Monday, July 9, 2007

Clarke County School District AYP '07

Though it may seem otherwise, I do not particularly enjoy beating up on the Clarke County School District. It is just that the District’s continued poor academic performance, despite profligate spending, leaves me no reasonable alternative.

The good news is that the District does somewhat better at the elementary level, with 11 out of its 13 schools meeting AYP standards. The bad news is that none of its four middle or two high schools manages to do so. The District’s comments concerning 8 of its 19 schools not meeting AYP standards, in true bureaucratic fashion, essentially amounts to quibbles over how the numbers were calculated for a couple of specific schools.

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Jmac said...

Part of this, though, has to do with the continual moving of the goalposts of NCLB (as well as a myriad of other factors). If a school fails in 2006, then it isn't afforded the opportunity to meet the standards for 2006 in 2007, but 2007.

As a result, the schools are making progress, but they're stuck in an almost unwinnable cycle of being one year behind. To solely blame the schools (or their spending) - any school from any district - is a bit misguided.

james said...

No offense jmac, but I do not think that the “moving goalposts” argument holds up very well. AYP figures for the state and individual school systems are available on the Georgia Department of Education’s web site. Those figures for the state and some neighboring school systems appear below.

Statewide: 81.6% of schools met AYP (1713/2100); 71.1% graduation rate (up from 70.8% in 2006)

Clarke County: 57.9% of schools met AYP (11/19); 56.6% graduation rate (down from 64.4% in 2006)

Jackson County: 100.0% of schools met AYP (10/10); 65.2% graduation rate (up from 64.6% in 2006)

Madison County: 71.4% of schools met AYP (5/7); 63.0% graduation rate (down from 69.4% in 2006)

Oconee County: 100.0% of schools met AYP (9/9); 86.0% graduation rate (down from 87.9% in 2006)

Oglethorpe County: 75.0% of schools met AP (3/4); 71.2% graduation rate (down from 71.8% in 2006)

So, Clarke County had more schools fail to meet AYP for 2007 than did Jackson, Madison, Oconee, and Oglethorpe Counties combined, both in terms of absolute numbers and as a percentage (11/19 versus 27/30 or 57.9% versus 90.0%). Clarke County had a graduation rate of 56.6% (390 graduates out of a graduating class size of 689); the other four counties had graduation rate of 71.0% (930 graduates out of a cumulative graduating class size of 1310).

Even if one accepts the moving goalposts explanation for Clarke County’s dismal showing year after year, it still brings up the rear as every other school system is aiming at the same moving goalposts, but is doing so with better results and at considerably less expense per pupil. I will agree that some of this is due to factors outside the District’s control. Unfortunately, our approach to public education in Clarke County, namely that of throwing money at the problem, has not yielded sustainable results. The numbers fluctuate a little from one year to another, but over the long run have remained abysmal (and I do not use that term lightly).

Anonymous said...

I lived in Athens for 25 years and recently moved to Jefferson in Jackson County specifically for the schools (which, by the way, also had 100% of our schools meeting AYP). Our children attended through 2nd and 4th grades in Clarke County, but there was NO WAY we were sending our children to the middle schools in Athens. A friend (with a child attending Montessori school) recently mentioned they were moving out of Brookstone(?) subdivision off Barnett Shoals Road - the one across from the elementary school. He said there are no kids in that neighborhood, and when you do find kids they attend private schools or are homeschooled. Those of us here in Jackson County say, "Keep up the good work - we've got room for neighbors up here!".

Anonymous said...

Spot on James. Public schools in Clarke county do not compare favorably to those in neighboring counties. Period.

People need to stop making excuses and realize that things are getting worse rather than better. I would expect them to continue to get worse because the policies responsible for the slide are not being altered.

Anonymous said...

Just curious - what specific policies are making the schools worse?

Is it district policy to have to educate an overwhelming # of students who are products of single-mother households? Or are raised by their grandmothers?

Clarke's problems are socio-economic. As long as our population set continues to crank out teenage mothers, we'll have these problems. As long as Athens' abundance of social and government services continues to draw and hold this population here, we will have these problems.

Oconee's growth and success - the result of the opposite end of the spectrum getting the hell out of here.

I believe in our schools, our staff and administration. Their job is impossible short of broad social change that gets further away with each generation.

james said...

I don't disagree with your anaylsis of what constitutes the problem. You are entirely correct in thinking that the real problems with the lack of academic achievement originate in the homes from which many of Clarke County's students come.

I'm just saying that what the CCSD has been doing for a long time is not working and needs to be rethought. Rather than spend more money year after year (both in absolute and per pupil terms), we need to raise standards - and I am not at all sure that should cost anything.

Anonymous said...

I posted the 10:40am comment and agree with you 100%. Increasing spending just results in a larger bureaucracy, with no tangible impact on a population that is beyond help in many ways. Government uses these problems to justify its growth, and its ever increasing burden on the taxpayer. The "you don't care about babies" argument is ridiculous.

I'm frankly sick of the "it only costs $.20 per person" rationale that has resulted in a grossly inflated govt. You can't get the dragon out of the cave if you just keep feeding it.

Anonymous said...

You answered your own question:

"As long as our population set continues to crank out teenage mothers, we'll have these problems. As long as Athens' abundance of social and government services continues to draw and hold this population here, we will have these problems."

That, combined with "controlled choice", is the problem.

hillary said...

So do you think raising standards will actually affect the quality of the education given in Clarke's schools? Isn't that what NCLB ostensibly did? And isn't it, you know, not working?

Anonymous said...

When the bulk of the population is not equipped in the home environment to benefit from their education, they will continue to fail. Raising standards is meaningless when it is totally irrelevant to students who were born to, and take pride in failing. How can it work when the families in Clarke overwhelmingly really don't give a shit anyways?

It's all just politics. The govt. NEEDS the poor to not give a crap and perpetually fail. How else can they justify continued intrusion, control and resource manipulation?

Can 9:37 clarify what "controlled choice" is? Perhaps a buzzword I'm not familiar with . . .

Anonymous said...

"Controlled choice" is an Orwellian euphemism for a policy which ensures that parents can not choose which school their children attend. The purpose of the program is to ensure socio-economic and racial integration of the schools.

With controlled choice, families are not assigned to neighborhood schools but instead may choose from a variety of public schools within a given geographic cluster.

The program is very good at integrating schools. Unfortunately, it is not very good at improving for other measured outcomes.