Georgia schools moved off “priority” and “focus” lists

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Georgia schools moved off “priority” and “focus” lists

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About a third of Georgia’s most academically troubled schools have improved enough to be removed from the state’s “priority” and “focus” lists.

The Georgia Department of Education, which keeps the list based on federal criteria, reported Tuesday that 74 of 243 schools were being removed. Twenty five were in metro Atlanta’s five biggest districts: nine in Atlanta, three in Cobb County, five in DeKalb County, five in Fulton County and three in Gwinnett County . None were removed in Clayton County, another major metro district.

Georgia established the lists as part of a waiver granted from requirements of the old No Child Left Behind Act, which was long overdue for an update by the time Congress rewrote the law in December 2015.

The resulting Every Student Succeeds Act does not require a priority and focus list. Instead, it requires schools to be identified and supported as “Comprehensive Support and Improvement" or “Targeted Support and Improvement” schools, with criteria to be submitted to the federal government in September.

Priority schools represent the lowest-performing 5 percent of schools with the highest poverty levels (Title 1 schools) based on achievement data, plus schools with a graduation rate below 60 percent for two consecutive years. Focus schools represent the lowest-performing 10 percent of high poverty schools based on “achievement gap” data, which show the difference between a school’s lowest performing students and the state average, and the amount of gap closure.

Watch: 7 things to know about Georgia’s new plan for low-performing schools

Some call it “OSD lite” or “OSD plan b." It shares some characteristics of the Opportunity School District rejected by voters in a November referendum.
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