Check out schools that made DOE’s reward school list today for strong performance by low-income students

The state Department of Education has released its long-awaited list of reward schools. There are 45 schools from metro counties on the list. And the AJC has a story up with the local schools listed.

“Reward” schools represents a new category created by the waiver that Georgia won from No Child Left Behind. The list recognizes schools with large numbers of low-income students who are performing well or showing significant progress in their academic achievement.

From DOE:

The Georgia Department of Education today released the list of Reward Schools as part of the state’s Elementary and Secondary Education Act  flexibility waiver. The category is reserved for schools with the highest performance or the biggest academic gains by students in the last three years.

“These schools are shining examples of what we can achieve in public education in Georgia,” said State School Superintendent Dr. John Barge. “I want to take what’s working at our Reward Schools and replicate that in every school in the state. These are the schools making education work for all Georgians.”

Reward School Definition:

A “Highest-Performing School” is a Title I school among the 5 percent of Title I schools in the state that has the highest absolute performance over three years for the “all students” group on the statewide assessments.

A Highest-Performing School must have made Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) for the “all students” group and all of its subgroups in 2011. A school may not be classified as a Highest-Performing School if there are significant achievement gaps across subgroups that are not closing in the school.

A “High-Progress School” is a Title I school among the 10 percent of Title I schools in the State that is making the most progress in improving the performance of the “all students” group over three years on the statewide assessments.  A school may not be classified as a High-Progress School if there are significant achievement gaps across subgroups that are not closing in the school.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

49 comments Add your comment

banshee29

October 31st, 2012
3:17 pm

Nice to recognize improvement, however…what about the schools that have been high performing all along?

Married with (School) Children

October 31st, 2012
3:21 pm

North Atlanta High is a Title-I school, but did not make either list – interesting!

banshee29

October 31st, 2012
3:23 pm

O yeah…statewide assessments. Back to that argument again? Any APS schools on the list?

Centrist

October 31st, 2012
3:28 pm

Good news here, for a change, and no political implications.

All I'm Saying Is....

October 31st, 2012
3:29 pm

Seems to me, you actually don’t want your school to have been on either list.

All I'm Saying Is....

October 31st, 2012
3:37 pm

And according to a June 2010 post by Maureen (http://blogs.ajc.com/get-schooled-blog/2010/06/14/newsweek-list-of-top-high-schools-20-georgia-schools-among-1600/), Georgia has some pretty crappy public schools when compared to the rest of the USA. For example, Newsweek (whether you agree with them or not) identified the top 6% of all public USA high schools which works out to a total of 1,600 public high schools. Out of these 1,600, Georgia had 55 high schools on the list with our highest ranked one coming in at #79 (Walton in Cobb County).

That stinks, folks. We need to have more top tier, nationally ranked high schools (at least) or our kids are not going to be able to compete and will never be able to get a job and move out of the house.

Maureen Downey

October 31st, 2012
3:42 pm

@Banshee, Yes

Mike Vick

October 31st, 2012
3:49 pm

Where are all the Dougherty County Schools?

Oh wait.

DW

October 31st, 2012
4:06 pm

@banshee29-

Highest Performing:
Early College High School at Carver
Inman Middle School

High Progress:
Charles R. Drew Charter School
South Atlanta Law and Social Justice School
The Best Academy at Benjamin S. Carson
Washington High School

Centrist

October 31st, 2012
4:09 pm

No doubt parents don’t aspire to have their children attending Title 1 schools which get extra federal government funds because at least 40% of students must enroll in the free and reduced lunch program. But if you have a child attending one of those schools already – being on that list (or even better having attained higher standards without having had to show improvement) is relatively good news.

Comparing Georgia high schools based on Advanced Placement courses is unfair. Georgia is a very agrarian state where many children are going to work on/ inherit farms, small businesses, blue collar jobs, and athletic careers. Advanced Placement courses are not required or wanted for a wide swath of students. Social acclimation, street smarts/ gaining common sense, are almost as important as the basic high school courses.

Really amazed

October 31st, 2012
4:09 pm

How with the previous article about how teachers feel about teaching in public schools can anyone take any of this smoke an mirrors seriously??? Rewards schools now I have heard everything!!

indigo

October 31st, 2012
4:12 pm

I believe the investigation into school cheating in Georgia is yet to be completed. So, why is the Department of Education releasing a “reward” list?

