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3 local schools get ‘Reward’ status

3 local schools get ‘Reward’ status

3 local schools get ‘Reward’ status

Three area schools earned state "Reward" status this year, according to a list released Tuesday by the Georgia Department of Education.

The designation is one of four - Reward, Priority, Focus and Alert - given to schools under Georgia's new accountability system, which replaced the federal No Child Left Behind Act's Adequate Yearly Progress as a measuring stick last year.

Brooklet Elementary School, for the second consecutive year, was included in the state's "Highest Performing" category.

Portal Middle High School and Charter Conservatory, a public charter school that is not part of the Bulloch County school system, were each listed among the "Highest Progress" schools.

No local schools were assigned the "Alert" tag. Only Reward and Alert lists were released Tuesday.

"The success of (the two district schools) represents what can be accomplished with an attitude of excellence, teamwork, and belief in our students," Bulloch County Schools Superintendent Charles Wilson said in a district news release issued Tuesday. "None of this came easily but through good leadership, the empowerment of our teachers and staff, and a focus on every student learning. Our schools are proving that working smart, as well as hard, does make a difference."

Corliss Reese, the director of Charter Conservatory, said: "We feel very good about being on the list. It is our second year receiving the honor, and it goes to show how hard our teachers and students are working."

According to the state Department of Education, schools included in the "Highest Performing" category are Title I institutions that are among the 5 percent of schools in the state that have the highest "absolute performance" over three years, for all students on statewide assessments. Title I schools receive extra federal money for having students in low-income families.

Brooklet Elementary is one of 78 schools listed among 2013's "Highest Performing."

"We owe our student achievement success to our teachers and staff," Brooklet Elementary Principal Marlin Baker said in the district's news release. "Our teachers are dedicated and always show a willingness to explore ways to better serve our students."

He credited, in part, supportive parents and strong teacher collaboration and planning for the continued success.

Georgia's "Highest Progress" schools are the 10 percent of schools in the state making the most gains over three years on statewide exams.

Portal Middle High and Charter Conservatory were two of 156 listed.

"Our culture has changed," Portal Middle High Principal Shawn Haralson said in the release. "Our teachers are working together in teacher teams, called professional learning communities, where they focus on higher-order thinking and processing in their individual instructional practices. They are willing to change to meet all students' needs no matter how great or how small."

According to Hayley Greene, the school system's public relations and marketing specialist, the Portal faculty's success in significantly raising eighth-grade reading and math scores on the Criterion-Referenced Competency Test, coupled with the highest SAT scores posted in more than seven years, are contributing factors to the school's ranking.

Reese said the decision to use Title 1 funds to bring in tutors, who assist students in areas in which they struggle, has been key to Charter Conservatory's performance.

In March 2012, William James Middle and Julia P. Bryant Elementary schools were named "Focus" schools by the state. They were two of 156 schools identified because of either graduation rates or gaps in achievement between student subgroups based on CRCT results for 2009-2011.

"They will remain on this list for three years as they receive additional funding and professional development support from the state to develop initiatives to address and correct achievement gap issues," Greene said.

Jeff Harrison may be reached at (912) 489-9454.


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