Oh my how we need an education-focused superintendent

Michael Thurmond’s work here is done. It is well past time to replace him with someone who understands education and will focus on students and their teachers.

DeKalb, Georgia School Scores Drop in 2014
The district’s average College and Career Ready Performance Index Score slid half a point between 2012-13 and 2013-14, data shows.

Figures released by the Georgia Department of Education show that schools across the state suffered drops in performance during the past school year, and DeKalb County schools followed that trend.

According to the data, the statewide score for the College and Career Ready Performance Index dropped from 2012-13’s 75.8 to 72 in the 2013-14 school year. The index measures each school’s performance through standardized test scores, efforts to close the achievement gap, the percentage of high-performing students with disabilities or who speak English as a second language, and other factors.

Statewide, the average score for elementary schools dipped from 77.8 to 61.5; scores for middle schools decreased from 74.6 to 64.3, and high schools dipped below 60 for a score of 59.3 during the 2013-14 school year.

In DeKalb County, the district’s average score dropped from 62.4 to 61.9 between the two academic years. Average elementary school scores declined from 62.9 to 61.5, middle school scores increased from 59.9 to 64.3, and high school scores dropped from 62 to 59.3.

DeKalb schools also lost ground on the Exceeding The Bar scores, which award extra points to schools who perform exceptionally well, close achievement gaps, and have high levels of disadvantaged students. Average ETB scores for elementary schools fell from 0.7 to 0.6 and from 0.3 to 0.2 for middle schools, while high schools improved from 0.1 to 0.2.

For more information on the CCRPI, visit the Georgia Department of Education’s website.

ALSO TAKE NOTE of how Michael Thurmond prefers to spend his time (keep in mind, he is a lawyer…who sent his child to private school).
DeKalb Superintendent Wants To Be Ready For Schools Annexation Legal Battle

UNCLE! We so hope that this recently hired search firm can bring us someone with experience in education. We need a change agent. We need a leader for principals and teachers. We need a fresh, smart, inspiring leader in DeKalb! This is our one last chance!

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37 Responses to Oh my how we need an education-focused superintendent

  1. DeKalb Teacher says:

    I have been teaching in DeKalb County for the last 16 years. There has been an exponential decline in support and teacher morale since I started. Clear evidence can been found when comparing this time of year from years past. When I started teaching the faculty and staff had a family feel. Everyone felt appreciated and was always willing to lend support in times of need. We gathered to celebrate the holidays outside of school hours at coworkers’ houses. Attendance was overwhelming. This year our holiday gathering was after a mandatory staff meeting in the cafeteria. Participants were required to pay $10. Needless to say participation was lacking.

    Contrast that with the region 2 principals meeting that took place December 18 during the school day. This turned out to be a holiday celebration that required the closing of the media center during final exams. Silly I know but I thought students might need to use the media center for preparing for finals. I watched as food, drink, gift bags were brought into the building. The media center was transformed into a festive location. The head media specialist sent out an email notifying us of her inability to help with anything because she was occupied with preparing for this meeting. Many students were late because of the traffic congestion in the parking lot due to the visitors. With the lack of subs and the normal chaos at the end of the semester wouldn’t it have been more reasonable for the principals to stay at their respective schools during finals?

    In addition, during this last week of the semester, classes have been pulled out from reviews and final exams to complete online teacher surveys for the state teacher evaluation system. I wonder what kind of responses the students will give when asked about how teachers are preparing them after being pulled out. We are evaluated on these surveys and they have the audacity to insist these are completed the last days of the semester. One teacher was told that the final should not take the entire class time. This is after we have been lectured about bell to bell instruction and meaningful assessments.

    Also, if academics are so important, how are we to have meaningful assessments, grade exams, and post semester grades before we leave school on Friday? Many tests will not end until the last bell rings for the day. I would like to see survey results about how many classes are administering final exams. I am guessing not that many. Why should kindergartners be evaluated using the same percentages and grading categories as an AP or IB class? Why is homework 45% of the overall grade? If rigor is so important shouldn’t tests count for more than 30%? My final exam is only going to count for about 5% overall because the summative assessment category is worth 30% which includes tests as well as the final. How does this help prepare our students for college where they might be have only four tests in a semester?

