Winter Weather Overview: APS to Delay Start Times by Two Hours on Tuesday, Dec. 11

We are delaying the start of school tomorrow by two hours due to the threat of severe temperatures in the Atlanta Metro Area. The state and most metro school districts will also be delayed.  The cold and rainy weather descended upon Atlanta this week with the possibility of freezing rain, sleet, and the dreaded black ice.

Atlanta Public Schools has been closely monitoring the weather conditions in coordination with the National Weather Service, city and state officials and other Metro Atlanta school districts. Due to the forecast for temperatures to fall below freezing early Tuesday morning and the potential for black ice, and in alignment with the Governor’s Office, APS made the decision to delay opening schools by two hours tomorrow as follows (Schools that have alternative bell schedules should adhere to the two-hour delay):

•        Elementary Schools will open at 10 a.m.

•        Middle Schools will open at 11:05 a.m.

•        High Schools will open at 10:30 a.m.

Transportation pick up times will be delayed two hours from normal pick up schedules. All dismissal times will remain the same. APS Facilities staff should report at 9a.m. APS District administrative offices are also on a two-hour delay and APS employees should report two hours later than their normal reporting time. For APS charter schools, parents, caregivers and employees should contact their schools directly for scheduling information.

 We will continue to monitor the forecast and we encourage everyone to exercise caution when traveling throughout the metro area tomorrow.

The forecast predicts better weather throughout the rest of the week.

I know how frustrating it can be to delay the start of school and the impacts of bad weather on you and your family, especially when little ones need to walk to bus stops, you have to get to work, and the day is disrupted.

This is the main reason why Atlanta Public Schools works extremely hard to inform parents of our decisions as far in advance as possible.  We have a set of protocols in place to notify families, staff, and our community of everything we know about the conditions and forecasts.

Remember when we are making any decisions on inclement weather, the safety of our staff is a key priority.

As we enter into this season of wintry weather, I’d like to remind our students,families, staff and others about the APS protocol for inclement weather.

You can expect updates on winter weather in a variety of APS channels. We diligently update our website, our social media channels as well as stay in close contact with our schools. You can feel confident to contact your school first if you have questions about weather-related issues. It is my goal to make sure our principals are updated with the latest information regarding our inclement weather decisions.

Now is also a great time to make sure your contact information is updated. Our main way to contact parents is through our campus portal.  Here you can update your phone number, email, and communication preferences.  Access the campus portal here.

Every year, I update the community on our procedures and you can read about our process in detail in prior blog posts here.  You can get a good overview of our decision making process there.  

In a nutshell, this is how it works….When severe weather is predicted, our team begins monitoring the weather. We are in close contact with the National Weather Service, Atlanta Fulton County Emergency Management, and Georgia Emergency Management. This coordination helps us make the best decisions for our students’ safety. Updates regarding the conditions are provided to the Core Weather Team.

The APS Core Weather Team includes representatives from APS Operations, Transportation,Safety & Security, Facilities Services, Communications, Curriculum and Instruction, Nutrition and Information Technology departments. This team will discuss the implications of the severe weather. I make calls and am in contact with area superintendents. Our team joins conference calls with the city and the Atlanta-Fulton Emergency Management Agency and others.  After all of this information is taken into account, we make a decision and move forward with communicating. 

It is always my goal to go through this process as soon as we learn of impending inclement weather. In the end, the superintendent makes the final call as to whether schools close for inclement weather. At APS we always try our very best to coordinate with outside agencies so that our decisions are not in vacuum and are in alignment with other districts and government offices.

It seems like a couple of weeks ago we were still having 70 degree days.  The winter weather seems to have arrived.  As we move into the winter, we are committed to keeping families informed in a timely manner.

Also,very soon, we will be sending out information about the APS Weather Wise Program, which is a new digital learning platform for students during inclement weather days.  Stay tuned! This information will be coming out before our break. 

As always, stay safe and warm.

46 APS Schools Beat the Odds

APS Exceeds the State; APS is Second Among Large Metro Districts

This information is hot off the press, and I’m so pleased to be sharing it with you!

According to new analysis just out today from the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement (GOSA), 46 APS schools, or 52 percent of our schools, “Beat the Odds!” Based on the calculations released by the state, APS has the second-highest percentage of schools that Beat the Odds when compared to other metro-area districts. In addition — wait for it — APS beat the overall state rate, which came in at 32 percent!

