New rating system
“Reward Schools” is one of four categories for schools in Georgia’s new accountability system, the College and Career Ready Performance Index, for which the state received approval earlier this year from the U.S. Education Department as an alternative to No Child Left Behind. The other categories are Priority, Focus and Alert schools.
That system – including the requirement that all students in every Title I school meet grade-level standards in reading in math by the 2013-14 school year -- is still officially the law of the land, but the federal education department has granted waivers to a number of states that have developed alternatives. Many education observers consider the 100 percent proficiency rates to be unrealistic, especially with the growing number of schools and districts failing to meet the 2001 law’s “adequate yearly progress” benchmarks that increase to 100 percent by next year.
-- Jason Wermers
Three public schools in Bulloch County have recognized as “Reward Schools” under the Georgia Department of Education’s new accountability system.
Brooklet Elementary School was included in the “Highest Performing” list, and Langston Chapel Middle School and Charter Conservatory for Liberal Arts and Technology were listed under the “High Progress” category.
According to the state education department, Highest Performing schools are in the top 5 percent of Title I schools in Georgia in terms of absolute performance on statewide assessments during the past three years. Title I schools receive extra federal funding because they have high concentrations of students from low-income families.
High Progress schools are among the top 10 percent of Georgia Title I schools in terms of improvement on statewide assessments during the past three years.
Both of those measures are based on schools’ entire student populations, but significant gaps in achievement among subgroups of students – such as by race or ethnicity, disability or language proficiency – can disqualify a school from being named a Reward School.
“These schools are shining examples of what we can achieve in public education in Georgia,” State School Superintendent John Barge said in a news release. “I want to take what’s working at our Reward Schools and replicate that in every school in the state. These are the schools making education work for all Georgians.”
Brooklet Elementary has an average pass rate of 91 percent on the Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests for 2009-2011.
Marlin Baker, the principal, credited parents’ involvement in school activities and the teachers’ efforts to meet every student’s academic needs.
“We are well-supported by our parents through school-wide events and PTO, and they encourage our teachers by reinforcing instruction at home,” Baker said, later adding, “Our teachers have become proficient at analyzing both standardized test and class-work data in order to effect instruction and student achievement. This allows them to realize which students need support and which students need to be challenged.”
Evelyn Gamble Hilton, the principal of Langston Chapel Middle, cited similar support from parents and work ethic by the teachers for the improvement her school has seen on CRCT results – pass rates have improved by more than 3 percentage points each of the last three years.
“At LCMS, teachers give up a portion of their planning period each day to remediate students in math and (English/language arts),” Hilton said, later adding, “Teachers have been willing to meet after school, during the school day and during the summer to embrace and implement the (Common Core Georgia Performance Standards). They are willing to collaborate, share and learn new ideas to support each other across subject areas at different grade levels.”
Corliss Reese, the director of CCAT – Bulloch County’s only charter school, which is not run by the county district – was excited about the state’s recognition of his school. He cited CCAT’s small class sizes and individual attention to students, as well as the flexibility from some state regulations afforded charter schools, as key.
“We are elated at Charter Conservatory to know that the hard work of teachers and students is paying off,” Reese said. “We are striving to continue that success as we reach for higher heights. This recognition is also a testament to how flexibility and innovation can produce great results.”
Bulloch County Schools spokeswoman Hayley Greene said five district schools almost made the cut to be Reward Schools. Nevils, Stilson and Sallie Zetterower elementary and Southeast Bulloch Middle schools had three-year average CRCT pass rates of at least 89 percent, just missing being named Highest Performing. And Langston Chapel Elementary School’s three-year average pass rate increase was 2.52 percentage points, not far off the standard for being named High Progress.
Jason Wermers may be reached at (912) 489-9431.