who are not getting the education they deserve. We are just seeking a balance. That balance must begin with the budget. We can't overspend on special programs and administrators - this causes physics to kick in - and someone else gets "less".

Cerebration said...

We have the data to back this up, BTW. And yes, the requirements have increased, however, other metro systems have been able to meet the bar -- just not Ms. Berry's Office of School Improvement in DeKalb. Why no new leadership? She would have been long gone in a corporate situation. We know why Lewis kept her around -- but why Tyson? Tyson has no guts and will not do the tough job required of a super - even though she is being paid the FULL SALARY to do so and even though not doing so is harming so many children.

Percent of DCSS Title 1 Schools MEETING AYP
2004-05 71.6%
2005-06 65.4%
2006-07 76.4%
2007-08 61.9%
2008-09 74.1%
2009-10 51.6% (after strict test monitoring)

The number of Title 1 schools NOT making Adequate Yearly Progress almost doubled from 2008-09 school year to 2009-10 school year (after strict test monitoring). DCSS Title 1 schools NOT making Adequate Yearly Progress went from 23 to 43 after strict test monitoring.

Year after year, teachers in Title 1 schools have followed the directives of the Office of School Improvement so declining student achievement falls squarely on the leadership of DCSS and specifically on this department that has been charged with increasing student achievement in DCSS Title 1 schools.

Directing hundreds of millions of dollars into administration and support employees while draining the Title I classrooms of direct instruction personnel has not proven efficacious for students. New leadership is required to turn this ship around.


The data for this graph came directly from the DCSS Title 1 webpages (see
Number of Schools by Adequate Yearly Progress Status):







Cerebration said...

One more thing -- for the bloggers VISION 20/20, which goes far beyond planning buildings - click the 20/20 graphic link on the right side panel or this link below -

“Without a vision, the people perish…”

Passionate... said...

In 2014, 100% of our students must fail! An 800 passing score is currently based on knowing less than 60% of information taught during the school year on the CRCT, a multiple choice test. Title I schools that are making AYP have Title I teachers working with small groups and run a tutorial program with Title I funds. The Office of School Improvement is top heavy, same as DCSS central office. More staff is needed to work directly with students. With common core state standards, students will need to explain and justify answers. Student/Teacher ratio needs to be lowered, not increased. People making budget decisions are not looking at students' needs or teachers' needs. Its' time to put the majority of the Title I funds back into the school house.

Anon said...

I think that it would be disingenuous to pretend that the "good" schools in DCSS are as good as they were a decade ago. I say this as a parent who has had children in this system for 15+ years.

We have a plethora of weak principals across all our schools.

A decade ago, teachers' salaries in DeKalb were the second highest in the state. We have now been surpassed by almost every metro system. If a candidate has a choice, where are they going to work?

There are professors in multiple Colleges of Education who tell (not advise) their students not to work in DeKalb.

We are in such an incredible mess and yet our board does nothing. They don't ask the right questions and constituent concerns are regularly brushed to the side. I suspect that they will add furlough days to teachers next year as well.

Other systems have started hiring again. We can expect a slow and steady exodus of our best and brightest.

Cerebration said...

In fact, I'll share a recent news headline from the Patch - great success in Dunwoody as well as many other schools. We just worry about those who don't make it all the way through and somehow lose their way. Very different groups of students...

Dunwoody Graduates Earn $12 Million in Scholarships
165 seniors from the 2011 graduating class at Dunwoody High received scholarships including the Gates Millennium Scholarship

Take Lakeside for example - the current graduating class is about 300. They are all pretty bright and will have a successful future. Lots of scholarships - great colleges, etc. However, this class had well over 500 when they were freshmen. We wonder what happened to the missing 200 or so who didn't get to graduation on time. DeKalb doesn't track students this way, so there's no way of knowing. Anyone who tries to tell you what happened to these missing students is simply guessing.

Cerebration said...

More on the subject --

Many grads not college-ready

When high school seniors receive their diplomas this month, most will assume they’re ready for college. Many are not.

