The Dougherty County School System is adjusting to the state’s new accountability system of Priority, Focus, Alert and Reward schools. The new school designations are a conversion from the accountability reporting system of Annual Yearly Progress to the College and Career Readiness Performance Index. (Staff Photo: Terry Lewis)
ALBANY —The Georgia Department of Education (GaDOE) on Tuesday released the list of 2013 Reward and Alert Schools as part of the state’s waiver from the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).
Conversion from the accountability reporting system of Annual Yearly Progress (AYP) initiated by the No Child Left Behind law of 2001 to the College and Career Readiness Performance Index (CCRPI), developed by the state of Georgia and provided for by national waiver in 2011, created the need to educate parents and community stakeholders about the performance data that is compiled to determine school status.
There are four areas to which schools are assigned based on the results of performance data — Priority, Focus, Alert and Reward schools.
GaDOE released the schools named to the Priority and Focus groups during the summer and the Dougherty County School System has three high schools in Priority status and two middle schools in Focus status. Those are Albany, Dougherty and Monroe High Schools and Albany and Radium Springs Middle Schools.
The state released the remaining two classifications — Alert and Reward — on Tuesday
The Alert category is comprised of schools with performance data that falls three standard deviations below the mean for the state in one or more of three areas. Those areas are graduation rate, subgroup performance and subject area performance. Dougherty County has three elementary schools that fall into the Alert category for subject matter performance — Jackson Heights, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Northside.
Two of those schools, Jackson Heights and Martin Luther King, Jr., are also in the category of subgroup performance.
The fourth performance category is Rewards Schools. These schools make the list for highest performance for the “all students” group over three years or have the highest graduation rates in the state, or a school can achieve this status for highest progress for being in the top 10 percent of Title I schools for the “all students” group over three years. Dougherty County has three middle and two elementary schools on the highest progress list.
These are Lamar Reese Magnet and Sherwood Acres Elementary Schools and Dougherty International Education Middle School, Merry Acres Middle School and Southside Middle School.
Five other area schools were also recognized as Reward Schools — Lee County High, Lee County Ninth Grade campus, Mitchell County High School, Americus-Sumter High School and Calhoun Mille-High School.
“The Dougherty County School System will use the data reported today to help identify areas of exemplary performance to serve as models and areas of great need for better instructional support,” said Interim Superintendent Butch Mosely. “I have said since coming on board that higher student performance comes with having the right teachers in the classrooms and having the right leadership for the schools. Our curriculum and instruction leadership has made major changes in instructional accountability.”
Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction, Ufot Inyang, is confident that many practices are being improved and methods are being put in place and expanded to drive higher performance.
“There are areas that certainly still need a lot of attention,” said Inyang. “Our curriculum content coordinators are in the schools everyday supporting improvement. We have implemented ongoing job-embedded professional development to improve content knowledge and instructional delivery skills. Supervisors and principals are conducting focus walks to assess the delivery of classroom instruction and identify strengths and weaknesses. Reading instruction is a high priority as that skill leads to better learning in other content areas as well. We have put new reading programs in place. Specific, targeted and additional help are being provided the Alert schools along with other low performing schools to shore up their performances as soon as possible.”
The system receives support for improvement from Race To The Top grants that staff instructional coaches to help with intervention and remedial instruction for students who are behind their peers in grade-level performance. System leadership, from the interim superintendent down, stress accountability and responsibility for student performance.
Efforts to provide alternative education to students who are not succeeding in the regular program are being rebuilt to respond to areas of greatest student need. Faculty in these alternative settings are highly qualified, educated and certified in the subject matter they teach.
The recently-approved College and Career Performance Learning Center is a partnership between the school system, Communities In Schools of Georgia, and Albany Technical College. In January, students who are behind in graduation credits will be transported to a facility, the former vocation wing at Monroe High, to receive accelerated instruction. While catching up, they will be able to take college credit courses at Albany Tech and get on track for graduation and a career with one plan for individualized success.
Also, just last month, the board approved hiring 25 new teachers for kindergarten through second grade to help students who are academically behind their peers to be able to function on or above grade level. These are Early Intervention Program (EIP) teachers. Research shows that those performing behind by grade three rarely catch up and are most likely to drop out by the time they turn 16. So, we are attacking that problem at the earliest levels of formal education.
The system has welcomed new levels of accountability. While a significant portion of student performance leans heavily toward the need for greater improvement, that improvement is being implemented and put in classrooms every day.
“Among the changes to accountability reporting brought about by the waiver is the designation for Rewards Schools,” Mosely said. “Previous reporting brought significant attention to those schools in “needs improvement” categories and we focus and work hard to improve those. It is equally important to highlight the top performers in achievement for a system. We congratulate our three middle and two elementary schools who are showing improvement in student achievement.”