State recognizes 17 schools for gains and achievement

In its annual Single Statewide Accountability System awards, the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement recognizes  schools for greatest gains on the Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests or the Georgia High School Graduation Tests and for highest performance, which entails the highest achievement on the CRCT or GHSGT

Seventeen Georgia schools earned the unique distinction this year of being recognized for both greatest gains and highest performance. Congratulations to all the schools and their staffs for this achievement:

  • Bremen High School, Bremen City Schools
  • Buford Elementary School, Buford City Schools
  • Decatur High School, Decatur City Schools
  • DeKalb School of the Arts, DeKalb County Schools
  • Early College Academy of Columbus, Muscogee County Schools
  • Early College High School at Carver, Atlanta Public Schools
  • Glenwood Primary School, Floyd County Schools
  • Greenbrier Middle School, Columbia County Schools
  • Houston County Career and Technology Center, Houston County Schools
  • Jefferson High School, Jefferson City Schools
  • Lumpkin High School, Lumpkin County Schools
  • Mabry Middle School, Cobb County Schools
  • Miller County High School, Miller County Schools
  • Mirror Lake Elementary School, Douglas County Schools
  • Rabun Gap Community School, Rabun County Schools
  • Riverwood International Charter School, Fulton County Schools
  • School of the Arts at Carver, Atlanta Public Schools

–By Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

52 comments Add your comment


January 5th, 2011
12:27 pm

Congratulations to all. These awards come purely from data and not from any self-written application or nomination process. [And I know bloggers here who will poo-poo that data but it was used for all so fair and square.]

One observation just from school name alone – it appears that 6 of the 18 are specialty schools. So why? What’s going on there that can be replicated in other schools?


January 5th, 2011
1:04 pm

Bremen High School’s academic achievements year in and year out are amazing. If you look at test scores dating back the almost 40 years the AJC has pubished those results, Bremen’s schools always rank at or near the top. It is not a particularly wealthy community, it is not located in the north Atlanta suburbs, and there is no college or university located there. What does Bremen do that the rest of the state doesn’t?

just watching

January 5th, 2011
1:04 pm

Teach2Learn….they’ve got a curricular “hook” that the students buy into. Something that peaks their interest and gives them some choice in their learning. Giving students choices = good thing….as long as they are getting the basics as well (including critical thinking weaved into it all).

HS Public Teacher

January 5th, 2011
1:05 pm

Just askin’…..

Are those APS schools before or after the scores identified for cheating?

just watching

January 5th, 2011
1:05 pm

Come to think of it….I wonder what the parent involvement and behavioral expectations are at these schools? I bet both are very high.

HS Public Teacher

January 5th, 2011
1:09 pm

For those asking about what is unique about these schools…..

Notice that this is for a COMBINATION of greatest gains and high performance. Schools that are consistantly high really cannot make this list because there is mathematically not room for improvement or gains.

The AJC and DOE should also release names of schools with the absolute highest scores of all. Don’t they deserve recognition?

Maybe there is something to be learned from schools that consistantly score high even though they cannot show “greatest gains.”

Parent in DeKalb

January 5th, 2011
1:10 pm

So happy for DSA! DeKalb School of the Arts! GREAT school!

HS Public Teacher

January 5th, 2011
1:13 pm

@Parent in DeKalb,

Yes! Congrats to DeKalb School of the Arts….

However, they have the ability to do something ‘normal’ public schools cannot – they kick out students with low grades and force them to attend their regular school.

If all schools could “kick out” the dead weight, what would that mean????? Just sayin’.

DeKalb Educated

January 5th, 2011
1:16 pm

Also DSA gets to select their students.

Recently Retired SE GA Teacher

January 5th, 2011
1:28 pm

I think congratulations should go out to all the 200 schools who received highest performance, not just those with highest performance and highest gains. You have to be pretty low in the previous year to get the greatest gains, and many of the highest performers just don’t have those really low years.

high school teacher

January 5th, 2011
1:29 pm

John, Bremen City does not provide public transportation to its schools. Students who live in Bremen’s district who cannot get to school on their own are sent to Haralson County High School (where Bremen city is located). There are many people in Carroll County who pay tuition for their children to go to Bremen. It is in essence a private school.