About one in four college freshmen — nearly 14,000 students — take remedial classes in reading, writing or math each fall, according to University System of Georgia data.

Nearly 20 high schools in metro Atlanta had at least half their 2010 graduates take remedial classes after enrolling in the University System this past fall, according to an Atlanta Journal-Constitution analysis of state data.

Joseph Hunt said...

@ Cere

Yesterday, an article in the AJC described how schools in Hall County cleared their rolls of under-performing students before testing by transferring them to a local career academy.

This is not unique to Hall County. In fact, I would suggest that these kinds of transfers are routine in failing DCSS schools. The students are usually sent to Open Campus, but some just withdraw or drop out. This happens, as it does in Hall, just before high-stakes testing.

Although Lakeside is not a failing school, quite a few of those 200 students who were lost along the way may have actually transferred to Open Campus or to other schools.

Cerebration said...

Like I said, since it's not tracked, that is strictly a guess.

With the amount of $$ we spend in MIS etc, this information should be available with the click of a button.

debora said...

The 9th grade bulge has been discussed on this blog before. There isn't really a class of "well over 500" passing through. What is happening is that a significant number of students spend 2 years in 9th grade, so the size of the 9th grade class is artificially large.

Track the size of a class as it passes through Henderson and Lakeside:

Fall 2007: 407 8th graders at Henderson Middle

Fall 2008: 586 9th graders at Lakeside

Fall 2009: 437 10th graders at Lakeside

You might try to explain the large 9th grade class at Lakeside as caused by new students and transfers, but exactly the same thing happens at the state and national level (google "9th grade bottleneck", for example).

2007: 124,544 8th graders in GA
2008: 143,933 9th graders
2009: 122,022 10th graders

What this means is that tougher standards are applied to students once they start high school, and they're not necessarily prepared.

The shape of the graph shows a dropout problem, but not until after 10th grade.


Cerebration said...

Again - a guess. A good guess - but a guess.

Atlanta Media Guy said...

I sure wish I could hear a conversation like this at a BOE meeting, ON THE RECORD! There are several good posts in this thread. Like Daniel, I am skeptical of AYP, however the Repubs (Bush) and Dems (Ted Kennedy) got together and wrote the NCLB ACT. Was it great? NO! However, is there anything great that the Feds have their fingerprint on? No! A National Curriculum would be a disaster, but Arne Duncan and the Obama Administration wants one. Sounds like brain washing to me.

This conversation must be had and it should be in a public forum. Enough with the accolades that are bantered about during DCSS BOE Public comments.

Simply put, Tyson, Berry, Beasley and the rest of Clew's inner-circle which surprisingly still have jobs here in DeKalb, have failed our kids and should be fired! Their concerns are not OURS!

Do not believe the rhetoric, that pours out of OUR Palace on a daily basis. Just look at the numbers, which Cere and her gang do a terrific job at compiling and reporting for yourself. The numbers don't lie! DCSS is a FAILURE!

Can you imagine a BOE meeting where they actually talk about our kids learning? Can you imagine a BOE meeting where a DCSS employee actually comes up to the microphone and blows the whistle on the most corrupt criminal enterprise at DCSS, the Office of School Improvement? I guess that would be the day Hell freezes over!

DCSS leadership and the BOE work for US! Don't forget that when you call DCSS staffers to help you out. Sometimes the Palace guard and leadership forget that very important part of the puzzle. These Palace morons actually think they are doing a good job!

Gayle said...

Since AYP is the only way we have of measuring the basic academic skills of our students, and the Office of School Improvement ($128,000,000 a year in federal funding) exists solely to increase the AYP rate, I think we have to conclude AYP is the only measure we can use to judge the performance of the Office of School Improvement.

Whatever you personally think about AYP is a moot point since Office of School Improvement would not exist without the concept of AYP. So it seems logical to judge its merits on AYP.

Since all federal funding flows through the Office of School Improvement and the sole objective is ensuring more schools make AYP, the data would say that this department has failed in its performance.

