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How Atlanta Uses PD in School Turnaround Efforts

Live from the Learning Forward annual conference in Atlanta

Good morning! A quick post before I head into my first "concurrent session" here at the Learning Forward conference.

Beverly Hall, Atlanta Public Schools superintendent, just finished a keynote address about her district's major turnaround since 2000 and how professional development played a part. Ten years ago, she said, 50 percent of students were not meeting the standards, based on state standardized test scores. Since then, scores have shown "double digit increases" and the high school graduation rate has gone up about 25 percent. She said that the use of mentoring programs, model teacher-leaders (who offer feedback in a "nonevaluative manner"), and interdisciplinary teams—with a focus at the high school level—have all helped ot influence this change.

Hall brought up the issue of the alleged cheating in her district, calling the evidence that some teachers "betrayed the trust" of the district leaders "disappointing." Once those teachers have been identified, they will be "held accountable," she said.

The superintendent emphasized that professional development was at the "core of the reform model." She also admitted that APS has a long way to go but is "climbing out of a deep hole."

O.K. time to head out and grab a seat at a session on teacher leadership.

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