Atlanta Public Schools down from 23 to 16 failing schools eligible for state intervention

Atlanta now has 16 schools eligible for state intervention by the newly hired Georgia Chief Turnover Officer. Schools end up on the eligibility list through persistently low scores on the state College and Career Ready Performance Index.

Last week, the state chose Eric Thomas, chief support officer of the University of Virginia’s turnaround program, to oversee state intervention in such schools. Speaking yesterday at the National Association of State Boards of Education, Thomas said he’ll be in a learning phase initially, emphasizing he intends to work with districts and the state Department of Education.

Thomas was part of a panel on state turnaround strategies, and the moderator joked that Thomas seemed to be Georgia’s strategy.

Thomas said, “We are still trying to figure that out. This is a new role — chief turnaround officer reporting to the state Board of Education. I think it provides a little bit of cover in regards to really being able to support and hold systems accountable. What I hope to bring to the role is a little bit of credibility. I have been a turnaround principal. I have been a district leader. I have been a researcher. I have done the work. This is a lived experience for me.”

What would success look like? Having vibrant schools and vibrant communities, he said.

APS is not waiting for state intervention to deal with its chronically failing schools. It has turned over some problem schools to charter operators; Gideon Elementary is run by Kindezi Schools.  Purpose Built Schools operates Price Middle School and Thomasville Heights Elementary.

This is from APS:

The 16 schools on this list have a three-year (2015, 2016, 2017) CCRPI average below 54.0, which is the bottom five percent for the state.  Last year Georgia passed new legislation to create a focus on turnaround. This legislation included establishing the new role of a Chief Turnaround Officer as well as a new process for underperforming schools to receive state issued interventions.

Over the last three years, Atlanta Public Schools has taken several proactive measures to address underperforming schools within the district through the APS School Turnaround Strategy. All of the APS schools that are on the GOSA Turnaround Eligible list have already received additional individualized support and significant resources.  As a result many of these schools have demonstrated promising academic growth and progress since these initiatives have been implemented.  For example, 15 of the 16 schools that received the deepest level of targeted interventions through the Turnaround Strategy achieved gains across all subject areas on the 2017 GA Milestones assessment.

The APS Turnaround Strategy focuses on the district’s lowest-performing schools and includes education partnerships, operating-model changes, high-impact tutoring, math and reading specialists to directly support students, recruitment of respected turnaround school leaders, targeted professional learning for teachers, and an accelerated roll-out of social emotional learning in schools. These investments provided individualized support for students, teachers, and leadership teams focused on school improvement.  Attached is a detailed chart that shows which schools implemented which investments.

The district has seen a decrease in the number of schools identified for potential state intervention. Last January, 23 APS schools were placed on GOSA’s Chronically Failing Schools List based on 3 consecutive years of CCRPI scores below 60.

“We believe that we have demonstrated capacity and the will to improve many of our low performing schools by implementing bold approaches to increase student achievement,” said Meria J. Carstarphen, Superintendent. “We just need more time to fully implement these successful strategies and initiatives.”

“Since the beginning of this administration, we have been focused on improving instruction in our most challenged schools, making deep investments into the schools that need the most support, and extending more support to targeted schools so our students have a better chance to graduate from APS ready for college and careers. We have clearly demonstrated a willingness to take bold actions on behalf of our students, and given our progress to date, we remain confident that APS is strongly positioned to turn around our lowest performing schools.”

Over the next few years, the district plans to continue the work focused on the APS Turnaround Strategy as a part of the Journey for Transformation. APS schools identified on the GOSA Turnaround Eligible Schools List will continue to receive intensive support from the district.


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In his op-ed, “Segregating public schools won’t make America great again” (also published by The Atlanta Voice), Prince Georges County, Md., County Executive Rushern Baker makes clear the nature of the damaging “journey of transformation” the currently serving Atlanta school board members and superintendent are on and they seem incapable to know they are on such a journey.

They also seem to think that “working cohesively and effectively” necessarily substitutes for, and excuses them from, representative government and the messiness of democratic practice in service to the common good.  It does not.

Rushern Baker, in part:

“Some of the very leaders tasked with solving the negative effects from school re-segregation offer shortsighted policies that exacerbate racial and economic divisions. The ripple-effect, consequences of their misguided thinking remains the greatest policy foible of the modern era. Lazy logic behind bad policy feeds a perception that that the achievement gap exists simply, because poor and minority students learn differently than their wealthier, White peers. Rather, it is directly tied to declining enrollment, lower property values, and the dwindling resources available to tackle mounting challenges in the communities that surround underperforming public schools.