Remember that this department did not exist until NCLB/AYP was devised. Before that, Title 1 funding decisions were made at the school level closer to student needs. Almost all funding went to teachers instructing small groups of struggling students.

The Office of School Improvement has spent untold taxpayer dollars for a negative Return on Investment. Just because these hundreds of millions are federal tax dollars doesn't make them "free".

Does anyone beside the highly paid personnel employed by the Office of School Improvement and their relatives think this department is a success?

No Duh said...

"Just look at the numbers, which Cere and her gang do a terrific job at compiling and reporting for yourself. The numbers don't lie! DCSS is a FAILURE!"

And remember both Cox and Culver emphasized that they made decisions about resources based on numbers. They both said data drives their decisions. And they were both railroaded to some degree. DCSS insiders HATE data -- too factual.

Let's also remember that our own Pam Speaks (who, ironically, speaks very rarely) was formerly in charge of Title One dollars at DCSS. Why is she so quiet about the Office of School Improvement?

And one more thing...if we keep complaining about the Office of School Improvement, they'll just rename it. Lol DCSS always changes its goals to meet its behavior -- not the other way around!

Atlanta Media Guy said...

The BOE remains quiet because they know if the Title 1 Funds were misused then the Feds would come sweeping in and start inducting people for fraud. We wouldn't want that would we? Wait, what? that's right we already have two leaders that have been indicted on RICO charges and the people they hired are still working for the system today. Ms. Speaks, what say you about the current condition of Title 1 spending? Has the Office of Improvement improved anything?

teacher said...

NCLB should not have created a new department and schools should still be making the decisions on how to spend their Title One funds, as they know the true needs of their students.

What is sad, is that technically DCSS isn't miss using Title One money. They aren't using it to best help the kids, but they they aren't doing anything wrong.

What is also sad, is that the district can use this money and not have to show any improvements of the children.

The office of school improvements has improved the salaries of those who work under it, but not much else.

Cerebration said...

An alert blogger sent this via email -

This link on the Fulton website has good info.


The following is on the section entitled "Components of a Title 1 Schoolwide Program Plan".

Components of a Title I Schoolwide Program Plan
NCLB Section 1114 (b) (1) requires a Title I Schoolwide Program plan to contain each of the following ten components as well as related measurable goals and strategies for implementation:

1. A comprehensive needs assessment of the entire school (including the needs
of migrant children as defined in Section 1306) with information about the academic achievement of children in relation to the state academic content standards as described in Section 1111(b)(1).

2. Schoolwide reform strategies that:
a. Provide opportunities for all children to meet the state's proficient and advanced levels of student academic achievement described in Section 1111(b)(1)(D).
b. Use effective methods and instructional strategies based on scientific research that:
§ Strengthen the core academic program in the school.
§ Increase the amount and quality of learning time, by providing an extended school year, before- and after-school and summer programs and opportunities, and an enriched and accelerated curriculum.
§ Include strategies for meeting the educational needs of historically underserved populations.
c. Address the needs of all children in the school, especially those of low achieving children and those at risk of not meeting the state academic content standards who are members of a population targeted by the schoolwide program. The services of such a program include:
§ Counseling, pupil services, and mentoring services.
§ College and career awareness and preparation, such as college and career guidance, personal finance education, and innovative teaching methods, which may include applied learning and team-teaching strategies.
§ The integration of vocational and technical education programs.
d. Address how the school will determine if such needs have been met.
e. Are consistent with the state plan and any local improvement plans.

3. Instruction by highly qualified teachers.

4. High-quality and ongoing professional development for teachers, principals, and paraprofessionals and, if appropriate, pupil services personnel, parents, and other staff to enable all children in the school to meet the state academic content standards in accord with Section 1119 and subsection 1114 (a)(4).

5. Strategies to attract highly qualified teachers to high-need schools.

6. Strategies to increase parental involvement through means such as family literacy services in accord with Section 1118.

