Image courtesy of Education in Atlanta Credit: Image courtesy of Education in Atlanta


Last Thursday, Dekalb County Schools held its State of the District which was streamed on Facebook Live with Superintendent Horton.

“What are you doing for others?” was the question from the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. that Dekalb County Schools (DCSD) Superintendent Dr. Devon Horton highlighted at this year’s DCSD State of the District. Last Thursday, the District held its State of the District which was streamed on Facebook Live. After Horton’s daughter Zoey introduced him, he took to the podium to share Dekalb County’s successes, challenges, and plans.

After thanking his family, team, students, and elected officials, Horton said he’s not interested in maintaining the status quo as a superintendent. He emphasized the initiative of “putting on roller skates” to “be disruptive for excellence.”  

First, Horton talked about several achievements and initiatives DCSD created in the last year. According to him, he has visited over 90 schools in the past year through the D5 visits where students and parents are invited to share what is going well at their schools and what the students can do to improve them. He also mentioned the thought exchange program where  DCSD residents send feedback virtually. 

“Our primary focus remains the safety, success, and well-being of our students and community and sure in a space where injustice and discrimination have no place,” said Horton.

Then, he shared some test results from the last year, noting increases in percentages. In the winter MAP Assessments, 46% of students scored within the high average and high proficiency categories in reading. In mathematics 43% of students achieved within the distinguished categories. That’s an increase from 41.5%.

To enact House Bill 538, the district introduced training teachers to learn the science of reading on an elementary school level. 430 teachers have already completed seven out of the eight required letters and training units. The county has also joined the Dyslexia Pilot Program to comply with Senate Bill 48

Horton later shared projections for the spring Georgia Milestones. “Our analysis projects that approximately 30% of our students reach a proficient level or higher in reading and about 25% will do so in math,” said Horton. “As I said, this is this is a fact-finding moment. This is not where we want to be, but we’re going to be transparent and accountable to our community.”

He also mentioned the COVID-19 pandemic, sharing that the district has initiated several support services, including launching academic support centers for 20 DCSD schools.

 “It is essential to acknowledge the substantial impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on our learning environment.” Said Horton. “The DeKalb County schools, like many others, have faced unprecedented challenges, extended remote learning periods, disruptions to traditional classroom settings, and significant social-emotional challenges to our students. We just recently did a survey for our strategic plan. And as much as we think we’re different from the North to the South, in every single region, the number one concern was mental health. We have to do something about that.”

Hundreds of teachers are being hired at DCSD to make up for a 700-teacher deficit upon Horton’s arrival in the summer of 2023. The district’s HR team hired over 1,000 teachers for the new school year, making DCSD at 98% staffing according to Horton.

“Our Professional Learning Department continues to partner with divisions to offer professional learning based on district needs to meet the strategic goal. Recruit, develop, and retaining high quality effective staff that is a board goal on a strategic plan.” 

Lastly, Horton announced an upcoming review and assessment of the Human Resources Department for culture and climate discipline.

“And they will not be alone. There will be other departments that we will do deep dives in,” said Horton. “This is not because they did something wrong. It’s because we want to get this thing right.”

The state ended with the District celebrating wins for its athletic teams and several of its distinguished alumni. 

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