Wednesday, July 20, 2011

No Hope for Peachtree Hope

As the AJC is reporting,

Peachtree Hope charter school officials were slated to make a last minute bid to renew the school's charter Tuesday night at a DeKalb Board of Education meeting. But instead, Deputy Chief Superintendent Robert Moseley read a letter to the board, announcing Peachtree's withdrawal of its application. No explanation was offered. Peachtree Charter founder Lonnie King declined requests for comment to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. All of the affected students, about 600, will get letters informing them of which DeKalb school they should enroll in.

Boy, I hope they are able to scramble to accommodate 600 students returning to DeKalb schools in 2 weeks. I wonder, if these students are assigned to a "failing" school, will they have time to apply for a transfer? Also, what's up with the International Community (Charter) School's request for a building to house their program? They are a proven program providing an important contribution. They deserve a building to call home. We have plenty of shuttered buildings scattered all over the county from which to choose. Moseley and the board need to hand one over.

BTW - Below is a press release regarding the AYP transfers for 2011-2012

Event: The delay in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of (1965) Public School Choice Open Enrollment period

July 15 - The Georgia Department of Education has not released the final AYP Report. This official report is needed to determine all schools that must offer ESEA Public School Choice. This will delay the planned open enrollment period for parents to exercise ESEA Public School Choice. ESEA Public School Choice open enrollment period will begin the day after Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) official results are released by the State Superintendent, Dr. John D. Barge.

Once the report has been released enrollment will be located at the Administrative and Instructional Complex, Computer Labs 102 and 105 from 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Contact: Dr. Linda Crowley (678.676.0309) Dr. Cleophas Jones (678.676.0381)


Marney Mayo said...

The name of the school is the International COMMUNITY School. "Community" is the middle part of the name, I tend to get touchy about it because serving the community is more important as a part of the identity of this school that being a charter. Oh that everyone could feel that way...

I already posted this once, but if you haven't ready it already please do so:
Published int the Christian Science Monitor:

and my reflection on the near 10 years that I have spent trying to get this school a home:

--Marney Mayo

Cerebration said...

yes ma'am. All fixed.

nikhowall said...

I think that Peachtree Hope accepted all Dekalb students, but it was located close to the Avondale (high), Avondale (middle), Midway (elem), Knollwood (elem), Peachcrest (elem) cluster. This cluster has been impacted by school closures and consolidations. Peachcrest and Glen Haven were closed. It will be interesting to see what impact this will have in that area.

T. Banks said...

Well get ready because I have already heard Dekalb County plans to overcrowd Arabia Mountain with 2000 kids. The ones moving from the annex and 150 more seats for schools they project not to make AYP. If Arabia can't have trailers how will this work?

M G said...

AYP reports for schools and districts to be released tomorrow according to the ajc.

Anon said...

T Banks

Welcome to the world of every other school in DCSS. Why should Arabia Mt. be exempt? If you say Leeds certification, I think I will cry.

Arabia Mt. has more space than any other school that will make AYP this year except for DSA. Perhaps the AM parents ought to ask why DSA isn't a receiving school?

Gayle said...

@ Anon
DSA is not a receiving school because magnet schools care allowed to be exempted per NCLB. Arabia Mtn. is technically not a magnet school.

You do realize that many of the Central Office and other high level employees have children in DSA?

Cerebration said...

Who says Arabia "can't have trailers"? Every school I go near has trailers -- gobs of them! Chamblee has like - 40! Lakeside has had over 20 for years now!

And I may be wrong, but I've heard that DSA will be a receiving school, however the kids will simply share their space and I believe, their teachers. The last plan I heard puts about 300 kids at Avondale HS with DSA, however, they will officially be Druid Hills students. This won't change, they will stay there for four years. How strange it will be to be a student at Druid Hills, but never actually step foot in the door.

The number Arabia is expected to receive was reduced dramatically. (Apparently it's true that Arabia "can't have trailers".) So special!

Anonymous said...

Arabia's parking lot will look just as nice with trailers as any other schools'. I asked a GT architect if this would affect the Leed's certification and he said "no" because the certification is primarily for the building and not for temporary outbuildings. But even if the school lost its Leed certification SO WHAT! The energy efficiency of the building is not changed. Is it better to have a piece of paper or better to provide a high quality education to some deserving students?

