Charter School's Approach Admired by Education Panel State Reform Group May Borrow Concepts

Article excerpt

ATLANTA -- Students at the Bishop Hall Charter School don't receive letter grades at the end of the year, instead they progress to new concepts after proving to teachers at the Thomasville charter school they mastered previous lessons.

In Fulton County's schools, teachers and administrators follow a management model used by Georgia's top companies to make sure students receive quality education.

In the era of accountability, more school officials are bucking traditional school management and teaching for methods that better cater to students and their parents.

At a committee meeting yesterday of the governor's Education Reform Commission, members listened to a number of alternatives for teaching students. Suggestions, including allowing students to work at their own pace and forgoing letter grades, were presented to the group. Allowing school administrators the ability to choose how to run campuses and teach children has been the topic of much discussion through the week's committee meetings.

Some of the suggestions put before the governor's commission aren't commonly practiced in Georgia schools, even though the concepts seem elementary.

"One of the frustrations our teachers have had is that they teach and teach and teach and then give the students an assessment at the end of the year, and they don't get any results back until the following August," said Martha Greenway of the Fulton County School System.

The school system remedied the problem by helping teachers monitor and track student performance throughout the year. Instructors then use the information to identify areas where individual students were struggling. Fulton County also adopted a management program commonly used by corporations to track performance and profits, and officials said schools need to adopt such common-sense measures.

"There is always some resistance to change," said Stephen Dolinger, superintendent of Fulton County schools. …