DeKalb students’ test scores lowest in metro

A new article at the AJC informs us that yet again, DeKalb posted the lowest test scores on the 2013 College and Career Ready Performance Index (CCRPI) of all area metro systems. Mark Elgart just restored accreditation, emphatically claiming that he cares very much about student achievement and takes it under consideration when accrediting schools. However, the reality of these scores are not congruent with Elgart’s public claims and his endorsement of our school system leadership. There is no accountability to students – except that now, Superintendent Michael Thurmond [seemingly taking leadership lessons from Bev Hall] has publicly stated that teachers’ salaries will not increase until test scores improve. Now, there’s a management technique that will send the rest of the highly qualified teachers running for the hills!

Elementary and middle school performance improves while high schools dip on state report card

By Rose French and Ty Tagami
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Walton High School was the top-performing high school in Cobb County for the 2012-13 school year, according to state education data released Monday.

… Schools and districts are receiving grades today through the state’s College and Career-Ready Performance Index, which uses factors like student test scores, academic progress and closing the gap in performance between groups of students to spit out a numerical grade of zero to 110.

Among districts in the heart of metro Atlanta, Atlanta Public Schools got higher grades on the elementary, middle and high school level. Cobb was up on the elementary and middle school level and down on the high school level. DeKalb was down on all three levels. Fulton was up on all three levels. Gwinnett was down on the elementary level and high school level, but its middle school grade was up.

…Search our interactive database at to see how your school scored.

Click here to read more.

Check the state’s database directly here >>

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This entry was posted in Budget Cuts, DeKalb County [GA] Board of Education, DeKalb County, Georgia, GA Legislature / Laws / O.C.G.A., Michael Thurmond, Ramona Howell Tyson, SACS/Accreditation, Testing & AYP and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

86 Responses to DeKalb students’ test scores lowest in metro

  1. Beverly Fraud says:

    Mark Elgart: the guy who tried to strong arm the APS board into keeping as their board chair a woman who ACTIVELY CONSPIRED with Beverly Hall to cover up/delete evidence of systemic cheating in APS.

    Why is it, more more sunlight is shined on Mark Elgart, there seems to be more that needs disinfecting?

    At what point might DCSS benefit from alternative accreditation?

    And can you be any more tone deaf than Michael Thurmond is on the CRCT?

    Seriously has anyone ever asked him in an open forum if he knows what CRCT stands for, and how it differs from a norm-referenced test, just to see if he even has a clue?

  2. Word Wall says:

    Provide Social Security (or its exact equivalent) to teachers, give them normal step raises tied to inflation, and stop overcrowding their classrooms….. That is the ONLY route to success in Dekalb — anything less is just talk.

  3. dekalbinsideout says:

    Don’t forget, Elgart kicked out Khatim El, the one guy on the APS board who was trying to get to the bottom of the cheating scandal. There would be no scandal were it not for his efforts. 11alive did a decent job of discussing Khatim El’s resignation and the circumstances surrounding it here.

  4. Word Wall says:

    Hmmm…the mention of classroom size limits, social security equity & step raises got two thumbs down right away…. I told you the Palace reads the Blog….

  5. Word Wall says:

    Meanwhile, teachers are on ice until the Palace is $60,000,000 ahead. Pathetic.

  6. DeKalb sent out a release on the state grades where it cites its high schools:

    The DeKalb Early College Academy – a Title I school with 66 percent of its students from low-income families – topped the list of Georgia’s highest-performing high schools on the College & Career Ready Performance Index.
     A second DeKalb school, the DeKalb School of the Arts, scored in the top five of Georgia’s 447 high schools on the reformulated CCRPI.
     “We are encouraged that DeKalb is the only district in the state to have two high schools in the top five,” said Superintendent Michael Thurmond. “We have planted the seeds for far more academic growth and achievement throughout our school system – and we expect for them to bear fruit in coming years in this and other critical measurements.”
     Three of DeKalb’s elementary schools – Wadsworth, Austin and Kittredge – placed in the top 25 of the state’s more than 2,000 elementary schools. Several other DeKalb schools showed remarkable improvements as the reformulated CCRPI placed greater emphasis on academic progress. Cedar Grove, a Title I high school with seven of 10 students from low-income families, posted significant gains, as did Clarkston High School and Cross Keys, which have high percentages of English Language Learners. 
     “The DeKalb County School District is placing a greater emphasis on academic growth and achievement – just as the state has recalibrated its performance index to do the same,” said Thurmond. “We are proud of students, parents, teachers and staff – and we’re confident that our progress will continue.”
  7. thedeal2 says:

    DSA, Wadsworth, and Kittredge, all magnet schools with entrance criteria, huge wait lists and always up for criticism. Either you are happy to have them (and their rankings) so you fully support and fund them, or you drop the programs and don’t have them in the rankings.

