Fulton County Tax Bills in the Mail! Please Pay Them Now!

Amid the Fulton County tax collection mess, Atlanta Public Schools received some welcome news yesterday: The tax bills have been mailed! Hooray!

For those who haven’t followed this issue as closely or carefully as we have over the past six months, you can review my previous blog posts here, here and here about the matter. In short, Fulton County is months behind sending property tax bills after the Georgia Department of Revenue did not approve the county’s 2017 tax digest, which had frozen most assessments to FY2016 levels.

APS Selects BD.The county is completing the mailing in batches and all won’t likely be in the mail until Wednesday, Nov. 15. That’s better news for APS, Fulton County Schools and the 15 municipalities impacted by this issue. But here’s the challenge: Even though this mailing is underway, we must stay the course in implementing our spending-reduction strategies because we will not immediately receive our revenues.

We have had to take the following steps to address the short-term cash flow shortages caused by the delay:

  • Slow outgoing cash payments
  • Freeze new hires and implement spending freeze and new out-of-system travel freeze
  • Delay the $500 one-time payment for employees not on the teacher salary scale
  • Implement targeted furlough days for select positions (non-teaching employees)
  • Defer unfunded pension payments
  • Work with our charters to negotiate delayed payment

In regards to the furlough, about 1,200 of our non-teaching employees will have furlough days on Monday, Nov. 20, and Tuesday, Nov. 21. Their Dec. 15 paycheck will be reduced by two days of pay. On Jan. 15, 2018, those employees will be made whole again, after we begin receiving county tax receipts again.

Again, these furloughs do not affect our teachers. More details are available at https://www.atlantapublicschools.us/FurloughFAQs

Although we expect that tax revenues will soon begin to come in, the due date for those tax bills isn’t until December 31, 2017, which still puts us at the end of this calendar year before a majority of those funds will be collected. And it still takes time for those dollars to reach us so we can pay back a $100 million Tax Anticipation Note and make our final December payroll.

We are encouraging Fulton County taxpayers to please take care of their payments as soon as and as early as possible.

Go to the Fulton County Tax Commissioners site and search for your tax bill. You can pay online! If a mortgage company pays the tax bill on your behalf, please call them and ask for them to expedite the payment.

In the meantime, APS – and other affected parties – remain in a crunch. Therefore, our district will continue to do everything we can to ensure the continued smooth and safe operation of our school system. I can’t thank our colleagues and stakeholders enough for their commitment to APS and for their understanding of the steps we had to take to mitigate our short-term cash flow challenges.

Three Years into Journey of Transformation, Two-thirds of APS Schools Increase on State CCRPI Scores

This morning, the Georgia Department of Education released the latest College and Career Ready Performance Index (CCRPI) scores for all Georgia public schools. Fifty-six of our schools – about two thirds! – showed gains; that’s 23 more than last year! As a district, APS saw its average CCRPI score rise 3.1 points to 68.3 points, according to the state report. APS has attained an increase of 8.5 points since the state introduced the performance index in 2012. xosodAs with the Georgia Milestones released this summer, our CCRPI scores come with positive news of hope and progress tempered with indicators for improvement and renewed focus. Even with the rise in our overall district CCRPI score, we still have much work to do toward improving student achievement and making more progress.

I will get into that in a moment, but I want to celebrate some of the results first. I am so proud that more and more of our schools saw gains on their CCRPI scores over the past year! Our students, teachers, administrators and support staff have leaned into the hard work for higher achievement. The CCRPI scores are indicative of the progress they’ve made on our journey of transformation.

Let’s cheer on the following schools that achieved CCRPI scores of at least 80 overall on a 100-point scale:

elementarytweetAt the elementary level, these schools include Jackson (100.7), Morris Brandon (98.8), Mary Lin (97.8), Springdale Park (95.8), Morningside (94.7), Charles Drew Charter (87.9), West Manor (83.5), Centennial Academy (82.7), Burgess Peterson Academy (82.1) and Sarah Smith (80.8).


At the middle school level, the schools include Inman (89.9), Charles Drew Junior/Senior Academy (86.8) and Centennial Academy (80.8).

