Atlanta Public Schools receives equity audit & disparities exist – but preconceived notions are likely wrong


The Atlanta Public Schools received the equity audit that was completed by Kevin Fortner from Georgia State University. The report is nearly 1,400 pages, but the text of the report is approximately 100 pages with the remainder being detailed data sheets. You can access the main report here or the entire 1,396 report here.

The report looked at five major categories of information and reviewed specific items under each major category. The items presented in the report are as follows:

Finance

  • Schools in South region appear to spend more [per student]
  • Grady and North Atlanta clusters spend less than average [per student]
  • Carver, Jackson and Washington clusters receive a greater than average share of resources

Facilities

  • Nine APS schools do not have playgrounds
  • Playground equipment varies widely by school (per 2011 report)
  • Number of science labs per school – North Atlanta had the highest number with 16 and Grady had the lowest number with 8. The remaining high schools had between 10 and 12 each.

PTA/Foundations – [the report specifically notes that the information reported is incomplete and caution should be used when interpreting the data.]

  • West region didn’t provide information on PTAs/foundations
  • South did not provide foundation information p. 32
  • 70% of responding schools had active PTAs; membership ranged from 2-800

School characteristics

  • North region has least experienced principals on average.
  • Average teacher years of experience lower in South region.
  • Teacher experience by cluster – The range is from a high of 13.7 years at Therrell & Douglas and a low of 11 years at South Atlanta and 11.6 years at Carver.
  • Washington cluster teachers had highest value-added scores; alternative school teachers had lowest value-added scores.
  • Student survey results: East, South regions rated most challenging learning environments.

Student characteristics

  • About 20% of students in East, North regions identified as gifted;
  • Gifted rates – 10% in South, West regions and charters
  • Remediation rates – 7.0% in North and East Regions – 10.0% in West and South Regions
  • State test results – North and East Regions average on CRCT 832; South Region 802 and West Region 810

As the report notes, there is a tremendous amount of variation among the schools and, while the report presents a lot of data that may lead the reader to certain conclusions, my sense is that far more study needs to be done to understand the correlations – and most importantly – the causation. As such, reaching conclusions that are based on the report’s data is premature at this time.

I would also add that I am very skeptical of the financial data included in the report and the related spending per student. There are some items in there that appear to be inconsistent with previously reported information. I am trying to get the underlying detail to confirm the accuracy of the data.

All in all, it is an interesting report that provides a lot of data for further consideration as the data provided is high level and a more detailed assessment is necessary before any solid conclusions can be formed.

[Follow me on Twitter @Financial_Decon]

One Response to Atlanta Public Schools receives equity audit & disparities exist – but preconceived notions are likely wrong

  1. Beverly Fraud says:

    First thought that comes to mind:

    Washington cluster teachers had highest value-added scores; alternative school teachers had lowest value-added scores.

    Why are we using ‘value added scores’ which are becoming exponentially discredited even as this very sentence is being typed?

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