  8. Beverly Fraud says:

    @dekalbinsideout I believe you can actually make a legitimate case that Mark Elgart has done more damage to this district than even Eugene Walker.

    One might even say that while Eugene was doing his level best to be DeKalb’s Boss Hogg, Elgart is doing his best to be education’s Darth Vader.

    After all, at his worst, Boss Hogg Walker was never documented to have tried to use his power to protect the person at the heart and soul of the largest cheating scandal in United States educational history.

    Maybe one of the the single best things DCSS could do is seek alternative accreditation and tell SACS thanks, but no thanks.

  9. Thurmond does not mention in his press release that these schools are very small, specialty boutique schools that spend FAR more per student than other ‘traditional’ high schools. In fact, their per pupil costs rival private school tuition.

    Check out our report >>

    Compare school by school costs at Stan Jester’s FACT CHECKER >>

    Check out our per pupil funding document received via Open Records in 2011 >>

  10. To add to the point of inequity – the AJC has produced this most amazing map showing the results of the school reports. You can look at them by elementary, middle or high school. Green dots are good. Yellow ok. Red, bad. Thurmond likes to focus on DeKalb’s green dots and pretend the many red ones don’t exist. The map tells the story of two DeKalbs. No debate.

  11. Word Wall says:

    Frankly, schools like Clarkston HS stabilized after the departure of three top Dekalb leaders: “What do we do Gene?;” RICO Lewis and AWOL Atkinson….Any additional gains will depend on issues like Classroom Size — and competitive teacher incentive compensation packages, including Social Security.

  12. Former Dekalb Parent says:

    My name is not FORMER DEKALB PARENT for nothing. We moved to put our children in a school system that rewards and expects REAL Achievment. No, Gwinnett is not perfect, but it is a well run system focusing on the students and preparing them for college, vocational school, or employment. And they treat their employees well.

  13. Teachers Matter says:

    I am beyond sick of the premise that I am solely responsible for test scores and that my pay will be directly tied to them. Does Mr. Thurmond actually think threats like that will make me a better teacher? I am not the parent to these children; there is only so much I can do. Let’s get real here; Dekalb is broken. Things will continue to get worse until someone has the courage to stand up and state the truth. Is that someone out there?

  14. Dear Teachers of DeKalb: How much more filth can we take? Thurmond is not operating with all brain cells! He is disgusting. My concern is @1 for the teachers because I am one, and @2 for the students we are trying hard to educate. My school has nothing for the teachers but endless paperwork while undisciplined students roam the halls and disrupt every classroom. HELP, Thurmond! You could not survive one day in a classroom in DeKalb. The teachers and students would kick your ass, I assure you.

  15. Dear TeachersMatter – I believe there is someone out there who can help us, and it comes to mind names like Stan Jester, howdy1942, DSW, and a number of other people on our site who care deeply and who can think! Thurmond, Ramoona, Ramsey, Lewis, Smith, Beastley, all the other high-ranking Palace minions must go. Why oh why is Thurmond allowed to continue to make these stupid and crazy statements? Where is his highly-paid spokeman????And let’s rid ourselves at the same time of this IT nut.

  16. I know there are trolls looking for the people who tell the truth and speak up for our teachers and students. Who are you? How dare you down-grade the people who are trying to help the teachers and children? HOW DARE YOU? I don’t dig cowards, so put up or shut up. If you are downgrading these remarks, identify yourself. Or, as the students say, “Shut the up?”

  17. Teachers Matter says:

    I agree with Word Wall and concerned citizen-who is voting the comments down? Whoever it is does not have the courage to at least join the debate. That is very telling.

  18. DCSD FOR DUMMIES says:

    Dear Mr. Thurmond,

    Don’t worry! I’ll teach one more year in DeKalb. After that, I’m leaving and I’m taking my children and property taxes with me.

  19. Don’t fret much about the thumbs down. I think people either work for the central office and they thumb down to feel powerful, or these thumbs down are just being accidentally clicked. It’s pretty easy to click on the wrong one on a phone – they are so small.

