The Georgia Department of Education named four schools in the northwest corner of the state to a top performers list Tuesday.
Trion Elementary School, Brookwood Elementary School, Cohutta Elementary School and New Hope Middle School are all in the top 5 percent among Georgia's Title I schools this year. The ranking is based on where the schools stood in this year's College and Career Ready Performance Index.
The CCRPI grades schools on a scale of 0-100 based on student performance on standardized tests. The ranking takes into account student improvement from one year to the next and how traditionally underperforming students compare across the state.
For the four local schools honored by the Georgia Department of Education, the areas where they excelled the most this year was in student progress and performance by students of disadvantaged subgroups, such as black and Latino students, as well as students with disabilities.
Of the Title I schools in North Georgia, Trion Elementary School performed the best. Overall, it scored a CCRPI score of 92.5.
Trion performed as well as possible in the categories of progress and closing gaps, scoring 100s on both.
To measure progress, the Department of Education groups students together based on how well they did in the previous year's standardized test. For example, students who scored 70s on math are lumped together, whether they are in Rossville or Savannah. Then, the state compares them to each other after the following year's standardized test.
In this case, 61 percent of Trion Elementary School students' growth was in the 66th percentile or better for English, when compared to their peers across the state. About 44 percent hit that mark in math.
For students still learning English, about 84 percent improved by at least one "band," a measurement of progress.
Trion Elementary School also thrived in the state's "Closing Gaps" measurement. This looks at how a school performs against expectations for a subgroup. For example, the state set a target for Latino students' performance on the science assessment: 47 percent. But Latino students at Trion Elementary School far outpaced this expectation, scoring about 83 percent.
Brookwood Elementary School in Dalton scored the next highest of the four highlighted schools, with an overall CCRPI score of 89.2.
Like in Trion, Brookwood's most success was in the category of progress, where the school scored a 99.6.
Compared to similar students from the previous year, about 46 percent of Brookwood students scored in the 66th percentile or better in English. About half scored in the 66th percentile or better in math.
For English learners, about 80 percent improved by at least one "band."
In the closing gaps category, Brookwood scored a 89.6.
Dalton Public Schools Chief Learning Officer Laura Orr said Brookwood's success may be explained by its extensive STEM program. The school implements "a place based learning model," teaching students in a garden and at Lakeshore Park.
Students in different grades have different focuses, also. One grade studies butterflies. Another grade studies bees and pollination. Teachers are try to implement several categories, like reading and math, into each area of focus.
Brookwood is the only STEM-certified school in the district, Dalton Public Schools spokeswoman Pat Holloway said. This is a designation from the state.
Orr said other schools also use STEM. She was not sure whether Brookwood's performance this year necessarily means other schools should follow their exact path.
"We're always looking at best practices in all of our schools to see what could be replicated and what could be implemented in other school," she said. "But there is also the flip side of it. Just because a program works for one group of students does not always mean it will work for other groups.
For Cohutta Elementary School in Whitfield County, the biggest areas of success were:
- Progress, where students scored a 96.1
- Closing Gaps, where students scored an 84.4
For New Hope Middle School in Whitfield County, the biggest areas of success were:
- Progress, where students scored a 98.6
- Closing Gaps, where students scored a 91.7
The state's announcement comes the same week it highlighted underperforming Title I schools. In northwest Georgia, one school was listed: Rossville Elementary School.
The state dubbed listed it as a Targeted Support and Improvement School. This is a school where at least one subgroup is performing in the bottom 5 percent in some measurements. In this case, Rossville Elementary School was flagged for poor performance among black students.
On this year's assessments, 90 percent of those students were below proficient on math and English.
Title I schools are institutions where many students come from low-income households. These schools receive extra federal funding.