New schools on Georgia’s worst-performing list

Credit: Ty Tagami

Credit: Ty Tagami

The latest list of Georgia’s worst-performing schools held steady at 104, with some new names added and some old ones, including the only one in Clayton County, dropping off the list.

“We are excited about the fact that we do not have a school on the Turnaround Eligible Schools list,” Clayton schools chief Morcease Beasley said. “We are proud to stand alongside Gwinnett and Cobb among the six largest school districts in the state with this distinction.”

The other big districts — DeKalb and Fulton counties and Atlanta — still have listed schools, although Atlanta has three fewer than last year, with 13, and DeKalb has two fewer, at 14. Fulton added a school, and now has nine on the list.

To get there, schools must consistently perform in the bottom 5 percent on the Georgia Department of Education's school report card, known as the College and Career Ready Performance Index, which was released Monday. The latest report card downplays standardized test scores compared with prior years, but is still about 80 percent derived from them.

The Governor's Office of Student Achievement assembles the turnaround list based on performance over three years. It's been as long as 153 schools. To escape listing this year, schools had to score over an average 55.3 points on the 100-point CCRPI.

The new list contains 62 elementary schools, 26 middle schools and 10 high schools, from 33 of Georgia’s 180 school districts. Those schools could be targeted for “turnaround” plans mandated by the state’s chief turnaround officer, Eric Thomas. Failure to fulfill the plans could lead to consequences including wholesale replacement of teachers and principals and even removal of the schools from school district management.

So far, Thomas and his bosses on the Georgia Board of Education say they only want to work collaboratively, and only with school districts that invite them in, though they say that may not always be the case. Some school leaders in metro Atlanta and beyond have pushed back gently, saying they'd rather get their schools off the list on their own.

Thomas has so far named 20 schools that are participating in his turnaround work. He's gradually hired staff and accepted grants and partnerships to provide additional services, such as health screenings and nutritional improvements of school menus.