Looking back over this past weekend, I can emphatically state that Atlanta Public Schools really knows how to put on a Homecoming weekend! On Friday morning, Oct. 20, more than 200 students brought their talents together to help me with a homecoming-themed 2017 State of the District. The next day, Saturday, Oct. 21, five of our high schools – Grady, Jackson, South Atlanta, Washington and Mays – arrived at Mercedes-Benz Stadium and played some “all in it to win it” football.
Thousands of our students, families, alumni, teachers, staff, community leaders and partners came home to APS to join in the fight for transformation. Because of the incredible talents and dreams of our beautiful students – who motivate us every single day to continue the hard work of transformation – I think the APS community has a better sense of the status of our work.
As I look back upon the State of the District, I am really pleased how far we’ve moved the ball down the field!
When I took the head coach position at APS, we started deep in our own zone with many yards to go. To get points on the board toward our mission, we created a game strategy that involves Academic Programs, Talent Management, Systems & Resources and Culture. And to take that strategy down field, we created a pathway that involves a “series of downs” that measure our progress through yard markers and data toward our mission – every student graduates ready for college and career.
As I stated Friday, here is our field position after the kickoff:
STATE of the DISTRICT: Atlanta Public Schools has created a strong game plan that we are fully executing in the areas of academics, talent, operations and culture. Our transformational strategy is gaining ground with improvements in graduation rates and performance data, yet significant achievement gaps still exist.
We’ve gained yardage in Early Childhood Education and Literacy with some amazing partnerships with College Football Championship Game partners, the Joseph P. Whitehead Foundation, Delta Airlines, Whitefoord Inc. and Sheltering Arms.
We are living the mission to graduate more students ready for college and career, having seen progress with key yard markers such as Georgia Milestones (where 57 schools achieved gains when averaged across all subject areas), CCRPI (52 schools “beat the odds” by scoring better than statistically expected) and our growing graduation rates (currently 77%, a new high for the district!) Our partner and new college advising organization, Achieve Atlanta, has provided more than 1,400 APS graduates with last dollar assistance to college, a commitment worth more than $22 million!
We are doing more to take care of the APS community as our Social Emotional Learning Initiative is now district-wide, and we’ve expanded wraparound services, including a new care center at Hollis Innovation Academy, eye care partnerships with Vision@Learn and Onsite 20/20 and medical vans from Children’s Health Care of Atlanta.
During my address, I noted that we still have much work to do to ensure we do a better job of transporting our children to school safely and on time as well as feeding them nutritious (and yummy!) meals. And we are focused on closing achievement gaps, especially when the Georgia Milestones show a 60 percentage point difference between the reading and math proficiency scores of our white students with their African-American classmates. We must help our lowest-performing students up the field, while ensuring that our highest-performing students remain in scoring position!
There was much, much more to the State of the District, so I encourage you to watch the address and the alumni video again. You can view it here: https://www.atlantapublicschools.us/Domain/12204 and https://youtu.be/0yN4CtKxkeo. Please share!
Also, we trended on Twitter, so please search for #StateOfAPS, and make certain you tell everyone “I’m In,” using the hashtag #APSimIN.
I cannot thank enough our hosts: Hollis Innovation Academy and Principal Diamond Jack, all of our teachers and staff, who came together for a great State of the District event. Of course, we have to thank all of our partners for making all of the events – The State of the District, the tailgate and the Battle at Mercedes Benz Stadium – possible.
We came into this game with a mission to graduate more students, and we are really moving the ball. We are dedicated to scoring more touchdowns.
During the State of the District, we asked for everyone to make a commitment … a digital way to say “I’m In.” If you weren’t able to commit at the address, it’s not too late to TEXT one or all of the options below to 678-780-IMIN (4646):
- For a commitment to Culture, TEXT 1 to support more than 1,500 students to see Hamilton!
- For a commitment to Academics, TEXT 2 sign up for TutorMate and help a child to read from the ease of your own office or home!
- For a commitment to Talent, TEXT 3 to help us develop a workforce pipeline by providing internships and apprenticeships for our students.
- For a commitment to Systems & Resources, TEXT 4 to take the plunge with us and support “Learn to Swim” programs and their facilities.
The Office of Partnerships will follow up with you regarding your text choice. We appreciate the partnerships and passion for ensuring all APS students graduate ready for college and career and to lead the choice-filled lives they deserve!
I’m In … are you? #APSimIN