  2. DeKalb HS Teachers says:

    When we signed our contracts with DeKalb County, we understood that our jobs would extend way beyond the required 40 hours per week. Who can teach students, grade papers, post grades, offer tutorials, and contact parents in 40 hours per week? We knew that we would not be paid for all the overtime that we worked. We knew that we were expected to work beyond that 40 hours per week. We agreed to this and we signed on for this. What we didn’t sign on for was being treated unprofessionally.

    In a recent staff meeting we were counseled on the DeKalb County attendance policy by our bookkeeper, a non-exempt (hourly) employee. We were told that the hours that matter to DeKalb County are the hours from 7:40 to 3:40. The only time that matters is the time that the students are in the building. We were told that we have to clock in and out each day. We have no issue with this. You need to know where we are, or more importantly, where we aren’t. What we do have an issue with is you using that clock to dock our time. Common sense is not being used here. A teacher should not be docked if he or she stays until 5:00 on Wednesday grading papers and then leave during his or her planning period at 2:30 the next day for a doctor’s appointment. There is no interruption in instruction. No one is being paid to cover for that teacher. No money is being lost. Our bookkeeper told a teacher that she would have to use sick time when she leaves for a doctor’s appointment next Thursday. The teacher told the bookkeeper that she would be returning after her appointment to make up the time grading exams. The bookkeeper told the teacher that according to the attendance policy, she should just go home after her appointment. This teacher has no sick leave left, so her actual pay will be docked for this appointment. No instruction will be impacted by her leaving the building. It is her planning period and she will have worked her 40 hours for the week, as she was going to come back to work the hour she would miss.

    Earlier in the semester another teacher had a family emergency during the school day. She was able to handle it during her planning periods. In fact, she returned to school and stayed until 7:30 that evening planning lessons and grading papers. No instructional time was impacted. No money was spent covering for her. Yet the bookkeeper told her that she would have to use sick leave hours for the hour and a half that she was out of the building.

    Please tell us how this makes sense. What this is going to do is kill morale. Who will want to go the extra mile for their students? You are creating a system where everyone will leave at 3:40 each day, refusing to do anything extra for their school or their students. If we are told that our time beyond 3:40 is unimportant then everyone will begin leaving at 3:40. Why stay for meetings? Why stay for tutorials? Why stay to grade papers? The county says our hours are from 7:40 to 3:40.
    We are salaried employees. Our salary is decided with all the other salaries in DeKalb at the time that the budget is created. We are not hourly employees. We are paid for 190 days, eight hours a day. Of that eight hours a day, approximately 6 hours are spent interacting with students. The rest of the time is for lunch and for planning. Sometimes we have duty during that remaining time. Sometimes we have mandatory training during that remaining time. Regardless, we are constantly being pulled away from our planning time for other school issues. We are expected to get our job done during that 8 hours according to DeKalb County policy. We are expected to eat lunch, grade papers and give meaningful feedback, create lesson plans, post grades, call parents, and tutor students during that remaining two hours.

    Some teachers want to schedule doctor’s appointments during our planning periods. We do this to preserve our instructional time. When we leave our students with a substitute teacher, we do so with the understanding that the work we leave may or may not be completed. We know that if we leave our students with a substitute, it is often a day of missed instruction. Therefore, we try to be with our students as much as possible. This means scheduling appointments on planning.

    Teachers will stay late and show up early to make up for this time away from school. Hours will be easy to track using the sign in/out system. Those who do not work their minimum of 40 hours per week can be docked for their missed time. We understand that we must be held accountable for our time. We understand this even though we work many unaccounted for hours outside of school to get our job done. We grade papers at home, we complete lesson plans at home, and some of us call parents from home. None of that time is logged. We understand that we will be chastised if we don’t offer after school tutorial. We understand that we will be expected to attend after school meetings. We understand that we are expected to meet with parents before and after school. We understand that this is expected of us and that we will not be compensated for these hours. We understand. We agreed to this when we signed our contracts.