At the high school level, the schools include Carver Early College (91.9), Charles Drew Junior/Senior Academy (91.5), Grady (83.6) and North Atlanta (81.7)

Tweet3ccrpiThe following schools earned at least 37 out of 40 Progress Points for students meeting “typical or high growth” on the 2017 Georgia Milestones: Beecher Hills Elementary (40), Centennial Academy (40), Crim High (40), Jackson Elementary (40), Coretta Scott King (39.7), Inman Middle (39.5), Morris Brandon Elementary (39.1), Towns Elementary (38.4), Cleveland Avenue Elementary (38.3), KIPP STRIVE Academy (38.3), Mary Lin Elementary (38.3), KIPP Vision (37.7), Dunbar Elementary (37.6), E. Rivers Elementary (37.6), BEST Academy ( 37.2), Charles Drew Charter (37.2), Thomasville Heights Elementary (37.2) and Carver Early College (37.1).

The scores also show that the district has made considerable strides over the past two years as part of its Turnaround Strategy. Nearly all of the 16 district schools receiving targeted interventions with additional resources saw gains in their CCRPI scores.

While APS scored an average of 68.3 points, which is a 3.1 point gain from its 2016 score of 65.2 points, APS still scored 6.7 points lower than the Georgia average of 75.00, which rose 1.4 points over 2016. The index further breaks down APS and Georgia scores by grade division:

Elementary – APS 68.6, Georgia 72.9

Middle – APS 62.5, Georgia 73.0

High – APS 68.7, Georgia 77.0

As this graph shows, APS achieved gains in achievement scores and progress points for CCRPI between 2016 and 2017 for all grade bands.

Our Data and Information Group takes a deeper dive into the statistics, their APS Data Brief is available here, and our public data blog www.apsinsights.org. To view detailed score reports for the state and every public school district in Georgia, please visit the GADOE CCRPI page.

CCRPI is the statewide education accountability system that measures schools and districts on a 100-point scale based heavily on the Georgia Milestones assessment through a combination of three main components: 1) achievement, 2) progress and 3) closing the achievement gap; with the possibility of 10 additional challenge points. The state index is intended to help parents and the public better understand how schools are performing compared to others in the district and state.

The base College and Career Ready Performance Index (CCRPI) score for each school is calculated from three major components:

Achievement Points account for 50 percent out of 100 points and include 2017 student performance on state standardized tests such as the Georgia Milestones End of Grade (EOG) and End of Course (EOC), graduation rates, college admission exams, and career pathways.

Progress Points account for 40 out of 100 points and measures the academic growth students achieve from year to year.  Schools earn points for the number of students whose academic performance on state tests in the 2016-2017 school year is considered typical or high compared to other Georgia students with similar test scores from 2015-16.

Achievement Gap Points account for 10 out of 100 points.  Schools earn points based on the average performance of the lowest 25 percent of students compared to the average performance of Georgia students statewide.

More information is available at www.atlantapublicschools.us/turnaround, and in my State of the District report.

As we continue on this journey, we expect to see continued gains and progress. I personally remain optimistic and inspired by our families, children and APS team.

Let’s gooooooooooo!


APS Takes Legal, Financial Steps to Fight County Tax Collection Delays

When the Fulton County Commission considered freezing a portion of the county’s tax digest for reassessed residential properties, Atlanta Public Schools took a strong stance in support of the county adopting a digest with a reasonable amount of growth. The commission instead opted to freeze assessments at FY2016 levels.

APS pivoted and modified our FY2018 general fund operating budget to adjust to revenues about $4 million less than we had originally planned. I’ve written about these tax assessment issues before (check here and here) where we took the position that Fulton County arbitrarily undervalued residential properties within its digest and that the freeze was improper from the beginning.

HopeHillStepsLast week, we learned that the Georgia Department of Revenue has not approved the county’s 2017 tax digest, thus causing significant delays in county tax collections.

While we appreciate the Department of Revenue’s further review of the digest, this delay in approval has major implications for the district and other municipalities that are dependent on the timely collection of tax revenue for operations.  We are feeling some of that impact now, and I cannot stress enough about the repercussions.

APS, like other school districts in Georgia, is highly dependent on local tax collections. Of the district’s $777 million general fund budget, about 62.5% comes directly from the Fulton County Tax Digest. As our fiscal year runs from July to June, APS is four months into the year without this critical source of revenue.

Anticipating delays in county tax receipts, APS secured a Tax Anticipation Note (TAN) for $100 million in August to cover bills until the collections started coming in. A Tax Anticipation Note (TAN) is a short-term loan issued by states or municipalities to finance current operations before tax revenues are received. When the taxes are collected, the debt is retired. The note is coming due in December, so APS has reviewed several other options to address short-term cash flow issues.

First, we took legal action for the immediate and temporary collection of taxes for 2017. On Friday, October 26, APS and Fulton County Schools filed a joint request in Fulton County Superior Court for the courts to intervene in this process to allow the school districts to receive property taxes.

