Matt Cardoza, GaDOE Communications Office, (404) 651-7358, email@example.com
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Op-Ed by Superintendent Richard Woods
Georgia voters will have the opportunity to vote on a constitutional amendment
creating an Opportunity School District (OSD), which would step in and place
chronically underperforming public schools under state control.
In my view,
the Georgia Department of Education’s role in this proposal is simple: it’s our
job to make sure schools aren’t failing in the first place. I’ve charged my
staff with making sure no school ends up on this list because they
didn’t have the resources and support they needed from us. I’m not talking
about twisting numbers or gaming the system – I’m talking about real support
and real improvement, on behalf of the students who are our foremost
efforts across all GaDOE divisions, there are
a few ways we’re offering support to struggling schools:
The GaDOE has
an excellent School and District Effectiveness division, which until now has
served schools under two designations: Focus and Priority. Some of these
schools fall under the OSD legislation, which defines “persistently failing”
schools as those scoring below 60, for three consecutive years, on the College
and Career Ready Performance Index (CCRPI). Some, however, do not.
success with this model – for example, in December, 38 schools made the
measurable improvements necessary to be removed from the Priority and Focus
lists. So we’re expanding the work of the School and District Effectiveness
division and offering targeted assistance for all OSD-eligible schools.
for School and District Leaders
In June, the
GaDOE hosted a training opportunity specifically for OSD-eligible schools,
giving school and district leaders a chance to identify specific areas for
improvement and strategies to address them. According to the feedback we
received, this proved valuable for the leaders in attendance – many of them
requested sessions for other schools in their districts. We’ll continue to
offer training opportunities that allow leaders to develop targeted solutions
for their schools.
principals can learn a lot from each other. With that in mind, we’ve given
principals the option to partner with the principal of a demographically
similar school that has seen success in improved, sustained achievement. These
partnerships will allow principals to work together and share ideas, and share
what works – our mission is to educate all students, so no good idea
should be kept silent. At the training addressed above, 40 principals selected
the option to be part of the mentor schools partnership.
Climate and Culture in Schools
working to improve school climate and culture, because the research is clear:
students simply can’t learn in an environment that isn’t safe and welcoming.
That work includes the expansion of Positive Behavioral Interventions and
Supports (PBIS). PBIS holds that continual teaching, combined with
acknowledgement or feedback of positive student behavior, will reduce
unnecessary discipline and promote a climate of greater productivity, safety,
and learning. It’s an evidence-based framework proven to reduce disciplinary
incidents, increase a school’s sense of safety and support improved academic
not a constitutional amendment passes establishing an Opportunity School
District, our mission will not change. We will offer every possible resource
and support to schools, all in service of what’s most important: the classroom
and the students served there.
Woods, a 22-year public school educator and former small business owner, is Georgia’s