Really.... this Leeds excuse is hilarious. It must be something Gene Walker made up.

Anon said...

If I were a parent whose child is going to ask for a tranfer, and I understood what just happened in terms of Arabia Mountain's spaces being cut in half, I would be pitching a holy fit. I would be complaining to the state and feds.

AM can have trailers.

Catydid said...

The people pitching fits in droves were those on the waiting list for Arabia Mountain. They were by far the largest group at the NCLB school choice meeting last Thursday night.

SHS said...

Oh, great! The AJC is reporting that Robert James, DeKalb DA and apparent DCSS insider, is opening a criminal investigation into the cheating at APS schools located within DeKalb County:

"DeKalb County District Attorney Robert James said he has opened a criminal investigation involving five APS schools named in the report, all of which are located in his jurisdiction. The schools are Coan Middle and East Lake, Toomer, Whitefoord and Boyd elementary schools. 'We are going to go where the facts take us,' James said, adding that he expected the investigation to take some time."

One more excuse from DA James (add that to the DA's claims of being understaffed) to put off aggressively prosecuting Crawford Lewis and Pat Pope, indicted months ago (or was it years?) on RICO charges.

Let's remember this when Robert James runs for re-election!

Avidfan said...

Lewis's case is in limbo, as he awaits a ruling from the Georgia Court of Appeals on his appeal of the grant of the state's motion to disqualify his Alston & Bird attorney. There is no indication whatsoever that the District Attorney's office has put the prosecution on the back burner.

Anon said...

And James doesn't have a choice. The pressure is being put on him from high above to prosecute. Or at least consider prosecuting.

Cerebration said...

On top of the case load, didn't the county commissioners and CEO just cut the budget of the DA's office?

They are buried in a ridiculous backlog and seriously understaffed. As citizens, we say we want an excellent court system, police force, roads, etc, however we just won't cough up the taxes required.

But the school system case is in limbo simply due to lawyer shenanigans IMO. Lewis (or his attorney) is tossing out anything and everything to stall his case. When he was still at his post, he did anything and everything to thwart the DA's attention or he just plain ignored their requests for information. In fact, he referred the DA to Pat Pope's office -- to collect information they needed about Lewis and Pope. Gwen Keyes is quoted as saying as much in the AJC. He is a desperate man. (Remember, he was so rattled about the use of his pCard for gas that he made up that lame story about pumping it out of his car after he accidentally pumped in premium gas!!)

Judicial time is much, much slower that time for the rest of us. It's ok - the time will come. The pCard issue at least is a slam dunk. People go to prison for this fairly often. Several from GA Tech come to mind.

Open+Transparent said...

Peachtree Hope made a mistake (but an honest mistake): They didn't hire a member of the Callaway or Edwards family to help push their application through. Heck, everyone knows the quickest way to get a charter school approved by DCSS is to hire a Callaway and/or have a New Birth connection.

Gayle said...

@ Cerebration

Magnet schools are defined as a school choice by the US DOE. I couldn't find the document on the US DOE website, but I know I've read an actual US DOE document that says magnets are excluded.

Here is a study on NCLB school choice by The Century Foundation. Here is a quote:
"At the school level, because alternative and magnet schools operate under different standards for student admissions and are not required, under current NCLB policy, to accept transfer students (thought they may accept students
voluntarily), such schools were excluded from the analysis."

Magnet schools are clearly defined by the US DOE as a preferred school choice. If you transfer students from schools into magnet programs that do not qualify for the magnet program, then you change the nature of the US DOE definition of a magnet school. The US DOE says the school system may set entrance requirements for magnet programs. This means students seeking to transfer must meet the entrance requirements.

Since the US DOE promotes magnet programs to further diversity and give parents another vehicle for school choice, this would make sense that they would exclude magnet programs that have entrance requirements from AYP transfers.

I would suspect that if they are using the former Avondale HS building as a Druid Hills "Annex", they will hire an Assistant Principal who will report to the Druid Hills principal. Then they will create their own school with their own teachers. I don't think they will share DSA teachers. This is the way they handled all of the other "Annexes".

