Carstarphen was chosen from a group of four candidates for the job. Seat 8 at-large board member Cynthia Briscoe Brown, a member of the superintendent search committee, said the other candidates chose to keep their names private when Carstarphen was named the finalist, likely so their current employer would not find out they had applied for the position.
Carstarphen has nearly 20 years of education experience in diverse, urban public school districts, including Austin, Texas; St. Paul, Minn.; and Washington. She is currently superintendent of the Austin Independent School District, which she joined in 2009, as its first African American and the first woman superintendent. Results during her tenure include:
o Improved graduation rates (82.5 percent all-time high)
o Reduced longitudinal dropout rate by 25 percent to 9.5 percent
o Higher overall SAT and ACT exam scores, as compared with counterparts across the state and nation (all-time high for ACT)
o Ranked first in eighth-grade math and second in fourth-grade science compared to all National Assessment of Education Progress urban districts
o 92 percent of Class of 2012 applied to college (all-time high)
o Improved attendance rates at all levels (95 percent all-time high)
“Meria was our unanimous choice not just because of her impressive track record of success, but how she achieved her results: by bringing people together,” said board Chairman Courtney English. “She repeatedly has united communities around a collective vision to achieve unprecedented and lasting achievements for students.”
Said Carstarphen, “I’d be honored to bring my experience back to my home region of the Deep South. It’s thrilling that my experience so neatly matches up to the expressed needs that will transform Atlanta into the educational powerhouse it deserves to be.”
Ann Cramer, chairwoman of the superintendent search committee, added, “We’re confident that she will be able to restore trust, leverage her proven track record of improving student scores, and manage the sensitivities of our diverse districts,” She holds the promise of achieving sustainable advances for our whole student community.”
The board will vote on this finalist during its April 14 meeting. Carstarphen is in Atlanta through Saturday and plans to and return April 1, to participate in school tours and community open houses in all six school clusters. She will appear at North Atlanta High in Buckhead Saturday at 10:30 a.m.