“The greatest irony remains that those promoting harmful education policies use the same language of ‘giving every child a chance at a high-quality education’ to pitch their tax-dollar-poaching and resource-pilfering experiments to desperate parents.

“Rather than making public education a number one priority, a Hunger-Games-like competition for vouchers and charter schools leaves parents and students fending for themselves. The families that lose the education lottery end up at schools with increased needs and declining resources.”

Baker goes on to offer:

“Vouchers, whose American roots can be traced back to some Southern states’ attempts to avoid integration, perpetuate segregated education and are nothing more than a thinly-veiled attempt to cut off funds to public schools. It gets even worse. Some communities have simply seceded from the larger school district, as we’ve seen in Alabama and Tennessee, to keep from integrating their schools. Since 2000, the U.S. Justice Department has released 250 communities from their desegregation orders and consequently facilitated their financial and administrative secession from their school districts.

“After all those factors lead to a dip in school performance, students and their communities are stigmatized as ‘failing.’ Schools close. Quality of life drops; economic prospects dwindle; public safety decreases; and the cycle repeats, so that higher needs populations receive even fewer resources.

“I know. I’ve lived through it. It’s time to back up the big talk of ‘opportunity for all’ with policies that don’t ask parents to compete for a few spots, but instead, make public dollars work for every child.”


Four years ago when we were casting our ballots for the Atlanta Board of Education, we'd slugged through the cheating scandal and highly dysfunctional adult behavior by that ABOE. All reasons to vote out the incumbents

This election cycle, APS is showing strides forward in addressing systemic inequities; advancing academic performance in all schools including those at the bottom of the state's performance metrics; planning for capacity needs in all clusters with the goal of best serving the student's academic needs while being a good steward to the taxpayer; etc. Most importantly, the ABOE members themselves worked cohesively and effectively as a board to accomplish these goals, keeping the Governor and SACS out of our school system.

A remarkable four years. Thanks to all 9 ABOE members for working so hard for our kuds. There's a lot more work to do so hopefully we'll Vegas many incumbents re-elected so we can continue moving forward and not backwards.

Shira Newman
Shira Newman

And encourages the school to only teach those subjects.


When parents who really care are finally empowered to choose the public or private schools which best meet the needs of their children ... then and only then will education outcomes improve.


@redweather @2alt.ajc

Poor parents are given public funds to choose:


2) Shelter



5) Post Secondary Education

If they are given the freedom to choose those things in their life,it only makes sense to let them choose the best educational options for their kids,using public funds.


@redweather @Astropig @2alt.ajc

Nope. I answered a question with a question.That was to show that you really think that parents are stupid, and can pick among the things that I listed,yet are unable to choose their best education options without the help and good intentions of elites like yourself. You're free and easy with public funds (as I pointed out in the above list) to pay for these other needs and wants,yet demand strict controls over letting parents choose education opportunities,presumably because their kids won't be ignorant, dependent, and "politically reliable".


Thank you Governor Deal,State Legislature and Superintendent Woods.Without your perseverance,these schools would have continued to be ignored and their students at a greater risk of lifetime poverty.Your voices for change and your stand against the status quo will be a legacy you can be proud of.

This is not the end of the process,or the beginning of the end,but the end of the beginning.There's finally a mechanism in place to hold the systems that are falling short accountable for better results.

No reasonable person expects miracles here,but you have to start somewhere,sometime, and here and now is as good a time and place as any.


D. H. Stanton got a new name but it's the same old story.



Barack and Michelle Obama Academy, formerly named…

D. H. Stanton Elementary School

Content Mastery Rate (2012, 2013, 2014; 2015, 2016, 2017)

ELA (87.6, 72.9, 68.5; 20.1, 21.1, 32.6)

Math (67.7, 64.3, 41.3; 26.8, 22.9, 33.0)

Reading (87.6, 78.8, 73.9; na, na, na)

Science (62.9, 54.9, 29.3; 13.9, 17.9, 23.2)

SocStudies (58.8, 67.1, 39.1; 16.5, 22.0, 26.8)

It all seems so arbitrary and capricious, by design.