34 Clayton schools are now 'distinguished'

Nearly three dozen of the county's public schools were recognized for their academic prowess on Thursday, when officials from Clayton County Public Schools, and the Georgia Department of Education, announced they are Georgia Title I Distinguished Schools.

In all, State Superintendent of Schools John Barge named 868 distinguished schools across the state, during a meeting of the State Board of Education. Shortly after Barge's announcement, Clayton County Public Schools officials released the names of 34 district schools who earned the honor. County officials also pointed out that the number of "distinguished" schools has increased from the 27 recognized a year ago.

"Our district continues to move forward in providing quality instruction for children in Clayton County," said School Superintendent Edmond Heatley, in a written statement. "This recognition of the hard work of our students and staff, bolstered the support of our parents and community partners, is our encouragement to achieve excellence.

"We are very proud of the accomplishment of these schools, and pledge a continued focus on earning this distinction for all of our schools," he said.

It is not easy to earn "Title I Distinguished School" honors from the state. In order to accomplish the feat, a school has to make Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) for at least three consecutive years. Title I schools are those schools that have high numbers of students who are classified as "economically disadvantaged," under federal guidelines.

The "AYP" status is a measure of whether a school is in compliance with the federal government's No Child Left Behind Act of 2001.

State Superintendent Barge said, in a written statement, that the honor is significant, because they (schools) "could make excuses, but they don't." He said he is "so pleased" to recognize not only the schools, but their staffs, students and parents for repeatedly making AYP.

"These schools have shown that high expectations, hard work and collaboration do improve student achievement," Barge said. "The teachers and students are focused, and the consistent results prove it."

Eighteen of Clayton's schools that earned "distinguished" honors have made AYP for at least seven consecutive years, according to the list provided the school system. Two schools, Church Street Elementary School, in Riverdale, and Morrow Elementary School, in Morrow, have made AYP every year for the last 10 years.

The majority of Clayton County schools on the distinguished list –– 27 schools –– are primary and elementary schools. One charter school, the Unidos Dual Language Charter School, in Forest Park, also earned distinguished honors.

A growing number of middle schools are also earning "distinguished" honors. Four middle schools joined the list, bringing the total of "distinguished" middle schools in the county to six. Clayton County Public Schools operated 61 schools and charter schools during the 2009-2010 school year.

The breakdown of Clayton County's "Georgia Title I Distinguished Schools," and how many years they have made AYP, is as follows:

• Three Consecutive Years of AYP: Adamson Middle School, Brown Elementary School, Forest Park Middle School, Haynie Elementary School, Huie Elementary School, M. D. Roberts Middle School, Morrow Middle School, Riverdale Elementary School, and West Clayton Elementary School.

• Four Consecutive Years of AYP: Babb Middle School, Kilpatrick Elementary School, Rex Mill Middle School, and Unidos Dual Language Charter School

• Five Consecutive Years of AYP: Kemp Elementary School.

• Six Consecutive Years of AYP: Harper Elementary School, and Thurgood Marshall Elementary School.

• Seven Consecutive Years of AYP: Fountain Elementary School, James Jackson Elementary School, and Martin Luther King, Jr., Elementary School.

• Eight Consecutive Years of AYP: Anderson Elementary School, Arnold Elementary School, Callaway Elementary School, Edmonds Elementary School, Hendrix Drive Elementary School, Kemp Primary School, Lake City Elementary School, Mount Zion Elementary School, Northcutt Elementary School, Oliver Elementary School, Pointe South Elementary School, River's Edge Elementary School, and William M. McGarrah Elementary School.

• Ten Consecutive Years of AYP: Church Street Elementary School, and Morrow Elementary School.