7. Plans for assisting preschool children in the transition from early childhood programs, such as Head Start, Even Start, Early Reading First, or a state-run preschool program, to local elementary school programs.

8. Measures to include teachers in decisions regarding the use of academic assessments (described in Section 1111[b][3]) to provide information on, and to improve, the achievement of individual students and the overall instructional program.

9. Effective, timely assistance for students who experience difficulty in attaining the proficient or advanced level of the academic content standards as required by Section 1111(b)(1). Students' difficulties must be identified in a timely way and in such a way as to provide information on which to base effective assistance.

10. Coordination and integration of federal, state, and local services and programs, including programs supported under NCLB, violence prevention programs, nutrition programs, housing programs, Head Start, adult education, vocational and technical education, and job training.

Cerebration said...

Funny No Duh -- Pam Speaks - but she really doesn't! Wasn't that her campaign slogan? "Pam Speaks for Children"?

Another oxymoron!

teacher said...

One can put anything down on paper to fulfill the requirements. The government can't look at every plan and make sure that what is down on paper is actually being followed through. DCSS knows how to play the game.

Gayle said...

"What is sad, is that technically DCSS isn't miss using Title One money. They aren't using it to best help the kids, but they they aren't doing anything wrong."

Don't be so sure about that. I suspect the AYP scores have been used for the past years to show an increasing number of DCSS Title 1 schools are meeting AYP. Until the testing scandal hit Georgia. Last school year (2009-10)after strict test monitoring, the "real" scores show that a decreasing number of DCSS Title 1 schools are meeting AYP. Has anyone asked for an explanation from the state of Georgia Title 1 coordinator as to the accountability of the DCSS Office of School Improvement and Title 1 coordinator?

That would be:
Barbara Lunsford, Ed.D.
Associate Superintendent, Federal Programs
1854 Twin Towers East
205 Jesse Hill Jr. Drive SE
Atlanta, GA 30334
404) 657-4209



wondering said...

One quick way for DCSS to save money is to eliminate summer school. These jobs are handed out not on merit, but you already know, favoritism and nepotism. There is an elementary school in DeKalb that has not made AYP in three years, and from all indication, will not make it this year. Yet, this school has summer school on site. Many of the teachers teaching summer school there are from this school. Please explain why teachers from a “failing” school are allowed to teach summer school??? Is it not enough that they have not been effective with their own students? I guess DeKalb wants them to spread the failure around. It seems to reason that these teachers from this school are not following the Beasley formula for success, but let’s reward their incompetence with some extra cash. It is possible for a teacher to make 9, 0000 extra dollars for summer school if they teach two sessions. There is a husband and wife duo that always work both sessions of summer school at this site, you do the math.
Where is the data to support the overall effectiveness of summer school? This is a lot of money to dole out without some accountability .It does not seem reasonable that what a student could not accomplish in ten months they can do so in less than 4 full weeks. Adding to the improbability is the quality of teachers working summer school. As previously mentioned, this one school has not made AYP for at least three years. No worry, they are not alone, many of the other teachers also come from schools that did not make AYP. These teachers will not be impacted by furlough days because they already had their easy cash windfall. DeKalb you need to do what is reasonable, ethical, and fair. (major delusional wandering.)
One should also be aware that many of these same teachers have no vested interest in DeKalb County. They have taken their windfalls, along with their tax dollars; their school aged children, and relocated to the more desirable counties. They will not even allow their own children to attend the school system that supports and feeds their incompetence, ironic isn’t it????

Teacher said...


