The following is a look at some of the divisions within the Cobb County School District working daily to ensure excellence in education for the more than 103,000 students in the District.
Adequate Yearly Progress -
How Cobb Is Responding
The Cobb County School District is working to ensure that it meets the strict standards set by the Federal No Child Left Behind Act of 2002. Even while several individual Cobb schools cleared 'Needs Improvement' status in 2005, the District as a whole was deemed to have not made Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) and was labeled a Needs Improvement district. This status was attributed to the academic performance of students in specific subgroups, including students with disabilities and English language learners.
The District's Accountability Office has developed a multi-year improvement plan approved by the Georgia Department of Education that will address the areas of deficiency. This plan sets specific targets for improving the academic performance of these subgroups of students. Six academic performance goals have been set for the District: two for Students with Disabilities, three for English Language Learners, and one for Hispanic students. The improvement plan incorporates a variety of strategies designed to address specific students' needs, places a greater emphasis on writing across all subject areas, and provides for continuous monitoring of student performance.
Details about the System Improvement Plan are available for download in Adobe PDF format. For additional information, see the Accountability Office web page.
Sedalia Park Elementary students sing together at an honors assembly. The school recognizes successes in learning, attendance, and citizenship at an assembly at the end of each grading period.
Curriculum and Instruction
Maximizing Learning, Increasing Achievement
The number one strategic goal of the District is to Increase Student Achievement and the division most directly responsible for carrying out the district's strategies to improve academic performance is Curriculum and Instruction. The mission of this division is to:
Increase student achievement through the development and implementation of a rigorous, relevant curriculum and identification of effective instructional resources and strategies that challenge all students to maximize their potential.
Five strategic initiatives are in their second year of implementation.
I. PICASSO (Portal for Instruction, Curriculum, Assessments, and Student System Operations) provides a one-stop comprehensive curriculum web site for teachers, administrators, parents, and the community that includes:
· A public web site for the Cobb County community, parents, and students to review the curriculum standards and resources related to learning.
· A password protected web site for teachers and administrators to have access through PICASSO to the curriculum standards, assessments, and instructional resources. Examples of these resources include:
· Course guides (suggested pacing), unit and lesson outlines that include essential questions, vocabulary, differentiation, and strategies.
· Exemplary units developed by Cobb County teachers for Cobb County teachers.
· Online resources aligned to curriculum standards that enhance and support student learning.
· Best practices video snippets from Cobb classrooms.
· Professional development resources and training materials on selected topics, such as differentiated instruction, performance-based learning, and curriculum integration.
· Administrative resources providing information on Cobb procedures and programs.
· The high school course catalog for use by individual schools.
II. Closing the Achievement Gap - The No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act of 2001 operates on the assumption that every child - regardless of income, gender, race, ethnicity, or disability, can learn and perform on grade level. The goal is that by the school year 2013-2014, all students in America will be functioning on grade level. In implementing the law, the following initiatives are under way in Cobb County:
· Scientifically based supplemental reading services are provided students in all Title I schools.
· A school choice option is provided to ranked students who are in schools not making adequate yearly progress.
· Third-grade and fifth-grade summer school
(Click here for a review of the 2005 summer school results, in PDF format)
III. Technology Integration Standards - This initiative infuses national technology integration standards into the instructional and administrative environment. It also provides infrastructure and equipment to support the curriculum.
· The International Society for Technology in Education has produced National Educational Technology Standards for Students, Teachers, and Administrators, which are being infused into the instructional and administrative environment in the Cobb County School District.
· Student performance standards are being integrated in the Cobb County School District curriculum at every grade level, K-12, and will be integrated into every subject area through the online curriculum in PICASSO.
· The first annual North Metro Regional Technology Fair sponsored by the District was held in 2005 allowing students an opportunity to display their knowledge of subject matter using technology tools. First place winners advanced to the State Technology Fair.
· Eighteen Technology Integration Specialists work through Instructional Lead teachers in every school to assist students, teachers, and administrators in integrating technology as a tool for learning. They assist with and support school improvement plans and serve on AYP teams. These specialists also provide training and test proctoring which enables staff to meet the Special Georgia Technology Requirement required for recertification. The team creates and delivers a variety of instructional technology staff development courses emphasizing student performance standards and successful teaching strategies through online, face-to-face, and blended models. (http://www.cobbk12.org/instructionaltechnology/).
· The Level of Technology Implementation (LoTI) survey, a nationally normed assessment, has been administered to school administrators, teachers, technology specialists, and media specialists district wide to assess the success of the instructional technology initiative.
· Online resources, as noted above, are available to supplement the curriculum, assist students, and provide a secure and appropriate instructional environment. Some examples are:
NetTrekker, a collection of educator recommended and ranked web sites correlated to state and District curriculum standards, is available to District students and staff at school and at home through login.
Skills Tutor, online research-based instruction and tutoring in the basic skills, is available to all high school students in the District. Students may access one skill or entire subjects from school or home through login.
IV. Emerging Instructional Delivery Systems - This initiative further utilizes technology to enhance the teaching and learning experience while enabling instruction to be delivered to more students in new ways. Some of these include:
· The Media Services Department provides a quality collection of valuable resources, print and non-print, to support the curriculum in the Cobb County School District. These resources include Internet-based reference and video resources.
Cobb Virtual Library
Access to online reference collections is available for all students and staff from school and from home. These online collections include full-text magazine articles, newspapers, encyclopedias, biographies, maps, and pictures. They are selected for their quality and relevance to the teaching of all subjects at all levels. Students perform thousands of searches each year to access information in the Cobb Virtual Library.
