Cobb County Superintendent Dr. Michael Hinojosa applauded the efforts of Dr. Denise Magee, principal, and her staff for their crackdown on tardies in recent weeks.
“There were some concerns that there were too many kids not in class on time,” he said Tuesday at a meeting. “So she clamped down. And for every action there’s usually an adverse reaction. When you start holding people accountable they’re going to have some issues.”
Some students . Friday, March 2 a food fight broke out in the cafeteria and two fire alarms were pulled. Some students used Twitter and Facebook to coordinate the disorderly conduct. Magee sent a letter home to parents the following Monday saying there would be increased police presence on campus as a result of the students’ protest.
Hinojosa noted that despite the negative reaction, the . The first day the policy was enforced there were 120 tardies across the entire school. A week later there were only 12, he said.
“It’s not what happens to you it’s how you respond,” Hinojosa said. “You are responsible for your response. You have the ability to respond. I am proud of Denise and her team that they responded and got control. And yes, you heard about it, but it is what it is. So it’s not what happens, but how you take control.”
The superintendent also spoke about Georgia’s recent No Child Left Behind waiver. Georgia was one of 10 states granted a waiver to the act in February by President Barack Obama. The waiver puts an end to adequate yearly progress, the accountability system that measures schools based on their progress in three areas: literacy, math and attendance for elementary and middle schools or graduation rate for high schools. However, this doesn’t mean the standards are relaxing.
“We’re still going to be held accountable for all students, but it’s going to be much more reasonable,” Hinojosa said. “In fact we are simultaneously developing an index. These indexes are going to include a lot more things than what’s been on a one-time paper pencil test. So you’re going to get credit for not only your absolute performance, but also how much value you add, how much improvement students have made over time. The climate is important on the campus. That’s going to be measured.”
Hinojosa used Smyrna’s to show the benefits of the new criteria. On a recent surprise visit to the school, he said he was impressed with the cleanliness and general positive attitude of the teachers and students. He noted that Principal Mike Bivens knew every student he met in the hallways.
“It’s amazing what goes on at that campus,” he said. “I don’t know what their accountability rating is, but I know that was a very exciting school. And that’s what we want to be able to do is give people credit for having that kind of environment where he knew every student. The students knew him. Their performance was very public. They weren’t ashamed to put it out there.”
Hinojosa said he hopes the new index will address what he coined “educational malpractice.”
“This happened in Texas I know for a fact," he said. "The smart kids would be left alone because they’re not going to hurt me on my test. The kids that are struggling they’ll be left alone because they’re not going to pass anyway so my school’s not going to look any better. So they would focus on the bubble kids. If I focus on these kids on the bubble and make them successful my school looks good.
"Now under the new system, if you move the high performing kids forward, you get credit. These kids over here, if you didn’t ignore them and you move them to here, you get credit for moving them. They still fail, but next year they’re going to pass because didn’t ignore them. These are specific things that there’s (currently) no index for.”