AYP Results Out Thursday; Ivy Prep Proposes Two DeKalb Campuses

Mike Klein, GPPF Editor

Thursday will be a headline maker when the state releases 2011 graduation rate data and AYP – the Adequate Yearly Progress reports that are tied to the No Child Left Behind initiative. The state will not break out its voluminous data into special subsets – for instance, Atlanta Public Schools that were identified for test cheating during a recent special prosecutors’ investigation.

Last week a department official said DOE would report two graduation rates – the traditional “Leaver Rate” that has been used for years with AYP evaluations and the new “Cohort Rate” that all schools nationwide must use starting next year.  DOE has data for both methods but on Wednesday a spokesman said it will hold back reporting the “Cohort Rate” until this fall.

The “Leaver Rate” is often knocked for producing artificially high numbers because at best it is an estimate that does not count all students, for instance, dropouts.  The “Cohort Rate” method tracks every student over four years and it is considered to be more accurate.

Last year Georgia reported an 80 percent graduation rate using the “Leaver” method.  A state DOE official said the 2011 “Cohort Rate” could be 15 percent lower – a significant difference. AYP and graduation data will be posted on the DOE website at about 2:00pm Thursday.

Ivy Prep Proposes DeKalb County Campuses

Meanwhile, Ivy Prep Academy could become three schools under an idea unveiled Wednesday.  The high profile Gwinnett County-based all-girls charter school has applied for two state special school charters – one each for new boys and girls schools in DeKalb County.  Ivy Prep officials were unavailable to discuss the new plan, but a state official explained how it might work.

“They’re able to do this because they were denied by the DeKalb Board of Education last Monday night, July 11,” said Louis Erste, state DOE charter schools division director. The state board could vote on Ivy’s two petitions at its August 10 meeting, or even earlier.

Ivy Prep requested DeKalb permission to open boys and girls schools in the county during the 2012 – 2013 school year. The board said no. It also rejected Ivy’s request for DeKalb local dollars to support DeKalb resident girls who already attend the Academy’s Gwinnett location.

State special charter authorization for DeKalb boys and girls would appear to improve Ivy Prep’s financial position. Currently the Academy has 200 DeKalb girls in the Gwinnett location but this fall there will be no local share dollars from Gwinnett or DeKalb to support their instruction. A state special charter would increase the per pupil state assistance. The original location would continue to operate as a Gwinnett school system local charter.

Ivy’s Prep petition that was transmitted Wednesday to the state DOE was not released. The school could locate boys and girls inside one building or in different buildings. One possible location could be the Atlanta address for Peachtree Hope Charter School which will not open next month.   Peachtree withdrew its DeKalb County application and it has not applied for a state special school charter.

DeKalb County resident parents of Ivy Prep students could soon be faced with a decision about where to send their children. “It will be a family decision in each case,” said Erste at DOE. “The girls that are at Gwinnett could continue to go to Gwinnett if they so choose.”

Extra Charter School Funds Possible

In another move, the state may have a found a way to increase the base award paid to four schools that were originally authorized by the now defunct state charter schools commission. The four schools could see their individual awards increase by $300,000 to about $1 million.

Three schools will open this fall – Cherokee Charter Academy in Canton, Heritage Prep Academy in Atlanta and the statewide digital learning Georgia Connections Academy. Provost Academy is the fourth school; it would receive funds to prepare for a fall 2012 opening.

Erste said the state DOE is encouraged about its prospects after conversations with the U.S. Department of Education which must approve the change. “They’ve indicated there shouldn’t be a problem but until you get the final answer you don’t have it,” Erste said. The increase would apply only to former commission schools that did not previously receive a base award.

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