    If we work only eight hours a day we will be ineffective at our jobs. But this is what DeKalb County is pushing their employees toward. An eight hour day. A 40 hour week. Our students will suffer. When do we grade papers? When do we post grades? When do we tutor? When do we call home? When do we write recommendations?

    Please consider the ramifications of this policy. The policy itself is vague and very open to interpretation. We ask that you consider what you are doing to us and what you are asking of us. We would like to have a meaningful response to our concerns. We would like our concerns taken seriously. We would appreciate a response to our letter by January 12th.

    [DeKalb] High School Teachers

  3. dsw2contributor says:

    Sorry, but we can’t really blame the 1/2 point drop on Mr. Thurmond for two reasons:

    (1) The dirty-little-secret about the College and Career Ready Performance Index (CCRPI) Scores is that they come out a year late. We had to have all of our current data uploaded to the DOE by last Friday; that data is used to calculate the “2015” CCRPIs. Similarly, the “2014” CCRPIs that the DOE finally released to the public on Tuesday were calculated using data we uploaded back in December of 2013.

    Thurmond was appointed Superintendent on February 8, 2013. A school district can’t be turned on a dime, so the drop in the above CCRPI averages relects the damage that Cheryl Atkinson and Kendra March did to the Dekalb County School System.

    (2) Rumor has it that someone in the Palace didn’t correctly transmit system-wide data to GA DOE and that meant GA DOE could not award DCCS schools all the points our schools were entitled too.

  4. dsw2contributor says:

    “DeKalb HS Teachers”: One way Mr. Thurmond “found Money” is to dock the pay of salaried teachers as if they were hourly employees.

    Here’s another one: One day next week, the Principals will be off work on a mandatory furlough day. The 12 month school employees (custodians, bookkeepers, front office secretary) are not furloughed that day…. so the Palace seized the opportunity and sent out a directive that said the 12-month school employees could either report to the Palace and work there for the day or they could take leave. Basically, the Palace wants to have all the school custodians, bookkeepers and secretaries come there and clean it up for them.

    Our hard-working school employees are pissed about this. They had planned to get things done (wax, polish & buff floors) at their schools that they cannot get to when children are in the building.

  5. dsw2contributor says:

    I now interrupt this thread with a shout-out to Pleasantdale ES, Indian Creek ES and MLK HS:



    I now return everyone to our on-going discussion of the our failed School Superintendent.

  6. December 17, 2014 – Georgia has spent the past four years implementing the Race to the Top $400 million grant to improve educational outcomes for students. The scope and scale of the work undertaken was massive. There were 31 major projects and each project consisted of many activities.

    The goal of the grant was to reform standards, assessments, data systems, teacher effectiveness systems, certification, educator preparation programs, professional learning, lowest achieving schools and more. Although work remains on several requirements, as of this past September, all the reforms were in place.

    The Georgia Department of Education asked the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education to conduct an independent, objective review of its work. The result is the 50-page report Race to the Top – Georgia’s Vision for Educational Excellence. It is a thorough review of the work conducted during the grant period and of the achievements gained, as well as showing where Georgia goes from here to sustain the progress.

    Dr. Susan Andrews, Georgia Department of Education Deputy Superintendent for Race to the Top, is proud of the work the Race to the Top team has done these last four years. “The seven agencies that have participated in the Initiatives funded by the Race to the Top grant have done some incredible work as described in this report,” she explained. “The students in Georgia’s public schools will benefit from higher standards, more rigorous assessments and the identification of our most effective teachers and leaders.” She emphasized, “The results of these efforts will be realized for years to come.”

    Both Andrews and Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education President Dr. Steve Dolinger agree that although so much has been accomplished more work remains. As Dolinger explained, “Georgia is moving forward, but we have to take advantage of this momentum if we hope to make lasting improvements and remain competitive in the global marketplace.”

    Dolinger added his own perspective of the value of the work over the past four years conducted by the Race to the Top Implementation Team. “It is my belief because of this effort, Georgia is well positioned to undertake new and innovative ways to improve teaching and learning.”