Beat the Odds Percentages for State and Metro-Area School Districts:

Gwinnett County Public Schools 56%
Atlanta Public Schools 52%
State of Georgia 32%
Fulton County Schools 29%
Clayton County Public Schools 29%
DeKalb County Schools 25%
Cobb County School District 14%

I share with you all the time how proud I am of our students, our teachers, our principals and other school leaders and staff for the new gains they continue to make. We are striving toward excellence and we continue to be on a Journey of Transformation. We’re stepping forward toward new gains each day and are excited about the traction we’re making.

I want to highlight our 46 schools that Beat the Odds and give a special shout out to each school principal for a job well done!

APS Schools that Beat the Odds School Principal
Barack and Michelle Obama Academy Robin Christian
Beecher Hills Elementary School Crystal Jones
Benteen Elementary School Andew Lovett
Boyd Elementary School Joi Kilpatrick
Brandon Elementary School Jay Bland
Brown Middle School Tiauna Crooms
Burgess-Peterson Academy David White
Carver Early College Marcene
Centennial Academy Tequila Lamar
Charles R. Drew Charter School Gregory
Leaphart /
Peter McKnight
Charles R. Drew Charter School Elementary Academy Monishae O’Neill
Cleveland Avenue Elementary School Anyee’ Payne
Coretta Scott King Young Women’s Leadership
Dobbs Elementary School Charnita West
Fickett Elementary School Benita Grant
Finch Elementary Forrestella
F.L. Stanton Elementary School Phyllis Earls
Henry W. Grady High School Betsy Bockman
Hollis Innovation Academy Diamond Ford
Hope-Hill Elementary School Maureen
Kimberly Elementary School Joseph L. Salley
Kindezi Old 4th Ward Rajvee Bhalakia
KIPP Atlanta Collegiate Academy Chanika Perry
KIPP STRIVE Academy Kim Karacalidis
KIPP STRIVE Primary LaKeesha
KIPP WAYS Academy (5-8) Nathaniel
Long Middle School Lisa Hill
Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School Paul Brown
Mary Lin Elementary School Sharyn Briscoe
Maynard H. Jackson High School Adam Danser
Miles Intermediate Elementary School Thalise Perry
Morningside Elementary School Audrey Sofianos
Parkside Elementary School Timmy Foster
Perkerson Elementary School Tony Ford
Peyton Forest Elementary School Cynthia Gunner
Ralph J. Bunche Middle School Octavius Harris
Samuel M. Inman Middle School Kevin Maxwell
Sarah Smith Elementary School Emily Boatright
South Atlanta High School Patricia Ford
Sutton Middle School Gail Johnson
Sylvan Hills Middle School Artesza Portee
The Kindezi Schools (Kindezi West) Hyla Penn
Tuskegee Airmen Global Academy Yolanda Weems
Warren T. Jackson Elementary School Brent McBride
Wesley International Academy Donald Mason/
Westside Atlanta Charter School Delana Reeves

I also want to recognize Deputy Superintendent David Jernigan and the entire Schools and Academics team, especially our Associate Superintendents Dr. Danielle Battle, Yolonda Brown, Dr. Emily Massey, Dr. Dan Sims, and Tommy Usher; our Chief Accountability and Information Officer Bill Caritj and his team, including Michael LaMont and the Data Information Group for providing us with a full analysis of these results.

As we work toward achieving improved results, we must continue to look at our schools’ overall academic performance holistically. We can’t and don’t look at just one indicator or another to measure progress. We have to look at all of it.

Beating the Odds is just one piece of information we use to analyze school performance,and it serves as a complement to this year’s CCRPI data that came out in October of this year (click here for my blog post on that). But, it also shows us that there are measurable academic gains happening across our school system.

Now, to give you a broader perspective on the Beat the Odds analysis, here’s a little more background and more information that explains this year’s calculation and why it can’t be compared to previous years:

  • The Beat the Odds calculation represents whether a school’s performance on the College and Career Ready Performance Index (CCRPI) was higher than schools with similar characteristics across the state. Due to changes in the Beating the Odds calculation and changes in CCRPI, this year’s analysis is not comparable to previous years.
  • The new calculation for this year includes variables that are outside of a school’s control, such as school size, percent directly certified, percent English language learners, percent of students with disabilities, percent of students in each race (excluding Native American), school churn rate, whether a school is defined as non-traditional and the school type.