Streaming Video Resources
Cobb teachers use Georgia Public Broadcasting’s video streaming website to access a large collection of educational video clips. The video collection may be searched by grade, subject area, keyword, or Georgia curriculum standard. Cobb County teachers will view more than 120,000 video clips this school year to use with students in their classrooms.
· Distance Learning for Students
The Cobb County School District is a recognized national and state leader in the use of technology to maximize and enhance learning opportunities for students. Distance learning multiplies the resources available to students and teachers and greatly increases opportunities for both teaching and learning. The mission for distance learning in Cobb is to provide online learning opportunities to meet the needs of the learning community, preparing students for academic success in the post-secondary setting.
· eHigh School
eHigh School offers quality, Internet-delivered online high school courses for students enrolled in the Cobb County School District. Since Summer 2001, eHigh School has served more than 3,000 students. During the 2004-2005 school year, eHigh School served almost 1300 students taking 1742 seats (.5 units) in 45 courses.
Traditionally, eHigh School has offered tuition courses to students who wish to take a class in addition to their regular school day schedule. In accordance with the Georgia Virtual School legislation signed by the Governor in May 2005, eHigh School has begun offering a limited number of online courses to students as part of the regular school day.
As in face-to-face classes, online classes include a teacher, lessons, homework, class discussions, and tests. The main difference is that the activities occur over the Internet at a time that is convenient for students. eHigh School offers the hallmarks of truly effective traditional education programs quality teachers, quality curriculum, and frequent student-teacher interaction. All courses are developed and taught by CCSD teachers and meet national, state and Cobb County School District curriculum standards.
To support the online learning programs in Cobb, the eLearning program has incorporated technology to teach and meet live online. Live Classroom is a fully featured synchronous virtual classroom that uses audio, video, application sharing, and content display, to enable instructors to add important elements of interaction that cannot be provided in a text-based course. These elements include real-time class discussions and office hours, guest lectures, webcasts, and meetings. In addition to the synchronous teaching and learning community building tools, the online programs have integrated web-based voice tools that facilitate and promote vocal instruction, collaboration, coaching, and assessment.
Through eHigh School, Cobb students have access to a wider range of coursework, more flexibility in scheduling, the opportunity to develop their capacities as independent learners, and increased time and opportunity to achieve because learning online is neither time nor place dependent. Additional information about Cobb’s eHigh School is available at www.cobbk12ehighschool.org.
"The best thing about eHigh School is being able to work at your own pace, not worrying about what other students were doing and the grades they were making, and not being distracted by disruptive students. Also, knowing that the teacher really cared about you and wanted to know if you needed help with anything."
NovaNET is a self-paced, individualized system that helps students recover lost credits for failed or incomplete classes. The Internet-delivered classes are offered in a classroom setting with a certified teacher and focuses studies on specific student needs. Students take unit pretests that screen their knowledge then take prescriptive lessons, followed by a posttest. With a mastery of 80 percent or higher, students can use NovaNET to catch up at their own pace. NovaNET can also be used for credit accrual through the hospital/homebound program or in special scheduling circumstances. During the 2004-2005 school year, NovaNET served 1,253 students.
V. Career Planning and Post-Secondary Success - This initiative focuses on the culminating goal for all students in Cobb County - that all students will be prepared to maximize their potential and succeed in post-secondary choices. Advanced Placement (AP) Certified Schools, a profile of Cobb County School District graduates, guidance services, and alternative education are part of this initiative.
· AP Certified Schools - The AP Certified schools prorgram is a framework or high schools that promotes student participation in advanced placement courses, including honors, AP®, and International Baccalaureate (IB). Levels of implementation include Affiliate, Certified, and Demonstration. AP Certified Schools encourage vertical teaming between middle and high schools and academic scaffolding to ensure student access to higher level coursework. More information about the APCS criteria is available on the Gifted Services web page.
· Guidance Services Each school in Cobb County has a team of school counselors who work with the staff, students, and parents to assist removing barriers that interfere with a student’s academic achievement. All school counselors are required to have a Master’s Degree in School Counseling and many have a Licensed Professional Counselor credential. Factors that might interfere with a student’s learning such as social or personal difficulties, learning problems, attendance problems, or poor decision making can be addressed through the services provided by a school counseling program. Components of Cobb’s school counseling program include:
• Classroom guidance on topics such as test taking skills, anger management, positive character traits, peer pressure, bullying, effective study habits, goal setting, and problem solving.
• Group counseling for students who need support in areas that interfere with their academic success such as poor attendance or study habits, anger management, stress management, poor social skills, or grief/loss issues.
• Group guidance for students/parents on such topics as financial aid, post-secondary planning, positive parenting, transitions to the next educational level, student safety, drug/alcohol awareness, and positive behavior management.
• Individual counseling with students to provide guidance in areas of personal growth, educational planning, career exploration, decision making, and problem solving.
• Consultation with staff including facilitation of the County’s Student Support Teams (SST), which generate strategies for improved student learning.
• Community agency/consultation referrals for students exhibiting high-risk behaviors or mental health related problems.
• Individual consultation with parents and collaboration in parent/teacher conferences.
The broad areas of Cobb County’s school counseling curriculum include academic development, career development, and personal/social development. Our school counselors also assist with the administration of standardized testing, K- 12, and provide interpretation of the test results to students, parents, and staff.
Alternative Education - provides the opportunity for students who are not experiencing success in a traditional school environment to work in an environment focusing on behavior modification, special counseling, and individualized instruction. These include: Central Alternative School, the Intensive English Language Program, Transitional Learning Center, Adult Education Center, and Oakwood High School.