January 5th, 2011
1:46 pm

The SSAS Press Release in your link won’t open for me. Is anyone else having that problem?

The Whole Truth

January 5th, 2011
2:05 pm

High School Teacher, Bremen students living inside the city of Bremen attend Bremen City Schools. If they attend Haralson County High School they too have to pay tuition. Students come to Bremen City Schools from Carroll County, Haralson County, and Douglas County. Many students have come out tof private schools to attend Bremen Schools. Those not living in Bremen City limits have to pay tuition. People are willing to pay school taxes in their own districts and send their students to Bremen because of the quality of the Bremen City School System. There is a waiting list for parents wanting to get their children in Bremen Schools. Bremen is not a private school, but it is the school of choice for many parents not living in the Bremen City limits.

Why do Bremen City Schools do so well academically? It is because of the tradition that has been established in that Bremen has high expectations for parents and students. Bremen seeks to hire the most qualified indiviuals as administrators and teachers. The board of education is supportive of the administration and teachers and the teachers, administrtion, and board of education work together as a team. There is an attitude not to rest on the success of the past, but to move toward academic improvements each year.

high school teacher

January 5th, 2011
2:22 pm

The Whole Truth,

Does Bremen now have school buses?

What if

January 5th, 2011
3:09 pm

The speciality schools may get to select their kids. Nothing taken away from these folks; just remember that we’re using the state’s minimum competency tests here – “performance” means changes in pass rates; passing is equivalent to (roughly) the 10th-30th percentile on nationally normed achievement tests (except for the tests attempting to measure the ruinously inappropriate math “standards”). Increases in passing rates (the percentages of kids passing the tests) have NOTHING to do with “increased scores” as the AJC insists on erroneously reporting. The tests DO NOT measure the full range of performance, only whether or not a student surpasses a very low level of performance.


January 5th, 2011
3:31 pm

High school teacher… no.. but Bremen does have musicians.

(Hopefully, someone gets that).


January 5th, 2011
3:46 pm

Lala, did they go to the fair?

Maureen Downey

January 5th, 2011
3:56 pm

lala, I got it. My kids love that tale.

Dr. Craig Spinks /Augusta

January 5th, 2011
4:22 pm

Why doesn’t the GOSA recognize our elementary and middle schools which have demonstrated the greatest gains and achieved the highest scores on the ITBS(Iowa Test of Basic Skills) over a period of years? Similarly, why doesn’t the GOSA recognize our high schools which make the greatest gains and post the highest scores on the PSAT, SAT and ACT over a period of years? Better yet, why doesn’t the GOSA post schools’ and school systems’ ITBS, PSAT, SAT and ACT scores on its website?


January 5th, 2011
5:21 pm

There’s a powerpoint at this link that explains Georgia’s Single Statewide Accountability System. It’s from 2006 when this recognition program was developed through committee work and other input. May answer some questions here about how the program works. I can assume the slide show hasn’t been updated because the guidelines have not changed.
Georgia’s Single Statewide Accountability System Power Update, March 20, 2006

Also basic info here:

another comment

January 5th, 2011
6:59 pm

Why don’t we just save alot of money and get rid of all of the tests except the Nationally normed tests such as the IOWA, PSAT, SAT and ACT. No doubt because to many connected folks won’t get their share of the testing dollar windfall. It would also be harder to hid how dismal some of these schools are and the gap between the good ones would show more.


January 5th, 2011
7:22 pm

State recognizes 17 schools for gains and achievement—

How does any Atlanta Public School qualify for gains and achievement in any of their schools while an investigation is still in process…???

Again, the Governor’s Awards seem to be a JOKE…

Is that “sort of achievement”…and not “exactly cheating”…and “kind of sort a like” not “the whole truth”…

They “kind of SORTA are Excellent”.

Awards and Achievements: Or, how making the grade around here goes
beyond report cards… At the Governor’s OFFICE…


I guess this award has the same value as Dr. Hall is the recipient of several national and local honors. In 2010, she became the first K–12 school administrator to be honored with the Distinguished Public Service Award from the American Educational Research Association. In 2009, she was named the National Superintendent of the Year by the American Association of School Administrators, the country’s top professional honor for a K-12 education leader. In addition, she won recognition as the 2009 State Superintendent of the Year by the Georgia School Superintendents Association.