A hearing date for the Temporary Collection Order has been scheduled for Friday, Nov. 3.

In addition to taking this unprecedented step, we are also reviewing several other options to address short-term cash flow issues. For example, the district plans to take precautionary measures to slow down outgoing cash payments by modifying payment schedules for contracted services, goods and obligations as appropriate to minimize impact to daily operations. This means that we will delay payments until right before the bill is due.

The delays will not affect funding for the governor’s 2% pay raise for teachers, but if collection delays persist, we may have to reconsider implementing furlough days, delaying until January the $500 one-time payment for employees not on the teacher salary scale and identifying ways to delay repayment of the district’s TAN in the event that we are unsuccessful in convincing the courts to intervene.

In the meantime, our Finance Department will be carefully monitoring our cash flows until revenues from the tax digest start coming in.

I am hopeful that we will hear positive news from the courts this week and that our operations will not be significantly impacted. But as stewards of public money, we have to work on our contingency plans until the matter is settled.

State of the District 2017: APS Takes on Transformation! #APSimIN

stateofdistrictliveLooking 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.

KidsSODAs 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


APS Releases Results of Independent Disparity Study

District develops plan to improve upon finding that APS awarded lower than expected contract dollars to minority- and women-owned businesses

If there is one thing I have learned from living in Atlanta for more than three years, it is that our city is home to a vibrant and diverse community. Therefore, our procurement process (the way the district bids for goods and services) should reflect the diversity of the community, which is why it is imperative for Atlanta Public Schools (APS) to make a renewed commitment to the inclusion of minority- and women-owned enterprises.

SOD2015-004A year ago, after an extensive engagement process around the SPLOST referendum, some concerns were raised regarding Minority/Women Owned Business Enterprises participation in construction and professional services contracts.  The Atlanta Board of Education made a commitment to review these concerns to determine the best approach for reaching an understanding of the issue and an appropriate resolution to the issue.

To fulfill this commitment APS commissioned Keen Independent Research, LLC, a nationally recognized third party independent firm, to complete a disparity study in order to determine whether there is a level playing field for minority- and women-owned firms when competing for construction and professional services contracts. Additionally, we looked for an assessment of what our district might do to increase opportunities for minority- and women-owned firms, as well as other small businesses, to do business with the district.

We have the results of the study in hand, and they show that the percentage of APS contract dollars going to M/WBEs was lower than expected based on availability analysis, thus identifying that disparities exist.

The study reviewed district construction and professional services contracts entered into over a five-year period from July 2011 through June 2016. Keen Research’s study of our district identified a series of potential actions for us to consider in order to correct the disparity of procurement opportunities for minority- and women-owned firms.

Our goal is to achieve better inclusive practices. We hope to level the playing field experienced by M/WBEs looking to do business with the district. We hope that by releasing this report, we will advance the dialogue regarding inclusivity and diversity of our vendors.

Lakewood_034The district identified four primary reasons why disparities exist. These include:

  1. Lack of awareness of M/WBEs for APS solicitation opportunities and how to participate in the district’s competitive solicitation process, as well as lack of opportunities for M/WBE sub-contractors to be considered by prime contractors.
  2. Complexity of the procurement process especially for smaller firms who have less experience with large government contracts.
  3. Lack of clear expectations from the district for the inclusion of M/WBEs, especially when subcontract opportunities exist.
  4. Lack of monitoring of M/WBE participation to recognize that disparities existed.

Given these identified reasons, the district is committed to the following next steps:

  1. Lack of awareness – The district will now proactively reach out to more than 1,000 M/WBEs that were identified through the study to make them aware of contracting opportunities.
  2. Complexity of procurement process – The district is launching additional “How to do Business with APS” training opportunities that will specifically target M/WBEs.
  3. Lack of clear expectations – The district is revising its solicitation process to require potential contractors to identify their inclusivity plan and to report on the awarding of subcontracts to M/WBEs.
  4. Lack of monitoring – The district is committed to implementing a monitoring and tracking system and will report out annually on the participation of M/WBEs.

Beyond these immediate next steps, our ongoing work in this area will also include reviewing non-competitive procurement methods.

Mr. Keen and I will share the results and recommendations from this disparity study at the next meeting of the Board of Education, which begins at 2:30 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 9, at the Center for Learning and Leadership, 130 Trinity Avenue. At the meeting, the Board will consider the adoption of a resolution affirming the commitment to uphold the inclusive practices in the district’s competitive solicitation process.

These findings are the catalysts for making our school district more inclusive for M/WBEs.  I want to thank the community of minority- and women-owned businesses for having patience with and confidence in APS as we explored and studied this issue and as we put plans in place to address the identified disparities.