  20. Summer2014 says:

    If the central office is responding at work, they aren’t blocked like the rest of us lessers!

  21. midvaledad says:

    Using the school budgets linked above, I tooked the current budget for DSA, $2,381,614, and divided it by 358 (the October 2013 enrollment) and got $6,652.55.
    Then did the same for Cross Keys H.S. ($5,790,708 / 1,166) and got $4,966.30.
    Then did DECA ($1,890,094 / 274) and got $6,898.15.

    I do not think the budget numbers linked include Title 1 funds which Cross Keys and DECA get, but am unsure.

    Assuming Title 1 funds are not included, and 66% of DECA students are Title 1 students as their website claims, the real per-student funding for DECA is closer to $1,890,094 + ((274 * .66) * 400)) / 274 = $7,136.14.

    My question is why is DSA allowed to only utilize 61% of the capacity of the school, Kittredge 72%, and Wadsworth 28%. All of those schools have waiting lists. Why not let more children in to benefit from those programs?


    The success of those programs might depend on the small size of the schools and classes. Letting more students in might make them less successful.

    So, why in the world is the district building 900 seat elementary schools?

  22. howdy1942 says:

    @concerned citizen – thank you for your kind comment! I do care about the Dekalb County School System and especially its kids and their teachers. I want to again encourage, urge, beg, and ask everyone on this blog (and everyone in Dekalb County) to go to the polls on May 20, 2014, and vote for a new school board. If we can get at least four members who are very troubled about the direction the DCSS has taken and have the courage to make changes, then we will begin to set the right priorities – getting the focus back on the classroom, auditing the system to see understand precisely where our tax resources and funding are going, working WITH and LISTENING to teachers and allowing them to control their classrooms, getting teacher compensation competitive with neighboring districts, initiating a search for an experienced educator to be our next superintendent, working to restore the confidence and trust of the people in the DCSS.

    I appreciate your comments about SACS and I think that our focus right now should be on electing a new, qualified school board to serve Dekalb County and its kids. I hope that SACS will get behind our new school board and give it the full latitude to restore quality and integrity to the DCSS and not nitpick or micromanage its actions.

    @DSW – I read Maureen Downey’s blog that included the performance of schools. This confirmed in a very measurable manner what many on this blog have known for a long time – the DCSS is failing its students. We must turn this around and we must begin with our teachers. We cannot expect our students to learn and perform when the DCSS is treating our teachers so poorly. Has anyone in the DCSS thought to ask our teachers to list – write down – and share what their issues really are? And has anyone in the DCSS thought to ask them to list in measurable terms what it (the DCSS) needs to do to resolve those concerns? When we have taken the steps to get the focus on the classroom, then I think that the results will take care of the school performance issues.

    In short, elect the right school board that will search for and hire a highly qualified superintendent (of whatever race and/or gender) with the right focus and we will get the right results.

  23. FrustratedTeacher says:

    In Channel 11’s report this morning, they said Crawford Lewis had gone to prison. Is this true? What was the outcome of the judge not accepting his plea bargain back in December?

  24. concernedmome30329 says:

    I can’t speak to DECA because I am not clear of how it works. KMS, DSA etc can and do ask kids to leave.
    It is important to know that the top five elementary schools in other metro systems scored as high as these schools and are large schools. The number 3, 4, 5 elementary schools in DCSS are over 650.
    McNair middle and high schools are among the smallest secondary schools in the system and are the lowest in the system along with being among the lowest in the state.

  25. Word Wall says:

    It was clear Superintendent Lewis’s testimony at trial against COO Pat Pope may not have adequately matched the facts, to qualify for the prosecutor’s offer of leniency. The judge wasn’t convinced?

  26. Word Wall says:

    Remember “I was being blackmailed, she had a mojo box, she was spying on the Board…” Not the testimony of a remorseful cooperating RICO conspirator at trial???

  27. We agree Howdy, except to say that DCSS fails ‘some’ of its students. The thing is, ‘some’ students do very well, and the administration uses them to say that the ‘system’ is doing well. However, it is not. We can’t hide behind the great results of ‘some’ students while not addressing the failures of others. As we have said, DeKalb is fairly unique in that a lot of students score in the 90s and a lot score in the 50s but relative few actually post scores in the average of the two: the 70s. It could be charted as an inverted bell. We are concerned about the left side of the bell curve. That’s not to say that the right side might do even better in a highly advanced school system environment. Thus, the magnets. Those that win a lottery seat, do much better at a magnet school. Still, our magnet schools in reality, provide the education environment many traditional schools in other (high-performing) states provide for all students.

