Martha Dalton

Reporter

Martha Dalton is a native of Atlanta, Georgia. She came to WABE in May 2010 after working at CNN Radio. 

Martha covers education and immigration issues in the metro Atlanta area and statewide. She also reports on how federal education policy is enacted at the local level. She has covered the DeKalb County school district extensively, including governor’s recent decision to replace six board members. She also reported on the indictment of 35 former educators in the Atlanta Public Schools.  Martha has worked in partnership with NPR and its StateImpact project on reporting key educational issues, such as the implementation of the Common Core State Standards. She is also a contributor to the NPR show LatinoUSA

Martha has worked for radio stations in Atlanta, Savannah, and Charleston, S.C.  In her former life, she worked for ten years as a teacher and reading specialist for students in grades K-12. She has a bachelor’s degree from Furman University and a master’s degree from Georgia State. 

You can follow Martha on Tumblr and Twitter

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Education
8:15 am
Wed July 30, 2014

State Officials Launch New College Initiative

Gov. Nathan Deal announces the launch of Go Back. Move Forward.
Credit Jackson Spalding

State officials Tuesday announced a new college initiative. The plan urges adults who started college but didn’t finish to go back and complete their degrees. 

The program is called Go Back. Move Ahead. Gov. Nathan Deal said it’s part of his Complete College Georgia plan.

“It is projected that by 2020,more than 60% of the jobs in Georgia will require a college certificate or a degree,” Deal said. “Today, only 42% of Georgians hold a degree or certificate.”

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Politics
5:41 pm
Tue July 29, 2014

Mayor Says Atlanta Will Welcome Unaccompanied Minors

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed (r) said he disagrees with Gov. Deal (l) on when it comes to providing for unaccompanied minors.
Credit City of Atlanta

Gov. Nathan Deal recently wrote a letter to President Barack Obama. Deal accuses the president of neglecting to tell state officials about more than 1,000 unaccompanied minors sent to Georgia. Tuesday, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed responded to the governor’s claims.

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Education
8:15 am
Tue July 29, 2014

What's the Problem with Math?

Stephen Leader teaches a geometry class at Cross Keys High School in DeKalb County.
Credit Martha Dalton/WABE News

There’s consensus among education experts: Americans are bad at math. Recent results on international tests show U.S. students trail not only mathematical leaders like China, Japan, and South Korea, but countries like Canada, Viet Nam, and the Czech Republic also outranked American kids.

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Education
8:15 am
Mon July 28, 2014

How Much Do Students Learn in a Year?

Credit Martha Dalton / WABE

State education officials Thursday released a new set of data detailing students’ academic growth. The idea is to show how much kids are learning during the school year.

Georgia parents now can see how their children are performing compared to students with similar academic histories. They’ll receive a growth report with their child’s standardized test results. Georgia Department of Education Spokesperson Matt Cardoza says historically, parents were just told whether their kids met, didn’t meet, or exceeded standards.

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Education
8:15 am
Mon July 28, 2014

Statewide Committee to Investigate Federal Government's Role in Education

House Education Committee meetings to take up an anti-Common Core bill, drew big crowds while the General Assembly was in session.
Credit Martha Dalton/WABE News

A statewide committee will meet for the first time this week. The Federal Government’s Role in Education Study Committee will examine education policy. 

One of the biggest battles in Georgia’s 2014 Legislative Session was over the Common Core education standards.

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Education
4:47 pm
Thu July 24, 2014

Fulton County Schools Gearing Up for New Year

Fulton County Superintendent Robert Avossa (center) announced changes for the district at a Thursday press conference.
Credit Martha Dalton/WABE News

Changes are coming to the Fulton County schools. From construction projects to beefed-up Internet access, officials say students and teachers will see improvements.

Some of the changes are due to Fulton’s status as a charter district. Fulton Superintendent Robert Avossa said the designation lets schools waive some state requirements.