Also, in previous years, schools were designated as “Beat the Odds” or “Did Not Beat the Odds,” but the new calculation this year has separated “Did Not Beat the Odds” into two tiers — Within the Expected Range and Below the Expected Range.With this new framework, in addition to the 46 APS schools that Beat the Odds,26 were classified as “Within the Expected Range” and 16 were classified as“Below the Expected Range.” This means a total of 72 APS schools, or more than 80%, either Beat the Odds or performed Within the Expected Range.

You can learn more about this year’s Beat the Odds analysis on the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement’s website at

Thank you for being engaged in the work of APS and for supporting our efforts to prepare all of our students for the choice-filled lives they deserve!

APS Students Showcase Their Talents in Winter Card Contest

Softly they fall, where do they go?  

Cover the ground, without a sound

(Gentle snowflakes)

Fall from the sky, before your eyes

(It’s so thrilling)

Blankets of white, brighten the night

                          Lyrics from the song Purple Snowflakes , Marvin Gaye

It’s so thrilling to share with you the winners of our 2018 Winter Card contest! The student winners and their families will be recognized at our upcoming Board of Education meeting on Monday, December 3 at 6 p.m. at the Center for Learning and Leadership (CLL) at 130 Trinity Avenue SW. And, the winning designs along with several of the entries are on display in the lobby of CLL from now through the end of the calendar year.

We had over 200 students (from elementary school through high school) submit winter card designs for this year’s competition from every cluster in APS (Carver, Douglass, Grady, Jackson, Mays, North Atlanta, South Atlanta, Therrell, and Washington). PLUS, students from Crim Open Campus, BEST Academy, and Coretta Scott King Young Women’s Leadership Academy submitted as well (Yay!).

It was so inspiring to look at the world through our students’ eyes and take in the vast array of creativity reflected in their artwork. The Winter Card contest is open to all APS students and the entries are judged blindly, without knowledge of student names, student grade levels, teacher names, or schools. We evaluate the designs using multiple criteria,including overall concept, execution, and integration of the APS brand.

Needless to say, there is beauty in every one of the designs submitted and it was hard to pick just a few winners, especially when every one of our students is a winner in my book. After reviewing all of the cards multiple times, we identified first, second and third place winners, and we selected a fourth card that deserved honorable mention this year.

Drum roll, please! Here are the winners of our 2018 Winter Card contest!

First place goes to Raylen Smith, a 12th grader at South Atlanta High School for this beautiful winter rendition. 

Second place goes to Ben Aspinwall, a 10th grader at North Atlanta High School for this gorgeous globe.

Our third place winner actually goes to four Brandon Elementary School students who created a combined layout featuring a variety of owls. Those students are Addie Patton, a 3rd grader, Julia Burnette, a 5th grader, Milana Sukhinina, a 4th grader, and Jiaying Hou, a 5th grader.

Eve Harclerode, a 9th grader at North Atlanta won honorable mention this year for these lovely mugs.

These designs are amazing!

Now, for the most exciting part. We’ve printed a number of the winning winter cards to share with you — our families, staff and community members — in celebration of our students’ talents.

Because we’re not able to send a printed copy of these cards to everyone, I’m sharing them here with you, on my blog, for everyone to enjoy.

I want to thank all of our talented students who participated in this year’s contest, and I also want to thank all of our art teachers throughout the District, especially the art teachers of the students who won — Tokie Taylor of South Atlanta, Kim Landers of North Atlanta, Jennie Dumont of Brandon Elementary School and Rachael Sturgess of North Atlanta.

A special thank you to Bill Goodman, our Director of Multimedia Design, Charlotte Napper, our Graphic Designer, and Dr. Sara Womack, our Fine and Performing Arts Coordinator, for spearheading this annual contest with me and for their guidance throughout the selection process.

Finally, for additional warming of your heart for the season…a special extra gift for you. I loved this one too! A’Milliyna Turner, a 4th grader at Usher-Collins Heights Elementary School designed it. Great job A’Milliyna, and a special thanks to her art teacher Carol Washburn!

