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Kendrick Middle principal lauds staff, students

Shown are members of the Carrie Kendrick Middle School’s leadership team, data analysis team and grade-level chairs. (Special Photo)

Shown are members of the Carrie Kendrick Middle School’s leadership team, data analysis team and grade-level chairs. (Special Photo)

JONESBORO — A poster is hanging in the Zaxby’s restaurant praising the school’s academic achievements.

Carrie Kendrick Middle School Principal Marcus Jackson said the scores are not the best but they are an improvement for students who took the 2013 Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests.

“Everybody sees the glory but they don’t know the story behind it,” he said. “We did a lot of planning with students and teachers, and the end result was phenomenal.”

He credited a staff of 75 teachers teaching a student body of more than 800 middle-schoolers.

“Teachers changed how they were teaching,” said Jackson, noting the staff committed to putting in four additional hours each month after school to meet and collaborate.

Jackson said he transferred from another Clayton County school last year. He said teachers had his same ideas on student achievement, but they grew weary of his student discipline policies.

He said instead of suspending a student for being disruptive in class, he counseled them and allowed them back into the classroom.

“We had 172 fewer suspensions last year (compared to the previous year), ” he said. “But I believe the children need to be in school in order to learn. It worked. The teachers know what I’m doing now, and I have the numbers to prove it.”

The school experienced notable student achievement gains on the CRCT from 2012 to 2013.

Data from the Georgia Department of Education revealed increases were particularly high in math, science and social studies.

Sixth-graders, for example, passed the 2012 CRCT at a rate of 65.7 percent in math, 52.7 percent in science and 51.8 percent in social studies. In 2013, the pass rate was 76.8 percent in math, 66.3 percent in science and 72.4 percent in social studies.

There were similar increases across grade-levels.

In 2012, eighth-graders passed math at 65.2 percent, science at 57.3 percent and social studies at 60.4 percent. Fast forward to 2013 and 79.9 percent of students are making the grade in math, 72.0 percent in science and 70.3 percent in social studies.

Jackson said a larger percentage of students also exceeded state standards on the CRCT.

“And our special needs kids, in eighth grade, all of them passed,” said Jackson, sighing. “To see them walk around the school showing everybody their blue sheets (test results) — some of them even exceeded — was just a beautiful thing.”

Jackson said parents were among the most resistent.

“We’ve had to fight with parents telling us we’re too tough on their child,” he said. “I placed an expectation that I expect 100 percent to excel academically and show major growth. I’m expecting a minimum of 40 percent of our students to exceed this year.”