Warren Jackson Principal, Reich was chosen by the Governor¹s Office as one of the Top 100 High-Performing Principals in Georgia.

The Atlanta Business Chronicle named Jackson the Best Public Elementary School in Atlanta.

Principal Reich was selected as a member of the Oxford Round Table in Oxford, England to discuss important contemporary educational issues and policies.

The Georgia Department of Education has recognized Warren T. Jackson Elementary every year at either the Platinum, Gold or Silver status for Highest Percentage in meeting and exceeding academic standards. Jackson received Platinum designation from the Governor’s Office for the school’s exceptional student performance on the statewide 2008 CRCT exams as well as the 2009 CRCT exams. This highest honor was the only one of its kind bestowed upon any APS public school that year.

Jackson Elementary is National Blue Ribbon School, a Georgia School of Excellence and an International Baccalaureate (IB) World School.

Jackson has reached or exceeded academic targets set by the Atlanta Public Schools System every year, and our teachers receive bonuses based on those results.


From international achievements and national awards to local recognition and personal bests, the good words about Jackson just continue to multiply.


January 5th, 2011
7:34 pm

AWARDS and ACHIEVEMENT do not exactly add up on the Northside of Atlanta’s Public Schools…

They have so many awards the furplace mantel can’t hold all dem awards.

A False path of Success in ATLANTA PUBLIC SCHOOLS.

The Governor should just give everyone in the Race for the TOP an Award.
Any teacher knows…when you are handing out ribbons…the children know if it was a real contest based on skill and knowledge. They can spot a fake in a minute’s time.

I think the Governor’s Honor Roll has little or no meaning based on the investigations still pending. More honest ethical people are watching these possibly “made up” INVESTIGATIONS and AWARDS than he might think.

These GOLD STARS look a little tarnished.

Teacher for Life

January 5th, 2011
7:41 pm

The APS schools featured “selected” their students. Other high schools in APS that wanted the “Arts” and “Early College” were denied. Don’t get it twisted. A certain caliber of students are attracted to those programs. Douglass High School fought to keep an engineering and arts program with “selective” criteria but the APS downtowners wanted the large school concept to fail so Douglass was set up to fail because it had done so well as a traditional high school.

I guess my mouth is too big. I have another class where no one has a passing GPA. Whatever…


January 5th, 2011
7:50 pm

Maybe there is something to be learned from schools that consistently score high even though they cannot show “greatest gains.”

Fraudulent Documentation for Pay for Performance

@ HS Public Teacher said….However, they have the ability to do something ‘normal’ public schools cannot – they kick out students with low grades and force them to attend their regular school.

If all schools could “kick out” the dead weight, what would that mean????? Just sayin’.

Concealing Segregation/APS/Jackson Elementary

Ask Northside APS Schools…”how they do it”

Blatant Student Discrimination/Jackson/APS Leadership


January 5th, 2011
7:55 pm

Kind of like you can’t transfer to an International Baccalaureate (IB) School unless you went to one within Atlanta Public Schools …so if student transfer slots come open in those APS Northside Schools…Southside children that don’t already attend an IB School can’t attend…

I think it is called SEGREGATION…


January 5th, 2011
8:02 pm

@ Teacher for Life…

Twist, dodge, rename, they make up a new word for anything they want to do.
Maybe we can start renaming some of the APS schools…

The Atlanta City Council is renaming streets …they might as well rename some of the APS schools, too.


January 5th, 2011
8:08 pm

internal segregation…if a teacher did this in their classroom…
They would be reported to the Professional Standards Commission …lose their license to teach…and would make headline news in the Atlanta Journal.

Better yet…All teachers should just do this…DRAW A LINE DOWN THE MIDDLE OF YOUR CLASSROOM…Mark one side of the room YOU HAVE IT and mark the other side of the room the YOU AIN’T GOT IT.

Start teaching on the side of the room that is working best for you…and ignore those on the other side of the line.


January 5th, 2011
8:19 pm

I have a NEW idea…teachers should make internal groups and name them colors …Black, White, Brown, Yellow, Red…

If ANY teacher did what the Atlanta Public School’s ADMINISTRATION has done on the NORTHSIDE of Atlanta to appease the TAX BASE parents that either can’t afford PRIVATE SCHOOLS or they are waiting on a list to GET IN…If this minority ADMINISTRATION can disguise and make “GROUPS” on the Northside ATLANTA…

wHY Can’t A little ole teacher do the same IN THE classroom?