Beverly Fraud

October 31st, 2012
4:18 pm

Notice the large number of ClayCo schools on the “progress” list compared to ZERO on the “highest performing” list?

Is this akin to saying that a six year old, if he started running track would make more “progress” than Usain Bolt over a year period?

Beverly Fraud

October 31st, 2012
4:22 pm

“That stinks, folks. We need to have more top tier, nationally ranked high schools (at least)”

Don’t worry @All I’m sayin…the Georgia General Assembly has a plan; they’re going to change the Georgia Constitution to recognize 100 states in the United States, so that Georgia can be in the “top half” in the country.

And there will STILL be money left over for fishin!

jarvis

October 31st, 2012
4:26 pm

That sounds about right. You aren’t worth rewarding unless you’re low income.

Atlanta Mom

October 31st, 2012
5:37 pm

“A school may not be classified as a Highest-Performing School if there are significant achievement gaps across subgroups that are not closing in the school.”
What does that mean– not closing in the school?

Ron F.

October 31st, 2012
6:00 pm

Okay folks, take a deep breath and realize that this report means that these schools are, in fact, trying to do better or have continued to do well. It’s good news, and it’s time to hear some. You need to realize that most of us in the public school system, leadership insanity aside, are actually trying to make it better, and it seems to be paying off in a lot of schools. Give some credit where it’s due, please. We deserve a smidgen of it okay?

I love teaching. I hate what it is becoming...

October 31st, 2012
6:06 pm

My school is on the list, and I am dang proud of all the hard work by administration, teachers, staff, parents and students that helps us meet the needs of our entire student population. We have a large free and reduced lunch population, a large ESOL population and a large Special Ed population, but we ROCK!

DekalbTeacher

October 31st, 2012
6:22 pm

@Centrist-I believe the free and reduced-lunch requirement is somewhere around 75%. It has gone up pretty much every year the last few years. I have never known it to be 40%

Gina McNair

October 31st, 2012
6:26 pm

My school made the High Progress reward list, and I’m tickled beyond pink because I know how hard the students and faculty have worked to improve education at our tiny, rural, 98% minority, 100% free-reduced lunch school. By the way, my school sits directly across the street from a state-approved charter school that is 85% white and less than 40% free-reduced, but our scores are comparable. As Will Hunting would say, “How do ya like dem apples?”!

Gina McNair

October 31st, 2012
6:36 pm

@Jarvis- It is widely recognized that students from low socioeconomic backgrounds struggle to perform on par with students from middle and higher income brackets for myriad reasons. To make a sports analogy, when a fair catch is called, the ball is placed on the 20 yard line and play begins from there. Low SES students; however, usually start from the end zone and have to make up the yardage. So, this is a way to recognize that there are, in fact, a number of schools which have successfully moved the ball out of the hole.

Ivy Prep Mom and proud of it!!

October 31st, 2012
7:14 pm

Ivy Prep was on the Highest Performing List. Ivy Prep is a State Chartered Charter School that is doing a fantastic job.

concernedmom30329

October 31st, 2012
7:45 pm

DeKalb Teacher,

It is about 70 percent in DeKalb, but it varies by system. The Feds set minimums but not absolutes. A few years ago, it was near 40 percent in Fulton. No idea what it is there today.

crankee-yankee

October 31st, 2012
7:47 pm

Centrist
October 31st, 2012
4:09 pm

Don’t know where you get your 40% number. This is directly off the USDOE website Sec. 1113, 75% is the cutoff.

(3) RANKING ORDER- If funds allocated in accordance with subsection (c) are insufficient to serve all eligible school attendance areas, a local educational agency shall —
(A) annually rank, without regard to grade spans, such agency’s eligible school attendance areas in which the concentration of children from low-income families exceeds 75 percent from highest to lowest according to the percentage of children from low-income families; and
(B) serve such eligible school attendance areas in rank order.

http://www2.ed.gov/policy/elsec/leg/esea02/pg2.html#sec1113

Denise Hunt

October 31st, 2012
8:39 pm

As a teacher at a Title I school, I am overjoyed that we are recognized for what our teachers do day to day to meet the needs of all of our students. Teachers across the state face different challenges depending upon the demographics of those they serve, and this award is just one of many from the GA DOE that recognize schools and their student achievement. Way to go!

