Most Georgia schools graded D or F by the state serve low-income kids

In its new analysis of the grades awarded to schools by the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement, the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute found most schools where at least half of students are low-income earned a D or F, including 99 percent of extreme-poverty schools. (The institute defined extreme poverty as 75 percent or more of students coming from low-income families.)

In the report released today, the institute cross referenced poverty data with K-12 performance, per the grades from the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement. “We combined this analysis with our own district-level survey that determined 70 percent of school leaders say poverty is the biggest hindrance to student performance outside the classroom,” said GBPI spokesman John McCosh.

As the report explains: “Seventy percent of Georgia school district leaders say poverty is the most significant out-of-school issue that limits student learning. That key finding in a new Georgia Budget and Policy Institute survey reinforces an analysis of the grades issued to schools in 2016 that reveals a tight connection between whether a school sits in a high-poverty area and if it meets target benchmarks. Challenges of poverty are most difficult to overcome in schools where students from low-income households are the majority. ”

The review confirms what educators already know —  wealthier districts are far more likely to score well in ratings that draw primarily on test scores. Of Georgia schools where less than 25 percent of students are poor, nearly 70 percent received an A or B. In schools where less than 10 percent of children are poor, nearly 94 percent netted an A or B.

The Georgia Budget and Policy Institute recognized the complexity of the problem and the fact that schools alone can’t overcome the ill effects of poverty on children. Among the report’s recommendations:

Foster Socioeconomic Integration. Low-income students do better in schools that are economically diverse than where the majority of students are poor. A growing number of school districts across the country are taking this into account, including Jefferson County, Ky., Hartford, Conn., and Dallas. These school systems are working to integrate schools based on family or neighborhood income level, parent educational attainment and other factors.

Invest Adequate Resources in Low-Income Students and Schools. Georgia ranks 38th in the nation in school spending, even after accounting for regional cost differences. This is not surprising as the state formula for funding public school students was approved by the General Assembly in 1985. The formula is substantially the same as three decades ago, even though it’s since been revised. Meanwhile, state officials ratcheted up performance standards: Students are expected to know and do far more today than 30 years ago. The state is not offering resources to match these elevated standards. The formula also does not account for the added needs of low-income children or the resources needed in high- and extreme-poverty schools.

Build a Principal Pipeline. Every school, especially high-poverty schools, needs an effective principal. Georgia is taking key steps toward reaching this goal, including new accountability measures for leadership training programs designed by the Georgia Professional Standards Commission.

Enhance Teacher Compensation. Teachers are the biggest in-school influence on student learning but districts find it hard to hire and keep good ones. District leaders said low pay is a key cause. Their feedback aligns with results from a survey of 53,000 teachers conducted by the Georgia Department of Education in 2015.

Develop State Research Capacity to Support School Improvement. Georgia collects and distributes extensive data on students and schools. It offers much less information on the programs and policies that consistently lead to increased student learning and more effective schools across the state. Georgia should expand its ability to conduct research to identify those programs and policies.

Establish a Task Force of State Agencies to Support School and Community Improvement. Schools with the highest concentrations of impoverished students frequently need external support to meet those needs. A task force of state agencies can assist local organizations in the communities surrounding these schools and offer more support to students. If needed, task force members should offer services directly. Based on an assessment of community needs and assets, task force agencies should also collaborate with local leaders to design and implement initiatives to strengthen the economic health of these communities.

Reader Comments 0

32 comments
jerryeads
jerryeads

I'm glad GPBI continues to voice what to not enough of us is obvious. Many of those schools getting "D's" or "F's" from the state's kick 'em while they're down agency may actually be doing a lot for their kids given their resources. But there needs to be much more. Too many - like "Sheared" below - just like to lay blame on the less fortunate - I guess so that they can feel superior. But if we don't look for ways to break the cycle, the circle stays unbroken and those more fortunate just end up paying for it anyway - in taxes for welfare, emergency health care and prisons.

