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1701 Mountain Industrial Boulevard Stone Mountain, GA 30083-1027 678-676-1200

Superintendent Mr. Michael L. Thurmond

NEWS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

PRESIDENT & CEO OF AdvancED AND DEKALB COUNTY SCHOOL SUPERINTENDENT ISSUE STATEMENTS ON AJC POLITIFACT ARTICLE Dr. Mark A. Elgart and Superintendent Michael Thurmond Take Issue with Newspapers Characterization of DeKalb County School District

DEKALB COUNTY (October 16, 2013) Today, Mark A. Elgart, Ed.D., President/CEO of AdvancED, and Michael Thurmond, Superintendent of the DeKalb County School District, issued statements in response to an opinion article in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution entitled, Progress of schools overstated, which appeared in the periodic column, AJC Truth-O-Meter, PolitiFact Georgia, Oct. 16, 2013. Dr. Elgart: We have no problem with the characterization by Superintendent Thurmond of our Monitoring Review Report dated May 15-17, 2013, When SACS came back at midterm for review we got straight As. While not part of our assessment terminology, a school grade metaphor is appropriate for the Superintendent to use to describe what our team found in the midterm review. Indeed, we found that the DeKalb County School District had made noteworthy progress in all 11 Required Actions. We noted in the report that upon appointment on February 8, 2013, Superintendent Thurmond immediately began work on a Ninety-Day Action Plan to address the 11 Required Actions. He has made this a high priority by appointing a core team committee, soliciting technical assistance support from AdvancED and being actively engaged in the process with weekly team meetings and monthly reports to the DeKalb Board of Education. Of particular note from the report, we observed that the district established and identified specific budget parameters with the goal to develop and implement a balanced budget for FY 2014. Student academic achievement and career readiness has been prioritized and work has begun to strengthen parent, guardian and mentor involvement in school and district business. The district has implemented a plan that will improve operational efficiency throughout DeKalb County School District and continue to rebuild trust with internal and external stakeholders. 1

The Monitoring Team reviewed evidence and documented progress by conducting extensive interviews of both internal and external stakeholder groups, the leadership team, governing body and others. Our mid-term review in May 2013 was not to evaluate the Districts accreditation status but to determine what, if any progress was made on the 11 Required Actions. A change in accreditation status may be considered in December 2013. Mr. Thurmond: Since my appointment in February 2013, I along with the DeKalb Board of Education, administrators, parents, teachers, students and other stakeholders have worked tirelessly to restore trust and integrity to the DeKalb County schools. Any objective analysis would conclude that we have made noteworthy and significant progress and much work remains to be done. A key element of us achieving our ultimate goal of full accreditation is recognizing incremental successes and accomplishments on the journey to reestablishing DeKalb as a national model. To marginalize and discredit the hard work and sacrifices that have been and are being made is unfair, unwarranted and counterproductive. In the educational arena, an A grade is generally awarded when a student receives a score of 90-100. It is important to note that an A does not require perfection but an A does represent significant and noteworthy achievement. Although AdvancED does not give letter grades, I was speaking metaphorically to parent stakeholders at Towers High School about the importance of the interim report, which noted significant improvements during the last two months and recognizable progress in creating the foundations to address the 11 Required Actions. The sole purpose of the Monitoring Review was to determine if progress was being made. In December 2012, AdvancED noted that there were 11 Required Actions the administration and board must address in order to regain unconditional accreditation. The May 2013 midterm monitoring report documented that the district was making considerable progress in addressing ALL11 Required Actions, and we look forward to the Monitoring Review scheduled for December 9-10, 2013. We stand by our characterization of straight As for the AdvancED/SACS Monitoring Review Report for the DeKalb County School District. A distinction that parents, teachers, students and taxpayers can be proud of. Contacts: Quinn Hudson 404.486.3710 quinn_hudson@fc.dekalb.k12.ga.us Jennifer Oliver 678.392.2285, ext. 5547 joliver@advanc-ed.org 2