    The report is available on the Georgia Partnership’s web site and the Georgia Department of Education’s Race to the Top webpage.

  7. September says:

    If a teachers are salaried employees, they cannot be docked pay for being late or leaving early. Docking a teacher’s pay means that he or she is an hourly employee. Hourly employees must be paid overtime for any hours worked over 40 hours. That is why DeKalb paraprofessional staff and other hourly employees are required to sign out for their lunch break.

  8. dekalbteach says:

    At my DeKalb County high school, the teachers have been told repeatedly that our hours are from 7:40am to 3:40pm. If we deviate from that time, we are required to fill out a statement of leave and our pay is docked. We were told in a staff meeting that the reason the school system has such a large amount of debt is because everyone including teachers were not working a 40 hour week but were getting paid for a 40 hour week. We were also told these policies(docking) are not limited to Dekalb county so don’t think changing counties is going to be an improvement.

  9. Jay says:

    You may be correct with regard to private school teachers who are exempt employees, but public employees have a different rule with regard to partial pay: Take a look at 29 C.F.R. § 541.710(a) (http://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/29/541.710), which permits such public employers to require the use of leave or, if leave is exhausted, to dock the pay of teachers pursuant to a public accountability principle.

  10. howdy1942 says:

    I see where the Legislative Subcommittee has drawn the boundary between Tucker and Lavista Hills. Both sides are disappointed. This has been a long, bitter road and now it is time for healing in our respective communities. I am very hopeful that both Lavista Hills and Tucker will be viable and can now work together as good neighbors should.

    These cityhood efforts were born with the increasing dysfunction of the Dekalb School Board and the actions of inept, incompetent superintendents. They are the results of an arrogant, disconnected administration. They remain in place. They are directly responsible for the cities of Dunwoody, Brookhaven, Lavista Hills, and Tucker. They are also directly responsible for the efforts of Druid Hills to be annexed by the City of Atlanta. This school board and superintendent have repeatedly attempted to impose their arrogant designs on the people who live in these communities and fought them each step of the way. These communities have been forced to pay school taxes, taxes that are now being used to fight the very communities from which those dollars came.

    Perhaps someday, this school board and this superintendent will be gone. Perhaps they will be replaced by a school board majority that will work to reach out to the community, a superintendent that will be support among all who live in Dekalb. Until that day, healing between these communities and the school board and superintendent will not begin.

  11. d says:

    I had an interesting conversation with one of my colleagues yesterday before we went home for the break….. and this is something that may not be too popular amongst the faithful DSW2 readers who say DeKalb is too big and needs to be broken up, but it is a point to consider. A couple of students who graduated last year and are now at Georgia Tech were talking about how they wish that we had offered AP Science classes to help them prepare for the rigors that they face at Tech. The problem is, with the size of high schools that we have around the southern part of the county, there are not often enough students for a class to make. In reality, we need at least 20 to sign up, because by the time August rolls around, about 4 or 5 drop (that’s still enough to have the class), and then as the first couple of weeks go on, people have schedule conflicts, decided they can’t handle the workload, etc. Fewer students, fewer teachers, fewer options. I went to undergrad at a school about the size of many DeKalb schools, so I know about having limited options. Let’s look next door at Gwinnett. Berkmar High has an AP Computer Science course. This is something that I didn’t even know existed until I was talking to a member of my church about it. Gwinnett schools are huge, yes, but several are starting the academy model. I’ve seen the academy model in action in Nashville. My cousin teaches at a school up there that does this and it is very successful. Maybe the solution to lower CCRPI scores is looking at this type of model. It may mean consolidating some schools (but that is more cost effective), but when you really break down how schools can earn the points that they need for CCRPI that we have a hard time doing with the size of our current schools, it may be worth it. We can get points for pathway completion. The state offers 17 pathways – how many can we offer in our small schools? How many could we offer in larger schools with academies? We can offer more AP courses – kids don’t have to pass the tests, they just have to be in the class. We get more points if they pass the test, though. We can offer more physics courses. We get points just for a child taking physics. Students take physical science in middle school – why do we make them take it again in high school. Again, looking at Gwinnett, the typical path for a science student there is Biology, Chemistry, Physics, 4th Science. DeKalb is Biology, Physical Science, Chemistry, 4th Science. Few students take the physics course to earn those CCRPI points. Another place we end up losing points is the push everyone to college mode that we seem to be stuck in. College is great, but not for everyone. Everyone who takes SAT or ACT and does poorly hurts CCRPI. I forget the cutoff, but I think we get the points for percentage of students who take SAT and score over 1,500 or 22 on ACT. Also, we get dinged for our graduates who go into post secondary institutions in Georgia who end up in remedial courses. Often those students would have been better served by other options, but we press the need to go to college. We can increase our CCRPI scores and really have better prepared students in general if we look at how we operate and maybe see how things could be.

