Two el­e­men­tary schools on state’s low per­form­ing list

The Covington News - - News - AM­BER PITTMAN Staff Re­porter

Two of New­ton County’s el­e­men­tary schools have landed on the state’s list of 156 “fo­cus schools,” un­der Ge­or­gia’s new ac­count­abil­ity laws.

Fo­cus schools are iden­ti­fied one of two ways: Ti­tle 1 schools with large gaps be­tween the high­est achiev­ing and low­est achiev­ing sub­groups within that school or those with a grad­u­a­tion rate of less then 60 per­cent over two years.

Just a step above the state’s worst per­form­ing schools — Pri­or­ity Schools, of which Chal­lenge Char­ter Academy has been named — Fo­cus Schools re­quire cer­tain ac­tions from both the school and the dis­trict. Live Oak and West New­ton el­e­men­tary

schools have been placed on the Fo­cus list based on school-wide stu­dent achieve­ment.

“This is not good news, but it is real news,” said Su­per­in­ten­dent Gary Mathews at Tues­day’s board meet­ing.

One of the Fo­cus Schools, Live Oak, met Ad­e­quate Yearly Progress (AYP) last year, yet still landed on the list. This is due to the state fall­ing un­der the new ac­count­abil­ity sys­tem that is based on a waiver re­ceived last month. That waiver frees Ge­or­gia’s (and nine other state’s) public schools from the No Child Left Be­hind (NCLB) Act re­quire­ments.

Ge­or­gia no longer has to meet the dead­line of the NCLB Act, which es­sen­tially said that stu­dents must be pro­fi­cient in math and read­ing based on sev­eral dif­fer­ent test scores by 2014. Those scores were col­lected from the Cri­te­rion-ref­er­enced Com­pe­tency Tests, the Ge­or­gia High School Grad­u­a­tion Tests and a school meet­ing AYP re­quire­ments. Schools were viewed both as a whole, and as sub­groups.

Now that the NCLB Act is no longer re­quired for the state, schools will have to show plans that prove they are pre­par­ing chil­dren for col­lege and/or ca­reers, re­ward the high­est per­form­ing schools, fo­cus on the low­est per­form­ing schools and set new tar­gets for stu­dent achieve­ment.

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