Barrow County School System had three schools recognized as a top-performing Title I School by the Georgia Department of Education. Auburn Elementary and Russell Middle were recognized as Title I Reward Schools. Bramlett Elementary earned the honor of a Title I Distinguished School.
The Georgia Department of Education (Department) honors K–12 Title I schools for significant progress in improving student achievement and/or making significant progress in closing the achievement gap. School measurements are based on the College Career Readiness Performance Index (CCRPI) for each school.
“I have been impressed with the commitment that has been demonstrated by each of these schools to improve the quality of instruction for all students, while also ensuring that supports are in place for struggling students,” shared Title I Director and School Improvement Coordinator Dr. David Beeland. “A theme that crosses all three schools is a specific and intentional focus on challenging students to think at higher levels to complete rigorous tasks.”
While it is rewarding to see a school recognized by the state, it’s important to note the significant amount of deliberate effort that was invested to achieve this progress by administrators and teachers. Below are five things each school implemented that had the most impact on improving student outcomes.
Title I Distinguished School: Bramlett Elementary
Title I Distinguished School is a Title I school among the top 5% Schoolwide and top 5% Targeted Assisted Title I schools in the state that have the highest absolute performance for the all-students group based on the current statewide assessment.
Bramlett Elementary School increased their CCRPI score by +12.8% over last year to post a score of 91.9. Here are some of the strategies they focused on to improve achievement of their students:
- Teachers targeted and refined specific aspects of Tier 1 instruction for all students. In Tier 1, all students receive instruction within an evidence-based, scientifically researched core program in reading or math that has established known outcomes which are typically aligned with state standards.
- The school leadership focused on hiring high quality faculty and staff. They also ensured that everyone was assigned to positions where they could have the most impact.
- To provide the supports needed by students, Bramlett adopted Eagle Time. This total school commitment dedicated customized learning time during the day that was focused on specific areas of student need and interest. For example, the Bramlett News Network (BNN) provides students with the opportunity to improve their reading, writing, and researching skills by streaming live announcements, posting Instagram messages, and publishing the Eagle Times newspaper. Students interested in technology have the opportunity to learn more about coding and robotics. Students might learn to play an instrument or memorize lines to perform in a dramatic presentation.
- The school administration adopted a culture of openness to feedback from teachers and staff with a “Stop, Start, Change” model of improvement.
- Ultimately, the faculty and staff were willing to hold each other accountable for their best work.
Title I Reward Schools: Auburn Elementary and Russell Middle
Title I Reward School is a Title I school among the 10% of Title I schools in the state that is making the most progress in improving the performance of the all-students group over the most recent two years on the statewide assessments.
Auburn Elementary made impressive gains on their CCRPI score with +19.4 point increase over last year. In addition, they earned the full 100 points for Closing Gaps in student achievement. How did they accomplish this? Here was their approach:
- The school leadership created and maintained high expectations for delivering high quality instruction and truly believing that Auburn Elementary students can achieve.
- As part of that, the school shared the belief that all teachers contribute to the success of students from pre-kindergarten to 5th grade.
- Instructional strategies were implemented with fidelity. For example, teachers focused on improving each part of the instructional framework which includes a strong opening to capture student’s attention, a mini lesson where direct instruction is provided and the concept being taught is modeled for students, a work session where students then practice the skill independently or in small groups, and a closing to review the focus and content of the lesson.
- As a pilot for the school system, Auburn also implemented the Lucy Calkins Units of Study to improve reading workshop.
- The school implemented the Super Tigers After School Program which provides students with the opportunity to receive small group, supplemental instruction after school in subject areas where they are struggling.
Russell Middle School increased their CCRPI score by +10.3 points over last year and posted the highest score for Barrow middle schools. They also earned the full 100 points for Closing Gaps in student achievement. Russell adopted an intentional approach to make these improvements in student achievement:
- Teachers participated in Professional Learning Communities to design rigorous tasks that challenge students to think at higher levels, fleshing out exactly what students need to know and be able to do to master the Georgia Standards of Excellence.
- The total school committed to improve Tier 1 instruction for all students by implementing the teaching and learning cycle with fidelity. The learning cycle includes these steps: plan, apply, assess, learn and repeat the steps.
- Teachers placed a strong emphasis on reading and writing across all content areas every day.
- Improvements in math achievement can be attributed to a focus on writing for understanding, in addition to procedural writing to build conceptual thinking.
- Students also participated in cross-curricular Digital Portfolio Projects four times. ELA, Math, Science, and SS teachers create big idea, rigorous tasks in each subject area for students to demonstrate understanding of content area concepts through genre-based writing.
Barrow County School System is pleased with the forward progress of its schools but recognizes that there is always work to be done. New goals and benchmarks have already been set and are actively being worked on this school year as well. Here are the principals for each of the recognized schools:
- Karen Gresham-Dowis, Bramlett Elementary
- Julia Hodges, Auburn Elementary
- Meridith Wages, Russell Middle