7 schools from Richmond, Columbia counties make Georgia's 'Focus Schools' list

Wednesday, March 21, 2012 7:50 AM
Last updated 6:50 PM
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Seven schools from Richmond and Columbia counties were among 156 cited under the Georgia Department of Education’s new accountability system.

The so-called “Focus Schools” are one step above the state’s worst performing – called “Priority Schools” – which were revealed last week.

Georgia was one of 10 states to win waivers in February from the federal No Child Left Behind law. To earn that relief, state officials developed the Career Ready Performance Index to gauge school achievement.

These ratings are alternatives to the law’s controversial Adequate Yearly Progress standard, which deemed a school or district failing if it fell short on even one measure in a numerous list. Those benchmarks, largely based on test scores by students and subgroups of students, have risen significantly since the law was passed in 2001 and reach 100 percent by 2013-14. The Obama administration offered states the opportunity to apply for waivers from No Child Left Behind but required they develop alternatives to AYP as a way of measuring how well schools are educating students.

The “focus” list identifies middle and elementary schools with the largest performance gaps between subgroups on such exams as the Criterion-Referenced Competency Test, given during the 2010-11 school year. Subgroups can be determined by race, special needs and family income.

High schools make the list if they have graduation rates less than 60 percent over the past two years.

In Columbia County, Cedar Ridge Elementary and Grovetown Middle schools were named. In Richmond County, Lake Forest Hills Elementary, Langford Middle, Academy of Richmond County, Murphey Middle and Tutt Middle schools were on the list.

While state officials refine the index, federal officials required them to use such labels as “focus” schools to identify poorly performing schools.

Schools on the list must offer tutoring services, professional development and other programs to overcome their deficiencies, said Matt Cardoza, a state education department spokesman.

Michele Sherman, Columbia County schools’ director of elementary education, said local officials still are waiting to find out which subgroups need improvement.

“We don’t know why they were chosen,” she said.

State officials are developing a “calculator” to help schools determine in what areas they failed to adequately perform, Cardoza said. It might be available next week.

The other designations for Georgia school performance are “Alert Schools” and “Reward Schools.” All designations will be handed out by the fall.

PRIORITY SCHOOLS

Columbia County: None

Richmond County: W.S. Hornsby K-8, Glenn Hills High, T.W. Josey High and Lucy C. Laney High

Criteria for making this list: Receive a federal School Improvement Grant; have a graduate rate of less than 60 percent over two years; or show a lack of progress on achievement for all students over three years as measured by Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests, Georgia Alternate Assessment or End of Course Tests

FOCUS SCHOOLS

Columbia County: Grovetown Middle and Cedar Ridge Elementary

Richmond County: Lake Forest Hills Elementary, Langford Middle, Academy of Richmond County, Murphey Middle and Tutt Middle

Criteria for making this list: Graduation rate less than 60 percent over two years and not be identified as a Priority School; largest gaps between highest- and lowest-achieving student subgroups as measured by CRCT, Alternate Assessment or graduation rate

SOURCE: Georgia Department of Education

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Insider Information
4009
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Insider Information 03/21/12 - 07:54 am
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The state has released a list

The state has released a list of schools and those schools are....?

corgimom
32620
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corgimom 03/21/12 - 08:14 am
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Lake Forest Elem Langford

Lake Forest Elem
Langford Middle
ARC- grad rate
Murphey Middle Charter
Tutt Middle

Col Co
Grovetown Middle
Cedar Ridge Elementary

All but ARC needs improvement in achievment, ARC needs to improve grad rates.

That is now FOUR deficient high schools in A-RC. When will taxpayers stand up and demand that the RCBOE educate their children?

Little Lamb
46074
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Little Lamb 03/21/12 - 08:25 am
1
1
I wouldn't get too lathered

I wouldn't get too lathered up over graduation rates. When a person hits his 16th birthday and realizes he's not up to par, it is a reasonable decision to drop out of school. That's not the school's fault, but it's just a realization that not everyone is supposed to graduate. If everyone graduates, then the diploma is meaningless. It is important that not everyone achieves a meaningful goal.

powercenter64
15
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powercenter64 03/21/12 - 08:25 am
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"When will taxpayers stand up

"When will taxpayers stand up and demand that the RCBOE educate their children?" Interesting comment. Have you been in one of these schools lately? The question is, "When will parents instill a need for education in the mindset of their children." It all starts at home, and I know in a least one of these school's teachers are disciplinarians first and educators second. Sit in a classroom and see that student attitude affects student achievement.

iLove
626
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iLove 03/21/12 - 09:56 am
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"Sit in a classroom and see
Unpublished

"Sit in a classroom and see that student attitude affects student achievement."