  12. Great points, d. Yes, if done right, by a highly qualified leader who understands and focuses on education, ANY school system of ANY size can be successful for all students at all levels. Too bad we don’t have such a leader. Hopefully the board will hire one soon. If not, then it’s time to bust it all up and let people at least try to lead their own schools properly in order to get good outcomes for students.

  13. howdy1942 says:

    @d – You make some very good points. Have you brought them to the attention of school board members who represent those areas? Rather than worrying about what is happening in Druid Hills, perhaps they ought to be reaching out to the communities they represent. Our daughters had the opportunity of taking AP classes at Tucker High, such as AP calculus. They were very well prepared for college and did not take any remedial classes. At a cost of $21,000 per year to attend a Georgia public college, graduates of any school in Dekalb County required to take remedial courses in college is not being served well by the school system. I have a masters degree in electrical engineering and would be delighted to teach classes in advanced mathematics to any small number of students in your schools for simple reimbursement of travel expenses from Tucker.

  14. Stan Jester says:

    Hello D.
    The number of students in a high school isn’t related to the size of the school district (unless the district is extremely small). It is more a function of how many students there are per high school. Capacity of a high school is obviously a limiting factor as is performance. That is to say students will tend to flee poor performing schools pushing enrollment down.

    Students looking for classes not offered in their high school should talk to their counselors about their options. Dual enrollment is primarily available for eligible 11th and 12 grade students. They may enroll full-time or part-time in college courses during or after school at a college campus or online.

    Move On When Ready (MOWR) allows 10th graders to finish their remaining years as a full-time student at college. The students simultaneously get high school and college credits.


  15. sawyerbrown68 says:


    Just as students tend to flee poor performing schools, teachers will also flee incompetent administrators and administrations. Students ultimately will suffer.

    We need a superintendent who has the ability to break up the friends and family plan and seek out the mature and competent men and women who could be efficient and wise administrators.

  16. Stan ; is correct, I recently moved my daughter out of Fulton county schools. Sick of the gangs and bad behavior and bullying by the free lunch, section 8 dwellers in both Cobb and Fulton county schools at the schools near the perimeter. I refuse to have to move out to Republican dogma dominated family land exurbia with its rows of generic houses. I have now placed my 14 year old in a less than 50 student “Christian ” school without religion classes in grades 6-12. There are only around 15-16 kids in Middle school. So that leaves around 35 for High School with some of them not attending Full time since they do Dual Enrollment with the Accell Program at Kennesaw state or they take some classes on Line or do Independent study. This small school teaches all courses at the level of Honors classes, all though some kids get the Ga. Disability scholarship because they are dyslexic or have asburgers, etc. In high school they offer two AP classes on site AP English and AP calculus. Then every student of every Georgia Public, Private and Home school can take AP classes and classes not offered at their school through the Georgia Virtual school. They encourage students to utilize Accell funding and take dual enrollment classes at Kennesaw State. This school offers classes on an alternating day schedule like colleges. So teachers can teach middle and high school classes. Kids do assignments, or virtual classes, or college dual enrollment classes on the alternate days. This keeps tuition low for parents. Now if a High school with less than 35 kids can teach 2 AP classes on site, their is no excuses for any. Dekalb high school to not. Opps I forgot, their is no free lunch here, in fact no lunch service. My child is reminded daily about the sacrifice, I am making for her to attend and not be bullied by the free lunch and section 8 dwellers, who have taken over the 40 year old apartments. Apartments that zoning and code enforcement should declare they need to be torn down.

