COVINGTON -- Officials with Challenge Charter Academy expect to show greater gains on academic achievement this school year, even though the state recently named the school to a list of the 5 percent of lowest performing Title I schools in Georgia.
School Principal Ernetta Dailey-Worthy said her goal coming into this school year was increasing academic achievement, and they are already working on some things identified by being named to the state's priority schools last week for consistently performing poorly on state tests.
"In a nutshell, (being named to the list) means our students have not scored as well as other schools' students on state-mandates assessments," Worthy said on Monday. "I have to accept where we are. It's not something to debate."
She said she plans to meet with state officials to learn more about the plans moving forward. By being on the list, the school will qualify for state assistance aimed at improving student achievement.
"At this stage, we're looking forward to getting more resources and those resources being able to provide services for our students," Worthy said. "We appreciate our students and want to embrace them in every area."
The school will be served for three years, according to rules for being on the list, which results from the state receiving a waiver from the federal No Child Left Behind law.
Dee Maxwell, counselor and admissions worker at the school, said they are identifying specific areas where students need help and what they need and also working with counselors from the Newton County School System to identify students who would be better served at the school.
"It's a holistic approach," she said.
The school already has seen significant improvement from when it opened in 2009, Worthy said.
According to documents provided by the school Monday, 78 percent of its students passed the state-mandated Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests in language arts and reading in 2001, compared to 59 percent in 2009; 28 percent passed math in 2011, compared to 12 in 2009.
Worthy said the school increased the percentage of students passing on six of eight End of Course Tests from 2010 to 2011, including the "most impressive improvement" in ninth-grade literature in which 37 percent of students passed in 2010, while 53 percent passed in 2011.
In addition to increasing student achievement this year, Worthy also wants parent and community involvement to improve.
The Academy is an independent public school led by a board of directors, but Worthy said they follow state and local guidelines and are supported by the Newton County School System.
"The mission is not to be competing because you don't compete with students' education," Worthy said, adding that the major difference between the Academy and other NCSS facilities is the smaller enrollment and class sizes.
Financially, the school receives about $900,000 from the state and about $365,000 from NCSS, according to NCSS Superintendent Gary Mathews. It is open to all Newton County students in grades six through 12 and has a current enrollment of 137 students.
"In order to continue funding in the future, CCA will need its charter renewed by the Newton County Board of Education," Mathews said.
The charter school is up for renewal this year.
NCSS and CCA have agreed to a timeline for the consideration of the school's renewal, Mathews said.
In August, the school must submit its response to intent, current status and future plan to the superintendent's office, and in early September, the superintendent will return the plan with any questions or comments. By mid-September, the school must clarify any questions.
On Oct. 9, an evaluation report for the renewal of the school will be presented in a public work session of the Newton County Board of Education, and the board may meet for a special called meeting afterward. On Oct. 16, the school board is scheduled to vote on the renewal of the school. Its meetings are scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. in the board room at the Newton County BOE building at 2109 Newton Drive NE in Covington.