Walton Family Foundation to Support Atlanta Public Schools Turnaround Efforts

Staff Report From Metro Atlanta CEO

Friday, February 24th, 2017

The Walton Family Foundation announced it will invest $2.1 million to support and evaluate the success of Atlanta Public Schools’ Turnaround Strategy. The grants will also help the district launch APS Insights, a first-of-its-kind data dashboard available this summer to share information about school options and quality with Atlanta parents.
“APS is grateful to the Walton Family Foundation for its continued support of our students and educators,” said APS Superintendent Meria J. Carstarphen, Ed.D. “These funds will allow us to provide real-time student achievement and behavior data to parents, evaluate the effectiveness of the district’s Turnaround Strategy, and ensure successful implementation of the district’s first turnaround partner schools.”
This investment marks the first time the Walton Family Foundation is working directly with Atlanta Public Schools to expand access to and information about quality schools. The foundation is a longtime supporter of public schools in Atlanta, investing nearly $9.2 million to help more parents access high-quality schools since 1999.
“We commend Superintendent Carstarphen and APS leadership for taking bold steps to improve schools in Atlanta, and know that students, parents, and educators will all benefit from these initiatives,” said Marc Sternberg, K-12 Education Director at the foundation. “Children win when parents have the opportunity to choose a great school from multiple high-quality options, and cities win when high-quality schools can grow to serve all students.”
Foundation investments will support three distinct projects: creation and launch of APS Insights; an evaluation of APS’ Turnaround Strategy by nationally reputed researchers at Mathematica; and grants to two APS Turnaround schools restarting this year and next.
APS Insights

The foundation will invest $550,000 to support the development of APS Insights, a tool to help parents access useful, easy-to-understand information about schools across Atlanta. It will also provide parents real-time updates about their child’s grades, attendance and behavior – creating new, innovative opportunities for parents and teachers to work together to ensure student success. As the tool is developed, APS will create opportunities to solicit community feedback.
Mathematica Evaluation of APS Turnaround Strategy

With $900,000 in foundation support, APS selected the renowned research institution Mathematica to conduct a three-year evaluation of efforts to improve consistently low-performing schools. Not only will this research help educators across Atlanta learn from both successes and challenges in turnaround schools, it will also inform the actions of districts and education stakeholders in cities across the country.
Improving Struggling Schools

The foundation’s investment includes two Startup Grants of $325,000 each to support turnaround efforts at Thomasville Heights Elementary School and Gideons Elementary School to dramatically improve student learning. The grants provide critical startup support to these two partner schools, which will continue to serve as zoned schools, while maintaining control over all personnel, curriculum and budget decisions.