Tag every child with a triangle, square and circle.
That is exactly what they are doing at the middle schools on NORTHSIDE Atlanta.


January 5th, 2011
8:29 pm

1960’s Segregation in the MINORITY LEAD Atlanta Public Schools.
How did this happen?
A sad, sad situation.

I am a white man …that is ashamed to have ever been associated with such blatant arrogance that would think they could CHEAT like this and get away with it.

APS …a brainwashed regime of corruption.


January 5th, 2011
8:30 pm

Guess everyone is bored with this topic again…

Over it!

January 5th, 2011
8:47 pm

No, sunshine…we’re just bored with you.

Teacher for Life

January 5th, 2011
9:07 pm

@ TopSchool…Thanks for all of your comments.

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by said: State recognizes 17 schools for gains and achievement /via @lukegregory [...]

figures never lie

January 6th, 2011
7:08 am

Although a nice award, read the report. This award talks about greatest gains. Thus top schools will eventually be taken out of this competition. You do reach a saturation point.


January 6th, 2011
10:21 am

@ Over it…If my comments bore you …skip them. They are not designed to lure you in with rhetoric so you can “play school” inside your bubble.

I would say you are very much satisfied with everything from a perspective of looking through your “WHITE” human form and rose colored glasses.

As long as you are keeping up with your next door neighbor’s trophies and awards…you would rank that as success.

Put some substance into your comments. oVER IT! AND SUNSHINE don’t say much.just code words for you attempt to make your point.
That’s ok I have been called worse…APS Administration referred to me as a “mama’s boy.”
…my classroom was called the “GAY” wing of the school …and finally in a fit of fury…the principal said “all you queers are the same.”

I think we probably are…As a total group of human beings…We want honesty, integrity and ethics in the leaders that work with our children.

@ Over It!…Do you have anything constructive to add to the conversation?


January 6th, 2011
11:00 am

As a Bremen grad, I can tell you that the self-selection going on in the system has a lot to do with the success of the system. The demand for the school has allowed the school board to be selective about the out-of-district studentes that will be permitted to attend via tuition. Also, the city school taxes are outrageous even to me (and I currently pay the DeKalb school tax).

APS needing a citizen REVOLUTION

January 6th, 2011
1:14 pm

@Teacher for Life: Thanks for your comments and insight. The Carver schools are now individual and stand alone high schools. Four individual high schools sharing a common campus. The two that made this list do have minimum entrance requirements or required auditions. Only Freshman with a minimum CRCT score can attend the Carver Early College High School. The Carver School of the Arts requires an audition of a kids musical or artistic talent.

I’ll ask the tough question. Why are the campuses with the individual high school only on the South side of town? If Grady or North Atlanta high schools were individual high school and not one high school with different Small Learning Communities, they too would have schools making these lists. Mays and Douglas would also make these list if their previous magnets were not “transformed” or done away with.

It is an organizational and PR stunt. This stunt which makes certain previously low performing schools shine is a very costly one. Each school having it’s own well paid principal and staff. I guess the citizens of Atlanta are used to paying a premium to APS. Yes, the Gates Foundation grant is covering some initial costs, but the tax paying citizens will soon be paying for it all.

Is this expensive PR stunt worth all the money to enable previously low performing schools to finally show success? Is this fair to other APS schools to disband their successful magnet programs?

Dana Kling

January 6th, 2011
1:15 pm

Specialty schools hand pick their students (well, not exactly), but certainly moreso than regular public schools. A powerful advantage.

APS needing a citizen REVOLUTION

January 6th, 2011
1:21 pm

@Dana Kling: I don’t think there is anything wrong with specialty schools, charter, theme, magnet or other. But when a school system, like APS, gets rid of successful magnet programs and transforms several schools of Carver into specialty schools, that is wrong. But then again this is APS.

I forgot to mention in my previous post that if the schools of Carver were one high school with several SLC’s, the Carver School of Technology would have pulled them all down and none would have made any list. The School of Technology did not make AYP. Go figure.