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Education
3:55 am
Wed July 23, 2014

GOP State Schools Superintendent Runoff Too Close To Call

Mike Buck held a watch party at a law office in Rome, Georgia, where he lives.
Credit Martha Dalton/WABE News

  The Republican primary runoff for state schools superintendent was too close to call Tuesday night. Former educator Richard Woods had just over 50% of the vote. However, his opponent, state chief academic officer Mike Buck, was trailing by less than one percent, which could lead to a recount. 

The Buck campaign held a watch party in Rome, Georgia where Buck lives with his family.

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Education
6:00 pm
Tue July 22, 2014

Interview with State Schools Superintendent John Barge

Credit Evan Changhwan Jang

Voters will decide the Democratic and Republican nominees for state schools superintendent today. Current superintendent John Barge didn’t run for a second term. Instead, he entered the Republican gubernatorial primary, but lost to Gov. Nathan Deal.

WABE’s Martha Dalton spoke to Barge about his time in office. The conversation starts with Georgia’s waiver from the federal No Child Left Behind Law. Barge explains how that changed the state’s accountability system. 

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Education
9:19 am
Mon July 21, 2014

Small Number of Voters Will Decide Tuesday's School Board Races

Credit Charles Edwards / WABE News

Poll watchers expect low voter turnout for Tuesday’s runoff elections. That’s especially true for school board races, which draw smaller numbers in general.

In Cobb County, there will be one school board runoff; DeKalb will have three.

But, if history repeats itself, it’s likely that many voters will skip the school board races altogether, like DeKalb County resident Mattias Pohl did in July of 2012.

“I’m just not sufficiently familiar with the people who were up for election, so I decided not to cast a vote,” he said.  

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Education
7:10 am
Fri July 18, 2014

Douglasville Student to Compete in Jeopardy! Teen Tournament

Douglas County High School senior Josiah Takang will represent Georgia in the Jeopardy! Teen Tournament starting July 21.
Credit Evan Changhwan Jang

This teenager will soon compete in a TV quiz show where he’ll have to give answers in the form of questions.

A:  Who is Douglas County High School senior Josiah Takang?

It doesn’t take long to figure out that Josiah Takang is really smart. Take, for example, what he’s doing this summer.

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Education
5:16 pm
Thu July 17, 2014

End of Course Test Results Reveal Weakness in Math

Credit Berklee.edu

Georgia school districts received end-of-course test results this week. High school students take the exams after each core class they complete. Once again, math scores were the weak spot for most metro Atlanta districts.

Most metro districts’ results mirrored the statewide outcomes. Scores in subjects like English literature, U.S. History, and Biology were fairly strong. Math scores were markedly lower. Georgia Department of Education spokesman Matt Cardoza told WABE officials made the math exams tougher to get students used to new, harder tests coming this school year.

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Education
4:25 pm
Mon July 14, 2014

Low Voter Turnout Expected in State Superintendent Race

There are just over 5 million registered voters in Georgia. But poll watchers only expect the most committed ones to vote in next week’s runoffs. In particular, the race for state schools superintendent is likely to have some of the lowest turnout.

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Education
8:35 am
Mon July 14, 2014

Will California Tenure Ruling Affect Georgia Teachers?

Credit Martha Dalton/WABE News

Teachers’ unions have reacted strongly to a recent California court ruling, which stripped teachers of protections, including tenure. The country’s biggest teachers’ union asked U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan to resign after he publicly supported the decision.

But will the ruling have any effect in Georgia? Education and legal experts don’t think so.

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Education
5:08 pm
Thu July 10, 2014

Clayton County Swears In New School Superintendent

Luvenia Jackson was sworn in as Clayton County's superintendent Thursday.
Credit Martha Dalton/WABE News

The Clayton County school district has a new leader. Interim Superintendent Luvenia Jackson was sworn in Thursday. 

Jackson is a 33-year veteran of the Clayton schools who retired in 2010. She rejoined the district as interim superintendent in 2012, when former superintendent Edmond Heatley abruptly left.  

“This is far from what I thought retirement would look like, but it is a good place," Jackson said after the ceremony. "It’s not unfamiliar. So I welcome the opportunity to make an impact in a different way.”

