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Brooklet, Portal again among top Title I schools
Performance, progress noted for BES, Portal Middle
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Bulloch County again has two schools ranked among the top Title I schools in Georgia, and they are the same two as last year:  Brooklet Elementary School in the “highest performing” category and Portal Middle High School again in the “highest progress” category of Reward schools.

The latest rankings, released Dec.  11 by the Georgia Department of Education, are based on 2014-15 data collected for the state’s public school accountability system, the College and Career Ready Performance Index, or CCRPI. This is Brooklet Elementary’s fourth year and Portal Middle High’s third year on the Reward school list.

Under Title I of the federal legal code, schools with high percentages of children from low-income families qualify for special funding to improve instruction. With Statesboro High School and Southeast Bulloch High School being the exceptions, 13 of the Bulloch County Schools’ 15 campuses receive Title I funding and are eligible for these rankings.


Highest performing

Brooklet Elementary School is one of the 81 highest performing Title I schools in Georgia. Its students in third through fifth grades posted higher scores than the state and district on the spring Georgia Milestones  end-of-grade tests in all tested subjects, which include English-language arts, math, science and social studies.

“BES owes much of its success to the strong instructional collaboration of our teachers,” Principal Marlin Baker said. “We are committed to developing a culture of innovation in our school.”

Teachers plan and work together as teams called professional learning communities, or PLCs, a major districtwide initiative, noted the Bulloch County Schools’ news release announcing the Reward schools.

Brooklet Elementary School’s “effective use of PLCs among its subject and grade-level teachers is one key to its success,” wrote Hayley Greene, the Bulloch County Schools public relations specialist. “Faculty share best practices, plan curriculum delivery and assessments, analyze student results from assessments, discuss student strengths and weaknesses, and plan interventions.”


Highest progress

Portal Middle High is one of Georgia’s 162 “high progress” Title I schools. One reason is a continued increase in its graduation rates, now, at 84.9 percent, the second-highest in Bulloch County’s school system. Portal’s graduation rate has risen more than 15 percentage points since 2011.

“Being considered a Reward school, for three years in a row, is something we plan to celebrate in a big way,” said Portal Middle High School Principal Karen Doty. “We are extremely proud of our progress which has taken place due to a wide range of initiatives.”

Doty points to changing the school’s schedule to a seven-period day, as well as teachers working as teams and providing remediation for students, as key factors in the school’s progress since 2010.

“Students now have more opportunities for one-on-one instruction and feedback,” Doty said.

PMHS is also offering after-school tutoring and additional career learning opportunities through partnerships with Ogeechee Technical College and Georgia Southern University.

Teacher-leader teams and administrators use techniques learned through the Georgia Leadership Institute for School Improvement to guide the school’s progress, Doty said.

“We utilize the GLISI process in order to continually evaluate our school improvement plans,” she said. “Our leadership team is guiding and monitoring the goals and initiatives we identified.”

“Highest performing” schools are those in the top 5 percent of Title I schools in performance for all students as a group on statewide tests over three years. “High progress” schools rank among the top 10 percent of Title I schools in improving the performance of their students over three years.


Three Focus schools

At the lower end of the Title I performance brackets are Focus and Priority schools. Priority Schools are roughly the lowest-performing 5 percent of Title 1 schools in the state.

Excluding the Priority Schools and ranked by different criteria, Focus Schools are the lowest-performing 10 percent of Title I schools in terms of gaps in achievement for students in various ethnic, language minority, special education or economically disadvantaged subgroups.

Bulloch County has no Priority schools. However, three of the county’s schools, William James Middle School, Mattie Lively Elementary School and Langston Chapel Elementary School were designated as Focus schools this year, as reported in July.

This was the first time Mattie Lively Elementary and Langston Chapel Elementary received the Focus designation. William James Middle School has been on the Focus list since 2012. Focus schools receive increased resources and support from the state and school district to address needs.

There is also a category called Alert schools, which are low-performing schools that may or may not qualify for Title I funding but will receive state financial help. No Bulloch County schools are on Alert status.


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