New tool removes excuse of poverty from failing schools - CBS46 News

New tool removes excuse of poverty from failing schools

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(Source: WGCL) (Source: WGCL)

A powerful new tool is removing the excuse of poverty from failing schools across Georgia. It's called Beating the Odds, a method of comparing schools with similar student populations against each other.

It's also taking away some excuses for failing.

Beating the Odds is a great name. Two-thirds of Georgia third graders are failing their reading tests, just like last year and the year before.

This new state measurement is giving some schools more hope and pressing some top-performing schools to do even better.

You may not have heard much good about DeKalb County's Cross Keys High School in Brookhaven, until now.

Cross Keys student body is 99 percent minority and 82 percent low income. Still, the graduation rate jumped from half to two-thirds in three years and beat the odds.

The principal credits in large part by teaching English to the parents, who then pushed their children to graduate, like Elizabeth Aleman, whose son is the valedictorian.

"I learned English here. Now I say I can help," says Aleman.

"I think the GOSA Beating the Odds analysis is the best analysis the state of Georgia does to actually ascertain whether schools are doing well or not," says Ben Scafidi with Kennesaw State University.

Scafidi loves data and loves to measure how well schools overcome poverty to make the list of Beating the Odds.

A similar story hides in Gwinnett County, the largest and perhaps strongest school system in Georgia. Norcross Elementary School is mostly non-English speaking and low income.

The state predicts its school wide score to be a D. Instead, it's a low C.

"They blossom," says Lauren Dennis, who teachers a robotics class. "Say I might not be able to read well, but I can tell this computer what to do."

Beating the Odds goes both ways.

How about schools with great reputations which are not beating the odds?

"Not challenging the students, not getting them to perform at high levels, those parents should be very angry," says Scafidi.

He's talking about North Atlanta High School, Gwinnett County's Parkview and DeKalb County's Druid Hills not beating the odds.

Why not? We'll explain Friday on CBS46 News.

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