Students and families are the heart of local public school districts.
Research shows that healthy school districts that are connected to their communities and promote equitable policies and practices enjoy greater parent engagement, student success and staff satisfaction.
Policies that seek to improve the accountability, function and governance of school districts should prioritize the students and families they serve and avoid a patchwork of private interventions in public schools. All students deserve public schools that are accountable to their communities.
Learn more about IDRA’s work to grow and sustain school district health below.
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Georgia rates its school districts’ performance on a 0-100 scale called the College and Career Ready Performance Index (CCRPI). This index incorporates components including content mastery, progress, closing gaps, readiness and high school graduation rate. Georgia has attempted to use schools’ poor performance on this measure as justification for state takeovers of these schools.
In 2015, the state legislature under the direction of Governor Nathan Deal approved legislation that would have amended the Georgia Constitution to allow the state to create a new statewide school district aimed at improving low-performing schools. However, as this change required a constitutional amendment be put to voters, the effort was eventually defeated with 60% of voters opposing the measure.
The following year, the legislature passed a bill that created a new position called the “Chief Turnaround Officer” and provided additional turnaround coaches for low-performing schools, but notably the bill did not allocate these districts any additional support. This approach found disfavor under the next governor and his appointed state superintendent, and the funding for the chief turnaround office was slashed and the position’s power greatly reduced in 2020.
The Georgia Department of Education still offers additional advice to schools in bottom 5% of CCRPI scores, schools with low graduation rates and schools with consistently underperforming subgroups. But support is limited to advice and guidance on governance and programming and does not include additional financial resources.
Policy Recommendations for Georgia
To grow and sustain school district health, Georgia education leaders should:
- Prioritize ways to support struggling districts before implementing takeover procedures.
- Add opportunity-to-learn metrics as part of their accountability systems to allow the state to focus its resources on areas of need, thereby increasing the efficiency of the system.
- Implement regular, robust equity audits and wraparound services to embed equitable education and family engagement in district activities.
For more information, contact Terrence Wilson, J.D., IDRA Regional Policy and Community Engagement Director (firstname.lastname@example.org).