  17. September says:

    @d I disagree. This problem is not about school size and offering AP classes. It is about rigor in regular college prep classes. When we push unprepared students into college prep classes, teachers have to slow down to help them. That affects every student in the class. I’m not saying that these students can never go to college. I am saying that their path to college or career may be different. Schools need to offer classes that will help these students catch up. That might be a full-year class or a summer school program. I think it involves having open and honest conversations with students and their families. High school counselors are key in this process.

    My children attended Lakeside HS when it was on the top high schools list. My oldest wanted to take classes his senior year that weren’t available. He chose joint enrollment and was able to use that college credit for both his HS and college diplomas. I think it helped him to get into a top, highly competitive university. When you choose joint enrollment you don’t have to pass an AP test to get your college credit. Students should be able to move on when ready. I know some people who attended GA Tech. It is a challenging school, even for the well-prepared.

  18. dsw2contributor says:

    An actual education-focused schools superintendent DID briefly work in Dekalb during 2014. Everyone can watch him on Youtube:

    The video shows Gwinett Schools Superintendent Alvin Wilbanks addressing the 2014 DCSS Summer Leadership Conference.

    [DSW2, please check your mailbox.]

  19. @Stan and all >> It’s wonderful to focus on college-ready courses – for students who want or are capable of attending college. However, our school district has tens of thousands of high school students with an enormous range of capabilities and we would dearly love to see opportunities presented for those not seeking a college degree or at least not seeking it right after high school. A school district our size should offer at least 2 – but closer to 5 – vocational/technical schools that are well-equipped to get students career-ready after high school. We have a small program at Cross Keys and one at South DeKalb Technical School. Neither are full time schools, they are half day schools for seniors (and some juniors). We would like to see schools that are focused on career-readiness as well as offering core classwork. Full time. With flexible schedules. We are losing far too many students as drop outs or to the judicial system. We owe it to them to offer some way to have a productive life.

  20. LHS supporter says:

    There are people who are very supportive of the Lakeside principal too. Remember, there are two sides to every story. You get into deep doo doo with the DCSS power structure when you act independent and creative as a principal in DeKalb.

    New Lakeside Principal Reignites Viking Pride
    New Principal Jason Clyne hopes to bring Viking Pride back to the halls of Lakeside High.

  21. dsw2contributor says:

    ^ LHS support, I view “sawyerbrown68” as a Palace Sockpuppet. She only posts about one person (the Lakeside Principal) and her arrival on DSW2 coincided with the beginning of the Palace’s attempt to crush successful Principal Jason Clyne.

    (Wikipedia’s definition of a sockpuppet: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sockpuppet_%28Internet%29)

  22. Stan Jester says:

    Every child’s vision doesn’t necessarily lead to a 4-year degree, but it should lead to work and careers that are satisfying and fruitful. Furthermore, students graduating from schools like Southern Polytechnic are making more on average their first year than students graduating from UGA (sorry Dawg nation) on average their first year.

    Students with post high school training for EMT, auto mechanic, etc … have a much higher earnings potential than students with only a high school degree.

  23. … And a happier, more fulfilling, productive life with work they can be proud of and enough income to responsibly raise a family.

  24. sawyerbrown68 says:

    Dear Lakeside Supporter and DSWcontributor. I am both a Lakeside supporter and a contributor to this blog as well.

    Thank you for the article from the Patch. It’s an excellent article from almost 18 months ago. Look at its date of publication, you will notice that it is dated July 2, 2013.

    Mr. Reed’s last day as principal was May 30, 2013. The current principal started on June 1, 2013.

    If, as this article implies, Viking Pride had been extinguished by Mr. Reed, you are not really suggesting that Viking Pride was reignited during summer vacation in just 32 days?

    This article looked to the future and promised a lot. Now that eighteen whole months have gone by, can you show us what has been delivered? Can you show how these creative ideas, vision, and philosophy are working out for the students?

