Team from Council of the Great City Schools studies APS’ recent NAEP results

A seven-member Council of the Great City Schools (CGCS) team spent three days this week (Nov. 30-Dec. 2) interviewing APS principals, administrators, parents and community leaders and reviewing a large amount of data as part of the Washington, D.C.-based group’s assessment of the district’s performance on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) tests in recent years.

APS is among a relatively small number of urban school districts that has experienced consistent gains in student achievement on NAEP tests from 2002 through 2007. NAEP is administered every other year. The results of last year’s NAEP test are expected to be released later this month.

The CGCS analysis is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and involves extensive interviews and research at the district level, along with an analysis of federal NAEP data. CGCS is trying to identify specific factors that have fostered APS students’ consistent improvement in performance on NAEP tests.

Michael Casserly, CGCS executive director, said the district’s gains are attributable to the decade-long school reform program and the consistency of APS leadership.

“It is obvious that all stakeholders have thoroughly embraced the school reform program in Atlanta Public Schools,” said Casserly. “There is a clear vision of what the reform program is. There are clearly established goals and objectives. And everyone shares a consistent understanding of what the reform program is about.”

Casserly said the school reform effort is part of the APS culture, and it would be difficult for any potential change in leadership to alter it. “That’s what a good leader does: fosters a proven effective reform program that becomes deeply rooted and sustainable over time and produces consistent positive results,” he said.

The CGCS team will produce a report on its analysis early next year.

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