Improving School Readiness in DeKalb County, Georgia

Posted January 1, 2010
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
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AECF Improving School Readiness In Dekalb County 2010


DeKalb County is Georgia’s most diverse county. More than 30,000 refugees have resettled in the county over the past 20 years, with 3,000 arriving each year. In 17% of homes, English is not the first language spoken. This presents interesting challenges when it comes to preparing children for school. 

To address educational disparities and to better prepare young children for a successful academic career, DeKalb County leaders engaged in a results-based leadership program, headed by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

The results-based leadership programs enable participants to work on real issues in real time, building successful collaborative relationships, and hone their ability to use data to develop action plans and measure progress. The ultimate impact of this work is to sustain efforts to improve outcomes not just for current budget cycles, but for years to come.

This case study provides an example of how one such program – the Leadership in Action Program (LAP) – helped leaders in a community work more collaboratively and produce measurable results to improve the lives of children in their community. 

Findings & Stats

Statements & Quotations

Key Takeaway

Atlanta-area DeKalb county launched an innovative pre-kindergarten program for refugee children.

Twenty-seven leaders were brought together in spring 2007 to participate in the Leadership in Action Program (LAP), which provided the hands-on support to help the group develop data-driven strategies to increase the number of children who start school ready to learn. The program focuses on elements of early education that children of refugees often do not receive during their transition to the U.S.