The Georgia Department of Education has released a list of the state’s 78 underperforming ‘priority schools’ as part of its No Child Left Behind waiver.
To be considered a “Priority School,” one would have a graduation rate of 60 percent or less for two consecutive years, have low achievement on standardized tests or receive School Improvement Grant (SIG) funds to implement a school intervention model.
All of the schools on the list are Title 1 schools educating mostly students from low-income families. Nearly half of the schools on the list are from the Metro Atlanta area.
No Child Left Behind waivers came with the condition that states develop their own alternative evaluation system and this new categorization is a result of that.
State Superintendent Dr. John Barge says the changes mean a more thorough evaluation of student performance.
“What’s different from No Child Left Behind, we’re not just labeling the school a failing school or not making AYP,” he said. “You made AYP or you didn’t make AYP, but what did that mean? Do you know why your school didn’t make AYP?”
“With this system, you know where the issues are. You know what the issues are.”
Schools given priority status will be assigned a specialist to help them develop an improvement plan and who will monitor the school’s progress. Georgia is to receive $19.2 million in grant money which will go to these failing schools to pay for the necessary improvements. This will bring the total money Georgia has received from the Education Department’s School Improvement Grants program to $161.3 million since its revamp in 2009.
Michigan is also receiving nearly $20 million in a new SIG grant to improve low-achieving schools, bringing its total since the revamp to $175 million. The latest grants were announced by US Education Secretary Arne Duncan.
Nationwide, the grants program helps more than 1,200 schools.