1.24 Atlanta Public Schools Weekly News Tip Sheet

Office of Communications and Public Engagement
130 Trinity Avenue SW | Atlanta, Georgia 30303

Ian Smith, Executive Director
404-802-2855, office
404-603-6934, cell

Seth Coleman, Media Relations Manager
404-802-2891, office
404-406-5570, cell


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                     

January 24, 2019


Atlanta Public Schools Weekly News Tip Sheet
(January 21 - 26)

Editors/Producers/Reporters: The following is a list of events, programs and/or initiatives occurring in Atlanta Public Schools (APS) this week. Please use it as a guide as you develop your coverage plans. Thank you for your interest in Atlanta Public Schools!

Atlanta Public Schools Receives
FY2018 Financial Efficiency Star Rating (FESR) from State

ATLANTA – The Georgia Department of Education (GADOE) today released the Financial Efficiency Star Ratings (FESR) for schools and school districts in Georgia. The goal of the FESR is to provide a comparison of district spending per student with overall academic performance, specifically the College and Career Ready Performance Index (CCRPI). Atlanta Public Schools FESR for FY2018 is 1.5 stars on a scale of 5 stars.

The ratings and other tools are available on The Governor’s Office of Student Achievement (GOSA) website here

Atlanta Public Schools Chief Financial Officer Lisa Bracken states, “APS respects this attempt to measure the district’s proficiency in educating students in a cost-effective manner, however, a number of unique factors and challenges must be taken into consideration.”   

  • A large proportion of our students are in high-need and high-cost categories, including special education, ESOL and high poverty.  APS is committed to providing additional services to meet the needs of these students. 


  • APS maintains low-population neighborhood schools, due to urban traffic constraints and community needs.  Low-population schools may yield greater per pupil expenditures as they are unable to take advantage of economies of scale.


  • APS has a large unfunded pension liability, with an annually increasing obligation until 2027.  The severity of this financial strain is unique to APS.


  • Atlanta has one of the highest costs of living in the state of Georgia, which impacts salary requirements needed to attract and retain quality employees.

Per pupil expenditures in APS have been and will continue to be driven by efforts to increase student achievement, and the results of the most recent Georgia Milestones assessments – which continue to improve, as the District achieved year-over-year gains in the percentage of students scoring proficient and above on 18 of 24 (75%) End-of-Grade and End-of-Course assessments, compared to gains in just over half (52%) in the previous year – indicate that while the district still has a long way to go, it continues to move in the right direction.

As such, the district expects to continue making significant investments to improve student achievement. For the FY2018 school year, the district invested $32 million in its turnaround strategy for low-performing schools.

APS will remain committed to providing its students with a high-quality educational experience, while implementing a fiscally responsible approach that minimizes the impact on tax payers and makes efficient use of public dollars.


(Friday | 4 p.m.) Fickett Elementary to Host Book Signing for Nine Student Authors

Fickett Elementary School (3935 Rux Road, SW) will host a book signing ceremony for nine students who are now published authors! The students are members of the school’s Young Authors Program and have received copy rights for their books. The event is in celebration of National Reading Day.

The young authors are:

John Ethan Drake (“Aoura”); Kai Hankerson (“Anggie’s Galazy Academy”); Kemina Lane (“Confessions of a Smart Kid”); Dalena Carroll (“My Awesome Magnificent Totally Cool Life”); Da’lilah Street (“The Mystery of Mr. Hinestein”); Israel Wray (“Pepe the Frog and the Beanstalk”); Ashton Dious (“Creepy Night on Rux Road”); Brooklyn Stowers (“The Evil Eyelash Queen’s World of Weird Things”); and Deandra Byrd (“The Mystery of Maria”).

Report on Education of the Whole Student Released by National Commission on Social, Emotional & Academic Development (SEAD)

Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Meria J. Carstarphen is part of a national coalition of education officials who have released an extensive report dedicated to the education of the whole student.

The Aspen Institute National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development’s (SEAD) “From a Nation at Risk to a Nation at Hope” asserts that our nation is at a turning point, understanding that social, emotional, and cognitive development underpins children’s academic learning. This breakthrough of understanding how people learn is fueling a growing movement to educate children as whole people, with social and emotional as well as academic needs, the report says.

“APS is committed to the continued work of SEL implementation,” said Dr. Carstarphen, a National SEAD Commission member. “We are already seeing promising outcomes in APS such as reduced discipline rates and higher staff engagement based on what we’ve put into place over the past four years. This includes SEL curriculum in every APS school, embedded SEL language and competencies within our curriculum documents, onboarding of our own police department so that they are also mentors and teachers to students, investing in adult SEL trainings such as Restorative Practices, ensuring SEL components are a key part of our teacher and leader hiring practices, and so much more.

“It has been my great privilege to be a part of the commission’s work over the last two years,” Dr. Carstarphen said, “as well as to be a part of the launch event in DC.”

 “A Nation at Hope” emphasizes that translating knowledge about how people learn into practice, and helping students develop skills like collaboration, empathy, and perseverance, requires systemic change. It offers specific actions in research, practice, and policy to fundamentally shift how we teach children, with the understanding that the social, emotional, and cognitive dimensions of learning are mutually reinforcing rather than distinct.

The report recommends taking these key steps:

  • Set a clear vision that broadens the definition of student success to prioritize the whole child.
  • Transform learning settings so they are safe and supportive for all young people.
  • Change instruction to teach students social, emotional, and cognitive skills; embed these skills in academics and school-wide practices.
  • Build adult expertise in child development.
  • Align resources and leverage partners in the community to address the whole child.
  • Forge closer connections between research and practice to generate useful, actionable information for educators.

Drawing on input from more than 200 scientists, youth and parent groups, educators and policymakers, the report seeks to accelerate and strengthen efforts in local communities. These recommendations are especially pertinent as states and communities continue to leverage their increased authority on education policy under the federal Every Student Succeeds Act. The report includes specific strategies that schools, districts, and communities can pursue related to each recommendation and examples of places that are engaged in these efforts. 

The report also outlines evidence that confirms that supporting students’ social, emotional and academic development has a positive impact on their attendance, test scores, success in college and careers, and overall well-being. This approach also improves students’ feelings about school and makes schools safer.

Other Commission members include Co-Chair Dr. Timothy Shriver (Chairman of the Special Olympics), Honorary Co-Chair Dr. James Comer (Maurice Falk Professor of Child Psychiatry, Yale Child Study Center), former National Urban League President and CEO Hugh Price, and three former governors (John Engler, Michigan; Terry McAuliffe, Virginia; Brian Sandoval, Nevada).


Members of the media are invited to attend all events on the weekly APS News Tip Sheet. If you have an interest in these stories, please contact Seth Coleman, Media Relations Manager.