Thursday, February 26, 2009

Georgia Administrator Named 2009 Superintendent of the Year

Dr. Beverly L. Hall Named as 2009 National Superintendent of the Year

The American Association of School Administrators (AASA) named Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Beverly L. Hall as the 2009 National Superintendent of the Year at their recent conference held in San Francisco. This is a top professional honor for a K-12 school administrator. In addition to this national recognition, a $10,000 scholarship will be presented to a high school student in Dr. Hall's name.

Dr. Hall was one of four finalists selected by the ASSA judges from the 49 state-level and overseas candidates. The other finalists selected were Dr. Suzanne Freeman of Trussville, Alabama City Schools: Dr. Eugene G. White of Indianapolis Public Schools; and Dr. Stu Silberman of Fayette county, Kentucky Public Schools. Dr. Hall, along with these three administrators have been invited to participate in the October 2010 AASA State Superintendents of the Year Forum to discuss pertinent education issues.

Selection Criteria

AASA selected Dr. Hall as National Superintendent of the Year based on four criteria:

*Leadership for Learning: creativity in successfully meeting the needs of students in his or her school system

*Communication: strength in both personal and organizational communication

*Professionalism: constant improvement of administrative knowledge and skills while providing professional development opportunities and motivation to others on the education team

*Community Involvement: active participation in local community activities and an understanding of regional, national and international issues

More detailed information about this exciting announcement can be found in the Atlanta Public Schools press release and in the AASA press release.

Thank you to Joe Manguno, APS Media Relations Specialist, for providing information and photographs for this blog post.

Spring '09 Deadlines for Education Grants


Grants Currently Available for Educators

There is no single place that lists all available grants for education. That’s why it is important to identify and get on the mailing lists of those online sites that are most helpful and complete. This blog has mentioned this – and named names – on several occasions. One of those helpful lists is Education Funding Watch, the Foundation Center's newsletter devoted to education. You will also find links to other education-related news, resources, funding opportunities for individuals and organizations, and job listings. Education Funding Watch is available by registering at the Foundation Center's Web site.

Listed below are just a few of the currently available grants listed in the most recent issue of Education Funding Watch:

BP Invites Teachers to Apply for Energy Education Grants
Grants of up to $10,000 will be awarded to pre-K and K-12 teachers in the United States and Alberta, Canada, working to incorporate energy and/or energy conservation education in the classroom....
Deadline: 3/09/09

Educators Invited to Apply for ING Unsung Heroes Program
One hundred K-12 educators across the country will receive grants of up to $27,000 to help fund innovative classroom projects...
Deadline: 4/30/09

Jordan Fundamentals Grant Program Offers Support for Public School Teachers
Grants to be used for project-related expenses will be awarded to K-12 teachers or paraprofessionals in the U.S. working to improve academic achievement through student engagement, student-teacher relationships, and/or building the capacity of teachers...
Deadline: 4/15/09

While you are at the Foundation Center website, be sure to look at the free Basic Classroom Training Courses, as well as free online guides, tutorials and webinars.

Grants are out there and available. Unfortunately, most schools do not have the services of a professional grant writer. So, it is up to you to take advantage of the training available to find and capture the grants that will enrich your classroom, your students and your school. To quote from Ralph Stayer, CEO of Johnsonville Foods and co-author of Flight of the Buffalo, “If it is to be, it is up to me. If it is up to me, it shall be.”

If you find a really great list of available grants, please be sure to share it with us. Send it as a comment to this blog.

Sandy Spruill is the Grants Administrator at Georgia Public Broadcasting and a Member of the American Association of Grants Professionals.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Increasing the Graduation Rate, Part 2

Dropout Prevention Programs

The is the second in a new series of articles on the the commissioned research study, Increasing the Graduation Rate. Dr. Donna O'Neal, the author of the final report, will discuss the report and break out the findings in upcoming Georgia Graduation Stories blog posts for educators, parents, community and state leaders who are invested in increasing Georgia's High School Graduation Rate.

Increasing the Graduation Rate, Part 2
A study commissioned by the Governor’s Office, the Atlanta Metro Chamber of Commerce, the Georgia Department of Education and the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education.

The research identified more than 20 programs and interventions that are used in Georgia schools specifically to increase the graduation rate. Many of the Georgia experts interviewed indicate that the State level initiatives that they oversee are based on scientific research. However, school level experts had difficulty identifying a research base on which they implemented most of the local initiatives. Experts also indicate that little or no professional learning nor skill development for implementers is provided for many programs and interventions. Generally, continuous improvement efforts are missing statewide.

