APS high school shows power of steady reform

Atlanta Public Schools is still under the shadow of its infamous cheating scandal, but there are good things happening there, according to a noted education researcher.

And one place that exemplifies the changing APS culture is Maynard Jackson High School, a once failing school now improving at an impressive rate.

Pedro A. Noguera, Distinguished Professor of Education at UCLA Graduate School of Education & Information Studies, worked with several schools in the Atlanta neighborhood surrounding Maynard Jackson High School two years ago and believes what has been accomplished there is noteworthy. And he credits a lot to principal Stephanie Johnson, who is Georgia's statewide Principal of the Year. Noguera says Johnson has made the high school attractive to middle-class families who once shunned it, while improving the quality of instruction for all students in the Grant Park area school.

"The results have been remarkable. Graduation has risen from 57 percent in 2011 to 72 percent in 2015, test scores in all of core subjects have markedly increased, and enrollment shot up from 571 to 1141, in just four years. This year, Maynard Jackson has the highest increase in state College and Career Ready Performance Index score of all high schools in the district. In fact, the CCRPI score is higher than Grady High School's, which is widely regarded as one of the best public high schools in metro Atlanta," sayd Noguera.

To read more about how Jackson High turned around, go to the AJC Get Schooled blog.