    The Patch article sounds a lot like the article I fell for about Clarkston’s cross country team being helped with entry fees. Both articles have one single voice!


    In that article, the voice gave no credit to the moral leaders of the cross country teams of Dunwoody High, Mill Creek High, and Blessed Trinity that supported Clarkston. In place of giving actual credit to the coaches, credit was obliquely taken by the voice “….he began working with Clarkston High’s principal, Michelle Jones, several years ago…”.

    Whose voice and point of view dominated these two articles?

  25. dsw2contributor says:

    ^ Sawyerbrown68: In his first year as Lakeside High’s Principal, Mr. Jason Clyne increased Lakeside’s College and Career Ready Performance Index (CCRPI) score from a 65.5 (in 2013) to a 72 (in 2014). Compare Mr. Clyne’s result to Dekalb’s district-wide average CCRPI for high school scores — that dropped from 62 to 59.3 during the same 1-year time period.

    While Lakeside HS is no longer on the US News list of top high schools, the CCRPI increase under Mr. Clyne does show that the school has started heading in the direction it needs to go.

  26. Colette Mills says:

    The few schools in DeKalb who saw an increase in CCRPI scores did so because of a change in the way the schools began tracking transfer and dropout students. While Mr. Clyne is at least partially responsible for improving the way the dropout rate is reported at his school, let’s not start crowing about anyone’s CCRPI scores this year. They do not reflect any substantial changes to DeKalb’s (or Lakeside’s) academic programs; they only illustrate an improved administrative approach to data collection.

  27. dekalbteacher says:

    I’m confused. Thurmond shouldn’t really be held accountable for DeKalb’s drop in performance because he was hired in February 2013, but Lakeside’s principal can be proven successful when he took over in June 2013?

    More concerning to me is the misapplication of ” data” in this school district and state as well as any leader’s willingness to take credit for “improvements” that are most often a result of different data.

  28. sawyerbrown68 says:

    I do not support 85% of the practices of DCSD. I don’t think Mrs. Tyson, Mr. Ramsey, Dr. Beasley, Dr. Ward-Smith, and many others give a flying tuba about the students of Dekalb County. If they did, they would step aside and allow competent individuals to replace them.

    I am certainly not a supporter of Dr. Simpson. I was upset when he was made principal so soon after bookgate and I am really upset by his promotion to area superintendent. Unless a principal is fired or demoted (not transfered), principals should serve at least 5 years at a school.

    One could also say that: in his first year as Towers High’s Principal, Dr. Ralph Simpson, increased Towers’ College and Career Ready Performance Index (CCRPI) score from 47.7 (in 2013) to a 55.8 (in 2014). Towers’ increase was of 8.1 to Lakeside’s 6.5.

    I don’t put a lot of faith in the CCRPI because it is vulnerable to manipulations of omission and commission at the school, district, and State levels. Graduation and student transfer data is where the system can be legally gamed to produce undeserved increases.

    Do these CCRPI scores really measure the leadership expertise of the Lakeside and Towers principal? I don’t think so. If they did matter, we can’t ignore the one while praising the other.

  29. sawyerbrown68 says:

    I did not mean to single out just African-American DCSD administrators for scrutiny.

    I just don’t know the names of the few non African-American administrators (they are of the same cloth). Nor am I suggesting that African-American DCSD administrators be replaced exclusively by non-minority administrators.

    President Obama, like him or hate him, does manage to find competent people of all ethnicities and religion to run the executive branch.

  30. FormerLHSteacher says:

    I agree that Sawyer seems a bit too focused on whatever is going on at LHS, but I do have to weigh in on the school spirit article. It really is nothing but quotes from the principal about his future intent. It also implies that school spirit was low when Reed was principal, and it certainly was not. The man attended every after school event–sometimes two or three a day–and not just as an obligatory appearance. He cheered for every team, applauded every performance, and embodied school spirit. That carried through into the school’s overall mood. How do you restore what was not lost?
    As for those statistics–let’s look at two or three years and see what’s really happening, with regard to Thurmond or anyone else.
    BTW two of us have been posting as formerdekalbteacher, so I am changing my nickname here.