Though the newcomers are exempt from the reading and ELA portions of the CRCT their first year in the country, those who have been enrolled in a USA school for over 1 year are expected to take and pass the CRCT-reading and math portions of the test. The students we are testing have very limited English. Research suggests that it takes English language learners between 4 to 7 years to become academically fluent in English. I truly question my ability to take and pass even a first grade level reading test in Burmese, Karen, Chin, Arabic, Nepali, Kirundi, French, Swahili, etc...not even after being studying a language for 1 to 2 years. Sadly, these are the demands that we place on our students. Does this qualify the students, teachers, and parents the components of a failing school? Does this make the teachers incompetent? Are all teachers who work at failing AYP schools inept? For some reason, I don't feel incompetent or undeserving of additional teaching assignments. In fact, I feel more equipped and highly qualified. Our amazing students make tremendous progress that goes unnoticed by most since all that matters is the Y or N in the AYP column on the annual state report. The students have proven to be more than just a score to me. It has been through the grace of God that I, myself, no longer measure a child's or person's worth by numerical data, which is why I’ve decided to commit fully to this school in the first place.

I think that DeKalb is reactive as opposed to being proactive regarding student achievement. We are busy catching students up as opposed to catching them before they fall. I agree that summer school is not the end-all answer, but the ESOL students I have taught in past summers assuredly need as much additional time in the classroom as they can get and would benefit from extended days and Saturday school during the year as well.

I wish that EVERY teacher that desires to work and applies for programs to supplement their income would be able to do so. God has granted my husband and I numerous opportunities to work inside and outside the school walls, not for ourselves, but for others, as He commanded us to do.

I must admit, I do not like the dissention I frequently witness among teachers and pray that we can all work together for our rights and for the kids we serve, regardless of our school location and status. We know that we are not treated as fairly as we should and, hopefully, working together, we can make our voices heard in DeKalb and in the state of Georgia. Thank you for your diligence in seeking out injustices in education so we may serve the children to the best of our abilities. This stance could begin with us. Will you join me?

May you go in peace and may God continue to bless you.

Teacher said...

@ wondering

You make some valid points in your post. I would, however, like to address some of your comments. First of all, I am part of a married couple that works at a school in DeKalb County. I am also teaching ESOL summer school —not Rising Scholar (for CRCT) — at a DeKalb county school which has not made AYP for the past 3 years and probably will not for the next 3 years. My husband also works at this location during the school year as well as this summer. The program begins at 7:30 and ends at 12:30, offering only 1 session. Regrettably, for the last 2 or 3 years, this school has not had summer school to serve our abundant ESOL students. My husband and I also work various programs throughout the school year to supplement our inadequate educator incomes (resulting from furloughs, no step increase, no cost of living raise…in fact after working 8 years in DeKalb County, I make less than a first year teacher at Atlanta Public Schools). One-fourth to one-third of our monthly income goes back into this community in which we do not live. The supplemental money we earn often allows us to help families in the school community that cannot afford basic necessities. This extra money also allows us to expose these children to opportunities that their families otherwise could not afford. We do live in a different county but our church membership and much of our lives (after school & weekends) are spent within in this community. Furthermore, we’ve desired to move our residence here as well but the downturn of the housing market has made it difficult to move.

The community is comprised mostly of refugees. This school that I currently work in (during the school year and currently at the ESOL Summer Enrichment program) did not make AYP. This school is the home to over 650 English language learners (from 50 countries, speaking 40 languages). They make up about 67% of our school's population. The majority of our students are refugees. We have students to enroll at our school that have never had any formal schooling, nor have any of their family members before them. Many of these students are “new to the country” students (meaning students in their first year enrolled at a US school) and spend half the school year or more at the International Center learning basic functional English. A large percentage of our refugee students have been in the country for 2 years or less. The most recent influx over the past 2-3 years has been students from Myanmar (Burma) and Nepal, making our school landscape much different than it was just a few years ago. These facts, coupled with the refugee housing in low-income apartments and families who desire to move to actual houses results in a frequent “revolving door” of 25-50% student turnover during the course of a year in many classrooms (much different than beginning and ending a year with the same set of students, wouldn’t you agree?).

to be continued...

Passionate... said...

Wondering...not all teachers at a failing school are failures. Rising scholar summer school programs hire successful teachers even if they are from failing schools. ESOL summer school programs hire ESOL certified teachers. ESOL summer school enables Tier A and low Tier B speakers of other languages to be more successful the following school year...less regression. Rising scholar summer school programs in other Georgia counties have gone away. CRCT is administered earlier in April...test scores come back earlier...remediation is done immediately and CRCT retakes occur the last week of school.
Teacher...thank you for your comments. We are here to serve children. I agree that the injustices need to go away.

