Eight metro Atlanta public schools districts — including Cobb and Marietta — have joined to improve students’ academic success.
The new partnership, Learn4Life, is linking the school districts, businesses and nonprofit organizations to improve six key educational yardsticks:
♦ Kindergarten readiness
♦ Third-grade reading proficiency
♦ Eight-grade math proficiency
♦ High school graduation rates
♦ Post-secondary enrollment
♦ Post-secondary completion
Learn4Life is part of national association. The metro Atlanta organization launched this past week. Cities including Cincinnati, Dallas and Minneapolis have used a similar model.
The organization will share best practices stemming from district-sponsored programs or outside businesses. Learn4Life will play “matchmaker” among the school districts to help different school districts implement successful programs, said Paul Donsky, a spokesperson for the Atlanta Regional Commission. The commission is involved in Learn4Life.
Learn4Life is a collaborative effort to “move the needle” for metro Atlanta students. It is not a new level of bureaucracy, Donsky said.
The organization has already identified areas of improvement.
Learn4Life reports 79 percent of the eight school districts’ students graduated from high school in 2015.
Cobb’s graduation rate of 81.4 percent that year is 2.1 higher than the regional average, while Marietta’s graduation rate of 74.7 percent fell below the regional average by 4.3 percentage points.
Learn4Life also reported only 38 percent of metro Atlanta eighth graders were deemed proficient in math during the 2014 to 2015 school year. That same year, 46.2 of Cobb’s eighth graders and 38.1 of Marietta’s eighth graders scored proficiently on the state Milestones math test, according to the state Department of Education.
Learn4Life is also concerned with the number of third graders who are not reading on grade-level by third grade.
The new collaborative partnership will align resources in metro Atlanta to positively influence the school district’s student achievement and workforce readiness, said Marietta Superintendent Grant Rivera.
“Although our districts are separated by county and city lines, we can all benefit from collaborating around student achievement data, best practices and mobilization of regional resources,” he said.
The Cobb and Marietta school districts are already working to improve their students’ academic performance.
For example, Cobb School District officials reported in March that the district’s literacy pilot program has greatly increased the participating schools’ reading scores.
The six participating schools — Green Acres, Smyrna, Norton Park, Fair Oaks, Belmont Hills elementary schools and Riverside Primary School — have seen increases in reading skills ranging from 53 to 100 percent, said Mary Elizabeth Davis, the district’s chief academic officer.
The Cobb School District is also implementing two pre-kindergarten programs next school year to improve its students’ kindergarten readiness while Marietta City Schools is working to develop early learning options that could include pre-kindergarten.
The eight participating school districts are: Cobb County School District, Marietta City Schools, Atlanta Public Schools, City Schools of Decatur, Clayton County Public Schools, DeKalb County School District, Fulton County Schools and Gwinnett County Public Schools.