Many of the programs and interventions identified in this study are implemented in varying ways and in varying degrees across the State. According to the experts, there are many independent variables at work, and in many cases there is no fidelity of implementation. What is fidelity of implementation? Assuming that each intervention is based on scientific research, fidelity of implementation is the degree to which practitioners:

*Implement the intervention as prescribed by those who designed and evaluated the intervention,

*Avoid implementing factors that are not prescribed by those who designed and evaluated the intervention,

*Have and use the professional learning and skills prescribed as necessary by the designers to implement the intervention successfully.

For Phase II of this research, researchers should consider the research on which programs or interventions are based, look to the research for implementation criteria established for the program or intervention, and identify and quantify the criteria that would significantly impact the success of the intervention. Additionally, researchers should locate such programs and interventions in Georgia and test for fidelity of implementation. The researchers should collect and analyze data of program effectiveness and report the effectiveness of the program or intervention and the criteria necessary for effective implementation.

Additionally, the research has the following recommendations:

*Analyze the processes and rationale used to assign potential dropouts to interventions and programs

*Consider moving to a standards-based grading system

*Consider working with the U.S. Department of Education to use End-of-Course Tests rather than the Georgia High School Graduation Tests for national and State accountability systems

*Include research regarding school factors that impact the graduation rate in school improvement efforts

*Evaluate the Remedial Education Program and its funding

*Identify, analyze, and compare schools that graduate more than 85 percent of their students and those that graduate 60 percent or less

*Identify and analyze school systems that have dramatically increased their graduation rate

*Ensure that schools that have a high dropout rate receive intensive school improvement efforts

*Analyze State and local policies that impact the graduation rate

Incorporate the findings of this study in professional learning opportunities for Georgia educators

*Consider commissioning a report similar to The Silent Epidemic to put a personal face on the dropout issues and to bring a sense of urgency to Georgia’s dropout problem.

In Conclusion

With this, local and State decision makers should have the information needed to make informed decisions about how to best identify potential dropouts and how to design, implement, and/or evaluate programs and interventions which focus on keeping students in school.

Please add your comments and questions directly on the blog. Also, we would like to know how you are using data in your school or organization. Look for future articles by Dr. O’Neal on this topic. We hope you will become a regular visitor to the Georgia Graduation Stories blog site.

Georgia Public Broadcasting is pleased to welcome Dr. Donna O’Neal as our newest contributor to the Georgia Graduation Stories blog. Dr. O’Neal is the Director of The Next Generation School Project for the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education.

Increasing the Graduation Rate


The is the first in a new series of articles on the the commissioned research study, Increasing the Graduation Rate. Dr. Donna O'Neal, the author of the final report, will discuss the report and break out the findings in upcoming Georgia Graduation Stories blog posts for educators, parents, community and state leaders who are invested in increasing Georgia's High School Graduation Rate.

Increasing the Graduation Rate, Part 1

The State of Georgia has extensive school improvement efforts underway, from working with low performing schools in continuous improvement efforts to implementation of a new standards-based curriculum to the implementation of more rigorous graduation requirements. Efforts are paying off - Georgia’s graduation rate is increasing. However, the problem remains, and thousands of students drop out of Georgia schools each year. Georgia’s dropout rate must be tackled directly, comprehensively, and strategically.

In order to provide effective and efficient programs and interventions for students who are potential dropouts, Georgia first must have an accurate way to predict which specific students will drop out of school. Then the State must provide to those students programs and/or interventions which are proven to keep students in school through graduation. Data on the identification of potential dropouts and on program effectiveness must be analyzed. However, there is no clearinghouse of what data are available in the State of Georgia and exactly where the data are located. Therefore, this research was commissioned by the Governor’s Office, the Atlanta Metro Chamber of Commerce, the Georgia Department of Education and the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education.

Experts from Georgia and the national level were identified and asked to review the research. Agencies and other entities that may have data that would help answer the research questions were also identified. A series of six focus groups were held and interviews conducted. From those focus groups, interviews of other experts, and a review of the literature and data needed to increase Georgia’s graduation rate were identified. In addition, dropout intervention programs were identified and reviewed and data charts were created.

Click here for the full report and details on the research methodology.

Predicting Who Will Dropout of School

Most dropout prevention programs use checklists of risk factors to identify potential dropouts. In this study, more than 40 factors were identified as indicators that students would likely drop out of school. However, the research indicates that these factors are poor predictors of which individual students will actually drop out. There are problems with using checklists to identify individual students to which to target interventions.

