4 Columbus schools among Georgia’s 2017 Highest Performing or Greatest Gains

Muscogee County Public Education Center
Muscogee County Public Education Center

Four schools in Columbus are among the 226 honored by the state for excellence in academic performance or improvement, based on results from the past three years of standardized tests.

The Muscogee County School District schools on this prestigious list for 2017 are Aaron Cohn Middle School, Britt David Magnet Academy, Columbus High School and Johnson Elementary School.

The Governor’s Office of Student Achievement uses the College and Career Ready Performance Index, which comprises results from the Georgia Milestones Assessment System, to determine the recipients of the Single Statewide Accountability System awards in two categories: Greatest Gains and Highest Performing. Each award category has four tiers: Platinum, Gold, Silver and Bronze.

GOSA awarded only 9.8 percent of the state’s 2,300 public schools this year.

For the third straight year, Britt David, an elementary school, is the only school in Muscogee County and among 55 in the state this year to earn an award in both categories, Platinum in Highest Performing and Gold in Greatest Gains. Aaron Cohn earned a Greatest Gains award for the second straight year, Platinum this year and Silver last year. Columbus High earned a Highest Performing award for the third straight year, Platinum this year and Silver the previous two years. Johnson earned a Silver in Greatest Gains.

GOSA started these awards in 2015, when MCSD had three recipients: Britt David, Columbus High and Northside High School (Silver in Greatest Gains). MCSD had six recipients in 2016: Aaron Cohn, Blackmon Road Middle School (Gold in Greatest Gains), Britt David, Columbus High, North Columbus Elementary School (Bronze in Greatest Gains) and Northside (Bronze in Greatest Gains).

MCSD is one of 54 school districts out of 180 in Georgia (30 percent) to have at least one school receive such an award this year. No other Columbus area school district has a recipient this year. Chattahoochee County Education Center, an elementary school, earned a 2015 Silver and a 2016 Bronze in Greatest Gains. Mulberry Creek Elementary School of Harris County earned a 2015 Platinum in Greatest Gains.

“We are both pleased and proud of these four school communities for their hard work over time that ranks them in the 93rd percentile of schools statewide for high performance or greatest learning gains as measured by the College and Career Ready Performance Index,” said MCSD superintendent David Lewis. “The fact that this prestigious recognition is based upon improvement and performance over a three- year period is indicative of sustained commitment to continuous improvement and high academic standards.”

To receive a Greatest Gains award, the three-year average CCRPI Progress Score must be in the 99th percentile for Platinum, the 97th percentile for Gold, the 95th percentile for Silver and the 93rd Percentile for Bronze. The CCRPI Single Score must remain in at least the same range, and the school may not be on the Priority or Focus lists.

Priority Schools are among the lowest 5 percent of Title I schools in academic achievement. Focus Schools are among the lowest 10 percent of Title I schools in achievement gap, which is the gap between the school’s bottom quartile of students and the state average, as well as the degree to which that gap is closing. Title I schools receive extra federal funding if at least 40 percent of their students come from impoverished families.

To receive a Highest Performing award, the three-year average CCRPI Achievement Score must be in the 99th percentile for Platinum, the 97th percentile for Gold, the 95th percentile for Silver and the 93rd Percentile for Bronze. The CCRPI Single Score each year must be at least 90 for Platinum or Gold and at least 80 for Silver or Bronze, and the CCRPI Achievement Gap Score must be at least in the 75th percentile to ensure the performance of the school’s lowest-achieving students isn’t lagging. These schools also may not be on the Priority or Focus lists.

The Ledger-Enquirer asked the principals of Aaron Cohn, Britt David, Columbus High and Johnson for their reaction to the news and the most important thing their school did to achieve this award.

Aaron Cohn principal Richard Green said, “We are blessed with outstanding teachers, students, and parents here at Aaron Cohn Middle School. Every day we work to be better than the day before. We never waste a day. In the end, it all adds up.”

Britt David principal Karen Garner, in her first year as the successor to the retired Clara Davis, said, “I am extremely proud of the hard work of the students, staff and parents. It takes collaboration and teamwork of all stakeholders to achieve such an accomplishment.”

The faculty and staff at Britt David “focused on student achievement and what was best for the students,” Garner said. “The staff looked at current academic data and how improvements could be made from the previous years.”

Columbus High principal Marvin Crumbs said, “This is the first time that we achieved Platinum status, and the students, parents and faculty are truly deserving.”

Crumbs said Columbus High grew its Advanced Placement program from 26 to 31 courses during the past three years “with the support of the district and reached several of the goals that we set for our school.”

Columbus High also became one of only 1,000 AP Capstone Schools in the world, enabling it to offer the AP Capstone Seminar and AP Capstone Research, he said.

Crumbs added, “The awards and accolades that we receive wouldn’t be possible without great students, parents as well as the tremendous support of our stellar alumni association, who are constant supporters of all our endeavors.”

Johnson principal Mark Hanner said, “We are very honored to receive such a distinguished award from the governor’s office. Our students and community stakeholders have supported our common purpose of providing a quality, standards-based instructional program at Johnson. I am very proud of my staff and students for the hard work they have put forth in earning this recognition.”

Britt David and Columbus High are total magnet schools, meaning they don’t have an attendance zone, so they can accept students from throughout MCSD. Those students must apply to be admitted and may be dismissed back to the school in their attendance zone if they don’t continue to meet academic and behavior standards. Aaron Cohn and Johnson have attendance zones.