The state Department of Education has removed Hartley Elementary School from the state’s school “priority” list.
Such schools have fared the poorest in terms of graduation rates and test scores, but Hartley has made recent improvements.
“The faculty and staff of Matilda Hartley are to be commended for what I would note as one of the shortest turnaround times, in a removal of a school from the priority list. If you have ever had the opportunity to witness the teamwork of this Anthony Road faculty and staff, there is no wonder that student academic gains and parent-teacher commitment is at an all-time high,” Sylvia Hooker, the system’s deputy superintendent of school improvement, said in a statement from the system.
“The leadership work at Hartley is apparent from the classroom to the principal’s office. (Principal Shelia) Garcia ... entered her position with the knowledge and skills to lead, awaken and transform, and the data indicates that the teachers, students and community are reaping the benefits.”
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Priority schools are ones that meet these criteria: a Title I school that demonstrates lowest achievement for all students in the areas of math and English/language arts for three consecutive years; a school with a graduation rate of less than 60 percent; or a school that meets those criteria and is eligible for School Improvement Grant funding.
The faculty and staff at Hartley used data to develop a school improvement plan, then implemented the plan.
The priority designation was one of three new classification used in Georgia and other states that were granted a waiver from the federal No Child Left Behind school accountability system.
The new designations -- priority schools, focus schools and reward schools -- replaced the “needs improvement” label that school officials had described as unclear and unhelpful.
In its application for a waiver from NCLB mandates, Georgia said it would offer a fourth designation, “alert schools,” so the state could focus on struggling schools that do not have a high percentage of low-income students. The other three designations all focus on Title I schools that do have a high percentage of low-income students.