Atlanta’s new “chronically failing” schools

Credit: Akili-Casundria Ramsess

Credit: Akili-Casundria Ramsess

Georgia has been criticized as “tougher” than other states in labeling school failure

Georgia voters may have rejected a constitutional amendment that would have established punitive measures for schools on a “chronically failing” list, but state officials are still updating that list.

And Atlanta Public Schools saw three schools added and two removed, for a net increase of one and a new total of 23.

The new schools, according to a comparison of the new list and the old, are Finch Elementary School, Price Middle School and The B.E.S.T. Academy.

The schools that dropped off the list were Miles Intermediate School and Intown Charter Academy, the latter only because it was shuttered.

Atlanta Public Schools has been implementing a "turnaround strategy" with tutoring, teacher training and social services for students, but the program is only its first year. It has generated controversy because it has resulted in staff changes with teacher job losses.

“We are confident that we are on the right track,” the district said, “and will continue to take bold steps to improve our schools so that they serve our students well.”

The Governor's Office of Student Achievement sets the scores on state measures that define failing and assembles the "chronically failing" list. The agency recently reported that the statewide list grew to 153 schools from 127 in 2015, with 13 removed and 48 added.

The list remains relevant despite the outcome of the November referendum because Gov. Nathan Deal and top lawmakers say fixing failing schools remains a priority. They are vowing action during the current legislative session, despite  criticism of the state's comparatively "tougher" method of defining academic failure.

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