Carver High is among the 156 schools serving students from predominantly low-income families the state honored Thursday for making significant academic gains in the past three years.
Manchester High, Chattahoochee County and Stewart County middle schools and five Troup County elementary schools -- Callaway, Ethel Kight, Hogansville, Mountville and Rosemont -- are the other 2012 High-Progress Schools in the local area.
The award from the Georgia Department of Education recognizes the state's Title I schools in the top 10 percent for improvement on test scores.
Carver principal Chris Lindsey said the good news affirms what his school already knows.
"The atmosphere of a family here is paying off," he said.
Lindsey noted two initiatives Carver started four years ago that have made a positive difference: fifth block and leadership team.
Fifth block is the after-school program that allows students to recover academic credits from failed classes.
"It has cut down on retention," Lindsey said. "We're used to 10 to 15 percent of our ninth- and 10th-graders repeating a grade level. Now, we're down to 3 percent."
The leadership team, comprising the faculty's department heads, analyzes test results to better align the school's teaching with the students' needs.
"It helps us make decisions according to data and not assumptions," Lindsey said. "You have to set certain rules and regulations in what you will and will not put up with, whether it be from the students or faculty or administration."
Lisa Norris, who is chairwoman of the leadership team, said the test analysis starts even before the students start high school.
"We look at their eighth-grade CRCT scores and makes sure the kids are placed properly," she said. "We were noticing a problem with ninth-grade dropouts, so we put our stronger teachers in there to help."
Carver's ninth-grade dropouts have decreased in each of the past four years:
37 in 2008
21 in 2009
16 in 2010
14 in 2011
Norris also praised Lindsey for hiring a parent coordinator about two years ago to facilitate workshops and improve communication with families.
"I think this award will boost morale even more," she said.