What a waste of money to shut down a school of 800 and then reopen it for 300.

On another note, Druid Hills did not make AYP last year. So why do you think it could it be a receiving school? 

Bhutrasgolly said...

to Open and not so Transparent

It had nothing to do with New Hope. Peachtree Hope withdrew their charter because they canceled their management contract with Sabis and had no alternative for management. DeKalb had granted a one year approval based on having a management company. The applications are a series of questions that the state requires. Once the local board approves it, the state still has to approve it.

Cerebration said...

That's true. Something squirrely happened with the management company for Peachtree Hope. They didn't have time to cobble together a new curriculum.

It's sure becoming a game of musical chairs. I don't understand the Avondale move I guess. I'm sure you're right atl, they'll have to hire their own teachers and will function as a separate school from DSA - just sharing facilities like Avondale HS did. (So where did those kids go? Could it be that they went to other area schools that "failed" AYP and can now apply for a transfer back to Avondale, which is now actually an annex of Druid Hills?)

Gayle said...

@ Cerebration

Students who seek to leave the schools that didn't make AYP are moved around like pieces in a shell game. There has been no cohesive, comprehensive and measurable effort to address student achievement in DCSS in many years. They react to the ever increasing number of schools not making AYP instead of being proactive.

More focus walks, more paperwork, more non-instructional tasks for teachers, more training by the same personnel who trained before, etc. More of everything EXCEPT teachers working with children. Same plan as last year and the year before and the year before. There must be a PowerPoint show somewhere they continually update.

Cerebration said...

I have been shocked to learn that with all of our technology and expensive mainframe computers, we aren't tracking the success or failure of this program. I have never been able to find any data anywhere that can specifically track individual student progress -- especially those who take a transfer. Do they stay? Do they graduate from the new school? Do they graduate at all? Do they graduate on time? Do they return to their old school? Do they transfer to an alternative school? Shockingly -- no one knows -- or even attempts to track this.

Dekalbparent said...

Druid Hills did not make AYP last year, but I believe the law says a school has to fail for more than one year (three?) to be disallowed as a receiving school.

Here's the funny circle, IMO:

Avondale HS was closed and their students were split between Druid Hills and two other schools (Stone Mountain and Towers??).

Druid Hills is getting about additional students because of the closing. The also lost students to Clarkston(not as many as are coming from Avondale) because of redistricting.

Druid Hills was to receive 200+ students as NCLB transfers, which would have required enough trailers to eliminate visitor parking and also impede access of emergency vehicles to the school. Additionally, the cafeteria is too small to accommodate that much overage, even with the current 4 lunch shifts of 20 minutes each.

DCSS decided to move students to a DHHS annex at Avondale, which as a previous poster said, will be completely separate from DSA.

SOOOO - we close Avondale, move half or more of the students to DHHS, which takes DHHS over capacity, then bring in NCLB transfers, which is unsafe - then move kids to Avondale to alleviate the problem. Will some of the original Avondale students go back to Avondale but be DHHS students?

T. Banks said...

Anon & Celebration,
As a former Dekalb teacher at a School on the "North" end and a student at that same school. I understand more than anyone NCLB left over kids and trailers, I taught in 1, that I went to class in 10 years b4 :)

Overcrowding Arabia Mtn, defeats it's purpose, making those kids go to AM and take the 2 science classes, dress code, etc.. Next year AM will be off of AYP.

ATL is right there needs to be some system on how to move around these kids, but when Lakeside and Chamblee are done been updated they will be overcrowded again in no time.

Dekalbparent said...

@T. Banks

You're right about taht. Druid Hills was overcrowded as soon as the construction was finished. They designed it to hold fewer students than were there when it started!

Gayle said...

Very shocking AYP numbers! Only 47 DCSS schools out 136 Made AYP. That's only 34.5% as contrasted to 62.4% of DCSS schools Made AYP last year. The state overall dropped a little, but DCSS fell of the cliff.

No wonder the Ms. Tyson, Dr. Beasley, Dr. Berry and the BOE were so anxious to present a "quick" plan for improvement.

Check out the numbers here:

Fred said...