I dearly wish the kick 'em while they're down agency would find another way to label the less fortunate schools. Telling teachers, principals, parents and, most importantly, kids that they're just too stupid and lazy does little to encourage them.

BUT, hopefully, some of those schools will in fact get some useful support. I'm cynical enough to not really think that'll happen, but I can hope.


CherriB678
CherriB678

@jerryeads Thanks, agreed. I also think the "technologies of control" (Pickering), are another factor. 

AlreadySheared
AlreadySheared

"Most low-graded schools serve low-income kids"


But all and sundry know the more accurate description is

"Schools with lots of low-income kids usually have low test scores"


But that's  only CLOSER to the truth.

Truer, but never to be printed in a news story, is

"Schools with a high percentage of students who come from single parent households have lower test scores"

LaLaK
LaLaK

Education begins at home. It does not matter whether it is a one or two parent household.  Parents have to be involved when it comes to their children's education.  More than likely, for a number of reasons, this is not what is happening in the low income areas and the children there are falling way behind.   

Starik
Starik

@LaLaK And if the parents themselves are uneducated and unconcerned? And the local schools are staffed with teachers who barely qualified for low Southern teacher standards? 

Buschleaguer
Buschleaguer

The new integration, Socioeconomic! Bus the rich kids to the failing schools to boost the test scores and bus the poor kids to the good schools because they can handle a drop in test scores and still rate a C. Isn't this what our school administrators and government leaders really want ,an equal outcome based education for all ( C's for everyone rich and poor) no one left behind and no one gets ahead. Discourage Academic achievement it may hurt the average students feelings. The continued failure of our public schools over the last 50 years a result of school  administrators and our political leaders using schools to carry out social experiments on our children instead of educating them. Devaluing achievement and advancing a one size fits all dumbed down curriculum that has dropped the US from the top of the world in educational rankings to somewhere in the mid 40's worldwide.

Philosophe
Philosophe


Another issue is that with all the data that is collected...little of it is useful to the actual classroom teacher. Milestone Data is a great example...If a teacher is weak...why not send individual data to that teacher on specific standards and vocabulary that their students struggled with instead of just sending a half moon looking symbol that shows your students struggled on this unit sized concept. What parts of that UNIT??? How can a teacher improve with no idea what they need to know. 

Ficklefan
Ficklefan

I am old, so I can tell you this with a high degree of authority. I can clearly recall a time in America that  . . . . I know this will be hard  for many younger folks to believe . . . . even the poor and disadvantaged kids got good grades. Sometimes, they go the best grades, because they had a lot to prove and a lot to overcome, and back then, the only person who could ensure that you rise above that was, yep . . . you, and, big "and" your parents. 


This is a long gone, and never to return time in America that many often reference as the era of if you got into serious trouble at school, that was nothing compared to what was waiting at home for you when you handed the dreaded, sealed, manilla envelope and instructed to "give this to your parents." Gulp! Today when that message is delivered, parents immediately lawyer-up. 


The culture was way different then, of course, and teachers were viewed very differently - highly feared (in a good way) and very much respected, and treated as such. One learned very quickly that parents and  teachers could not be divided and conquered, and that they were clearly in cahoots. 


Unlike today School administration consisted of a principal, an assistant principal (if the school had above-average enrollment), a guidance counselor, and a school secretary - and in those days you dared not cross one of them, not even the school secretary. 


And, of course a school board and superintendent of schools, and maybe an assistant superindendent. There was no eduacracy, and principals, administrators, and educrats did not multiply like rats, nor were they famous for their six figure salaries.


There was respect for learning, respect for teachers, the idea that the key to success in life was a good education, and the kicker, getting a good education was not something "given" or "provided" to you, but something that was "hard earned."  And it cut through socio economic barriers. 


All I ever heard from my third grade and eighth grade educated, dirt poor, bare footed, eastern Kentucky hillbilly parents was about how important my education was and that it was not going to be easy, but I was going to get one, come hell or high water. So part of my third grade educated father's legacy is that is son has a law degree. 