Excellent point. Teachers can't possible do for 30+ kids what a parent should have done.

countyman
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countyman 03/21/12 - 10:45 am
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ARC has the only IB program

ARC has the only IB program in the entire metro area, and it's definitely better than the majority of schools in metro Augusta.. To compare the school with Glenn Hills, Josey, or Laney is ridiculous to say the least... Glenn Hills can't be removed from the priority schools list because they received the grant, but due to Dr. Fraizer they'll be off soon.. The graduation rate and test scores continue to rise at Glenn Hills...

The reason there's an graduation gap at ARC between groups of students is demographics.. You have middle class, upper middle class, and wealthy students from Belair rd, Jimmie Dyess, Summerville, etc.. They're taking AP classes or joining the IB program.. Then you have students from the raggedy side of Harrisburg, and other older housing near Tubman..

Little Lamb
46074
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Little Lamb 03/21/12 - 11:13 am
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Countyman wrote: ARC . . .

Countyman wrote:

ARC . . . [is] definitely better than the majority of schools in metro Augusta.

Apparently he did not read this from the article above:

The performance of focus schools is slightly stronger than those on the “priority” schools list the department released last week. Priority schools are the lowest-performing 5 percent of public schools in the state; focus schools represent the 10 percent of schools just above them.

ARC is on the “focus” schools list. Focus schools are in the lowest 15 percent regarding performance and graduation rate. You can't tell me that a school in the lowest 15 percent is better than the majority of schools.

countyman
20149
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countyman 03/21/12 - 11:23 am
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The list of priority and

The list of priority and focus schools are rankings among Title 1 schools..

ARC is on the list due to gaps between groups of students..

Little Lamb
46074
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Little Lamb 03/21/12 - 11:27 am
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Exactly. It is those gaps

Exactly. It is those gaps that put ARC in the bottom-performing 15% of schools in Richmond County school system.

countyman
20149
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countyman 03/21/12 - 11:36 am
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The focus list includes 156

The focus list includes 156 schools from around the state... I don't know where you get the bottom 15% of RC schools..

''The primary difference between priority and focus schools is that focus schools have gaps in achievement and graduation rates between groups of students. While priority schools are the lowest performing 5 percent, focus schools are the 10 percent of Title I schools above them.''

"Focus schools is an apt description of these schools because, while they have accomplished many good things to date, their focus continues to be on closing achievement gaps and helping all children reach their learning potential," said Sloan Roach, executive director of communication and media relations for Gwinnett County Public Schools.

"It's a concern that any of our district's schools were identified as focus schools," said Jay Dillon, director of communications for the Cobb County School District. "These schools all have many strengths and positive aspects, but when measured by the new state evaluation criteria, they have fallen just short of the target. Now that the schools are familiar with the new expectations, they can take appropriate steps to address their shortcomings."

Dudeness
1544
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Dudeness 03/21/12 - 11:36 am
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"The Georgia Department of

"The Georgia Department of Education has released a list of 156 schools that need additional attention to address gaps in achievement and graduation rates between groups of students."

What exactly does "achievement" refer to if it is not the graduation rates? Does that refer to average GPA?

Little Lamb
46074
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Little Lamb 03/21/12 - 11:37 am
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It's all those other things

It's all those other things they measure; like standardized test scores, attendance, violence, etc.

Little Lamb
46074
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Little Lamb 03/21/12 - 11:40 am
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Oh, I see. Countyman was

Oh, I see. Countyman was just trying to serve as the director of communications and media relations for the Richmond County school system. Thanks for providing those quotes from your counterparts from Cobb and Gwinnett.

john
997
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john 03/22/12 - 11:05 am
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How does the state rate the

How does the state rate the school, but then has to develop a calculator to help the school figure out what needs improvement? Just tell the school what the metric was for the rating.

brb
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brb 03/22/12 - 05:08 pm
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I hope this brings light to

I hope this brings light to issues that are going on in some of our schools. Grovetown Middle School has great teachers and great students. However, there are several underlying issues that affect things like tests scores. Recently a school made the newspaper because they shockingly had a bomb threat. Grovetown Middle has had at least three this year and at least eight last year. Did they make the paper once? I don't think so. This sends a message that their issues don't matter. This is just one of the several factors that are preventing those students from getting the education they need and getting that school off of that list.

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