Newton charter school among 78 worst state schools

COVINGTON -- A Newton County charter school has been named to the state's list of the 78 lowest performing schools in Georgia.

Late Tuesday, the Georgia Department of Education released to school systems the list, which identifies the 5 percent lowest performing Title I schools as part of a waiver from the federal No Child Left Behind law.

It identifies the state's "priority" schools -- those that consistently perform poorly on tests or have low graduation rates.

On the list is one Newton County school -- Challenge Charter Academy, an independent public charter school.

"That's not good news ... but it's part of the state's accountability," said Newton County School System Superintendent Gary Mathews during the monthly work session of the Newton County Board of Education on Tuesday evening.

The school was cited because of its achievement, including its students overall having a low proficiency on statewide assessments and demonstrating a lack of progress in academic achievement over three years.

The academy, which is open to all Newton County students in grades six through 12 and has a current enrollment of 137 students, did not meet Adequate Yearly Progress in 2011 or 2009 but did in 2010. In 2011, it did not meet it for academic performance or its second indicator, which is attendance rate.

The school opened in 2008 with approval of the Newton County Board of Education and is currently operating out of a facility on Geiger Street. The school leader is Ernetta Dailey-Worthy, who did not return a call seeking comment as of press time Wednesday.

The schools on the list will qualify for state assistance aimed at improving student achievement.

The state was one of 10 across the country to receive NCLB waivers last month.

The other designations for school performance under Georgia's waiver are: alert schools, focus schools and reward schools. All designations will be handed out by the fall.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.