Former APS Teacher

January 6th, 2011
1:45 pm

Marcene Thornton is running a sham over at Early College! Teachers have access to assessments before they are administered. Students can ask test proctors for the answers. Low performing students are granted additional time and support on them, and she personally reviews answer sheets. Another former teacher in the district reported testing improprieties to the STATE, and somehow the ensuing DISTRICT investigation absolved the school of wrongdoing. The same individual was escorted off campus later that semester by APS security and paid off to walk away following a particularly condemning whistle blower report on the school. Beverly Hall and Kathy Cox personally know of these retaliatory misdeeds yet have done nothing. No one seems to care what goes on inside that building as long as the students continue to post impressive test scores BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY. If you don’t believe me then ask yourself this, why would such a high performing school on a brand new, pristine campus with first class resources courtesy of Arthur Blank and Bill Gates have such a hard time retaining teachers? She annually turns over around 40 percent of her staff because educators refuse to be complicit in that farce! Wait til that CRCT investigation is finished and someone moves on to uncover that the cheating on EOCTs and GHSGTs is even more rampant in the “high performing” APS high schools. Some circus the National Superintendent of the Year is running over there; I’m tellin you from experience…


January 6th, 2011
1:57 pm

Go Decatur High School! DHS has a great faculty and supportive community– so glad they made the list!

Native Atlantan

January 6th, 2011
1:58 pm

@TopSchool — as a gay man, all I can say is you have a huge chip on your shoulder and it has NOTHING to do with being called gay in school. Hell, I was and didn’t turn out to be bitter.

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by AJC and others. AJC said: Major fist-bump to the 17 metro schools cited for excellence on state testing. [...]

APS needing a citizen REVOLUTION

January 6th, 2011
2:34 pm

@Former APS Teacher: What are you thoughts about the magnets being removed and yet Carver has two high schools with auditions or minimum CRCT requirements ?

Former APS Teacher

January 6th, 2011
2:48 pm

@Revolution These people are clearly more concerned with maintaining the appearance that they foster high performing schools than they are with investing the time and effort required to actually foster them. Those magnet programs were removed to pave the way for transition into small schools or learning communities at traditional high schools, which has become the HALLmark of outgoing National Superintendent of the Year. It’s all smoke and mirrors. No high school would require entrance scores if the district would stop social promotion and cheating in middle and elementary schools that feed them, and they would all move closer to achieving their goal of preparing students for college and career success. Accountability has to start at the top. APS needs to clean house!


January 6th, 2011
2:52 pm

What would happen, “public teacher” asks, if all schools were allowed to and booted out lower achievers?

Doesn’t take an educated person to figure that out: Each school would be left with the relative cream of the crop, the highly motivated, bright kids, and scorews would surely reflect that.

Oh, and overall graduation rates would plummet, and a boatload of kids would wind up on the streets with minimal life skills.

What an idea.


January 6th, 2011
5:29 pm

@ Native Atlantan…

I guess chipping away to find the truth in APS…is the bitterness you claim I have acquired that offends your “native Atlantan” status…

I will gladly accept the title of “Bitter Gay Man” if this title will help to bring “sunshine” to the dark secrets in Atlanta Public Schools.

Outspoken Gay Man = Bitter
Outspoken Woman = Bit_h
Outspoken Man = A__hole
Outspoken Lesbian = Redundant
( I don’t know any that aren’t)

I think it will take a “village” to crack the code of the APS Administration Idiots.
Most White Native Atlantans would like for the “outsiders” to keep their mouths shut.

I intend to tell what I know…to anyone that will listen.


January 6th, 2011
7:47 pm

@ Former APS Teacher…

I think you’ve got it! You’ve mastered the APS secrets!

My question (as a former APS teacher)…Why are so many people clueless and don’t want to see the truth… when the information is put right before their eyes?

What is the mysterious APS hypnosis that clouds the mind?

Does it take leaving APS to speak the TRUTH about APS.?

Are there enough Ex-APS employees willing to tell “how it works?”

Dr. Craig Spinks /Augusta

January 6th, 2011
8:49 pm

Former APS Teacher and Top School,

Has either of you contacted the FBI?

Former APS Teacher,

Unfortunately, the APS is not the only GA public school system in which educratic image has trumped the substance of student learning. By the way, did the “image” plague spread to the APS from the GDOE and the GOSA?