Monday, November 30, 2015

Niche.com K-12 Rankings
Fun with Ranking Data!!

Niche.com has released their 2016 school grades and rankings.  The formulas utilized to create the grades/rankings are different in that the rankings take into account more than standardized test scores or number of Advanced Placement classes; diversity of the school population is recognized and also a factor in rankings calculations.

Definition of diversity:   the inclusion of different types of people (as people of different races or cultures) in a group or organization.  

The rankings also include parent/student feedback as part of their ranking methodology.  As you may recall, the Georgia Board of Education has now included a parent/guardian survey as part of the CCRPI rankings: https://www.gadoe.org/External-Affairs-and-Policy/Policy/Pages/School-Climate.aspxIt is important for all parents/guardians to take the time to complete the survey as lack of participation in the survey can negatively impact a school's CCRPI rating. 

Click the following link to access the GADOE School Climate Survey: http://apps.gadoe.org/schoolclimate/parents.nsf/Survey.xsp.  The survey closes in February 26, 2016.

From Niche.com:

Niche ranks more than 100,000 public and private schools and districts based on dozens of statistics and 27 million opinions from 300,000 students and parents. Click the following link for further information:  https://k12.niche.com/rankings/methodology/

"Our rankings are different, and for good reason. We believe that the quality of a school or district should be measured, at least in part, by the parents and students who actually go there. They should also be measured by hard data and across a number of key factors so that no one factor dominates a ranking. Most importantly, they should be measured by their results. The most unique thing about our rankings is that they incorporate student outcomes.

While many people (myself included) do not find school rankings particularly useful (except for real estate agents - especially those attempting to insert themselves in local school redistricting discussions), I thought it would be a fun exercise to see how they rank the Dunwoody cluster schools. The FTE data cited in the rankings is from the October 2013 FTE count, although many of the ratings/reviews are more recent.  The data displayed below are rankings within the State of Georgia public schools.  You can also view the data at a metro and national level: https://k12.niche.com/rankings/.  In order to view the actual components that make up each rating, simply click on the actually rating category (i.e. "Best Public High School) for each school.  For example:  Dunwoody HS:  https://k12.niche.com/dunwoody-high-school-dunwoody-ga/rankings/#state.

Click on the name of each school and you will be directed to that schools "ranking" page.

School
Overall Niche Grade
Best Public High School Rank
College Readiness Rank 
Best Academics Rank
Best Administration Rank
Best Extracurriculars Rank
Best Facilities Rank
Best   Food Rank
Best High Schools to Teach Rank
Best High School Sports Rank
Best Teachers Rank
Most Diverse Rank
Largest Public High Schools Rank
Safest Schools Rank
A-
36
21
25
58
19
276
263
80
123
40
23
114
263


School
Overall Niche Grade
State Rank 
Most Diverse  Rank
Best Teachers Rank
Best      Academics  Rank
B+
238
105
195
272

School
Overall Niche Grade
State Rank 
Most Diverse Rank 
Best Teachers  Rank
Best      Academics      Rank
   Austin Elementary
 A-
581
978
301
406
   Chesnut Charter Elementary
A-
552
216
378
650
   Dunwoody Elementary
A-
602
502
784
422
   Hightower Elementary
B+
904
997
640
902
   Kingsley Charter Elementary
A-
614
161
443
797
   Vanderlyn Elementary
A-
544
799
282
449

I have created an Excel spreadsheet with all DeKalb County Schools rankings/grades.  Click on the following link to view the data: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0Bw_Hnco-5lveT0Y0TTlHV1JUQnc/view?usp=sharing

A look at the rankings/grades of some of the local public schools which students living in Dunwoody attend:

School
Overall Niche Grade
Best Public High School Rank
College Readiness Rank 
Best Academics Rank
Best Administration Rank
Best Extracurriculars Rank
Best Facilities Rank
Best      Food Rank
Best High Schools to Teach Rank
Best High School Sports Rank
Best Teachers Rank
Most Diverse Rank
Largest Public High Schools Rank
Safest Schools Rank
A
20
6
20
102
47
85
197
28
107
6
6
169
215
B-
247
266
224
192
283
287
276
166
319
172
196
194
137
   North Springs Charter
B+
95
35
53
208
90
316
336
196
228
115
41
102
324
   Riverwood International Charter 
A-
62
25
35
88
77
271
286
171
134
82
20
92
274

Also, a look at the rankings/grades of some of the local private schools.  The data collected for private schools is a bit different from the data collected for public schools, but you can look up the schools for further information.