  28. I voted for Jim McMahon in to get rid of Womack and put someone on the bird who seemed to be willing to make a difference. But he seems to think Thurmond is great so I will not be voting for him this time. Will you be posting some info on the other candidates and maybe even making some recommendations?
    Regarding down votes, I have occasionally hit the wrong button myself so that is no proof of trolling.
    I pray for the day when I can read this blog and not feel sickened. No raises til scores improve is so absurd, small-minded, senseless. I do volunteer work at school now that I am retired and I see first-hand how hard teachers work and how much they have to put up with. My school is a focus school, just because of low scores by special ed several years ago. Its staff is being tormented by continuous requirements that have sapped morale. I never thought people there would be eager to find jobs elsewhere.
    It cannot imagine any intelligent person being willing to step up and take the job of superintendent here. But we do need a savior.

  29. Word Wall says:

    Now the Palace is not “balancing the Shortfall on the teachers backs” any more, now they are “financing a 60,000,000 dollar Surplus on the teachers’ backs”… a shocking and unconscionable policy. Thumbs down to that!

  30. There has never been a true shortfall — just an unconscionable continuous overpayment to friends-and-family and other very expendable administrative and non-certified personnel. When was the first, last or any time that DeKalb County Schools has put classrooms and teachers (and therefore students) FIRST when creating a budget? DeKalb County Schools could easily dismiss half or more of the Palace employees without missing a thing. In fact, getting rid of those people who invent non-classroom busywork for teachers in order to make themselves seem busy and feel important would actually give teachers more time to attend to the mission of DCS: teaching students! As my dad, raised on an Oklahoma farm, would have said, “DeKalb teachers are sucking hind tit.”

  31. Word Wall says:

    With 6,000 teachers, the Palace wants to bank $10,000 for each ($60,000,000) before even discussing an actual raise. Sixty million dollars or three years…that’s the plan. I notice the posts are getting grimmer, angrier and more discouraged. Teachers have had to put up with RICO Lewis, AWOL Atkinson, an impeached Board and near loss of SACS Accreditation, the loss of Social Security annuity funding, then furlough days and classroom size waivers…now this. Horrendous.

  32. Teachermom says:

    Teachers aren’t necessarily asking for a raise. We want our cuts restored. Eliminate furloughs and give us back our matching retirement savings to begin with…

  33. Word Wall says:

    Exactly. Social Security equity. Revocation of TSA annuity was illegal. Any federal judge from Breyer to Scalia would throw out the current “plan”….(Crawford Lewis was sentenced in December 2013 to serve one year for conspiracy…hasn’t reported in yet…)

  34. Here’s some math. Crawford Lewis used to say that a teacher’s package averaged $65,000 (including benefits) to the budget. Let’s give teachers a BIG raise and make the average package $85,000. Multiply that by 6,500 teachers and you have $552,500,000. The operating budget is about $800 million. The administration insists that at least 90% of their budget goes to salaries ($720 million of the $800 million). To pay 6,500 teachers an $85,000 package would take up about 69% of the operating budget. That still leaves $167.5 million in the remaining 90% portion of operating budget for other salaries. This is what is meant by bottom up budgeting. Budget plenty for teachers and staff in the classrooms and then figure out how best to spend what’s left. So easy!

    [Our numbers are estimates. Plug in the real numbers and you have the same effect: bottom up budgeting. Just like at home. You first budget for food and shelter. Then build on top of that by priority, including PYF – Pay Yourself First or SAVE. Stop when you run out of money.]

  35. Thank you again for another enlightening and well-said comment from DSW! You make it all sound so sensible, so possible, yet the supt and the board (small letters for emphasis!) just don’t get it! The teachers are first, second, and last to ever get placed in status where they should be – the top of the pay scale and the respect scale. Where are the Palace members hiding these days? I don’t see much, certainly by design, coming down the tubes. Do they think silence is golden? Do you hear, oh great ones?

  36. Teachermom says:

    Does Thurmond read the paper?

