Atlanta schools chief: APS in need of “great transformation”

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Atlanta schools chief: APS in need of “great transformation”

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Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Meria Carstarphen at the 2016 State of the District event at King Middle School, Friday. BRANDEN CAMP/SPECIAL

Atlanta schools are still in need of “great transformation,” Superintendent Meria Carstarphen said today.

Carstarphen spoke at her annual State of the District event, an extravaganza at the newly renovated King Middle School including musical and dance performances by dozens of students, a rap battle and slickly produced videos.

It was a significant evolution from Carstarphen’s first State of the District address two years ago, which featured a PowerPoint presentation in the North Atlanta High School auditorium.

The Atlanta school board hired Carstarphen in 2014 to turn around a district reeling from a cheating scandal that resulted in criminal convictions for former Atlanta educators. That first year was “an eye opener about how bad things can be in a public school system,” Carstarphen said.

In the past two years, Carstarphen has reorganized Atlanta Public Schools’ central office and improved how departments like finance and human resources operate. Staff got raises. And a new academic team has focused on improving teaching, especially in the city’s lowest performing schools.

But Atlanta students’ academic performance has not improved significantly under Carstarphen’s administration.

About a third of Atlanta students are on grade level in reading and writing. Atlanta students passed state tests at rates below the state and, for most subjects, at among the lowest rates in the metro area. About 20 Atlanta schools are at risk of potential state takeover if voters approve Gov. Nathan Deal’s Opportunity School District next month.

“We still have a lot of work ahead,” Carstarphen said.

You can find information about Atlanta Public Schools, such as test scores, graduation rates, and school climate ratings at the Ultimate Atlanta School Guide.

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