Area Private Schools
Overall Niche Grade
Enrollment
Type of Private School
B+
1,247 (PK,K-12)
Episcopal
A-
1,079 (7th-12th)
Catholic
C+
932 (PK,K-12)
Presbyterian
B+
1,116 (9th - 12th)
Catholic
   Wesleyan
A-
1,135 (K-12)
 Inter/Non-denominational
 
It is interesting to note 4 of the of the Top 5 ranked School Districts in Georgia, are small school districts:
 
School District
Niche.Com Grade
October, 2015 FTE
Number of Schools
Buford City Schools
A+
4,330
4
Decatur City Schools
A+
4,858
7
Oconee County Schools
A+
7,271
10
Calhoun City Schools
A 
4,093
4
Forsyth County Schools
A
44,286
36

 

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Stan Jester: DeKalb Schools To Send Letter of Intent
for Strategic Waiver School System


Per District 1 DeKalb Schools Board of Education Representative Stan Jester:

On December 7, the administration will request the board send a letter of intent to the GaDOE to become a Strategic Waiver School System (SWSS).

The link to Stan's post below gives a brief summary of the various options and links to a couple more presentations that go into more depth.


http://factchecker.stanjester.com/2015/11/5680/

A point to be made from Dr. Green's post on Stan's blog:

"As a final note, what is also unique in this approach is that the opportunity for a school or clusters to collaborate and petition for charter status is still available should the District become a Strategic Waiver School System."

P.S. I know very little about the SWSS model, other than Gwinnett County Schools have operated this model for many years.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

For DeKalb Schools, A System Of "Charter Clusters" Make Sense


Guest column submitted by Kirk Lunde

DeKalb County Schools new Superintendent, Dr. Green, has a Bambinelli’s sized serving of spaghetti on his “plate” and working through it is going to create a legacy he will take with him into retirement. I believe he is the right man, in the right place, at the right time 

The district needs to make a decision regarding which flexibility option it will use going forward. There is also a school capacity crisis in the Cross Keys cluster which needs to be addressed. Additionally, the district is preparing an eSPLOST  project list for the BOE to vote on in May or June. If approved, citizens will vote on it next November. eSPLOST is the mechanism DCSD uses to pay for capital programs. The district has dubbed the preparation of the project list Building S.P.A.C.E.S.
 
I find it impossible to consider any one of these separately from the others. Every decision requires funding. If you solve the Cross Keys capacity crisis, why not do it in such a way as to integrate with the flexibility option?
 
Page 33 of the district’s current flexibility petition states, “Unlike many large, urban school districts DeKalb has created high school clusters that have almost complete alignment among the elementary, middle and high school attendance zones, with each cluster including one high school, one middle school, and an average of four elementary schools. As a result, clusters serve students with similar needs and demographic characteristics.”  This lends credence to the idea of choosing to become a System of Charter Clusters.
 
One of the concerns repeated over and over by Trenton Arnold is the lack of capacity some schools have to develop a local governance council. Why choose an option such as the proposed Charter System -- which requires more than 130 governance councils -- when a system of charter clusters would require (approximately) 18? 
 
A System of Charter Clusters will allow local autonomy which should should give some satisfaction to stakeholders who want their own schools
 
A System of Charter Clusters can provide school choice options within a cluster, opening up many more options which are accessible to students. The Druid Hills Charter Cluster petition showed how that can be done. 
 
Another advantage demonstrated by the Druid Hills Charter Cluster (DHCC) petition is cluster-wide alignment of curriculum and programs. This is currently done to a very limited extent, but the DHCC petitioners have created a plan to expand alignments. This can be replicated without having to start from scratch. It is possible some of the DHCC people could serve as consultants to other clusters as they prepare their petitions. 
 
One of the most attractive benefits of a System of Charter Clusters is the opportunity for each cluster to explore cost savings. A cluster would have more bargaining power than individual schools, greater economies of scale. The areas where this can be significant are the areas where DeKalb County Schools’ service levels are lowest, transportation and maintenance. This is one way local autonomy can lead to cost savings and improved service levels. 
 
Clearly, DCSD has failed to listen to stakeholders for years. Dr. Green is going to improve all aspects of the central office, but the long history of mismanagement requires a flexibility option which removes as much authority from the central office as possible. The friends-and-family educrats need to be made as insignificant as possible. A System of Charter Clusters does that AND creates clusters of excellence which have a much better chance to be sustainable than any individual school.