  31. Very true points about Mr. Reed. In fact, he led the school through a very difficult construction project during most of his tenure.

  32. concerned citizen says:

    Simpson is simply the worst example of an employee in DeKalb. Whatever he had someone else do to manipulate Towers’ scores, he did and got away with! It is unbelievable that such a low-level person could be repromoted after theft and then kicked upstairs to do yet more damage. Just looking at him with his very silly bow ties makes me sick. He looks like a little rooster preening himself and strutting around the farmyard.

  33. What was difficult about the construction project?

  34. Really Cell? Are you talking about Lakeside’s construction project? It was hellish! They renovated the entire building – with students ON CAMPUS! These students didn’t move out into another building like the ones at Fernbank – they had to continue to conduct classes with construction all around! That is a very difficult thing to manage as a principal. We can’t even believe the central office expected it of Mr. Reed. That kind of management is what would deserve a bonus. But no, Angela Moton before him received a $10,000 bonus from Dr. Lewis (the only bonus ever given to a LHS principal) for leading a ‘high performing school’, which Lakeside had always been until recently.

  35. concerned citizen says:

    Well, McNair Middle got a $10,000 principal a couple of years ago who lasted from August to October. I found this more than a little disturbing – giving $10,000 bonuses left and right to everybody but the teachers.

  36. momfromhe11 says:

    The Druid Hills HS construction was supposed to take place starting in mid-May 2009 and continue through the summer, wrapping up about a month into the 2009-2010 school year.
    INSTEAD, it began in September 2009 (a few minor things like forgetting to pull Land Disturbance permits and not scheduling a Fire Marshal inspection), and continued throughout the school year (destroying the tennis courts and accidentally throwing away all the art department’s supplies). During the fall, they removed windows, leaving openings in classroom walls.
    Just as at Lakeside, the students had to change their routes to class frequently, because halls and stairways were closed off. Much of the time (as at Lakeside) the students had to walk outside the building and all weathers to make it to class.
    The project ran through the summer of 2010 and finally wrapped up in late 2010, after replacing the roof, which they had not intended to do.

    I can only conclude that our DCSS high school students are so “Premier” that a little thing like trying to get an education amid chaos is easily managed.

  37. Yes, and add to this, the fact that the Central Office leaders and Michael Thurmond lied to the public by saying that over 600 CO jobs had been eliminated. The only jobs eliminated were teachers (through attrition and by increasing class sizes on remaining teachers), media clerks, para pros and maintenance and other staff at Sam Moss. NO upper level jobs have been cut and in fact, have increased due to the RTTT spending by Beasley and Thurmond as well as Thurmond’s spending on teacher ‘coordinators’ (or their newly renamed equivalents) etc and his special new programs like the now defunct waste of time, the tech school at McNair and ‘The Bridge’ ($75 million thank you!). Add to this, Thurmond’s public proclamation to put aside $2.5 million to hire more of his lawyer friends to ‘fight’ the Druid Hills annexation (remember, Thurmond already paid lawyer-friends McKenna, Long & Aldridge $50,000 A MONTH for many, many months to ‘train’ the school board)… The Druid Hills community is full of Dekalb county tax payers – so Thurmond is now pitting tax payers against tax payers from the same pile of money — the pile he is desperate to maintain control over, so that he (and the power-group he represents) can maintain control over the jobs and contracts that go with those tax dollars. (And the goodwill he is garnering from all of the law firms he has relationships with as a lawyer.) Educating kids? Oh, is he supposed to be in charge of that too? Someone had better tell him… Right now, he’s too focused on Druid Hills and controlling the outcome of the ‘superintendent search’… which will surely lead to the only road Thurmond and the DeKalb school system leaders wish it to lead to. Joyce Morley clued us in at the last board meeting – she and others on the board are dead set against any kind of ‘community’ committees involved in the search. It should be up to the board only – behind closed doors, in her (inferred) opinion.

    For more on the enormous loss of teachers vs other staff read this post and its comments >>

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