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Education
8:35 am
Wed July 9, 2014

Officials to Name Early Education Empowerment Zones

Early education officials will identify four early education empowerment zones across the state.
Credit Martha Dalton/WABE News

Georgia education officials are traveling the state this summer to scope out potential Early Education Empowerment Zones. Each chosen region will receive more than $1 million to beef up early education programs.

Officials with Georgia’s Department of Early Care and Learning have identified eleven potential zones. They will narrow that number down to four. As DECAL meets with stakeholders in each region, Deputy Commissioner for System Reform Kristen Bernhard says the agency is looking for a willingness to collaborate.

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Education
5:31 pm
Tue July 8, 2014

Early Education Teachers Could Qualify for Bonuses

Credit Martha Dalton/WABE News

Teachers of Georgia’s youngest students could soon be eligible for bonuses if they choose to go back to school. State education officials are offering one-time bonuses for preschool teachers who earned higher degrees.

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Education
5:50 pm
Mon July 7, 2014

Why is a Good Principal Hard to Find? (And Keep?)

Bob Farrace is the director of communications for the National Association of Secondary School Principals.
Credit Bob Farrace

Recruiting and keeping good principals is a challenge for many U.S. school districts. A recent study from The Thomas B. Fordham Institute says part of the problem is the job is high-pressure, grueling, and underpaid.

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Local
8:35 am
Mon July 7, 2014

AALAC Launches Campaign to Register Korean American Voters

AALAC Executive Director Helen Kim Ho says thousands of Korean Americans living in Gwinnett County would benefit from having ballots printed in Korean.
Credit Martha Dalton/WABE News

With election season in full swing, several organizations are trying to mobilize voters. The Asian American Legal Advocacy Center is launching a campaign to bring more Korean-Americans to the polls.

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Education
4:59 pm
Sat July 5, 2014

New Math Tests Stump High School Students

Credit Berklee.edu

New state math tests are stumping most Georgia high school students. Education officials released results of the latest end-of-course tests this week.

The majority of Georgia students met or exceeded standards for most courses, including English literature, biology, and U.S. History.

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Local
4:51 pm
Wed July 2, 2014

More Than a Thousand Immigrants Become U.S. Citizens at Turner Field

Braves President John Shuerholz addresses more than 1000 new U.S. citizens at a naturalization ceremony Wednesday at Turner Field.
Credit Martha Dalton/WABE News

As the saying goes, there’s nothing more American than Mom, apple pie and baseball. So, it seems fitting that a group of more than 1000 new U.S. citizens may end their first day as Americans with a Braves game.

There may be citizens who emigrated from 120 countries in the stands for Wednesday night’s Braves game against the New York Mets.

During a naturalization ceremony at Turner Field Wednesday morning, Braves President John Shuerholz congratulated the new citizens.

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Education
8:35 am
Tue July 1, 2014

International Society for Technology in Education Holds 2014 Conference in Atlanta

Girls Engaged in Math and Science, a Tuscaloosa-based group, created this musical instrument for students with disabilities.
Credit Martha Dalton/WABE News

The International Society for Technology in Education held its annual conference in Atlanta this year. It started Saturday and ends Tuesday at the Georgia World Congress Center.  The tech masterminds seemed to be on the young side this year.

Like many conferences of its size, this one had keynote speakers, breakout sessions, and presentations. Teachers, like Patty Lee of Fulton County, were there to sample some new technologies and compare notes.

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Education
8:40 am
Mon June 30, 2014

Summer Learning Doesn't Have to be a Drag

Students get ready for another class at Cross Keys High School.
Credit Dan Raby / WABE

Most students don’t want to answer the question, “How did you spend your summer vacation?” with, “I went to summer school.” But students at a summer enrichment program in DeKalb County didn’t seem to mind spending more time in class.

A Different Approach


 In a sixth grade social studies class, students seem to be enjoying their assignment: coming up with their own system of government. In the morning, students take classes. In the afternoons they participate in sports and other activities. 

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Education
8:35 am
Mon June 30, 2014

New Tests Will Likely Bring Drop in Scores

New Georgia tests will rely less on multiple-choice questions and more on open-ended ones.

