For students attending some of Georgia’s poorest-performing schools, improving test scores and boosting education opportunities can be an uphill battle.
“We know the school has struggled, but it’s not the fault of the children,” said Priscilla Borders, who has a second grader at Hope-Hill Elementary, in Atlanta’s Old Fourth Ward neighborhood. The school was rated as the third-worst scoring elementary school in the city based on the state’s College and Career-Ready Performance Index. That’s a report card for schools and districts, intended to let parents and others see how Georgia’s schools fare in comparison with one another. The latest was released Monday.
“Our argument has been to look at what the children need,” Borders said.
Options for parents can be limited. Depending on the district, they may seek to transfer their children to a better-performing school — if space is available and they can provide their own transportation, which can pose a hardship for some families. A growing number of charter and other alternative education options have also emerged in recent years to offer parents a choice in school.
Some educators argue factors beyond school hallways, such as poverty, can contribute to children’s performance. In general, the highest-scoring schools in metro Atlanta were in affluent areas, and low scores often showed up at schools in poor neighborhoods.
State education leaders say schools with some of the lowest scores are expected to get assistance, but will get no additional money.
The state works with schools in offering “improvement specialists” who work with school staff members to improve academic weaknesses. Schools can also offer extended learning time for students, state officials said.
“We anticipate we’ll have resources available for schools not doing as well as they hoped,” said Barbara Lunsford, associate superintendent for school improvement for the Georgia Department of Education. “And let them utilize those in an area so that they can really … fine tune how to analyze student data and figure out what needs to be done.”
By Ty Tagami and Mark Niesse contributed to this article.