Living the Mission: College Readiness and Access

APS pathway starts with early childhood education and includes such signposts as Georgia Milestones results, graduation rates and college entrance exam data

With a focus on graduating students for college and career readiness, Atlanta Public Schools (APS) has received quite a bit of positive news over recent weeks that indicates the district has not only been living, but actualizing, its mission: With a caring culture of trust and collaboration, every students will graduate ready for college and career.

ReadinessBlogTasselWhen we look at getting our students ready for college, we consider three critical hurdles:

  1. Our students must register and take college entrance exams such as the SAT or ACT.
  2. They must secure the necessary financial resources for college, which might include determining their eligibility for student financial aid
  3. They must actually graduate from high school!

ReadinessBlogtweet.jpgBut it is a process that goes back much further and actually starts with our youngest learners, such as reading to our pre-kindergarten students. This week we are amid Georgia Pre-K Week when our stakeholders are encouraged to visit Pre-K classrooms and read to students. I cannot say enough about the value of early childhood learning and literacy in the future successes of our children.

We continue to track progress throughout the grades. This summer, we received the official results from the Georgia Milestones, and I wrote extensively about our results here.

To summarize:

  • Fifty‐seven (57) schools achieved gains when averaged across subject areas (17 more schools than those achieving gains last year).
  • The largest gain for students in grades 3‐8 was in mathematics, where students achieved a 2.8 percentage point gain
  • More than 2/3 of the students scored Developing and above in American Literature and Ninth Grade Literature
  • Fifteen of the 16 schools that received the deepest level of supports through our Turnaround Strategy achieved gains across all subject areas.

And this leads up to our college readiness and access data. Let me take you through each to show how we are making progress.

readinessachieveMuch of the progress is definitely due to Achieve Atlanta, our partner with a mission to provide college advisement and financial assistance for college-bound students. They have reported that more than 80% of Cohort 2017 seniors registered for SAT/ACT/ACCUPLACER, which is a 28% increase over last year. They found that 61% of APS seniors last year applied to three or more colleges, which is a 27% increase, and 61% of seniors completed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), up 10 percentage points from the previous year.

These numbers are positive signs that major barriers prohibiting students from college access are being removed. But it’s not just about taking exams and completing forms. We have more students scoring at levels that indicate they are ready for college success.

Let’s look first at the SAT – one of the standardized tests widely used for college admissions, which has a point scale ranging from 400 to 1,600. The College Board, which administers the test, recently redesigned the test, so our latest scores will serve as a baseline for the future. But we found that 60 percent of our students achieved high enough scores to be deemed “college ready” in “evidence-based” reading and writing. Although our students performed lower than state averages, our students did better than the national mean in their sub-groups. African- American graduates from Cohort 2017 outperformed the national mean by 9 points, and Hispanic students outperformed the national mean by 17 points in reading and writing.

On the ACT – another standardized college readiness assessment, the number of students taking the ACT continued to rise. For APS, the average APS score increased across all subject areas when compared to last year as well as when looking at the five-year trend. APS students continue to underperform on the ACT when compared to the state, but progress is being made. The gap between APS and state performance at the composite level decreased from 3.1 points in 2013 to 2.4 points in 2017. Gaps persist across race/ethnicity groups within APS. While black, Hispanic, and white students have all achieved gains in mean composite scores over the past five years, the gap between white and black students increased from 7.5 in 2013 to 9.2 in 2017.


And, of course, students can’t have access to college and career opportunities if they don’t graduate from high school.

With a 77. 0 percent graduation rate, Cohort 2017 achieved a new district high, as recently reported by the Georgia Department of Education. Additionally, the cohort reported the largest number of APS graduates in recent years with 2,356 students – an increase of 89 students from the year before – earning their high school diplomas last year.

GraduationRatesThe APS graduation rate represents an 18 percentage point gain in three years and the highest rate the district has received since the state aligned Georgia-wide graduation rates with the national standard in 2012.  For more information regarding individual school performance please refer to the APS graduation rates media release and the ATLSuper blog.

Finally, I should note that the Achieve Atlanta investment in APS graduates in its first two years has reached $22 million. Overall, the APS Cohort 2017 earned more than $141 million dollars for college, up from about $118 million the cohort before.

We are super proud of our students and the people who support them in these accomplishments. It gives us hope and assurance that we are doing more and more to ensure that students have more access and opportunities for college and career.