Part of the great migration of Appalchians that came north to work in the factories after World War II, because my mother demanded that we leave the hills and live where my sister and I could attend good schools, there was absolutely no doubt from the time I knew what pencil was that was going to happen. 


The culture has changed, a lot. And not for the better. Actually for the worse. Yes. I'm old, but that does not change the truth of it. But the hard rules of life, survival, achievement, rising up, success/failure, having a supporting family regardless of economic status, hard work, etc. are, and remain, unbending. And that is where the battle is being fought . . . and being lost. 

UGAGuy
UGAGuy

@Ficklefan And it is an absolute shame that when you were a wee young lad that we did not pay those educating our future what they were worth.  Instead, we paid them mere peanuts for that outstanding job they were doing by your standards. 

CherriB678
CherriB678

Well, I ran out of editing time, so here is an edited version of my walk-around-a-wide-block to cross-a-narrow-street comment. Thanks again for reading my comments.

Ms. Downey, thank you for another factual and interesting article on education. 


I feel saddened by the majority of commentators who espouse the stereotypical biases about public educators and programs. 


I adjunct teach at a college in the southern area of the state. Bluntly, many students, Black/African American, Caucasian/White, Latino/a, Native American, and more are, from my personal perspective, cheated out of an education. Again I emphasize, from personal experience, research, and knowledge (which cannot be extrapolated to larger groups), poverty is the main factor. 


Ask yourselves, commentators, why would a public school teacher accept a job in a county where salaries are lower than other counties? Think about books and libraries, and school structures. Are there books in the homes and new books in the libraries? Are their desktop computers in every classroom and the library? Are classrooms in all grades equipped with the large screen monitors that schools in wealthier communities have from public funding, such as educational SPLOST funds? If teachers are still purchasing necessary supplies in wealthier counties, how might the teachers in poorer counties do the same with fewer dollars in their paychecks? The classic book collection in a home that positively affects reading comprehension, writing, and application to life is about 100. 


Schools with fresh paint, working bathroom facilities, inviting landscaping (simple and student-generated many times), and clean hallways and classrooms positively influence and motivate teachers and students. 


Community centers with family system programs, help for young mothers, single parents, addictive behaviors, and after-school care all help to motivate and strengthen individual, family, and community pride and well-being. 


Take a drive through some of Georgia's poorest counties. Ask for a tour of their often 3-school towns (one each for elementary, middle, and high school) and be silent during the tour. See and experience the lives of our Georgians who live in the world poverty. The notion that every person is responsible for themselves only and their futures has never been a factual statement, though there are those exceptions few and far between. 


For wealthier communities, technology and a changing world help to avoid poverty and maintain a national competitive edge in our changing world while maintaining our sense of national morality. In poorer communities, residents and citizens struggle to provide the basic nourishment that feeds and promotes positive critical thinking and application.


Punitive actions against the teachers and schools do not resolve the underlying factors or root causes of failure. 


BoxTops and Campbell's cut-along-the-lines for pennies does not resolve the underlying factors that contribute to D and F schools. 


As James Comer and others throughout our human history and experience have repeated, we are all a village. Or as James Agee suggested, we are all of them and they are all of us.


Thanks for reading my comments.

Earnest Bream
Earnest Bream

@CherriB678 I commend your honesty and point of view as I tended to lean rightward while trying to maintain my balance when I read it.  You can feel saddened by other points of view, but I think that attitude is part of the problem.  

Why should 'more affluent' members of society be ostracized, called out, condemned for taking responsibility for themselves and their family?  Is it really their responsibility to "pull the dead weight " up to be more like them?  I don't think so, yet some would say otherwise.  I realize that hardships occur, but repeating the same behavior that contribute to the hardships (children out of wedlock, not acquiring basic skills, not learning a trade, unemployment, etc) without attaining a different outcome based on local historical views is a quasi-definition for insanity.  The adage that technology isn't available, etc is an excuse that perpetuates the myth associated with the reasoning you describe, and the only way to overcome those pitfalls is to change the way they go about their daily life.  

