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Three area schools make ‘reward’ list

Three Hall schools also placed on ‘alert’

POSTED: November 13, 2013 12:47 a.m.

East Hall Middle School, Gainesville Exploration Academy and New Holland Core Knowledge Academy are all “reward” schools, as announced Tuesday by the Georgia Department of Education.

Reward schools are all Title I schools that are either in the top 5 percent of the highest-performing schools over three years, or in the 10 percent in the state making the most progress in improving performance over that three-year period.

Title I schools, as defined through the federal No Child Left Behind law, are schools with a high percentage of students living in poverty.

All three are high-progress schools. This is the second year in a row East Hall Middle has made the list.

“Obviously, we’re extremely proud of the hard work and efforts of the student body and staff,” said Kevin Bales, Hall County’s middle grades school improvement specialist.

Bales added that, years ago, the middle school was placed on a “needs improvement” list by the state.

“People appreciate the slap on the back and the ‘job well done,’” he said. “That student body and that staff definitely warrant such a response.”

It’s the first year any Gainesville school has made an appearance.

“We are proud of this recognition and salute the faculty, students and parents,” Gainesville Superintendent Merrianne Dyer said. “It should also be noted that achievement in the entire district for all students has steadily increased over the last three years, particularly in the number of students who exceed expectations.”

Last year, a grant provided a financial award for those on the reward schools list, but no funding has been allocated for that this year.

Also released Tuesday was the list of “alert” schools, a compilation of low-performing schools across the state. Three Hall County schools — Lanier Charter Career Academy, White Sulphur Elementary and Oakwood Elementary — were placed on the list.

Alert schools have been identified as institutions in need of extra support.

Lanier Charter Career Academy is on the list for the second year in a row due to low graduation rates.

White Sulphur Elementary and Oakwood Elementary were placed on the list for certain populations in the school not performing well on assessment tests; for White Sulphur it is the white student subgroup, and for Oakwood it’s the Hispanic subgroup.

Bales said those scores come from the 2011-12 results of the Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests.

“We monitor our schools, so ... we had an inclination that we would have schools on the list,” Bales said, adding the school district continuously works to improve all 33 of its schools.

The state identifies these schools as part of its waiver from provisions in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, better known as No Child Left Behind. Extra support and professional learning from the state will be provided to the alert schools.


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