LHS earns Reward School Status

LaFayette High School was recently recognized by Georgia Department of Education officials for the strides that were made during the 2011-12 school year. The school has been distinguished as a “Highest Progress” reward school as a result of assessment tests and graduation rates being among the top 10 percent of Title-1 schools. “This is truly a huge statement of the great things that are happening not just at LHS, but also at all of our feeder schools as we are receiving students that are very prepared for high school,” LHS principal Mike Culberson said. The consistent increase of students meeting or exceeding standards at the elementary and middle school levels in recent years has developed high school students that are more prepared for the challenges of higher education, according to Culberson. The number of LaFayette Middle School students that met or exceeded standards in 2005 sat at 61 percent for math, while 30 percent of students missed more than 15 days of school. The truancy issue was reduced by half countywide over the following several years, resulting in math improvements to 80 percent in 2009, according to Culberson. Reading, math and English language arts all made double-digit gains from 2006 to 2011. As a result, LHS teachers have been able to focus more on challenging incoming freshman, instead of working on remedial learning, the principal said. The GDE honor also acknowledges the schools with the most progress being made toward graduation rate improvements. Officials are proud of the effort that allowed LHS to be the only reward high school identified within the Northwest Georgia Regional Educational Service Agency district, which contains 16 school systems. The recognition came in the first year of implementing the new state-developed College and Career Readiness Performance Indicator, which was implemented as a more comprehensive look at all testing areas. It measures the performance of all student increases during three years of statewide assessments, which is more comprehensive than the previous federal Adequate Yearly Progress benchmarks. The honor would not be possible if progress wasn’t being made in all subgroup achievement gaps, according to the state documentation. It also creates a new standard for the students and teachers to continue to attain. Culberson hopes that the school can one day move from the “Highest Progress” designation to the “Highest Performance” category, which would move the school into the top five percentile for Title-1 schools. There is no monetary reward that accompanies the distinction, according to Matt Cardoza, spokesperson for the Georgia Department of