Klay Durham, a senior and an early childhood education student at Gordon Lee High School, works on reading with kindergarden and first-grade students at Chickamauga Elementary on Wednesday during team time. Students working on computers are, from left, Krish Chaudhari, Kylie Hunley and Alexis Shaw. The Chickamauga City Schools received a $50,000 award for being named one of four Georgia Title I Distinguished Districts for closing the achievement gap between students from families with different income levels.Photo by John Rawlston.
CHICKAMAUGA, Ga. — Spending extra time with struggling students seems to be paying off in Chickamauga City Schools.
The system recently was honored for its work to close the achievement gap between poor and wealthier students.
By working in small groups or one-on-one with a student, teachers can target a student's needs. They do that by relying heavily on state and local data, system officials said.
"We've really worked on looking at the individual student more than we ever had," Title I Director Stacy McDaniel said.
The district was one of four in the state named a Distinguished Title I District by the Georgia Department of Education. With about 1,400 students, Chickamauga won in the Very Small District category, which also included Ben Hill County, Carrollton City and Spalding County.
Each winner received $50,000 for the award.
In Chickamauga, the achievement gap between those who are poor and those who aren't dropped by 4.5 percent in 2011, records show. Now the gap between the two groups is 3.2 percent.
"These schools are showing that high expectations, coupled with effective educators in the building, produce outstanding student achievement," State Superintendent John Barge said in a statement announcing the award.
Chickamauga Superintendent Melody Day said the district noticed its achievement gap and decided to work on it before the last school year began.
Using state testing data, the district uses a study skills course at the middle school and a remediation and enrichment period at Chickamauga Elementary School.
Elementary students are divided into groups based on how they're doing on the lesson of the day. Struggling students work together, and those who excel work together, Day said.
"The group may change from day to day," she said. "It's not anything intimidating to the students."
The district is waiting to hear what kind of red tape will come with its $50,000 award, but the superintendent said the money is much needed, given recent budget cuts.
"It could not have come at a better time," Day said. "We can use every penny."
Kevin rejoined the Times Free Press in August 2011 as the Southeast Tennessee K-12 education reporter. He worked as an intern in 2009, covering the communities of Signal Mountain, Red Bank, Collegedale and Lookout Mountain, Tenn. A native Kansan, Kevin graduated with bachelor's degrees in journalism and sociology from the University of Kansas. After graduating, he worked as an education reporter in Hutchinson, Kan., for a year before coming back to Chattanooga. Honors include a ...