The Georgia Department of Education has released a second list of schools in the state whose performance in certain bench-mark categories needs improvement.
The schools are being designated as “Focus Schools,” as part of the requirements of the waiver from provisions of the federal No Child Left Behind Act that the state recently received.
Matt Cardozo, director of communications for the department, said to be considered a “Focus School,” a school has to have a graduation rate of less than 60 percent over a two-year period, and have a significant achievement gap between the highest-achieving student subgroup in the school, and the lowest-achieving one.
Nearly 160 schools in Georgia are being identified as Focus Schools. Fifteen schools in Clayton County have been designated as such. Focus Schools are also Title 1 schools –– schools in which a significant number of pupils are eligible for free or reduced lunches.
The 15 Clayton schools on the list are: M.D. Roberts Middle, Mundy’s Mill High, Thurgood Marshall Elementary, Morrow Middle, Brown Elementary, Roberta T. Smith Elementary, Mount Zion High, James Jackson Elementary, Kemp Elementary, Anderson Elementary, Tara Elementary, Babb Middle, Riverdale Middle, Church Street Elementary, and Swint Elementary.
The achievement gap between the subgroups, Cardoza said, is determined by student performance in subject areas such as Math, Science, Language Arts, Reading, and Social Studies.
Doug Hendrix, chief human resources officer for Clayton County Public Schools and a spokesperson for the school district, said this list is a representation of the work that still “needs to be done to close the achievement gap between the subgroups.”
“We look forward to the challenge of ensuring that every child, in every subgroup, gets a high-quality education and is able to fulfill their dreams as adults,” added Clayton School Superintendent Edmond Heatley.
It was earlier this month that the state Department of Education, in compliance with the No Child Left Behind Act waiver, identified 78 schools across Georgia as being “Priority Schools” -- the lowest-performing schools in the state.
Clayton County had no schools on the “Priority Schools” list.
“This [having no schools on the Priority list] is a testament to our amazing students and our dedicated staff,” said Hendrix. “This also speaks volumes about our community, which has endured much hyperbole, centered around school district and community challenges.”
Hendrix was asked how it is possible that no schools in the county were listed among “Priority Schools,” when nearly half the schools in the district failed to meet the requirements of Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP).
“AYP,” he said, “looks at reaching the predetermined objectives which require all subgroups of students to reach those targets. Priority Schools, however, looks at the growth of students, rather than the predetermined objectives, regardless of the current level of the students.”
He added that, of the Clayton schools listed as “Focus Schools,” six achieved AYP status.
Cardoza said the full list of “Focus Schools” can be viewed on the DOE’s web site at www.k12.ga.us.