State lists four local schools as High-Progress, three on Alert

mrice@ledger-enquirer.comNovember 13, 2013 

The Muscogee County School District administration building is at 2960 Macon Road.

MIKE HASKEY — mhaskey@ledger-enquirer.com Buy Photo

The Muscogee County School District received good and bad news when the Georgia Department of Education released its 2013 lists of Reward and Alert schools.

Four schools in Muscogee County — Carver High, Early College Academy, Muscogee Elementary and Wynnton Elementary — as well as Chattahoochee County Middle School are among the 156 High-Progress Reward Schools.

Three schools in Muscogee County — Baker Middle, Eddy Middle and Forrest Road Elementary — are among the 45 schools on the Alert list.

In the department's accountability system, a High-Progress Reward School is in the top 10 percent of the state's Title I schools for making the most improvement the previous three years on the state's standardized tests. Title I schools serve students from predominantly low-income families.

Alert Schools are Title I or non-Title I schools that are three standard deviations below the state average in one of three areas:

• Graduation rate.

• Achievement rate in a student subgroup.

• Achievement rate in a subject.

Baker and Eddy landed on the Alert list because of a subgroup. At Baker, the deficient performance was among Hispanic students; at Eddy, the deficient performance was among white students.

Poor test scores in reading and math put Forrest Road on the Alert list.

This is the second straight year Carver has been honored as a High-Progress Reward School. Eddy and Forrest Road were Alert schools last year.

The Ledger-Enquirer called each local school on the Reward and Alert lists to ask the principals the reasons for their success or struggle. Carolyn Mull of Wynnton, Susan Willard of Early College, Johnny Freeman of Eddy and Chattahoochee County Superintendent Jimmy Martin were the officials reached for comment Wednesday.

Mull credits the Wynnton staff for creating a caring learning environment, where expectations are high for every student.

"We teach for mastery, and we just keep to the standards and make sure we meet the needs of all children," she said. "It's a culture of love and understanding."

This is the third year Wynnton has emphasized reading more non-fiction books. Through the Accelerated Reader program, students take computerized comprehension tests on books at their reading level. They earn various prizes as incentives and get their photo posted outside the media center when they attain the goal. The program culminates in a year-end parade.

"The students know what we value," Mull said. "We measure it, and we celebrate it."

Early College improved the percentage of students passing the entrance exam into Columbus State University from 19 percent two years ago to 82 percent this year. Willard calls the improvement a commitment to customer service.

"We don't accept failure," she said. "I'm not saying every child passes, but if you have a need, we work to meet that need."

For example, if a student fails a unit test, Willard insists on immediate remediation.

"The teacher is going to do some reteaching, and the student is going to do some relearning, and then you retest," she said.

Freeman, in his first year as Eddy's principal, said he wasn't aware of the news and excused himself to meet with parents.

Martin praised Chattahoochee County Middle School principal Lane Lindsay, in his sixth year, for leading the school's turnaround from failing to meet the state standards five years ago under the former accountability system, called Adequate Yearly Progress. The staff, students and parents are motivated, Martin said.

Last year, the teachers started offering after-school tutoring on a rotating schedule to help students several weeks before the Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests, the state's standardized exams. The district provided a bus for the students to still have a ride home when they stayed late.

"A lot of this is the hard work of the teachers and kids," Martin said. "… It takes the kids wanting to do it and the parents' support."

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