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Mansfield earns platinum state academic award

COVINGTON - Mansfield Elementary School was the only school in Newton County and one of 26 elementary schools in the state to receive a platinum Greatest Gain state academic award, the Georgia Department of Education and the Governor's Office of Student Achievement announced Friday.

"Schools that showed the greatest improvement in (Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests) or (the Georgia High School Graduation Test) and had a significant percentage of students who exceeded standards on the tests" during the 2006-07 school year were named to the Greatest Gains list, which is separated into four categories: platinum, gold, silver and bronze. According to a statement released by the Georgia DOE, "The award winners are determined by the Governor's Office of Student Achievement, in conjunction with the Georgia Department of Education, based on a the Single Statewide Accountability System."

The departments awarded 110 Georgia schools with the Greatest Gains award and 153 schools in the state with the Student Achievement award, which are the schools with a high percentage of students

meeting standards on the CRCT or GHSGT.

This is the first year Mansfield Elementary has been awarded in the Greatest Gains category.

"We weren't striving to get this (award)," said Mansfield Elementary Principal G.W. Davis. "But when you are taking a test that will determine if a student goes to the next grade level and if your school will be on a Needs Improvement list, of course we're concentrating on it."

He said the students especially are responsible for the award.

"They are the ones who deserve credit for it, as well as the teachers and parents who helped them prepare for the tests," Davis said.

Platinum schools must have made adequate yearly progress for three consecutive years or more and had 35 percent or more students exceeding standards, according to a statement from the Newton County School System. Specific school data was not yet available as of press time, but Davis said the school always had made AYP.

"Most of the schools aren't making (AYP) for one population, but because we're a small school, we don't usually have that because it takes 40 students to make a subgroup, so part of it may be that," Davis said. "But we have really good students. We aren't in an area that's particularly affluent, but we have a number of working parents who believe in the school and support the school. It's a very good situation."

Davis said he's nervous about No Child Left Behind requiring that schools have 100 percent proficiency on the CRCT by 2014, but the school continues to encourage students to do better.

"Every year, we work on it," he said. "We just do what we're supposed to do."

Michelle Floyd can be reached at michelle.floyd@newtoncitizen.com.