It is difficult to know which characteristics and how many predict which specific students will drop out of school.Many students are misidentified. Many students are placed in intervention programs although they probably would not have dropped out, and many potential dropouts are not identified and not provided programs nor interventions. While both sets of misidentified students are troubling, the former uses valuable resources on students who are not likely to drop out of school.

Checklists that are based on a general population with no consideration of students in a specific locale are not efficient in the identification of specific students who will drop out of school.

Since using general checklists to identify specific students who are likely to drop out are ineffective and inefficient, Georgia’s education decision makers at the State and local levels need a set of risk factors that more accurately predict which individual students in Georgia are likely to drop out of school. Research calls for the development of an effective and efficient early warning system. It is recommended that the State conduct a cohort-based, longitudinal study to identify risk factors and pathways which lead Georgia students to drop out of school prior to graduation. Researchers should collect and analyze existing information on cohorts of Georgia students who have moved through the system previously. Analyzing data on past cohorts of students will enable the State to better predict who will drop out in future cohorts.

There are subtle, and sometimes not so subtle, variations in student populations from community to community and school to school. As Georgia creates and evaluates its data system to identify potential dropouts in Georgia at the state level, it should include a mechanism where school systems and individual schools can enter local cohort, longitudinal data that the State may not have which would enable school systems and schools to predict more accurately dropouts at the local level. These data, once collected, can be analyzed for school systems, for demographically similar schools, and for specific middle and high schools. Educators, then, could create profiles which more accurately predict the potential dropouts of a particular locale. This study chronicles two methods to develop a locale-specific data system to predict which particular students will drop out and how this can be done efficiently and effectively.

The research also recommends the following regarding additional data that would assist decision makers:

*Analysis of reasons why so many Georgia students fail the ninth grade,

*Analysis of why so many Georgia seniors do not graduate,

*Analysis of the process used by Graduation Coaches to identify potential dropouts, and

*Analysis of the data gleaned from a more in-depth exit interview process.

Please add your comments and questions directly to the blog. Tell us how you are using date in your school or organization.

Become a regular visitor to the Georgia Graduation Stories blog site.

Georgia Public Broadcasting is pleased to welcome Dr. Donna O’Neal as our newest contributor to the Georgia Graduation Stories blog. Dr. O’Neal is the Director of The Next Generation School Project for the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Georgia Highlighted at National Dropout Prevention Conference

Georgia's Education Leaders as Keynote Speakers

In November, 2008, Atlanta was host to the 20th Annual Dropout Prevention Network Conference. Carrying the Torch of Dreams...Every Student Graduates was the conference theme. It influenced general sessions, roundtable discussions, site visits and small discussion groups that filled the 3-day schedule for classroom teachers, administrators and guidance counselors in attendance from all over the United States. Presenting partners for the conference included: Communities in Schools in Georgia, Georgia Department of Education, National Dropout Prevention/Network, National Dropout Prevention Center for Students with Disabilities, North Georgia Learning Resources System, and The Georgia Regional Education Services Agencies (RESAs).

Creating a Culture of Hope was the theme of the Opening General Session presented by Dr. Molly Howard. Dr. Howard is the Principal at Jefferson County High School in Louisville, Georgia. She is also the 2008 NASSP/MetLife National High School Principal of the Year. Dr. Howard was introduced to the conference as "the principal who took a failing school in rural Georgia and over the next three years converted it into a dramatic example of how a school can reinvent itself. Consolidating schools into one high school provided the catalyst for change and created a sense of urgency. Factors in this rural central Georgia county: Generational poverty, 12-15% went onto post secondary education, highest dropout rate in the state, highest teenage pregnancy rate and one of the highest low birth weight in the Southeast.

Talking points Dr. Howard offered under the heading of Lessons Learned Along the Way:
*Become a Reflective Practitioner
* Education leaders are architects of hope
* Successful schools have a specific, focused vision led by a strong set of core beliefs
* Each student is challenged academically
* Personalized learning - prior failures do not define a student's potential
* In leadership, power and influence do not emanate from position - power emanates from and
through relationships
* Students need to see real world relevance for their efforts

Dr. Howard can now describe Jefferson County High School's accomplishments in terms of 68% of the students receive a diploma and a certificate of program completion at a local technical college and /or a 4-year Georgia state college. Jefferson County High School is preparing students for high demand, high wage jobs.

