Greene Schools taken off low performance list



Mark Engel


Parents of students at Greene County High School and Greensboro Elementary School got some good news last week.


The Georgia Department of Education removed GCHS and GES from lists of the state’s lowest performing schools. Seventy-two other schools in the state also improved enough to be taken off the lists.


“Today is a day to celebrate,” said Greene County Schools Superintendent Dr. Chris Houston. “Our schools have worked hard over the past few years to make the improvements needed in order to be removed from both the Focus and Priority Schools lists.”


Greensboro Elementary School was on the Focus list which represented “the lowest performing 10 percent of Title 1 schools,” according to a press release from the GaDOE.


Greene County High School had been designated as a Priority school which represented “the lowest performing 5 percent of Title 1 schools based on achievement data, plus schools with a graduation rate below 60 percent for two consecutive years.”


GCHS had been on the list since before 2013 when graduation rates were about 61 percent, according to assistant superintendent Rotonya Rhodes.


In the past year, the system has seen a change in superintendent, all of the principals and many teachers. Rhodes, who has been with the school system since 2005, says even though today’s victory is based on data from the last three years, everyone should be proud.


“While many of the teachers are gone, many of them are still there,” she said. “We have a reason to celebrate but we have some gains we need to make.”


“While we are aware that there is still much work to do,” Houston added. “We are proud of this accomplishment. We will continue to take the steps needed to increase rigor in our schools and improve teaching and learning across the district.”


Identifying low performing schools as Priority and Focus was required under the federal No Child Left Behind program. None of the remaining 169 schools that remain on one of the two lists are in Greene County.


In the same press release, the Georgia Department of Education said that it will no longer identify Priority and Focus schools.

A new federal program – Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) – will use different criteria to identify schools that are low performing. Georgia’s criteria is still being developed and, according to GaDOE, “will be available for public comment this summer, prior to Georgia’s submission of its ESSA plan to the U.S. Department of Education in September.”

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