Congratulations to all of our 2018 Winter Card contest winners on a job well done!

I Am So Thankful for My APS Family!


Gobble, gobble! It’s Thanksgiving!

In our fast-paced lives in public education, we often don’t get the chance to stop, reflect on and express how thankful we truly are for the many blessings in our lives. With Thanksgiving just around the corner, all of us in APS are taking the time this week to celebrate all for which we are grateful.

This week, as our schools are closed from November 19-24 (It’s back to school on Monday, November 26!) for the Thanksgiving break (gobble, gobble!), we are focused on creating new memories and cherishing existing ones with the people we love: our friends and family. The meaning of the word family can mean different things to different people, but it encompasses everyone around us, the people who bring joy and meaning to our lives and the people for which we do the same.

I am thankful to my APS family — our 6,000 colleagues who continue to show through their actions all year long that they truly do believe in our mission and, most importantly, in our kids. That means the world to me. I see in them every day an unwavering passion and commitment for the hard work of preparing our students for the choice-filled lives they deserve, and, for that, I am truly humbled and grateful.

Our APS family includes our amazing partners! I am so thankful for all of our partners who have embraced our Journey of Transformation and continue to propel our school district and our students forward toward success through their ongoing support. We recently celebrated our 2018 Districtwide Partner of the Year — Delta Airlines — at our APyeS! Awards earlier this month. Thank you Delta for the incredible commitment of support you’ve made to APS and our communities. You have been a stellar example of what a true partner is to APS. We appreciate the extraordinary leadership, time, and talent you continue to invest into our students, teachers and staff. You have proven your commitment, and, more importantly, you are making an indelible impact on the culture of our schools and in the lives of our students. To ALL of our partners, I say THANK YOU! Please know that we couldn’t do this work alone, and we need the support that you each give.

Striving every day to help APS become a high-performing school district where students love to learn, educators inspire, families engage and the community trusts the system is hard work. To my APS family, I say “rest up!” over the Thanksgiving break because there is so much more work ahead for us.

Once we return from this week’s break, remember that December 3 – January 11 marks the Universal Screener Winter Window for many of K-5, 6th-8th, and 9th and 10th grade students. In addition, December 21 will mark the end of the first semester (Yes, time really does fly!). But, no matter how fast time flies by, don’t forget to stop and take the time to reflect on that which you are grateful. And, despite what it may seem like, we all have something we can celebrate.

I am thankful for my APS family — that’s all of you, the wonderful people who believe in and are engaged in the work of this District. I know that by working together on this journey, we will arrive at a destination where every one of our 52,000 students are prepared to graduate APS ready to succeed in college and career.


For that, we can all be thankful.


Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

APS Statement on TADs

Atlanta Public Schools (APS) has long been a supporter of economic development for our communities given that we are the largest contributor to five of the 10 tax allocation districts (TADs) in the City (Eastside, Atlantic Station, BeltLine, Perry Bolton, and Westside), having invested $434 million in those projects since 1999.  We will continue to contribute an additional estimated $1.2 billion more over the life of those five TADs.

APS has been consistent in communicating with City administration and officials our concerns about resolving open issues regarding those five TADs before we can consider participating in any new TADs or extending current ones. Our recent communication with City administration and officials reflects that position, in addition to questions we’ve raised about the Gulch proposal, including the timeline for the educational increment (which we worry might be extended beyond 2038 to pay redevelopment costs and supplemental award payments to the developer), the use of that increment, and bond guarantees. In the spirit of partnership, we have also shared proposed solutions to the questions we’ve raised.

We continue to work with the City to do what’s in the best interest of our 52,000 APS students, 6,000 employees, and 158,000 taxpayers.

34 APS Schools Score Above 70 on State’s Redesigned CCRPI

State’s Redesigned CCRPI Scores

New Baseline for APS and GA

As some of you may be reading already, the Georgia Department of Education (GaDOE) released the redesigned College and Career Ready Performance Index (CCRPI) scores today for all Georgia public schools. The average CCRPI score for the state is 76.6 out of 100, and APS earned an overall score of 73.4.

Before I delve into an analysis of this year’s results, I want to remind you that GaDOE completely redesigned CCRPI last year, making it simpler and more streamlined. That redesign included changes to the CCRPI components and indicators, and the weighting of those components. As a result, we can’t compare this year’s score — apples to apples — against previous scores.