Georgia's Gov. Sonny Perdue and Kathy Cox, State Superintendent of Schools, addressed the conference in the Closing Keynote Address. They stressed that the #1 Goal in the P-20 education experience is that everyone is pulling together to increase the high school graduation rate, decrease the dropout rate and increase post-secondary enrollment. Students will stay in school when they see it as relevant to their life and when they know that someone in that school is counting on them to finish. The collaboration between the high school and middle school Graduation Coaches and Guidance Counselors is a significant factor in recent increases in Georgia's high school graduation rate.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

15 Effective Strategies for Dropout Prevention


Since 1986, the National Drop out Prevention Center/Network (NDPC/N) has conducted and analyzed research, sponsored extensive workshops, and collaborated with a variety of practitioners to further the mission of reducing America's dropout rate by meeting the needs of youth in at-risk situations, including students with disabilities.

Students report a variety of reasons for dropping out of school; therefore, the solutions are multidimensional. The NDPC/N has identified 15 Effective Strategies that have the most positive impact on the high school graduation rate. These strategies appear to be independent, but actually work well together and frequently overlap. Although they can be implemented as stand-alone programs (i.e. mentoring or family engagement projects), positive outcomes will result when school districts develop a program improvement plan that encompasses most or all of these strategies. These strategies have been successful in all school levels from K-12 and in rural, suburban or urban centers.

School and Community Perspective
Systemic Renewal
* School-Community Collaboration
* Safe Learning Environments

Early Intervention
Family Engagement
* Early Childhood Education
* Early Literacy Development

Basic Core Strategies
* Service-Learning
* Alternative Schooling
* After-School Opportunities

Making the Most of Instruction
Professional Development
* Active Learning
* Educational Technology
* Individualized Instruction
* Career and Technical Education (CTE)

This information is part of a handout provided at the 2008 National Dropout Prevention Conference. For more details about this research, contact:
National Dropout Prevention Center/Network
College of Health, Education and Human Development
Clemson University, 209 Martin Street, Clemson, SC 29631-1555
Telephone: 864.656.2599 email:

Webcast: Engaging Families in the Pathway to College


Tuesday, February 10, 2009
3:30-4:30 p.m. Eastern Time

Engaging Families in the Pathway to College

presented by
Anne T. Henderson

*What does a family-school partnership look like?

*How can schools and teachers encourage parents to become educational advocates for their children?

The flip side of dropout prevention is planning for a positive future. Families play a critical role in helping student set goals, navigate the system, and plan for post-secondary education and a career. What school staff do to inform and support families to play this role makes an enormous difference to student success. Learn what the research says about specific practices that school staff and community partners have used in schools that are beating the odds with low-income students.

If you have questions on this subject that you would like to discuss with Anne Henderson, be sure to tune in to the live broadcast.

Supplementary materials are now available online. All necessary information about participating fully in this professional development opportunity is found on the website. For further questions, contact the National Dropout Prevention Center or call 864.656.2580.

Participation in this webcast is free and no registration is required. The program will be archived in its entirety on the website. On the day of the webcast, link to the broadcast. If you have trouble with the link, copy and paste the entire address listed below into your web browser:,P1,F063CEFD-2B16-4933-9440-BC7ACFDCF044

SAT Online Prep Course - for Free


State Superintendent of Schools

Parents, would you like your child to score 50 points higher on the SAT without spending an extra dime?
If so, we have a great offer for you.

The state of Georgia offers high school students free access to the SAT Online Prep Course developed by the College Board, the group that administers the SAT. This online course gives students access to virtual preparation exercises, review quizzes and several practice tests. The practice quizzes and tests, including the essay portion, are scored and feedback is given directly to the student.

The free SAT Online Prep Course is open to all Georgia high school students – public, private and home schooled. While usage of the program continues to rise, we want to make sure that every parent and student knows about it and knows the impact it can have.

Among Georgia's 2008 graduating seniors, the students who used the free SAT Prep Course scored significantly better on all portions of this important college entrance exam. On average, these students:
- Scored 13 points better on the critical reading section
- Scored 19 points better on the mathematics section
- Scored 16 points better on the writing section

That means the students who used the online course scored, on average, a total of 48 points higher than those who did not.
As you well know, 48 points could be the difference between getting into the college of your choice or not.

So, if you are, like me, the parent of a high school student in
Georgia, please make sure he or she registers for the free Online SAT Prep Course and takes full advantage of it. It’s an easy – and economical – way
to help your student be as successful as possible on this very important

Public school students should visit their guidance office to ask for a card that has an access code for the course. Private school and home-schooled students should go to the Georgia Department of Education’s
website to register.

Kathy Cox, a parent and a veteran classroom teacher, is Georgia’s Superintendent of Schools.