Jeff Meadors: Numbers tell the tale

Jeff Meadors

Jeff Meadors

How do schools in the Joint Development Authority (JDA) counties measure up? While many indicators exist to measure student performance, hard numbers lend a clear view of what is working and what is not.

Jasper, Morgan, Newton and Walton make up the counties in the JDA.

Better schools make better communities. They attract less crime, improve stability, decrease transience and enhance the quality of life for all. Better communities own the fortitude to say no to businesses they want to keep out and to recruit high quality industry.

According to Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education data businesses and industry look at achievement starting in grade three to make literacy projections for a potential workforce.

Based on the most recently available data from fiscal year 2011 the following reveals what is working and what needs work.

Of the JDA counties Morgan County boasts the highest graduation rate at 86.1 percent using the new cohort formula. Jasper comes in next at 75.5 with Walton County at 74.7. All are above the state cohort of 67.5. Newton's cohort graduation rate of 64.1 falls below all counties in the JDA as well as the state cohort of 67.5.

Further analysis of the rate by race shows black students in Morgan at 73.9 percent, Jasper at 64.7, Walton at 63 and Newton at 62.7. All are above the state rate of 59.8 percent for this group.

White students in Morgan hold a rate of 91 percent soaring above other JDA counties. Jasper County whites weigh in at 80.6 and Walton's white students have a rate of 77.7 -- all above the state average of 75.5. Newton's cohort rate for whites is 66.2 falling dramatically below the state average for this group.

Males in Morgan enjoy a cohort of 84.8 with females at 87.2. Male students in Jasper have a rate of 74 and females are at 77.1. Walton County males come in at 77.7 with the female rate at 79.8. These JDA counties weigh in above state averages of 63.3 for males and 71.8 for females. Newton County males have a rate of 61.8 with females at 66.5, both groups falling below the state averages.

On the American College Test (ACT) Morgan and Walton counties tie at 19.7 with a total composite of 36 possible. Jasper students have an ACT composite of 19.4 with Newton students at 18.4. All JDA counties fall below state and national averages on this indicator.

Morgan tops the English ACT scores at 19.2, Walton at 19.1, Jasper at 19 with Newton at 17.7. Math composites are as follows: Morgan -- 20; Walton -- 19.8; Jasper -- 18.8 and Newton at 18.3.

Morgan tops the SAT total score with 1489. Morgan is the only county to exceed the state average of 1431 and the national average of 1483. Remaining JDA counties lag the state and nation with Jasper at 1368, Walton at 1363 and Newton at 1330.

Bottom lines teach top dogs where change is needed. Naysayers will sling mud at numbers like these and argue to the core, but the preponderance reveals that it could be simply more prudent to exit the mud pile and get to work. And fast. Where would you choose to live based on current data?

Jeff Meadors is the District 1 representative on the Newton County Board of Education. Readers may email him at pjeffreymeadors@gmail.com.


henrystamm 3 years, 3 months ago

I bet that Newton County is the largest holder of real estate and largest number and highest paid of administrators. Where is my Real Estate tax going? We should have moved to Morgan or Walton County.


gsm7476 3 years, 3 months ago

When the people from Baxter come and look for homes to buy they will look at where is the best school for my child. They will see in this area it is not Newton County they will look to Morgan and Walton first. This does not help the values of our homes or the tax base that the schools need. Or help the County build the infrastructure need to continuing to bring more high paying jobs to Newton County. It is time for the BOE to get there act together our children are falling behind and they are sitting on there hands showing no leadership they only thing they worry about is there political standing. It is time to look for someone to head the ship that is a true leader so I want the contract of the superintendent to expire and find a new one. Better yet he could do the best thing for the children and resign today. Jeff you did one important thing in your article that is identifying that there is a problem. Now we need to find ways to improve the education of our children and not make the mistakes in the past. The BOE and employees of NCSS have a choice do continue down the path that Clayton County took or do we turn the ship around toward excellence it up to each Board member what they are going to do. But I will make each one of them a promise. If 1 of our schools loses accreditation the Governor will not need to step in, we the people will recall each one of you.


tomgahunter 3 years, 3 months ago

The problem with our school boad is that we have 3 members who are more interested in havein Black Administrators than in educating Black Students, until this changes nothing is going to change.


georgianbornandbred 3 years, 3 months ago

I am the father of a daughter completing her internship at MIT. She graduated as Valedictorian and Star Student at Eastside, with an average score across every course she took at Eastside of 104. She then went to Georgia Tech and graduated as the top chemical engineer in her class. At MIT graduate school, she was no longer the best student. The year after she graduated, two students were admitted to Harvard.

But there is a problem in Newton County. I have recently returned to the School Board meetings, which are far more receptive than they were from 2003-2010 when I attended and finally gave up. Before my other questions, let's think who the stakeholders of the school system are. Parents, students, teachers, administrators, businesses, students, social service agencies, churches, etc., right? How many parents do you think were at the meetings I attended (not including School Board Members and administrative staff)? How many businesses do you think attend the meetings? How many teachers? How many social service agencies? How many ministers? The answer to all of those questions is zero.

This reflects no problem if we expect the superintendent and school board members to understand and know everything parents, students, teachers, etc. know and need for the educational system to be effective. Is that what we expect? If not, we need to ensure our input and get responses from the school system. Right now, that is not the situation. If we want things to improve, I suggest we need to get into the Board meetings and the schools and ensure changes in our homes and communities that are conducive to education. If not, is it reasonable to expect improvement or is it a fantasy? I submit that it is a fantasy.


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