It’s been a tumultuous few years for Clayton County Public Schools: From the district loosing it’s accreditation in 2008, to being on probation, to finally regaining that important status earlier this year, to having nearly half of its schools not make adequate yearly progress (AYP) this year.
But, even as the ups and downs have caused anguish in the school system and in the community, some schools have been able to rise above the adversity.
Two schools in particular have big reasons to celebrate. Pointe South Middle School and Pointe South Elementary School have earned AYP status for the second year in a row. And if they continue the trend, could move into the elite class known as “schools of distinction.”
Dean Lillard, principal at Pointe South Middle School, attributes his school’s accomplishment to dedicated staff members, hard work and determination. “One of the essential aspects to making AYP is to have teacher-leaders,” said Lillard.
To mark their AYP achievement, the two schools are planing a joint celebration, something Lillard said is a first. “We’re very excited about this [event],” he said. “This is going to give us a chance to collaborate, and to bridge the gap between the elementary and middle school.”
The “party” is set for Sept. 10, from 10 a.m., to 3 p.m., on Pointe South Middle and Elementary schools’ grounds, which are across the street from each other. Pointe South Middle is located at 8495 Thomas Road, in Jonesboro, while Pointe South Elementary’s address is 8482 Thomas Road.
According to Lillard, there will be an assortment of leisure activities available during the celebration, such as: Academic game stations, carnival rides, face-painting, and many other activities. There will also be plenty of food and drinks. “We’re expecting this to be a big event,” he said.
According to school officials, AYP status is important to a school because it uses a set of standard benchmarks to measure performance under state standards and the federal government's No Child Left Behind Act.
As a part of that law, each year, schools must meet certain standards based on measures that can include: Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests, the Georgia High School Graduation Test, and other indicators such as attendance and high school-graduation rates.
Lillard said the students at his school are fortunate to have teachers who took the initiative to work after hours, to help prepare them for standardized tests. “They went forward to prepare our students and did not allow failure to be an option,” he said.
To keep the momentum going this year, he said, the school will continue to stress that same philosophy. He added that there are three main goals teachers will push to boost student achievement, including: Literacy across the curriculum; technology integration in the classrooms, and critical thinking.
The fact that science –– which has proven to be challenging for many students in Georgia on standardize assessments –– will be added as a “second indicator” for Adequate Yearly Progress, this year, doesn’t seem to phase Lillard one bit.
In fact, he pointed out, he is looking more toward his school making AYP for a third year in a row, and moving up to school-of-distinction status.
With a smile stretching from ear to ear, he jovially said, “It’s not if we make AYP [another year], it’s when we make AYP [another year].”