State releases lists of schools that are succeeding or struggling

Staff writers Mark Niesse and Tammy Joyner contributed to this article.

These are the schools in metro Atlanta designated as “reward” schools for high academic performance.

Cherokee County

Woodstock Elementary School

DeKalb County

DeKalb Early College Academy

DeKalb PATH Academy Charter School

Fayette County

Inman Elementary

Oak Grove Elementary School

Forsyth County

Cumming Elementary School

Otwell Middle School

Little Mill Middle School

Fulton County

KIPP South Fulton Academy School

River Eves Elementary School

Gwinnett County

Lovin Elementary School

Knight Elementary School

Harris Elementary School

Rockdale County

General Ray Davis Middle School

Honey Creek Elementary School

Barksdale Elementary School

Atlanta Public Schools

Early College High School at Carver

Charles R. Drew Charter School

Inman Middle School

West Manor Elementary School

Decatur City

Renfroe Middle School

Source: Georgia Department of Education

These are the schools in metro Atlanta designated as reward schools because of academic progress.

Clayton County

Elite Scholars Academy School

Charles R. Drew High School

Mundys Mill Middle School

Adamson Middle School

Lovejoy Middle School

Kendrick Middle School

Pointe South Middle School

Forest Park High School

Jonesboro High School

Forest Park Middle School

Morrow High School

Cobb County

Campbell Middle School

Smitha Middle School

Lindley 6th Grade Academy

Belmont Hills Elementary School

Osborne High School

Coweta County

Smokey Road Middle School

DeKalb County

Miller Grove High School

Cedar Grove High School

Eldridge L. Miller Elementary School

Cedar Grove Middle School

Lithonia High School

Redan Middle School

Stone Mountain High School

Sequoyah Middle School

The Champion Middle Theme School

McNair Middle School

Woodward Elementary School

Cross Keys High School

Douglas County

Annette Winn Elementary School

Fulton County

McNair Middle School

Hapeville Charter Middle School

Gwinnett County

Benefield Elementary School

Meadowcreek Elementary School

Partee Elementary School

Lilburn Elementary School

Henry County

McDonough Elementary School

Atlanta Public Schools

Early College High School at Carver

Booker T. Washington - Early College Small School

Kipp Strive Academy

Charles R. Drew Charter School

South Atlanta Law and Social Justice School

Buford City

Buford Middle School

Source: Georgia Department of Education

These are the metro Atlanta schools designated as alert schools because of low graduation rates, poor performance from specific groups of students or poor performance in a specific academic subject:

DeKalb County

Gateway to College Academy

Idlewood Elementary

Knollwood Elementary

Jolly Elementary

Stoneview Elementary

Flat Shoals Elementary

Gwinnett County

Phoenix High

Atlanta Public Schools

Bazoline E. Usher/Collier Heights

Scott Elementary

Thomasville Heights

Source: Georgia Department of Education

The Georgia Department of Education released a pair of lists Tuesday designed to tell parents whether their child's school is struggling or soaring.

One list includes “alert” schools — those with lower-than-average graduation rates, poor performance from specific groups of students, and schools where students struggled in a specific academic subject. Eleven schools in metro Atlanta made that list. Six of those schools are in the DeKalb County School District.

The other list includes “reward” schools, where students excelled or showed marked progress on state tests. Twenty-one metro Atlanta schools were designated as reward schools because of strong performance on state tests; 45 made the list for showing academic progress.

Four schools in Atlanta Public Schools were designated as reward schools because of strong academic performance. Gwinnett, Forsyth and Rockdale had three such schools. Fulton, DeKalb and Fayette each had two. Decatur City and Cherokee had one each.

The alert and reward designations replace those offered through the federal No Child Left Behind education law. Georgia sought and received a waiver from NCLB.

Last year, reward schools got a $10,000 slice of federal funds. This year, however, they’ll have to settle for bragging rights because the state’s federal funding was reduced.

Alert schools will get more district- and state-level assistance in the form of increased instructional support, more staff, and help for students with limited English-language skills.

Johnathan Clark, DeKalb’s director of research, assessments and grants, said some of his disctrict’s struggling schools have similarities: high transience, high levels of poverty and a lot of students with limited English-language skills.

“It’s difficult to get parents involved” at such schools, he said.

One of the DeKalb schools on the alert list is Jolly Elementary. “There are 35 languages spoken at that school,” Clark said.

While DeKalb had more alert schools than any other metro Atlanta district, it also had a dozen reward schools that made the list because of academic progress. In metro Atlanta, only Clayton County had as many schools with the reward designation because of academic progress.

Osborne High School Principal Josh Morreale said students at his school, one of five in Cobb County recognized for academic progress, showed improvements across every subject area, including geometry, biology, American literature and U.S. history.

He said the school focused on individualized student instruction so that teachers can target areas where kids need improvement.

“We’re constantly looking at the data and how we can improve, but also where our strengths lie,” he said. “We break it down to the individual student and adjust instruction to support learning all the standards in each class.”

Clint Terza, who is principal of Smitha Middle School in Cobb, said his school made progress in large part because it gave teachers room to do their jobs. He said the administration responded to teachers’ requests that classrooms not be interrupted by the PA system and that students not be pulled from class for other activities.

“They felt it was hard to communicate instruction to kids when there were constant disruptions,” Terza said.

The school also changed the length of its classes from 55 minutes to 75 minutes so they have more time on each subject.

Kim Montalbano, principal at Woodstock Elementary in Cherokee County, said the community has embraced the school, which made the reward list. That community support, plus teachers who focus on the individual needs of their students, has contributed to the school’s success.

“It’s a real strong collaborative effort,” she said.