NW GA Math/Science Teacher

October 31st, 2012
8:54 pm

I do see a thing of concern in this data. It looks like at least 62 of the 78 on the high list are elementary schools, just from the name. Maybe some of the others as well. Very few high schools at all. Supt. Barge talks about taking what’s working and replicating it at all schools, but can we do that? Does “what’s working” apply at the high school level? Not trying to pour cold water on things – I’m honestly asking the question. What is it that you’re (Dr. Barge? GaDOE? Fed DOE? the public?) asking us to do at the high school level?

Centrist

October 31st, 2012
9:05 pm

Maybe 75% is right – but the quote above is about an undefined “low-income”. I found the 40% here where it discusses the lower percentage of free and reduced lunches: http://www.brighthubeducation.com/teaching-methods-tips/11105-basics-of-title-1-funds/

I’m with Ron F. @ 6PM – this is good news.

Dekalb parent

October 31st, 2012
9:26 pm

I am surprised that Inman Middle school is Title I when schools like Chamblee HS in Dekalb is not. Is there a difference in how Title 1 status is calculated from one system to the next?

concernedmom30329

October 31st, 2012
9:54 pm

DeKalb Teacher,

It is about 70 percent in DeKalb for Title 1 eligibility, but it varies by system. The Feds set minimums but not absolutes. A few years ago, it was near 40 percent in Fulton. No idea what it is there today.

Southside Parent

October 31st, 2012
10:18 pm

@ All I’m Saying: This parent absolutely prefers to enroll her children at a Title I school, and hopes to see her schools on this list next eyar. Incidentally, our state’s free/reduced lunch average rate is 50%, so those attending a school at 10% need to keep in mind what a segregated world they inhabit..

Those dismissing the “High Progress” label may want to read the definitions more closely. Only schools in the top 10% of all Title I schools are eligible for consideration, so these are also high performing schools.

Southside Parent

October 31st, 2012
10:20 pm

@Gina McNair: Congrats to your school! That is great news! My kids attend a Title I charter, and we outperformed the traditional school near us, but not because the word “charter” is magic. The magic is in great teachers and in the schools that reward and sustain them.

MiltonMan

October 31st, 2012
10:38 pm

The continuation of the sorry system known as education in this country: Let’s continue to recognize those crappy schools by creating a category called crappy schools that are high performing but let’s remove the crappy title.

I will stick to Milton High School over any school on the crappy list.

MiltonMan

October 31st, 2012
10:41 pm

“so those attending a school at 10% need to keep in mind what a segregated world they inhabit..”

Yes, it is terrible that I live in a low crime, great schools and low poverty area. Clean up the south side that you so proudly boast about & maybe you will see some of us move there.

DeKalbParent

October 31st, 2012
10:52 pm

IVY PREP ROCKS! Congrats for making the list! Affirmation that my state-chartered school is getting the job done. Vote YES for the Charter School Amendment! My neighborhood school only graduated 40% of its minority students.

DeKalbParent

October 31st, 2012
10:55 pm

@MiltonMan Because we can’t afford to live in Milton, our students don’t deserve a good education? That’s nice that your neighborhood is lily-white and great to live in. I’m so happy that you are secure there.

crankee-yankee

November 1st, 2012
5:12 am

While we are looking at some bright spots, here are some other bits of good news that debunk the “crappy schools” label.

Good News in Georgia Education:
· GA ranked #7 in the 2011 Education Week “Quality Counts” report.
· GA ranked #13 in AP tests (scoring 3,4,5) in 2011
· GA’s African American Students ranked #2 in the nation on AP tests
(3,4,5)
· GA improved on both ACT and SAT scores.

Solutions

November 1st, 2012
8:25 am

So D schools need a little recognition? If my child’s school were on this list, I would immediately send the child to a private school. Only fools reward failure.

mark

November 1st, 2012
8:26 am

Our elected officals continued to underfund the law they passed. As my pay goes down each year, along with all my co-workers. We are working on our exit plans!! 10 to 12 furlough days next year!! We are the last rats on the sinking ship of public education in GA!! If you can’t afford me, I can’t afford you!! That is what I tell my landscaping customers, I am ready to say it to my principal. Georgia, are you ready for the next teacher shortage?

Phil from Athens

November 1st, 2012
9:22 am

Maureen,

I’d like to know what you think of the Rev Joseph Lowry telling folks to vote against charter schools and at the same time saying that all white people are going to hell.

