The Georgia Department of Education announced earlier this week that improvements at Mattie Lively Elementary and Langston Chapel Elementary mean the schools no longer need to be included in the state’s Focus and Priority Schools list.
Progress at Mattie Lively and Langston Chapel in student achievement and narrowing the achievement gap between its highest and lowest performing students allowed both schools to meet the state’s criteria to exit the Focus Schools list.
William James Middle School remains on the Focus List.
Based on current criteria, Focus Schools are the lowest-performing 10 percent of Title I schools in the state based on achievement gap data. That data examines the gap between a schools' lowest performing 25 percent of students and the state average, and the progress those students make. Priority Schools are the lowest-performing 5 percent of Title I schools based on achievement data, plus schools with a graduation rate below 60 percent for two consecutive years. No Bulloch school has ever been on the Priority List
Mattie Lively and Langston Chapel were placed on the Focus List in 2015, based on the current criteria.
“Our teachers have worked diligently over the last three years looking at data, examining areas where we could improve, and working collaboratively to increase student achievement,” said Dr. Carolyn Vasilatos, principal of Mattie Lively.
Having previously served as the school’s assistant principal, Vasilatos became the school’s principal in 2015, just as Mattie Lively was initially placed on the Focus Schools list.
“We are very proud that our hard work has paid off,” Vasilatos said. “We gained 16.5 points on CCRPI in just three years, and we are now within .4 points of the state average and plan to continue to make gains.”
The state released its 2017 College and Career Ready Performance Index in October based on student and school performance data from the 2016-2017 school year. The Performance Index is the state’s public school accountability tool and is used to determine Focus and Priority schools to which additional support can be directed.
“I’m super proud of our faculty for the hard, collaborative work they’ve invested to narrow our school’s achievement gap,” said Pam Goodman, principal of Langston Chapel.
Goodman, a veteran administrator, is in her second year as the school’s principal.
“We can clearly see evidence with Mattie Lively and Langston Chapel that there has been a focused, faithful and team-based effort to change how they approach student learning,” said Bulloch County Superintendent of Schools Charles Wilson. “We believe better results are yet to come for William James and all of our schools, and we are very proud of their efforts.”
William James and Julia P. Bryant Elementary School were placed on the list in 2012, based on different criteria that primarily addressed achievement gaps between higher performing and lower performing students and student sub-group populations (white, black, students with disabilities, economically disadvantaged, English for Speakers of Other Languages) not meeting grade-level and state performance targets on state standardized tests.
Julia P. Bryant met the achievement criteria to exit the list in 2015.
Bulloch’s Focus List schools each received additional support and resources from the district and GaDOE to help address specific needs identified by the schools’ faculty and parents.
William James’ new principal, Julie Mizell, in her first five months said she has worked with faculty and staff to create and implement a bold school improvement plan to address needs and improve student achievement.
“William James has put into place many interventions that work to create the environment necessary for increased student growth and achievement for all students,” Mizell said.
Since July 2017, Mizell and her faculty have implemented some 16 key improvements, including a revision to the school’s schedule to protect instructional time; created a faculty leadership team to regularly analyze data; conducted a school-wide self-assessment of current practices to identify critical areas where professional learning was needed; and teachers established learning targets for daily learning.
“Whiie these interventions have been put into place this year, ongoing continual school self-assessment and monitoring of practices will provide the data for next steps as we lead the charge for academic growth and achievement,” Mizell said. “We believe that administration and teacher actions will lead to the attainment of the educational environment in which all learners will experience success.”