Fred said...

Passionate, thank you for responding to wondering's uninformed comment. That person painted a broad brush about the teachers at a school that did not make AYP without including information about why the school did not make AYP or whether the teachears were in that subject.

As a reminder, there are 6 categories that make up the AYP scorecard and you must have at least 40 students in the category for it to be considered. There were schools that did not make AYP because the Students With Disabilities (SWD) category did not meet standards. The school could have done well in the other categories but failed because it had at least 40 students in the SWD category that collectively did not make the grade.

Does these mean that those teachers did not do everything possible to help those students? NO. What everyone seems to forget is that schools have students for 6-7 hours a day, Monday through Friday. There are teachers that go over and above the call of duty but can't overcome what happens with some children when they go home.

Teachers have a responsibility to use all instructional strategies at their disposal to help students learn. They have no control over whether the student retain what was taught, despite their best efforts. Some of you need to take a step back and think about all the finger pointing you are doing to teachers.

Cerebration said...

Teacher - you hit the nail on the head with this --

I think that DeKalb is reactive as opposed to being proactive regarding student achievement. We are busy catching students up as opposed to catching them before they fall.

We say that all the time here on the blog. We simply must start early and stay on top of each students progress. The more we pass along students who are not ready, the further behind they get. We do them no favors in life by pretending that they are ready to move ahead.

Cerebration said...

For those of you interested in the reasons DCSS does not make AYP - please go to the state DOE website and review the data.

DeKalb AYP

We fail to make AYP in the following categories systemwide on the CRCT:

Students with disabilities, English language learners

Students with disabilities

We fail to make AYP in the following categories systemwide on the GA High School Graduation Test:

Black, Hispanic, Multi-Racial, Students With Disabilities, English Language Learners and Economically Disadvantaged

English Language Learners and Economically Disadvantaged

As well as failing in the graduation rate for Hispanics (73%) and "All Students" (79.2%) The students with disabilities only had a 30.6% graduation rate, ELL 54.5%, and the economically disadvantaged 77.5%

These numbers will be very much affected by the new calculation methods recently put in place.

School by school data is available at the link above.

teacher said...

DCSS polic department is another worthless office. Alarm has been going off at Shamrock for over 15 minutes and not a police car in site. Wondering what we are paying these officers for and why so much.

Hopefully nothing was stolen. Time will tell.

SHS said...

@ Teacher

The 211 "security" officers plus the dual (or is that dueling?) directors of "school safety" cost DCSS $9,812,575.48 in 2010.

Nearly $10 million with almost no return on investment!

Of course, that $10 million does not include benefits of approximately 30%. Nor does it include the fuel and maintenance costs to provide those "security" officers and "school safety" directors with cars to drive back and forth between home and work. Who knows how many overpaid clerks and secretaries are attached to that department?

Want more information? Read http://dekalbschoolwatch.blogspot.com/2011/05/found-dcss-has-money-for-education.html

Passionate... said...

Want to help schools succeed? Place all Title I AIC staff members in schools...in classrooms. They all could work as Title I EIP teachers. Capturing both EIP and Title I monies legally. This plan would lower student/teacher ratio. All students needing the extra help would receive it. Interventions would become part of the RTI [response to intervention] process. Imagine...students actually learning what they missed along the way and succeeding. Imagine system AYP! Graduation rates would increase. More students would be ready for college and careers. Imagine!

teacher said...

Passionate, the army of coaches can't all go into the classroom,x as they all are not certified teachers. Some do not have classroom experience and have been hand picked for this high paying job.

Passionate... said...

teacher...I wasn't referring to just the coaches. I was referring to the entire department. If they are classified, they can go into those advertised positions currently on PATS. All certified can go into the classrooms. All coaches are supposed to be certified. If they are not, that alone is a travesty.