Education

After Years Of Discussion, Ga. School Turnaround Efforts Begin

There are still some unknowns, like how many Georgia schools would receive help; what that help would look like; and how much it would all cost.
There are still some unknowns, like how many Georgia schools would receive help; what that help would look like; and how much it would all cost.
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Members of the state board of education met Wednesday to discuss how they’ll start the process of turning around Georgia’s low-performing schools.

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The Georgia Department of Education released scores for the College and Career Ready Performance Index (CCRPI) last week. 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 CCRPI for three consecutive years.

There are still some unknowns, like how many schools would receive help; what that help would look like; and how much it would all cost.

Board member Barbara Hampton pointed out it’s not likely all 104 schools would receive help.

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

Board members agreed the state should ask school districts if they want help first.

“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.”

Dr. Eric Thomas, the state’s new chief turnaround officer, will lead the school improvement efforts.

He doesn’t officially start until Nov. 16. However, Thomas says 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.

State officials have been chewing on the problem of how to help underperforming schools for years, and Thomas is ready to get started.

“One of the advantages of being sort of ‘external’ is that I don’t bring any preconceived notions about schools, districts or people,” Thomas said.

He does bring a record of helping schools in other states improve. Leaders hope Thomas will do the same for Georgia.