Dr. John Barge, State Superintendent of Georgia Schools said,
"“The goal of 100% proficiency for all of our students by 2014 is well meaning,” said Superintendent Barge, “but because there are so many variables in the lives of children that schools cannot control, the likelihood of achieving this goal is slim.”

Superintendent Barge added, “There is so much more to a school’s and a child’s progress than one test score at a single point in time.”

Seems like we heard that from somewhere before however many wanted to simply blame central office staffers. It is good that higher ups realize this also.

Cerebration said...

"the likelihood of achieving this goal is slim"

Duh! We've been sayin' that since the first time we took an honest look at NCLB! How very brilliant Barge must be to figure this out. Can he at least say, "I agree with so many parents and teachers who have been beating the drum for the past 5 years or more - this is an impossible goal!" Geesh.

And yes, Fred. When you actually look at the scores of some of these students, there very definitely is a disconnect somewhere. We are only blaming admin for spending more money on admin - and not directly on support teachers in the classroom. We may never have all students passing all tests all the time, but we can damn well make sure that they can read, write and perform math tasks well enough to lead a productive life.

Quit getting down on us for "blaming" the administration. If we have a literal army of six-figure administrators spending millions of dollars with the stated goal of that spending to "Improve Student Performance" and it doesn't improve, then yes - it's time to think up a new plan.

The PARENTS at Sagamore were able to get it done. And they didn't cost taxpayers one single dime!

Avidfan said...

Neither Chamblee HS, Lakeside HS, nor Dunwoody HS made AYP. In fact, from my ultra quick look at high schools, it appears that only Arabia Mtn., DSA, Druid Hills, Redan & Stephenson made AYP. The madness of transferring the students (especially as noted by Dekalbparentj) is so, so frustrating. Helps no one, causes stress, and costs money.

Bhutrasgolly said...

It's not a shell game, it's following the law. It is federal law that students in needs improvement schools may transfer to schools that make AYP if there is room. There is no requirement to track its success or who moves (students who perform well already or failing students). And there is no funding to track or evaluate the results. It won't make any difference in the long run. The reason more schools fail to make AYP every year is the number of students who are must pass the proficiency test increases by 5 to 7 per cent. Next year the increase will mean that somewhere between 1 and 2 of DeKalb High Schools will pass and in the following year none will based on this year's test scores. The number of elementary schools that pass math will go from 22 to 12. And in the following year it will drop to 5.

Cerebration said...

The Atlanta cheating scandal has really made a mockery of metro Atlanta. This was an article in the NYTimes a few days ago -

Are they learning?"

A cheating scandal in which scores of teachers and principals in Atlanta’s public schools falsified student test results has thrown the system into chaos and made its name synonymous with fraud. This shameful episode has destroyed trust in the schools and made it impossible to determine how much students are learning and whether the system is doing its job.

In a report released this month, state investigators in Georgia found a pattern of “organized and systemic misconduct” that dates to 2001. They identified 178 teachers and principals in 44 of the system’s approximately 100 schools involved in cheating on student tests. Even worse, reports of cheating were ignored by top administrators, creating a culture of fear and intimidation that prevented many teachers from speaking out.

Test haters will inevitably blame the standardized testing mandated by the federal No Child Left Behind act for inducing this kind of misconduct. The tests remain a crucial gauge of student performance and an indicator of how much academic progress schools are making. It’s the cheats who need to go, not the tests.

To restore integrity to the Atlanta system, which serves mainly impoverished children, state and city officials need to improve test security and make sure that those involved in cheating lose their teaching certifications and never work in classrooms again.

The former schools superintendent Beverly L. Hall, who was widely praised during her 12-year tenure, which ended last month, stood at the center of the scandal. The investigators found that Ms. Hall and her staff had a see-no-evil policy, even though they had received many reports of widespread cheating, including one filed by the Atlanta Federation of Teachers in 2005. Under their administration, whistle-blowers were punished while the cheats went free.

Since the report became public, Atlanta school officials have removed some employees connected with the scandal, and prosecutors could eventually bring charges against educators who may have violated state law. Beyond that, the state education department says that schools that may have received federal grants based on fraudulent test scores could be forced to return the money.