Celebrate! APS Cohort 2017 Reaches Graduation Rate High of 77.0%

District graduates 2,356 students – 89 more than last year – for a 5.9 percentage point gain, closing the gap by 4.7 percentage points with the state graduation rate

As superintendent of Atlanta Public Schools, several events and parts of the year make me anxious enough that I am actually kept awake at night or left constantly checking emails – Day One, inclement weather like the recent Hurricane Irma and graduation week and data releases!

Drumroll, Please!GradTweet1

Atlanta Public School has reached a new high with its graduation rate: 77.0 percent!

Today is the official release of the official Georgia Department of Education (GaDOE) report on graduation rates. I guess I’m not so much anxious as I am eager. That’s because for APS – with its stated mission to graduate ALL students ready for college and career – this is the main benchmark measure that truly defines progress in our district.

So for me, it’s the time of year when I sit and wait for news from the GaDOE the most.

Although I have already given the news away on Twitter (and in the headline to this blog), I still want to say …

GraduationRatesIt’s official. APS graduated 2,356 students for Cohort 2017, which is 89 more than last year, for a 5.9 percentage point gain. What’s more, APS has narrowed the gap with the state graduation rate by 4.7 percentage points. The state graduation rate rose by 1.2 percentage points to 80.6 percent in 2017.

I am excited about this boost even more than in 2015 when we saw a 12 percentage point increase and last year when we maintained the gain. I am excited because it shows that we can actually build on recent success. Plus, it shows that the improvements are real. They are significant. And with three years of graduating more students (18 percentage points more!), it’s sustainable!

With the Board and our community, the district developed a mission to graduate more and more students prepared for college and career, and we are really starting to deliver. The past year saw us fully implement our new charter operating model with signature programming that directs more resources to our schools and provide targeted intervention to our lowest-performing schools. As we continue to provide those supports as well as address deficiencies in core subjects such as literacy and math, I believe we will continue seeing this wonderful upward trend.

Let’s look at the numbers. We have so many bright spots with this latest data release.

Of 17 schools’ graduating cohorts, 13 saw gains and Charles R. Drew Charter School, which graduated its inaugural class in 2017, reported a 100 percent graduation rate. Other APS schools with high graduation rates include:

  • Carver Early College, 98.8 percent
  • North Atlanta High, 94.9 percent
  • Coretta Scott King Young Women’s Leadership Academy, 94.3 percent
  • KIPP Atlanta Collegiate, 91.4 percent
  • Grady High, 88.4 percent

GradTweetCarverSchools achieving significant increases in their graduation rates include: Carver School of Technology, which achieved a 16.7 percentage point gain to reach a 79.7 percent graduation rate; followed by Therrell High School with a 12.8 percentage point gain and a 79.6 percent rate; Carver High School with a 7.4 percentage point gain and a 73.9 percent rate; and North Atlanta with a 6.6 percentage point gain and a 94.9 percent rate.

Graduation data for all of the schools is provided in this graph:


In efforts to graduate more students, we’ve adopted a series of measures to improve graduation factors for the senior class. Our Office of High Schools has created transcript audits, tracker modules and data dashboards to identify issues that might inhibit students from graduating on time. For example, the district and high schools provided students with ongoing recovery options based on their needs and encourage them to take advantage of opportunities to obtain credits. We work with every school to clearly identify all students who only needed an extended summer opportunity to graduate in 2017 and strongly encouraged them to do so.

GradTweet5.pngIn addition to keeping high school students on track to graduate with their peers, APS also stresses attendance, strong school climate and social emotional learning or SEL at the high school level and across all schools in the district.

With our efforts to improve attendance and learning environments while also providing positive behavior supports, we are making schools more conducive places for learning. When students feel safe, welcomed, respected and challenged by quality educators and programming, they are more likely to learn and stay on a path to graduate on time and ready for college and career.

For details, visit APSInsight, our great new public facing data site.  To experience graduation of Cohort 2017 again, go to my graduation blog.

GradTweetThanksNone of this progress would have been would have been possible without the hard work of a lot of people, in addition to outstanding teachers and students. At each school, we have our graduation coaches, counselors, registrars and administration teams. For the district, we have our Career, Technical and Agricultural Education (CTAE) team and our associate superintendents, including Dr. Dan Sims, our associate superintendent of high schools, providing leadership, guidance and support. We have our data and research experts, who created the dashboards and tracking tools to ensure our students remained on the pathway. We have great partnerships such as Achieve Atlanta and Communities in School, who provided advisement and tutoring and other college preparatory assistance for our students.


We couldn’t have made these gains without any of them. They worked hard last year, and they already diving into the work so that Cohort 2018 can graduate even more and more students.