Mike Klein Online

Georgia Should Create Ultra High Performance Schools for Smartest Kids

Mike Klein

Georgia is shopping for ideas.  In particular, ideas that will shape a competitive state, one that is fundamentally attractive to investors, corporations considering relocation and industries that might want to be created from scratch here.  In an ultra-competitive society it is not too much to suggest that the state with the best ideas will produce a post-recession vibrant economy.

On Monday, Governor Nathan Deal’s Competitiveness Initiative held a conference at Georgia Tech.  The theme went like this:  The state must pass next year’s transportation sales tax; it is crucial to growth and jobs.  Incentives matter.  Smart regions require lots of smart people. Georgia has the political will to succeed.  As Atlanta goes, so goes Georgia.  And so on.

Then on Thursday the state Department of Education released 2011 AYP – Adequate Yearly Progress – and graduation rates.  There were a couple messages.  Georgia has only a “slim” chance to meet No Child Left Behind 2014 goals, which a lot of folks consider unreasonable.  The most important message is we must do more to educate every child for lifetime success.

In the spirit of offering ideas, here are two for consideration:

Establish Ultra-High Performance Schools

Everyone agrees it’s all about education and a prepared workforce.

Georgia should create a generation of Ultra-High Performance Schools – public schools for exceptionally gifted kids.  Organize them as state special charter schools.  The investment is worth it.  Make sure smartest kids are identified before middle school or earlier.  Incentivize parents of smart kids to move them into Ultra-High Performance Schools where they will experience the highest level of education.  Encourage these kids to stay smart and not be embarrassed about being smart. Continue reading

July 22, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

“Slim” Chance Georgia Will Meet No Child Left Behind Goal in 2014

Mike Klein

State schools superintendent John Barge believes chances are “slim” that Georgia will meet the federal government’s No Child Left Behind 100 percent proficiency requirement in three years.   The first-year superintendent made that clear Thursday when the Department of Education released 2011 AYP – Adequate Yearly Progress – and graduation rate reports.

Notably, the state did not release 2011 AYP results for the Atlanta Public Schools system which is embroiled in a test cheating scandal.  The DOE website said results are being withheld until it “can determine which data are impacted by the investigation findings.”  Some 179 educators were identified as possible test cheaters after a ten-month special prosecutors’ investigation.

AYP is the national education measuring stick created by No Child Left Behind.  President George W. Bush signed controversial legislation into law nine years ago.  It mandates that schools nationwide improve math, languages and graduation percentage rates in successive years for schools to be judged as having met Adequate Yearly Progress expectations.

State School Superintendent John Barge

During the 2002-2003 academic year an elementary school could meet AYP if 60 percent of third graders passed reading and language arts standardized tests.  Today the minimum is 80 percent, next year 86.7 percent, one year later 93.3 percent, then 100 percent in 2014.  The formulas are similar for all elementary, middle and high school AYP standardized tests.

In a statement that accompanied the report, Barge said, “The goal of 100 percent proficiency for all of our students by 2014 is well meaning, but because there are so many variables in the lives of children that schools cannot control, the likelihood of achieving this goal is slim. There is so much more to a school’s and a child’s progress than one test score at a single point in time.”

The state DOE reported the 2011 initial high school graduation rate was 79.5 percent, nearly identical to last year, but that bears discussion later.  DOE said the percentage of schools statewide that made AYP declined to 63.2 percent from 71 percent last year.  The percentage of schools graded “Needs Improvement” increased to 17.5 percent from 15.4 percent last year. Continue reading

July 22, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment