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November 2014

Georgia's Race to the Top 
The State of Georgia was awarded $400 million as a part of the $4 billion grant opportunity from the US Department of Education called Race to the Top.  Half of the funds are being used for state level implementation and half disbursed directly to the twenty-six partner school districts. The funds were made available in the form of competitive grants to encourage and reward states, who are creating conditions for education innovation and reform in four primary areas:
  • Recruiting, preparing, rewarding, and retaining effective teachers and principals, especially where they are needed most;
  • Adopting standards and assessments that prepare students to succeed in college and the workplace and to compete in the global economy;
  • Building data systems that measure student growth and success, and informing teachers and principals about how they can improve instruction;
  • Turning around our lowest-achieving schools.

Georgia's Race to the Top webpage

Gwinnett County Public Schools': eCLASS Success
Click to Watch Video

Race to the Top (RT3) funds were used in conjunction with other funds to support Gwinnett County Public Schools' eCLASS initiative.  So, we asked a few questions related to the project and its success.  The answers below are summaries from full report HERE.

Briefly describe the goals and components of this project.  Who was involved?

eCLASS is Gwinnett's digital Content, Learning, Assessment and Support System which provides the district with an integrated learning management system used to enhance student engagement and the learning process.  

It's a multi-year initiative that is providing students and teachers with the digital tools they need to expand the walls of the classroom, foster collaboration, and nurture creativity.  Through this initiative, GCPS has a number of opportunities for collaboration including eCLASS Collaboration Communities and the eCLASS C&I (Curriculum and Instruction) Tool.


  •  All GCPS employees have access to the eCLASS Collaboration Tool which provide a means to communicate and collaborate across the county.  Staff members may choose to join specific communities of interest to them, or they may be assigned communities depending on need. 
  • Staff are able to collaborate and share with each other via the C&I Tool.  Teachers are programmatically enrolled in shared courses by subject area at each school.
  • GCPS eCLASS staff worked with Information Management and integration partners in technical training and staff training.  
  • The Curriculum and Instruction Department supported teacher collaboration through development and posting of samples of instructional practices in model course pages, created by teams of teachers.  


    Describe an attribute that you found surprising - in a good way. 

    Many of our communities are shifting towards being more open with sharing and collaboration...As adoption of the C&I tool has taken root, teachers have utilized more and more the aforementioned collaboration opportunities contained within.  Sharing opportunities within eCLASS C&I have provided ways for non-instructional staff like counselors, media specialists and local technology coordinators to have an avenue to share content and ideas with teachers as it relates to instruction.

    Describe how the work had an impact on the culture or practices in your district, school, and/or classrooms.

    Both the communities and eCLASS C&I Tool are helping shift staff practice towards being inclusive with sharing and collaboration.  While much work had been done in the district around school-level collaboration, prior to the eCLASS implementation, there was not a ready vehicle for across-district collaboration.  The communities and the C&I tool have enhanced and increased collaborative practices across the district.



    For more information please visit the Gwinnett County Public Schools eCLASS webpage


    Georgia's high school graduation rate increases again
    72.5 percent rate represents third straight increase in state rate

    Georgia's public high school graduation rate has increased for the third consecutive year, rising from 71.8 percent in 2013 to 72.5 percent in 2014, and rising a total of 5.1 percentage points since 2011.

    "This is something to celebrate," State School Superintendent Dr. John Barge said. "When we see the graduation rate consistently trending upward and when we see a greater percentage of our students graduating from our public high schools, we are talking about individual students and individual dreams.  We're talking about students whose options and futures expanded when they obtained a high-school diploma. So we are celebrating their victories, and turning toward the future, and the work necessary to make those dreams a reality for an even higher percentage of students."

    This is the fourth year Georgia has calculated the graduation rate using a new formula - known as the adjusted cohort rate - now required by the U.S. Department of Education. The four-year adjusted cohort graduation rate defines the cohort based on when a student first becomes a freshman; it is calculated using the number of students who graduate within four years and includes adjustments for student transfers.  In contrast, Georgia's former graduation rate calculation defined the cohort upon graduation, which may have included students who took more than four years for graduate.

    "While all states now calculate the graduation rate using the same formula, what each state requires to earn a diploma varies dramatically across the country," Superintendent Barge said.  "Georgia has one of the highest sets of standards in the country for students, so our graduation rate typically doesn't look very good when compared to the nation -- but it's simply not an apples-to-apples comparison.  What we're ultimately concerned about in Georgia is that more and more students earn a high school diploma, and we're seeing that happen each year."


