Citywide Education Progress Reports

ATLANTA: Using a Contract Model to Invest in District Schools 

APS has closed or consolidated schools yearly to address underenrollment, a remedy that has hit low-income areas the hardest. When schools are slated for closure based primarily on performance, families understandably want their schools to improve rather than close, and APS is listening.

Last year, APS turned over one of its poorest-performing elementary schools to a local charter operator on a renewable annual contract. The school continues to be a neighborhood school.

This is the start of a long-term strategy by APS to improve school quality and increase enrollment by using nonprofit operators to turn around district schools. An existing district office oversees the Partnership Schools to monitor for quality. Although not fully operational yet, the office hopes to be a touchpoint for families in these schools—providing information about systemwide changes, hearing grievances, and collecting feedback.

While the community is concerned about using outside operators to turn around district schools, Atlanta’s thoughtful and community-focused approach helped the district usher in this ambitious strategy.

View Atlanta’s citywide education progress report.

The Center on Reinventing Public Education is a research and policy analysis center at the University of Washington Bothell developing systemwide solutions for K–12 public education. Questions? Email