The idea of "we are a village" is more entrenched in the thought processes of those that expect to take versus those that still believe that personal responsibility will take care of itself.

creative
creative

@CherriB678 IPADs, paint and community centers won't replace fathers.  75% of black kids born out of wedlock makes kids hate authority. The War on Poverty....that's where it starts.  If you have a dad your chances are 10 fold better to make it, rich or poor.  glorifying single motherhood and demonizing men has ruined inner city blacks.  

CherriB678
CherriB678

Ms. Downey, thank you for another factual and interesting article on education. 


I feel saddened by the majority of commentators who espouse the stereotypical biases about public educators and programs. 

I adjunct teach at a college in the southern area of the state. 


Bluntly, many students, Black/African American, Caucasian/White, Latino/a, Native American, and more are, from my personal perspective, cheated out of an education. Again I emphasize, from personal experience, research, and knowledge (which cannot be extrapolated to larger groups), poverty is the main factor. 


Ask yourselves, commentators, why would a public school teacher accept a job in a county where salaries are lower than other counties? Think about books and libraries, school structures. Are there books in the homes and new books in the libraries? If teachers are still purchasing necessary supplies in wealthier counties, how might the teachers in poorer counties do the same with fewer dollars in their paychecks? The classic book collection in a home that positively affects reading comprehension, writing, and application to life is about 100. 

Schools with fresh paint, working bathroom facilities, inviting landscaping (simple and student-generated many times), and clean hallways and classrooms positively influence and motivate teachers and students. 


Community centers with family system programs, help for young mothers, single parents, addictive behaviors, and after-school care all help to motivate and strengthen individual, family, and community pride and well-being. 


Take a drive through some of Georgia's poorest counties. Ask for a tour of their often 3-school towns (one each for elementary, middle, and high school) and be silent during the tour. See and experience the lives of our Georgians who live in the world poverty. The notion that every person is responsible for themselves only and their futures has never been a factual statement, though there are those exceptions few and far between. 


Punitive actions against the teachers and schools do not resolve the underlying factors or root causes of failure. 


BoxTops and Campbell's cut-along-the-lines for pennies does not resolve the underlying factors that contribute to D and F schools. 


As James Comer and others throughout our human history and experience have repeated, we are all a village. Or as James Agee suggested, we are all of them and they are all of us.

Thanks for reading my comments.


SeriousStyles
SeriousStyles

What is telling is that POOR whites are also being left behind and many of them end up on Meth and having babies out of wedlock. Maybe the AJC can do articles on the "silent white suffering"?

CherriB678
CherriB678

@SeriousStyles I have no information to support your statement about meth and childbirth, but your comment, "POOR whites are also being left behind," is SPOT ON. Thank you.

chejason
chejason

Ms. Downey, have heard about Stillwell High and Elite Scholars (middle-high) schools in Clayton County? They are both high achievement schools located in Metro Atlanta's poorest county. Please write an article detailing these successful stories.

chejason
chejason

Typical racist response...do some research!

I wonder if Ms. Downey is interested in responding.

MaureenDowney
MaureenDowney moderator

@chejason Looked at the Milestones scores for these schools as well as the state's College and Career Ready Performance Index. These Clayton schools are at the very top statewide so they are far above average. (Our state tests, which were revamped a few years ago, are not easy, especially the math.)

chejason
chejason

Thank you!!! The formula might work in other poor areas regardless of racial backgrounds.