That means with this year’s analysis, we won’t be discussing CCRPI point gains or schools showing improvements in their CCRPI scores because we don’t have anything with which to compare that data. This year’s results establish a new baseline for all schools across the state.


This year’s CCRPI scores provide a new baseline for us given the revisions GaDOE made to the rating system over the past year. We must continue to look holistically at multiple measures that show us how we are preparing our students to succeed and not look to any one indicator or any one number. We’re looking at all of it: Georgia Milestones, graduation rates, student growth percentiles, climate star ratings, and other indicators in order to get a full picture of our students’ overall academic experience. You may have heard that the Board has charged us to work in a more comprehensive and holistic performance framework, as part of our Creating a System of Excellent Schools strategy, which I believe will provide us with the opportunity to paint a more complete picture of school performance.

Tweet 6Here are some of the key highlights from this year’s CCRPI results. APS earned an overall score of 73.4 out of 100 on the redesigned CCRPI. The average CCRPI score for the state is 76.6. According to the results, 34 schools achieved a CCRPI score above 70 of which 14 schools achieved an overall CCRPI score at or above 80.

Five schools led by principals Audrey Sofianos, Jay Bland, Brent McBride, Sharyn Briscoe, and Terry Harness, Jr., achieved an overall score above 90: Morningside Elementary School (97.8), BrandoTweet 5n Elementary School (96.5), Jackson Elementary School (96.4), Mary Lin Elementary School (93.1), and Springdale Park Elementary School (92.4). Woohoo!

Nine schools led by principals Monishae O’Neill, Emily Boatright, Kevin Maxwell, Lara Zelski, Gregory Leaphart, Peter McKnight, Donald Mason, Deborah Satterfield, Gail Johnson, Betsy Bockman, and David White scored between 80 and 90: Charles R. Drew Charter School (89.8), Sarah Smith Elementary School (89.7), Inman Middle School (89.0), Atlanta Neighborhood Charter (88.6), Charles R. Drew Charter School JA/SA (86.9), Wesley International Academy (84.9), Sutton Middle School (82.8), Grady High School (81.7), and Burgess-Peterson Elementary School (80.7). Good job!

I also want to recognize Deputy Superintendent David Jernigan, the associate superintendents and the Academics team, Chief Accountability and Information Officer Bill Caritj, and Executive Director of our Data Information Group Michael LaMont and his team for providing us with a full analysis of these results and for helping us keep these results in perspective as we look holistically at all the academic experiences of our students. I also want to thank our Chief Engagement Officer, Angela King Smith, and  the Office of  Communications and Public Engagement for the comprehensive support for the rollout of these data.

The new CCRPI reporting system is comprised of five components: Content Mastery, Progress, Closing Gaps, Readiness, and Graduation Rate (high schools only). APS’ CCRPI scores for elementary, middle, and high school levels were lower than the state’s; however, the District outperformed the state in “Progress” at the elementary level and in “Closing Gaps” at both the elementary and middle school level.

In all, 27 schools scored higher than the state for their grade level, including 13 elementary schools, nine middle schools, and five high schools (see the charts below). Please note that schools that have students in multiple grade levels receive CCRPI scores for each level (elementary, middle, high school) and an overall score.

Chart E2

Chart M2

Chart H2

2018 District and State Grade Level CCRPI Scores with Components

Chart 4

The District’s elementary grade level earned an overall CCRPI score of 76.8, the middle grade level earned an overall score of 72.8 and the District’s high school level earned an overall score of 65.5.

We’re building a strong foundation at the elementary and middle school levels, but we know more work needs to be done to ensure all our students across all grade levels graduate ready for college and career.

For more information and analysis on all APS’ CCRPI scores, click here. To view detailed score reports for the state and every public school district in Georgia, visit the GADOE CCRPI page.

Update – October 31, 2018: Today the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement (GOSA) released the Turnaround Eligible Schools List.…here’s how APS did… The number of APS schools on the list decreased from 16 to 13. Congratulations to principals Robbins, Thornton, Earls, Hill, and Salley for having their  five schools (Barack and Michelle Obama, Carver Tech, F.L. Stanton ES, Long Middle School, and Kimberly ES) removed from the list. Two of our schools (Carver STEAM and Douglass HS) were added to the list, resulting in a net reduction of three schools.

