Are Georgia schools good or bad? Depends on audience and agenda.

Politics makes for interesting and changing rhetoric depending on the aim, the agenda and the audience.

An hour ago, a steady stream of legislators, most notably Speaker Pro Tem Jan Jones and House Education Committee Chairman Brooks Coleman, decried the state of Georgia schools in their successful effort to push through the governor’s plan to take over failing schools.

The theme of that debate: Too many Georgia schools are resistant to efforts to improve.

And now, here comes this upbeat view of those same schools — with a cheery message from Gov. Nathan Deal —  based on the state’s impressive and improving pass rate on the highly competitive and difficult AP exams.

We are a high poverty state. But former state School Superintendent Kathy Cox began a push to get more high schools students into AP classes — accelerated college-level courses typically taken by affluent kids  — that took hold.

Go figure.

Mirza_Khushnam_14Fall_Illu764_AJC 6From the state Department of Education:

More Georgia students than ever are passing Advanced Placement (AP) exams during high school, according to data released this week.

Georgia ranks 15th in the nation for AP pass rates, with 22.2 percent of the class of 2014 scoring a 3 or higher on at least one AP exam. It’s also one of just 16 states to outpace the national average of 21.6 percent.

Georgia is also ranked 15th in the nation for ten-year growth in AP pass rates. The percentage of Georgia seniors passing an AP exam has nearly doubled in the last 10 years, rising from 12.3 percent in 2004 to the current 22.2 percent.

During the past decade, the number of Georgia graduates taking at least one AP exam has increased by nearly 20 percentage points, leading to a significant increase in the number of exams scoring 3 or higher – the scores typically required for college credit.

And Georgia’s strides toward more students taking AP courses and being successful on the exams continue. Georgia ranks 8th in the nation in the percentage of low-income students passing AP exams. There’s other encouraging news as well:

  • The number of African American graduates who took at least one AP exam during high school increased, in the last five years, from 7,316 to 9,369. The number of these students who scored 3 or higher on at least one AP exam increased from 3,989 to 6,448
  • 8.1 percent (2,483) of African American students from Georgia’s public high school class of 2014 scored 3 or higher on at least one AP exam during high school, compared to 7.2 percent for the nation
  • 12,121 low-income graduates in the class of 2014 took at least one AP exam during high school, more than 10 times the number of low-income graduates who took an exam in the class of 2004
  • Data from the graduating class of 2014 show that Georgia has succeeded in closing the equity gap in AP participation and AP success among Hispanic/Latino students. In 2014, 8.5 percent of Georgia’s public high school graduating class was composed of Hispanic/Latinos, compared to 9 percent of AP test takers and 8.8 percent of those who scored a 3 or higher

“I’m pleased to see these positive numbers, because they represent more kids being successful in our schools,” State School Superintendent Richard Woods said. “Our students are achieving on higher levels, and that achievement is expanding through all student populations. That’s wonderful news for Georgia.”

Gov. Nathan Deal added, “These scores reflect the excellent work performed at schools throughout the state of Georgia. Students who perform well on these challenging tests have mastered rigorous course work and developed advanced critical thinking skills. To see such achievement promises bright futures for these students and for the next generation of Georgia’s workforce. I congratulate these hard-working students, their families who support them and their devoted teachers who enlighten them.”



Reader Comments 0


Again, reform society and you reform the schools. So simple yet so political incorrect!!!


Maybe teachers wouldn't be so annoyed about all this "reform" stuff *if* it was only being dumped on the poorly performing schools, but truth is, it is being dumped on us all... all these new "reform" based rules about accountability.... all the additional data collection and paperwork... all the additional teacher evaluations and observations...all the hours of additional testing and the enormous amounts of money spent... all the additional time spent on survey after survey... all the SLOs and TKES and MAPS and other alphabet soup... 

Dumped on ALL of us, failing and successful.  

And it is getting harder and harder to BE successful thanks to all the extra time spent jumping though these hoops.

Deliberate?  I wonder.


Interesting - use the results from the "good schools" to again attack (holy many times is it now?) Deal's idea for the bad schools.  And don't try (AT ALL) to do any type of correlation between the positive numbers you cite, and the bad schools slated for takeover.  Because of course there isn't one.  But doesn't keep you from tying your best to keep the kids stuck in these awful schools.

The % of black kids in Gwinnett and Cobb has increased dramatically - and those kids are performing.  Of course the number of minorities doing better in increasing - likely simply because of the parents who cared enough to move their kids to good schools.

But we can't let other kids have that, only those willing to uproot their family and move - leaving behind neighbors, communities, etc to decline and die.

But you say you have "compassion" by not allowing students to move to good schools.  And of course, the result is neighborhoods in Dekalb completely dying, as the parents who really care, are forced ot move out.



@dcdcdc  There is a problem, though.  "Good" schools are composed of "good" students.  Lots of good students = a good school.  Few good students = a failing school.  When I was at Northview, we occasionally had caring parents find legal (and sometimes illegal) ways to move their kids to the excellent Northview High School from some inferior school.  It almost never worked.  Most often, the student floundered in the far too rigorous environment.


Time for some readers to remind themselves that schools exist to serve Georgia's families—not the other way around. And if there weren't serious problems in public education there wouldn't be calls for reform. 

Or so much bitter resistance to it.


I think that one of the mistakes that opponents of the governor made in this battle was to personalize the issue as being Nathan Deal This was a tactical mistake and I believe that the media,the GFT and the GAE played along with it,to their cost.If stirring up personal animus toward the governor was a winning strategy,we'd never be here today.He would have never gotten elected and re-elected. Governor Deal has some ethical baggage-and even his fondest admirers admit that. They should stop using that as the sum and substance of their efforts to defeat his ideas. I've thought about this a lot in recent days and I believe that if the state eduacracy had faced reality after the election last November and made some backchannel contact with the governor's office and reached out to find some common ground on turning around these schools,there could have been some compromises that would have made this an easier pill to swallow. But their strategy of scorched earth has proven to be useless. When two thirds of the legislature agrees on anything,there is a reason. Give credit to Deal for identifying the problem and proposing a solution that could make it's way through the process more or less intact...

...Or don't give him credit.Another thing that the governor has going from him is that he has consistently been underestimated for his prowess in getting action on things he believes in.Even if you despise the guy,he has displayed great skill in getting his priorities enacted.

One last note- Kudos to our State Schools Superintendent. I have been thrilled that the super is not trying to sabotage this by acting as a Democrat sleeper cell and is working with the governor and legislature. A breath of fresh air.


@Astropig  Part of the problem with this is that many people see it as an attempt to enrich supporters of the Governor.  I guess that time will tell.


Politics blows with the wind - what can I say?

I just don't want to see teachers and students become part of a free market, for-profit educational system.  That type of educational system, throughout Georgia, would be very limited in consciousness and in school climate dynamics, imo.  Keep money and politics out of education, as much as possible.

I happen to believe that, in this day in Georgia, Democrats are going to have to be the ring bearers for this educational ideal, which I continue to hold deep within.