Seven local schools on state's 'Focus' list

ATLANTA -- A report released Tuesday by the state department of education identified 156 educational facilities as Focus Schools under its new accountability system.

Seven of the schools are in the Gwinnett County Public Schools district. Those listed include Norcross High, Sweetwater Middle, Rosebud Elementary, Berkmar High, Lilburn Middle, Central Gwinnett High and Summerour Middle.

The labels of Priority Schools, Focus Schools, Alert Schools and Reward Schools will replace the designations used in the federal No Child Left Behind initiative. President Barack Obama granted waivers for the federal mandates in February.

The Focus Schools category is made up of educational facilities which have graduation rates of less than 60-percent over a two-year period and are not identified as priority schools.

The department of education may also name a school to the list if large within-school gaps exist between the highest achieving subgroup and the lowest achieving subgroup. Subgroups can be determined by race, special needs and family income.

Local schools named on the Focus list for less than a 60-percent graduation rate were Norcross, Berkmar and Central Gwinnett. Those listed as Focus Schools for within-school achievement gaps were Sweetwater Middle, Rosebud Elementary, Lilburn Middle and Summerour Middle.

Sloan Roach, district spokesperson with GCPS, said the category of Focus Schools "is an apt description of these schools because while they have accomplished many good things to date, their focus continues to be on closing achievement gaps and helping all children reach their learning potential."

Added Roach: "We will be working with the state to review the data for these seven schools and to determine how we can best support improvement."

The department of education released a separate list on March 12, which named 78 of the state's lowest performing, or Priority Schools, a document that included Gwinnett InterVention Education Center East, Gwinnett InterVention Education Center West and Meadowcreek High School.

A representative with the state board of education said the 78 facilities were designated as priorities because they were "among the lowest in the state in terms of achievement measures" such as graduation rates and test scores.

Schools once targeted by No Child Left Behind as "needs improvement" will be replaced by the new designations. All designations will be announced by the fall.

Two of the three local schools that made the list are alternative schools which are for students on long-term suspension for disciplinary matters, according to Sloan Roach, spokesperson for Gwinnett County Public Schools.

For more information, visit www.doe.k12.ga.us.


jamesgriffin 3 years, 6 months ago

Frank, Thanks for bringing visibility to this story. A follow-up story would be good on these seven schools in Gwinnett: What factors outside the schools are giving these young people problems that affect their success in school? Pregnancy? Drugs? Crime? Some of the neighborhoods feeding these schools are "rough" areas. Many older kids drop out to work, then go on to get a GED. What percentage of kids who don't graduate get their GED later? Merely working on the schools themselves "to improve" is probably not enough. Start by interviewing the police, the principals, parents and kids to see what they think.


BuzzG 3 years, 6 months ago

It is time for school vouchers. Let our kids out of this prison known as Gwinnett Public Schools and let them go to good schools.


micronmike 3 years, 6 months ago

These kids are live in an area that school is not always put first. High school students need to work to help the family and older elementary and middle need to parent the little ones. GCPS cannot save every child from the reality of the fact that life is not friendly to everyone.


Sandykin 3 years, 6 months ago

To further James' thought, when there is a wide gap between the highest achievers and the lowest, it would be insightful to know who the highest achievers were and who the lowest ones were and what factors both inside AND outside school are responsible for the difference.

Being a bit familiar with the demographics of the area, I'd say the effect of a large portion of transient students versus a group of students whose families are more grounded in the community would make a large difference in the academics of the children attending schools.

Also there is a vast difference in the culture of Asian students where education is highly prized and parents are diligent about kids studying, completing homework, etc and other ethnic groups where education does not take anywhere near that kind of priority or they tend to be the product of a single mother working two jobs to support her family and doesn't have the time to invest in her children's education.


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