The DeKalb County School System is one of the lowest performing systems in metro Atlanta in several subjects and other school systems are improving faster than DeKalb’s according to 2011 CRCT results.
When compared with other systems such as Atlanta Public Schools, Clayton County Public Schools and Fulton County Schools, DeKalb, although making slight improvements, is still improving more slowly than the systems surrounding it.
“I understand, believe it or not, those that have good feelings and those that have bad feelings about the low academic achievement as the result of some testing scores that have come out in the school district but you cannot give up on us yet. Our children need all of us to pull together. Change is necessary, and change will happen,” Interim Superintendent Ramona Tyson said of the recent test scores.
According to the 2011 scores, DeKalb had the lowest Language Arts score in every grade and the lowest reading scores in all grades except grade four, which was higher than Atlanta and Clayton at 82.9 percent but lower than Fulton County.
When asked why DeKalb Schools have been slower to show improvement Morcease Beasley, the interim deputy superintendent of teaching and learning for DeKalb Schools, said that students and employees thrive in positive environments and are deflated in negative and hostile environments. Beasley said that a healthy balance of vocal and visible community support and criticism will go a long way toward moving the system forward.
“Our goal is to ensure that all students are reading on grade level no later than the third grade. [A] of priority will be the expectation to provide and document the impact of reading interventions when the data reflects the student is in need of intervention,” Beasley said.
Beasley also said that the division of teaching and learning has developed a plan that will allow it to monitor district-wide reading data to provide campuses support and hold them accountable for outcomes well before the administration of standardized test such as the CRCT. He said that the 2011-2012 school year is expected to be a year of increased reading achievement in DeKalb.
The DeKalb School System, like many of its metro-Atlanta counterparts, also has a low success rate in the subject of social studies, with barely half of grades five through eight passing in 2011. However, the social studies scores do show improvement, in some cases gaining close to 8 percent. Beasley said that there is a correlation between reading and social studies.
“As we continue to address reading in our district, we are confident that increases in social studies learning outcomes will occur as we have already begun to see increases in social studies as reflected in the 2011 CRCT results,” Beasley said.
Beasley also said that aligned K-12 expectations have been conveyed that social studies should be taught daily and teachers are encouraged to integrate social studies content into other content areas as well.
The CRCT is used each year to determine whether each school in the system will make Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) under federal guidelines and is then used to determine the amount of funding a system can receive under the No Child Left Behind Act.
The official AYP results will be released by the Georgia Department of Education in mid-July. Beasley said that, although he hopes more schools make AYP this year compared to last year, “we know that we are doing the right work for our students and time will validate this.”