Through our District’s Turnaround Strategy, we’ve been providing our lowest performing schools the additional resources they need to achieve academic gains. I’m encouraged to see that five APS schools that were previously on the state’s list have earned their way off that list, but we’ve still got a long way to go, and we remain committed to that work.

As we continue on this journey of transformation in APS, I personally remain optimistic and inspired by our families, children and our APS team!

2018 ACT and SAT Scores Are In!

Number of APS Students Taking the ACT and SAT Continues to Increase



2018 Graduates from Grady High School

We received the 2018 ACT and SAT results, showing that our 2018 graduating class had an average total SAT score of 997 and an average composite ACT score of 18.7. This year’s SAT scores are up five (5) points compared to the 2017 average score of 992, and the ACT results show a slight decrease of 0.3 points over last year.

I continue to be encouraged by the academic gains our students are making across a number of academic performance measures, and we’re seeing a slight improvement on SAT scores since last year. Although there was a 0.3 point decline on the ACT, we’re still seeing gains across subgroups since 2014.

And, now for the shout outs!

I have to send a special shout out to our very own Grady High School, which topped all APS high schools in ACT and SAT results! I’m so proud of the progress Principal Bockman and the Grady Knights are making! Go Knights!

But, I would be remiss if I didn’t give some shine to Drew Charter and North Atlanta High School because they scored higher than the average total SAT score for Georgia and the Nation! Woohoo!

The average total SAT score for the nation is 1,049, and the average total score for Georgia is 1,054. Way to soar Principal McKnight and the Drew Eagles! In addition, way to go Principal Douglass and the NAHS Warriors!

Overall, I’m pleased that the number of APS graduates taking the ACT and SAT has been steadily increasing over the past four years. We had an additional 250 students take the SAT in 2018 for a total of 1,382 and an additional 52 graduates take the ACT for a total of 1,753 when compared to the number of test takers in 2017.

Here are a few highlights from the SAT data…

The five-point increase in the average total SAT score is split between gains on the evidence-based reading and writing (ERW) and math sections. African American students – the largest subgroup in APS – had an average total SAT score of 948 (up from 946 for 2017 graduates). This is higher than the national average of 935 but slightly below the state average of 961. In addition, African-American students had an average composite ACT score of 17.3, which is slightly below the state average of 18.0 but above the national average of 16.9.


Figure 1.  APS SAT Scores by Subject Area Over Time


Some 29% of APS SAT test takers met both the ERW and math benchmarks for college and career readiness (score of 480 or higher on the ERW section and 530 or higher on the math section).  In addition, 60% of students met the ERW benchmark and 31% met the math benchmark.  The percentage of students meeting the math benchmark increased slightly from 2017 (30%) to 2018, while the percentage of students meeting both benchmarks remained at 29%.


Figure 2. SAT Results for 2018 Graduates by School

One of our biggest accomplishments last year was the implementation of our first SAT Day, sponsored by Achieve Atlanta, which allowed all juniors to take the SAT exam at their home school, removing funding and transportation barriers for many students. Please note, juniors are NOT in these data. Maybe next year’s 2019 SAT data will include significantly more student taking the test who otherwise may not have sat for the exam previously. However, our 2019 SAT average scores are likely to decline because of this increase, but we know that something as simple as not taking the SAT in high school can be a barrier for kids who, down the road, decide that they want to attend college.

Now, on to the ACT…

The percentages of ACT test takers meeting the college readiness benchmark scores were higher in English (42%) and reading (30%) than in math (22%) and science (20%).  Some 14% of test takers met the benchmarks in all four subject areas and 21% of test takers met the benchmarks in at least three of four subject areas.  All of these percentages represent increases since 2014.


Figure 3.  APS ACT Scores by Subject Area Over Time

And, here’s a breakdown of our school scores on the ACT:


Figure 4. APS ACT Results for 2018 Graduates by School

Monitoring and continuing to improve the results on the SAT and ACT are essential for increasing rigor and addressing equity and access to achieve our mission of college readiness for all students.

Thank you to our Class of 2018, high school principals, teachers, counselors, and our key partners – Achieve Atlanta, College and Career Academy,  and One Goal – just to name a few, for all that you do!