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Jefferson schools awarded for reaching goals in special education

POSTED: December 1, 2008 5:00 a.m.

When it comes to special education, the Jefferson City School System is tops compared to other local and statewide school systems, according to the Georgia Department of Education.

Jefferson City Schools recently received several Pacesetter Awards from the state department of education for meeting six of the state’s seven target achievement goals for special education students.

"The Jefferson City School System received the Pacesetter Award in five of the seven categories for their group size," said Matt Cordoza, a Georgia Department of Education spokesperson. "The Pacesetter Award is given to the top performer in each group for each of the seven targets."

Although the accolades are for the 2007-08 school year, the department did not receive the award until this month.

"This is truly a system award. It’s not something I or any one person earned," said Angela Kidd-Vinson, who is the Jefferson City School System’s special education director.

"We have a great faculty and great administrators who work very hard to make sure that (the special education students) are included in every aspect of the school environment. They make sure our students are held to high expectations, and I applaud them for that."

To determine award winners, the state department of education divides all of Georgia’s school systems into one of 5 groups based on the system’s number of special education students.

Jefferson received the most Pacesetter Awards of all the school systems in Jackson and Hall counties, but it also was in one of the smaller groups — Group D, which is for schools with 250 to 499 special education students.

Both the Jackson County and the Hall County school systems are in Group B for systems with 1,000 to 2,999 special education students.

The Jackson County School System also met six of seven target goals, but only received the Pacesetter Award in two of the seven categories.

The Hall County School System met one of the seven goals and also received the Pacesetter Award for that category, Cordoza says.

Gainesville City schools fell into Group C, which is for systems with 500-999 special education students. According to Cordoza, the system met five of the seven targeted goals, but didn’t receive any Pacesetter Awards.

Among other things, the Jefferson City School System special education department succeeded in "educating students in the least restrictive environment, reducing the number of students who drop out of school," and helping students earn a regular education diploma.

"The one goal that we did not meet was transitioning students to their desired post-secondary outcome," Kidd-Vinson said. "We plan to address that by getting our students involved with some sort of development rehabilitation program where they can learn job skills or that can help them transition to a post-secondary institution like a technical school."


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