Eight DeKalb County School District (DCSD) schools recognized for raising achievement above state academic expectations.

Eight more DeKalb County School District (DCSD) schools have exited the Federal Focus and Priority lists for underperforming Title I schools following significant increases in student achievement. Since 2016, a total of 13 DCSD schools have achieved beyond the Focus and Priority lists.

On December 5, the Georgia Department of Education announced that the following DCSD schools are no longer considered Focus or Priority schools:

  • Barack H. Obama Elementary Magnet School of Technology – Focus
  • Canby Lane Elementary School – Focus
  • Clarkston High School – Priority
  • Columbia High School – Priority
  • Cross Keys High School – Priority
  • Freedom Middle School – Focus
  • Mary McLeod Bethune – Focus
  • Smoke Rise Elementary School – Focus

“Year after year, more of our schools are raising their achievement and meeting their potential. The progress is clear, and the evidence is emphatic with this latest round of results,” said Superintendent/CEO R. Stephen Green. “Increasing numbers of our underperforming campuses are shedding that label, and can now focus on raising the bar higher. This is a good day for our students and campuses.”

About Priority and Focus Schools

Focus Schools are campuses that rank in the lowest 10 percent of schools statewide based on a three-year average of Achievement Gap scores. To advance above that level, a school must demonstrate a 2.5-point increase in that three-year average.

Priority Schools are campuses that rank in the lowest five percent of schools statewide based on a three-year average of Content Mastery scores, along with a graduation rate of less than 60 percent for two consecutive years. To advance above that level, a school must demonstrate a 5-point increase in that three-year average and obtain a graduation rate above 60 percent.

Unique Instructional Services for School Improvement

The district’s intensive focus on school turnaround has been met with consistent academic growth by students at these eight schools, year after year, for the past three years. DCSD has implemented unique programs and services to remove the Priority and Focus school designations. Concentrated and intensive services were provided by the district staff and were specifically designed for all students at Priority and Focus schools: 

  • New, on-demand student assessments provide immediate feedback to school leaders, teachers, and parents on the academic progress of all students. Schools can determine how to assist students who are most in need on a weekly basis.
  • All teachers receive intensive training to learn skills necessary to help all students at Priority and Focus schools succeed, including training for working with diverse students and students with major learning needs. Teachers will typically work an extended day each month to receive focused training on the most successful teaching strategies.
  • Schools receive direct support for reading and writing through DeKalb’s Literacy Initiative.  A specialized team of experts in literacy has been assigned to assist Priority and Focus schools with raising the reading and writing abilities of all students.
  • All students in Priority and Focus schools receive a unique approach to mastering mathematics by using DeKalb’s Mathematics Modules – a specialized team of highly qualified educators work with these schools daily to train teachers on delivering powerful mathematics instruction that yields high student achievement.
  • Strategic financial planning is implemented at these schools, providing specialized staff and experts who ensure teachers and students have the additional academic support needed. This includes Academic Coaches, Instructional Support Specialists, and Parent Liaisons.
  • Specialized student tutorial programs are offered after school to assist students most in need through small group tutoring.
  • Each student has a personalized education plan—known as Response to Intervention or RTI—that outlines the unique educational services they will receive to help them achieve the greatest learning gains possible.