    From the AJC:
    (We haven’t had a step increase in 7 years, btw)

    Atlanta school board passes $658M budget

    The Atlanta school board approved a $658 million general fund budget Tuesday that includes teacher pay raises, the elimination of furlough days and more money for charter schools.
    The board voted 6-3 on the spending plan, with dissenting votes coming from Jason Esteves, Nancy Meister and Steven Lee. Meister argued for smaller class sizes, and Esteves and Lee said they wanted more money distributed to schools and less spent on administration.
    The budget is the school system’s most expensive ever, and it’s about 11 percent higher than last year’s $595 in general fund expenditures.
    All employees will receive a pay raise, with the largest raises going to staff that has gone the longest time without an increase. Employees who haven’t received a pay bump in at least four years will get step increases amounting to about 5.6 percent raises, and those who received a raise in the last two to four years will get 2.8 percent raises and one-time bonuses of $1,000.
    Three furlough days will be eliminated from next year’s school calendar, which also will boost employee pay.
    Charter schools are projected to grow to cover about 7,000 of Atlanta’s 50,000 students next year, a jump of about 1,800 students. The largest charter school expansions are coming at the Atlanta Classical Academy in Buckhead, which opens this fall, and Centennial Place Academy, which is converting from a traditional public school to a charter school next school year.

  37. Word Wall says:

    Great Post! I read that West Virginia also gave state employees a $500 across the board raise, so APS (!) and West Virginia are offering raises now, while DeKalb is still three years and 60000000 dollars away…i.e., “when hell freezes over!”

  38. From the AJC > Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2013 >>

    A DeKalb County Superior Court judge stood by her decision to sentence former School Superintendent Crawford Lewis to jail instead of probation, making it clear Tuesday that she doubted his testimony against his former co-defendants was true.

    So the case that started in 2008 and led to indictments more than 3 1/2 years ago is far from over.

    Lewis is asking the Georgia Court of Appeals to look at the 12-month jail sentence Judge Cynthia Becker gave him for misdemeanor obstruction. He expected probation instead, because of a plea agreement with prosecutors. Under the plea deal, he testified against Pat Reid, once the district’s chief operating officer, and her ex-husband architect Tony Pope.

    It could be 60 days before the state appeals court decides if it will take the case, and another year if the appellate judges hear it.

    “This is very difficult and we just want it to be over,” Lewis said after the hearing.

    Meanwhile, he remains free on bond.

    Here is another report >>

    Click to access lewis_reid_pope_sentences_send_message_120913.pdf

  39. DecaturMax says:

    Comparing year over year scores at numerous schools, all but one of the 10 I checked plummeted. A complete systemic failure. Gut wrenching. For 3 years, I have watched teachers retiring and leaving from our neighborhood schools with no retention plan. Not sure I can put up with much more of this without moving on. This may be our last year.

    Remember Marshall Orson brought us Mr. Thurmond and extended his contract. Please don’t re-elect him. A new school at Fernbank was really important to him.

  40. DSW2Contributor says:

    DecaturMax @April 22 10:59PM: “Comparing year over year scores at numerous schools, all but one of the 10 I checked plummeted. A complete systemic failure.”

    It is not quite as bad as you suggest, DecaturMax. A few points:

    (1) Last Year’s Data: These CCRPI Scores are 1-year old. DCS is doing standardized testing this very week, so the CCRPI scores released this week are the results of tests taken a full year ago.

    (2) The Cheryl Atkinson Legacy: Being a year old, these CCRPI scores show the damage done to DCS by Cheryl Atkinson (, Kendra March ( and their cronies.

    I am 100% serious about this — the bigger the damage Atkinson & March inflicted on a particular DCS school, the more that particular school’s CCRPI score plummeted.

    Atkinson, March and their cronies are gone from DCS, so DCS has been able to spend the last year recovering. (Tragically, it will be years before DCS is back to where it was before Atkinson & March came here.)

    (3) Possible Political Shenanigans: I suspect the CCRPI results are colored by political pressure.

    This year, GA-DOE changed how they calculated the CCRPIs — you can read about the change in this AP article:–School-Scores

    I suspect that change was made for political reasons. The person who approved the change is currently running for Governor in the May 20 Primary. The new CCRPI scores were released just a month before that primary election and they generated really good headlines in the Republican-areas. Here are a few examples:

    “Cherokee Schools Outpace State In Student Performance Index”

    “Cobb Schools Score Higher Than 2013 State Averages For College and Career Readiness” (

    “Fulton Schools Exceed State Student Performance Index Average” (

    “Most Buckhead schools improve CCRPI scores” (

    “Coweta schools score higher than state” (

    I’m sure those school districts had good results, but I’m not convinced their results were as great as the headlines suggest.

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