Georgia school districts recently found out how their students fared on state-issued tests for grades 3-8.  The news was good for most of metro Atlanta. But next year’s results will likely be different.

This year, the majority of Georgia students passed the Criterion-Referenced Competency Test, or CRCT. For example, in DeKalb County, 86% of third graders met or exceeded reading standards. In Fulton County, 94% of third graders passed reading. State testing director Melissa Fincher says next year’s scores probably won’t be that high.

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Education
4:52 pm
Sun June 29, 2014

Students Compete in Junkyard Wars at Fernbank

Students at Fernbank's aviation camp construct planes for the Junkyard Wars.
Credit Martha Dalton/WABE News

A group of fourth, fifth, and sixth graders showed off their aeronautic skills Friday. The students took part in the Junkyard Wars at Fernbank Science Center.

“We’re building a plane with a bunch of cardboard and tape,” explains soon-to-be fifth grader Azad Earl. He and about 69 other students are wrapping up a week of aviation camp at Fernbank. Students are applying what they’ve learned by making a plane out of junk and trying to make it fly. Azad’s group has already mapped out a plan.

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Education
8:35 am
Thu June 19, 2014

Study Finds U.S. Students Don't Match Up Regardless of Background

Credit Martha Dalton/WABE News

U.S. schools have long struggled to effectively educate low-income students.  But a recent Harvard study found compared with other industrialized countries, the U.S. doesn’t educate higher-income students that well either.

The study looked at 15-year-olds in families where at least one parent has a college degree or higher. Just 43% of those U.S. students scored at a proficient math level.

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Education
8:35 am
Wed June 18, 2014

Democratic Superintendent Candidates Garner Endorsements

Valarie Wilson (left) and state Rep. Alisha Thomas Morgan, D-Austell, will face off in the Democratic runoff for state schools superintendent.

Next month, four candidates will participate in a runoff election for state schools superintendent. Two Democrats and two Republicans will vie for their party’s nomination. But before voters head to the polls, Democratic candidates Alisha Thomas Morgan and Valarie Wilson are racking up endorsements.

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Education
4:44 pm
Mon June 16, 2014

New Tests Will Affect Teacher Evaluations

Students' growth on the Georgia Milestones assessment will be part of teachers' yearly evaluations.
Credit Martha Dalton/WABE News

Public school students will be held to higher standards next year under the Georgia Milestones assessments. But teachers will also receive a score based on the test results.

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Education
4:20 pm
Fri June 13, 2014

Georgia Milestones to Chart New Course

Credit Martha Dalton/WABE News

Georgia students said “Goodbye” to a set of state tests this year. But the new exams they’ll take instead will be tougher.

Students in grades 3-8 won’t take the Criterion-Referenced Competency Test anymore. High school students won’t take end-of-course tests. Instead, they will all take a test series called Georgia Milestones. State testing director Melissa Fincher says the new exams won’t be strictly multiple-choice.

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Education
4:38 pm
Thu June 12, 2014

State Releases CRCT Results

State Schools Superintendent John Barge.
Credit Martha Dalton/WABE News

State officials Thursday released results of the Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests for third through eighth graders.

Students can score in one of three categories on the CRCT: “meets standards," “exceeds” them, or “does not meet." State Schools Superintendent John Barge said there are several ways to look at the data. For example, Barge said, comparing one group of students to itself can show you whether that group is progressing.

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Local
5:35 pm
Tue June 10, 2014

Georgia Sees Surge in Unaccompanied Minors

Credit Martha Dalton/WABE News

There’s been a recent surge in unaccompanied minors coming to the U.S. from Central America. Many of those children end up in Texas and Arizona, but Georgia has also seen a spike in numbers.  

Jessica Daman is a staff attorney with Atlanta’s Latin American Association. Two years ago, about 25% of her cases involved unaccompanied minors. Now, she says, it’s the majority of what she does.

Daman is just one of three Atlanta-area attorneys that handle such cases. She says that means a lot of kids go without legal representation.

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