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Fulton County School System converts to charter system


Fulton County students returning to school in August will find themselves in the state’s largest charter school system.

Last spring, application the

State Board of Education approved the school system’s


become a charter district, paving the way for sweeping flexibility for the system’s 100 local schools.

Beginning in August, local schools can seek approval to waive some state education requirements and implement innovations and programs that school leaders believe will lead to improved performance.

In a charter system, overall governance remains with the Fulton County Board of Education, which must approve any waivers requested by each individual school. Any policies adopted at the school board level must be followed system- wide.

The school system outlined three areas where innovations and flexibility could be gained through a charter system: • People – System-wide, policies could be approved to allow non-traditional entryways to teaching, allowing the hiring of people who may not have a teaching degree, but have valuable experience to teach students.

• Curriculum – Schools can seek waivers from seat- time requirements, and instead look at mastery of tasks. At the local level, schools could add courses and subjects, restructure TAG or seek waivers from other current regulations.

• Finances – Charter status allows freedom from some state-mandated spending requirements, allowing budgets to be based on need. This freedom could extend to the local school level, allowing local schools a greater say in how budgets are allocated.

Items that could not

be waived under a charter include a host of federal and state regulations, including provisions of the No Child Left Behind Law, Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP), state assessments like the CRCT and End of Course Tests, civil rights laws, fair labor standards and program requirements for students with special educational needs. With approval in hand,

Fulton Schools will phase in the charter system implementation over a five- year period, beginning with the 2012-2013 school year. Schools would be expected to have a functioning governance council by the 2014-2015 school year after school-level training. Governance


will be made up of parents, teachers, staff and community members – some appointed and others elected – with no faction capable of forming a voting bloc.


Newsweek ranks several local high schools on top list

Five area high schools were rated among the top high schools in the country by Newsweek magazine, which rates schools based on their participation and performance in college preparatory courses. Area high schools on the list of the top 1,000 schools include Northview (99), Chattahoochee (248), Alpharetta (268), Milton (415) and Johns Creek (845).

Since 1998, Newsweek has ranked the top public high schools in the country based on a ratio that primarily takes into account the total number of Advanced Placement (AP) and/or International Baccalaureate (IB) tests taken, divided by the number of graduating seniors. Taking these higher level courses is imperative to college success, according to research by the U.S. Department of Education, which showed the best predictors of college graduation were not good high school grades or test scores, but whether or not a student had “an intense academic experience in high school.”

Students who take AP or IB classes, then pass the test at the conclusion of the course, can earn full or partial college credit.

–Candy Waylock

Area schools named ‘Best High Schools’ by national publications teacher-student


Northview High School in Johns Creek was rated among the nation’s best high schools in U.S. News and World Report’s

recently released

survey of more than 20,000 public high schools from across the nation. According to the 2012 report, Northview ranked 219 nationally and was fourth-best in Georgia, earning it gold status among the nation’s public schools. It was the only North Fulton high school to make the list for 2012.

This is the fourth year the publication has compiled a list of the nation’s top schools. It also compiles a separate ranking for the nation’s top charter schools and magnet schools. U.S. News and World Report’s rating system is based on a formula that considers performance on state tests, Advanced Placement exams and International


exams, and also looks at schools that performed better than the state average for their least-advantaged students. In

addition, 38 ANSWER BOOK™ | 2012 Edition | Appen Newspapers, Inc. strong

readiness and math and English scores helped determine

schools’ rankings. Officials with U.S. News and

World Report said the ratings system was designed specifically to grade schools across a broad spectrum, and not just solely on test scores. “A great high school must serve all of its students well, not just those who are college-bound, and that it must be able to produce measurable academic outcomes to show the school is successfully educating its student body across a range of performance indicators,” said Robert Morse of U.S. News and World Report. In all, U.S. News and World Report evaluated data from nearly 22,000 schools, and then ranked the

top 5,000 highest-scoring ratings in

schools as gold, silver or bronze in its 2012 rankings. The data came from every state in the country, with the exception of Nebraska, which did not submit enough data to be analyzed. The top 500 schools were gold schools, followed by silver (501 through 2,000). The remaining 3,000 were awarded bronze recognition.

ratios, college the

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