Atlanta Mom

November 1st, 2012
9:40 am

Solutions,
Glad you’ve got $100,000+ for each child to educate at the very cheapest of private schools.
As a teacher at Paideia said to me, you only learn half of what you need to know at school. You learn the other half at home.

Georgia

November 1st, 2012
9:49 am

I see a bumper sticker in our future: “My child is a star student at a school that only achieved “adequate yearly progress” and now I’m the one who needs ritilin.”

Grasshopper

November 1st, 2012
10:15 am

“Incidentally, our state’s free/reduced lunch average rate is 50%, so those attending a school at 10% need to keep in mind what a segregated world they inhabit.”

That tells me that there are a lot of kids being born today whose parents either can not or will not support them financially, much less academically or emotionally.

And that, my friends, is how we find ourselves in the current educational mess to begin with.

ELMom

November 1st, 2012
11:12 am

Please research some of the schools on the list before commenting. Just because a school is Title 1 and received this reward does not imply that the school is underperforming in any way. Schools like Decatur High School and Drew Charter School are Title 1 schools but are also excellent, high performing schools. These schools are high performing schools regardless of demographics. I applaud any school that can be a high performing, great school with little or no achievement gap in spite of demographics.These schools prove that the expectation of excellence should not be limited for any reason. Never a assume that because a school is a Title 1 school that it is not also an excellent school. Every child deserves an expectation of excellence.

Private Citizen

November 1st, 2012
1:10 pm

These kind of lists seem vacant of meaning and distracting.

CRCT Scores Do Not Measure Educational Excellence

November 1st, 2012
1:32 pm

And never assume that because a school posts high % of kids meeting (or even exceeding) standards on extremely low level, poorly designed, drill-kill-and-forget-a-bunch-of-unrelated-facts tests, that that school is an excellent one.

Southside Parent

November 1st, 2012
3:44 pm

@ELMom: Thank you. Shocked at the number of commenters who assume that being in the top 5% of Title I schools means you are in the top 5% of bad schools. Most Georgia schools are Title I schools. The “highest performing” schools perform well among all Georgia schools.

@ Milton Man: I was not inviting you to move in next door. I observed that the commenter who said “you don’t actually want your school to have been on your list” is wrong to project those feelings onto others. I would absolutely want my kids to attend a school on this list.

In your Milton pride, are you aware that kids from affluent families who attend Grady significantly outperform suburban students from affluent families? I’m not knocking suburban schools. But there are benefits to being intown. Among them, we have some schools that provide quality instruction without our students being as removed from the low income and working class families.

I love teaching. I hate what it is becoming...

November 1st, 2012
6:04 pm

Lovely. Here we have a list of schools who are achieving great results despite facing clear obstacles, and the negative nellies are out in force. The same crowd that seems to constantly call for “accountability” and “testing to prove a teacher’s worth” now want to claim that high scores mean nothing, that these schools are “crappy”, that the lists are “meaningless” and the schools are “failures” – not to mention having no idea what “adequate yearly progress” means. Even the BEST school in the nation would “only achieve” AYP. There isn’t anything BEYOND that!

My school is NOT crappy. Our parents are NOT fools. And my students are not failures merely because they may not be as affluent as others. I have had students enter my classroom from local, private schools who were shocked when they received their first feedback from me, and realized my standards were HIGHER than they were used to… so kiss my grits, as they say.

To those fellow teachers whose schools are on the lists, well done! Unlike others, I actually UNDERSTAND what it takes to reach that level of achievement. I just wish we could measure it some way other than those soul-killing tests!

Decatur High Named ‘Reward School’

November 1st, 2012
6:08 pm

[...] Decatur High was named a “reward school.”  Maureen Downey explained the term in her Get Schooled blog in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. [...]

CRCT Scores Do Not Measure Educational Excellence

November 2nd, 2012
4:12 pm

If you have a lot of kids exceeding standards on the CRCT (and if you’re sure that there’s no cheating going on … which unfortunately has turned out to be a very big if), then you know that at least you’ve got a lot of kids who are at or around grade level with respect to some basic but important skills (and some fact memorization). And when the population is very high needs, that means parents and/or teachers and/or administration do deserve credit for that. It still doesn’t mean you have an excellent school, however. CRCT test are just not designed to determine which teachers or schools are excellent.

If you can somehow do excellent teaching, or even good teaching, in an environment where most everyone repeatedly forgets the limitations of these, yes, potentially soul-killing tests, then my hat’s off to you. Truly.