All On Georgia

Georgia begins effort to turn around low-performing schools

Georgia’s board of education is considering how to improve the state’s low-performing schools.

Members of the board met recently to discuss how they’ll start the process of attempting to turn around struggling schools across the state, WABE Radio reported .

The Georgia Department of Education recently released scores for the College and Career Ready Performance Index.

Using that data, the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement issued a list of 104 schools that are “turnaround eligible.” Schools that made the list scored below 60 percent on the index for three consecutive years.

State officials have been considering how to help underperforming schools for years.

Many aspects of the current effort remain unknown, the Atlanta radio station reported. Among them: How many schools would receive help; what that help would look like; and how much it would all cost.

It’s not likely all 104 schools would receive help, board member Barbara Hampton said.

“So, I guess the $64,000 question is . how do we decide?” Hampton said.

Board members said the state should ask school districts if they want help first, adding that the effort is not a punitive measure.

“This is a positive thing; this is not a negative thing,” said Jimmy Stokes, who chairs the state’s Turnaround Advisory Council. “We’re not identifying schools to be punished. We’re identifying schools to be helped.”

Eric Thomas, the state’s new chief turnaround officer, is expected to lead the school improvement efforts.

Thomas said he wants the turnaround plans to begin in January.

“That means we need to, sort of, have schools identified literally in the next week or so,” Thomas told the board.

Both Atlanta and DeKalb County launched school turnaround efforts of their own two years ago, WABE reported.

Atlanta’s plan included closing some schools, merging others and changing leadership at some schools in need. DeKalb beefed up tutoring and instructional services. Both districts reduced the number of schools that would qualify for state intervention.