Jul 28, 2014

SPARK registration Thursday, school ranks high in local survey

Midtown man compiles a ranking of academic performance in Metro Atlanta´s public elementary schools

SPARK registration Thursday, school ranks high in local survey

Ever since the most recent Atlanta Public Schools redistricting process began last year, supporters of (SPARK) have pushed for expansion.

And if you’re considering enrolling your child at SPARK, those same supporters would like you to do so as soon as possible. If you missed the registration dates during the spring, the next opportunity to do begins Thursday. Expansion plans for SPARK are pending enrollment numbers, so the sooner school supporters know the numbers, the sooner they can push for more space.

But what kind of school is it? According to Midtown resident Jarod Apperson, it’s a pretty darn good one. In seeking to alleviate a lack of accessible information, Apperson set out to compile a ranking of academic performance in Metro Atlanta's public elementary schools and this week he posted his findings online.

He ranked SPARK 41st out of 500 elementary schools, earning a 10 out of 10 for academics.

"I have ranked each of Metro Atlanta’s public elementary schools considering both the school’s overall performance (40%) and it’s performance relative to peer schools (60%)," Apperson explained on his site.  

"Peer schools are schools whose students have a similar level of needs. In my analysis, economic disadvantage, English language learners, ethnicity, and special education are each considered in determining a school’s level of needs. A more technical explanation is provided in  the linked methodology." 

In an email to Midtown Patch, Apperson explained why he put the rankings together: “I decided to do the review because I think it’s important for parents to have easy access to information on schools. In other cities, the local newspapers have sites dedicated to rating schools based on their academic performance and diversity. NYC has a very well-developed school report card system, and, in my opinion, one of the best sites is The New York Times´ Schoolbook.

I’m a big believer in public education and I thought Metro Atlanta should have something similar, so I took the data that the Governor’s office releases, and prepared the analysis. I incorporated what the NYC schools are doing, as far as finding "peer schools" based on the level of student needs, and reporting performance relative to peers.”

From the site:

As readers review the findings, they will see the following four data points presented for each school:

  • Academic Performance: A rating from 1 to 10, which reflects the school’s percentile ranking among peer and Georgia state schools.
  • Grade: A rating from A – F for each school. The ratings are broken down by the following percentiles:  A – Top 20 Percent; B – Next 25 Percent; C – Next 30 Percent; D – Next 15 Percent; F – Bottom 10 Percent
  • Diversity Index: A rating from 1 to 10 reflecting the ethnic and socio-economic diversity of the school.
  • Needs Index: A rating from 1 to 10 reflecting the level of student needs within the school. This rating is used to determine which other Gerogia State schools are peers of the school being analyzed.

As with any ranking, the results depend on the methodology, so those who are interested are encouraged to read the complete methodology  here. For a searchable PDF, see here: Grading Atlanta’s 2011 Rankings of Metro Atlanta’s Elementary Schools.  

As far as SPARK registration is concerned, here are the upcoming dates and the times are from 9 a.m. to noon each day: June 7, 8, 12, 13, 19 and 20.

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