An American Patriot
An American Patriot

Like I said in  a previous post, the ROOT CAUSE of the problem we're experiencing now, began with LBJ in 1964.  Just have as many babies as you want, vote democratic and we'll take care of you for life.  Folks, that's exactly what's been happening since then.  This could have/would have been changed were it not for the democratic party wanting to keep it's voter base.  IT'S A POLITICAL PROBLEM FOLKS.  Unless and until we stop this massive entitlement giveaway it's never going to get any better.  President Trump is trying but, the obstructionists (Like our own JOHN LEWIS) don't want it to change because of their cushy jobs as do nothing democratic/liberal congressmen.  It's a problem that's never going away until we enact TERM LIMITS.  This being a liberal newspaper, you're never going to see a column from any editorial writer/blogger expressing any opinion to the otherwise.  Please support our President.  Most of you have already benefitted from some of his actions and it you're a stock market investor, you've really benefitted.  MAGA

Earnest Bream
Earnest Bream

@An American Patriot   I thought that throwing money at the educational structure, and more specifically the lower income/lower performing schools was supposed to solve the problem....

You are correct Patriot.  'It' is a political problem that will never get resolved as long as an entitlement mentality exists in this country.  I don't want there to be any misunderstanding what I consider 'entitlement' in that it also applies to the bureaucratic structures in place to run the schools.  

The idea of funding being dependent on test scores and the micromanagement taking place in schools/systems by people that are purported to know what's best for the masses is a form of fallacy. 

satan
satan

@An American Patriot What happens when the stock bubble pops? (oh wait..it's different this time.) What happens when the silent, rural,  less educated white voters who back Trump start to realize that the social welfare programs they depend on to live are now going to be gutted to pay for tax reform and corporate welfare? What happens when Trump and his son-in-law get indicted?   MAGA indeed...


feedback1
feedback1

Currently 3 out of 4 black children grow up in homes without fathers, by far the worst for any demographic group. No amount of education spending can even begin to compensate for this.

As recently as the 1960s black homes included fathers. Money spent on anything other than reconstituting the black family will be money wasted.

GB101
GB101

@feedback1 It is not realistic to expect the AJC's writers to discuss the elephant in the room.  

SeriousStyles
SeriousStyles

@feedback1 How do you explain poor whites with their dads in the house performing the same or worse than poor Blacks with no Dad in the house?

Doomy
Doomy

@SeriousStyles @feedback1


Poor whites, especially in Appalachia, have the same cultural problems as poor inner city black America. Welfare dependency, drugs, no father figure in many cases,sexual promiscuity,lack of emphasis on education or hard work, etc. Its not a race issue but one of culture. 

Earnest Bream
Earnest Bream

@feedback1 In general, throwing money at problems such as this would definitely equate to government waste.  It's not a $$$ problem.  It is a social/morality problem that will never be resolved unless and until the government entitlements for certain behaviors are eliminated.

readcritic
readcritic

Teachers in most schools today are forced to pass students, whether the students do the required curriculum work or not. Administrators just want to show improvement and the responsibility for that is on the teachers. Student are not held accountable for their lack of effort or performance. Teachers must make dazzling differentiated lessons that "engage" students every moment. Most low income students lack the basics, but drilling the basics is boring to students and teachers must perform the dog and pony show. Schools and administrators will continue to produce poorly educated students because they are only interested in jumping on the next new teaching fad that comes along. Students are moved along to the next level having lots of fun but no skill sets. Learning the basics is hard work and sometimes not much fun but necessary. Teachers know what the students really need but are not allowed to do their job properly because education is run by politicians who interfere in the learning process. Teachers must compete with cell phones, truancy, student pregnancy, extreme discipline issues, and poor student home environments, along with time-consuming and useless meetings and paperwork, administrative threats and lack of support, and yet they are expected to perform miracles. The real problem is that everyone has a solution but no one will let the teachers do their job.

Earnest Bream
Earnest Bream

@readcritic I agree that politicians are the fools that initiate the false reality of educating, but the products being produced by the so-called 'institutions of higher learning' to teach our youth are a far cry from being capable of doing an adequate job of teaching.  Look no farther than the 'enlightened academia' establishment, and that should provide all of the explanation one needs to understand the problems associated with education as a whole.  It's enough to make one puke in their mouth.