More than 60 Atlanta and DeKalb County public schools — including most of Atlanta’s high schools — are among those the Georgia Department of Education considers the lowest-performing in the state.
The schools appeared on the Georgia Department of Education’s list of nearly 250 “priority” and “focus” schools released Wednesday.
Those labels are the revised version of designating a school “failing” under the federal No Child Left Behind Act. The lists, introduced in 2012, are based on state test scores and high school graduation rates.
Focus and priority schools receive additional federal money as well as help from state and regional school improvement experts.
“We don’t see it as a punishment,” said Morcease Beasley, who supervises curriculum, instruction and other areas for the DeKalb County Schools. “We see it as a way of getting the attention you need to get the support that you need and the resources you need.”
In a written statement, State School Superintendent Richard Woods said the state Department of Education would “work with the schools identified to ensure they have the resources they need to provide a quality education for their students.”
Priority schools are the lowest 5 percent of high-poverty schools in terms of academic achievement, as measured by multiple-year averages of state test scores and high school graduation rates.
Most of Atlanta Public Schools’ high schools appear on the priority-school list because of students’ low scores on state tests.
Other metro Atlanta high schools were named priority schools for having less than 60 percent of students graduate on time. Those include Cobb County’s Osborne High School, DeKalb’s Cross Keys High School and two Gwinnett high schools, Berkmar and Meadowcreek.
Focus schools are the lowest 10 percent of high-poverty schools based on progress closing the gap between the school’s highest- and lowest-scoring students on state tests.
Many focus schools are elementary schools. Schools in Atlanta, Cobb, DeKalb, Fulton and Gwinnett all landed on that list.
At least 10 DeKalb schools previously on the two lists have since shed those labels, Beasley said.
“I anticipate that these schools are going to see some phenomenal improvements from year to year,” Beasley said.
Many of the focus and priority schools would also be considered failing schools under Gov. Nathan Deal’s Opportunity School District bill.
That means they’re at risk of state takeover if an amendment to the state constitution receives approval by a majority of voters next year.
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