Atlanta school board could vote in March on school rating plan

The Atlanta school board could approve in March a rating system for its schools that could prompt big changes in how schools operate.

For months, the school board and an advisory committee have been working on the "Excellent Schools Project" -- an overhaul that would establish a customized way to rate Atlanta schools and then determine what to do when schools succeed or fail.

In other districts, similar work has led to a “portfolio” model for operating a mix of traditional neighborhood schools, charter schools and schools that are turned over to outside partners or given more freedom to operate on their own.

The Atlanta school board plans to hold a retreat Jan. 24 to review the proposed changes, with a draft of the plan expected to go before the board in February. The board could vote in March on the rating system and the possible actions that could happen to schools that meet or fail to meet those expectations.

District officials are still deciding what those steps might be.

If a school rates poorly, possible consequences could range from replacing the school’s leader, merging the school with a higher-performing school, providing additional money or support, outsourcing all or a part of the school’s operation to an outside organization, or closing the school.

Schools that rank high on the district’s new rating school could be replicated so that new schools are opened that use the same model.

The district also plans to hold public meetings to give residents a chance to provide feedback in January and February.