The fraud will cast doubt on the real progress that Atlanta has made on the federally sponsored National Assessment of Educational Progress, known as the nation’s report card. In the last decade, for example, the city raised its average math scores significantly. The federal tests, however, are not administered or graded by local districts and are virtually impervious to tampering.

Atlanta is not alone in facing testing scandals. Allegations of cheating have erupted in several places, including Washington, D.C., Pennsylvania and Los Angeles.

There are several things that states can do. They should protect whistle-blowers so that teachers who report wrongdoing do not have to fear retaliation. They should make it clear that cheats will be stripped of their certification and barred from the profession. In addition, states should create systems in which tests are independently administered.

Fred said...

@Cerebration, I'm not here to blame anyone but to point out there is enough blame for this situation to go around. We agree it is wrong to use the results of a single test to evaluate the performance of students and schools. Why do you use the same measure to evaluate the performance of central office staff and other educators? There seems to be a disconnect as they are working just as hard with the resources available to help all schools improve. Ultimately all instructional decisions and staffing is done at the school level (site based management)however those that support them at the central office share in the successes and failures.

This affects DeKalb's ability to attract new jobs to the area which directly impacts our quality of life. What corporation is going to want to set up here if they see the AYP results of our schools? This affects all of us.

Also, I noticed Sagamore Hills did not make AYP according to the GA DOE website. I commended Sagamore 7 on the efforts of that community to help that school. It seems despite their tremendous efforts, it did not impact the school's AYP score. If pouring all those resources into that school did not result in improvement by the AYP measure, what do you do? Is not fair.

Cerebration said...

I was strictly referring to the actual CRCT scores when talking about the major improvements at Sagamore. I think I'm completely fair when I say that obviously, direct support -- one on one -- improves student learning. All I'm saying (over and over without making my point to you apparently) is that we have TOO MANY administrators and not enough support working directly with students. I don't really care "why" - it's very frustrating to argue the obscure details with you Fred. If the "Office of School Improvement" (which spends literally millions of dollars on administrators) isn't ultimately responsible for school improvement, then who the heck is? If you say principals (as you often do), then dissolve the office of school improvement and disburse all the funds to principals. If you say parents, then why even have schools?

If my job title is "changer of light bulbs" and half the light bulbs are out - is it really proper for me to blame Home Depot for not making light bulbs that last longer?

These people are paid big bucks to "Improve Schools". Maybe they just need to change the name of their department to "We follow the law as we see fit and then blame the failures on everyone else as there is so much blame to go around."

Cerebration said...

It's worth repeating the results at Sagamore. This school is home to a large population of non-English speakers. One kindergarten class last year, in fact, had only 4 students who spoke English as their first language. Although the school as a whole still did not make AYP, struggling students made heroic strides due to the one on one help from a group of volunteer parents!

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

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

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

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

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

2011 5th grade math
Level 2 / 55

A 34% increase.

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

2011 5th Grade Math / 32

A 52% increase.

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

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

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

Cost to taxpayers: $0.
Benefit to the life of a child: Priceless.

Cerebration said...

ps. Although they have a fairly large percentage of Free & Reduced lunch recipients (40%?) Sagamore is not a Title 1 school so they do not get Title 1 funding.

themommy said...

By using the Safe Harbor tool, Sagamore Hills did make AYP in math. They didn't in the ELL category for reading.

They very well may in the summer retest category.

I think the work they did with the students on math is terrific.

Cerebration said...

News! According to the AJC there is now
A glimmer of hope for Peachtree Hope parents

A new development involving a charter school in Gwinnett County offers a glimmer of hope for the parents of roughly 600 children displaced by the collapse of a DeKalb County charter school.

Ivy Preparatory Academy, an all-girls school in Gwinnett, has applied for a state charter to open a new branch in DeKalb -- with the hope of opening soon after the new school year begins.

If Ivy Prep gets the charter, it will move into the Memorial Drive building that Peachtree Hope Charter School occupied, an official with Ivy Prep confirmed. Ivy Prep would divide the building in two, creating one school for girls and another for boys, the school official, Nina Gilbert, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Friday.

Wow. Talk about an end-game runaround!