    More Information:


    State Graduation Rates

    2014 - 72.5 percent

    2013 - 71.8 percent

    2012 - 69.7 percent

    2011 - 67.4 percent


    2013 graduation rate
    2013 4-Year Cohort Graduation Rates with subgroups.xls

    2013 4-Year Cohort Graduation Rates - Districts and Schools with Counts.xlsx

    2012 graduation rate

    2012 4-Year Cohort State and System Graduation Rate.xls

    2012 4-Year Cohort School-level Graduation Rate.xls

    Four-year Adjusted Cohort Graduation Rate Calculation


    Richmond County Schools: Technology Trainers in Residence Success

    Georgia's Race to the Top Helps Richmond County Schools TTR Program
    Click to Watch Video

    Briefly describe the goals and components of this project.  Who was involved?

    The Technology Trainers in Residence (TTR) project was designed to create teacher leaders in each school who serve in an important role as the technology experts in their building.  By providing embedded professional learning and support, the TTRs are the "go to" people in each school to help teachers integrate standards-based instructional technology into the classroom.

    Data from our needs assessment showed that our teachers had a wide range of technology skills, and many of our teachers did not feel confident in leading students to use technology beyond a basic level.  Because our school system was faced with yearly budget cuts, furloughs in place of professional learning days, and the elimination of positions, funding was not available to hire more technology trainers to meet the growing needs for our 56 schools.  We were looking for a way to meet teachers where they are, while building teacher capacity to seamlessly use technology to facilitate a greater depth of knowledge in student work.

    Describe an attribute that you found surprising - in a good way.

    One of the surprising elements of this program was to see how well the TTRs stepped up into the role as the instructional technology leader.  While most TTRs have many other responsibilities, they continue to be excited about learning and sharing new ideas with their peers and helping them to feel supported to take new risks.  As a result, our data shows an increase use across the system in Edmodo, Google Drive, and other various software and website applications to support our BYOT (Bring Your Own Technology) initiative.  It is evident that most of our TTRs serve in this role because they love their mission. 

    Describe how the work had an impact on the culture or practices in your district, school, and/or classrooms

    Our school system is located in a high-poverty urban district.  Therefore, many of our students do not have access to personal technology or Internet connection in their homes.  With our Race to the Top funds, we were able to infuse several activities allowing us to add wireless capabilities in schools, to allow BYOT in every school, and to provide additional mini-grants awards for teachers with an innovative project to support personalized learning.  The TTRs are the catalyst that underpins this huge effort with embedded professional learning and peer support that is now available to every teacher.  This has made a significant impact on teaching and learning in classrooms across the system.  Students are now using hand-held devices for real-time research and to become literate in 21st Century skills and cognitive demands.


    For more information about Richmond County Schools' TTR program, please visit their TTR program webpage via HERE

    Photo Credit: Rockdale STEM Academy

    Last year at Rockdale 21st Century Academy of Environmental Studies, eighth grader Yasin learned about magnetism, electricity and circuits in his Energy and Sustainable Technology course.  His classmates, Imani and Max, figured out how to create solar power through wind turbines and solar panels. These hands-on learning experiences are part of a rigorous sequence of courses (others include biomedical engineering, meteorology and forensics) at Rockdale, one of only two STEM-focused middle school programs in Georgia.

    The goal of the middle school, located east of Atlanta in Rockdale County, is to encourage students to enter a rigorous STEM-focused high school and ultimately go into science-based careers.  That is just what Max, Yasin and Imani want to do: Max, a medical professional; Yasin, an engineer; and Imani, a pediatric neurosurgeon.  

    The students spoke about their school and their plans in a video that describes the academy program and its founding.

    The academy is one of 23 projects launched or expanded since 2011 with financial support from Georgia's Innovation Fund, which was in turn underwritten by the State's Federal Race to the Top grant.


    You are receiving this information based upon your subscription and/or involvement with Georgia's Race to the Top activities.  If you would like to unsubscribe, then please click below.  
    The contents of this newsletter were developed under a grant from the U. S. Department of Education.  However, these contents do not necessarily represent the policy of the U. S. Department of Education, and you should not assume endorsement by the Federal Government.

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    Georgia Department of Education
    Race to the Top Communications

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