The highest-performing high school in Newton County based on numerical indices of student performance is Eastside High. Situated in District 5, the smallest of Newton's high schools serves students in both Districts 1 and 5. School bus routes and feeder patterns do not honor Board of Commissioners or Board of Education districts.
So what does student performance look like here?
Eastside enjoyed a 17.5 percent increase in its graduation rate from fiscal year 2006 to fiscal year 2011 and the highest 2012 cohort rate in Newton. Advanced Placement pass rates improved by 4.91 percent over the same period; math scores on the high school graduation test improved 9 percent to 23 percent based on student subgroup; biology and physical science EOCT scores blew the doors off county and state averages, and the school exceeded statewide performance on eight of nine statewide assessments in 2011, including physical science and math.
In fiscal year 2012, Eastside also exceeded state cohort graduation rate averages.
Eastside is led by veteran instructional leader Jeff Cher, whose unapologetic laser focus remains on student achievement. Cher leverages leadership acumen to increase student performance; it is paying off. Based on a newly released Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development report, teachers want principals who are foremost instructional leaders. But even the best leader can't go it alone; high-quality teachers with low turnover balance the act.
The proof is in the data.
College Board reports strong gains in SAT math and critical reading, as I have previously reported. Double-digit increases in math are rare across the state of Georgia. I have examined every Georgia high school. Eastside earned them.
So how does Eastside fare on AP exam pass rates where scores of 3, 4 and 5 are considered passing and worthy of earning college credit? The state average pass rate for fiscal year 2011 was 52.2 percent. Eastside's AP exam pass rate was 71.9 percent, a full 19.7 percent above the state and above Alcovy High's 39.6 percent pass rate and Newton High's 26.3 percent.
Locally, only George Walton Academy (82.1 percent) and Eastside High (71.9 percent) surpassed Georgia (52.2 percent). So when you read that a high school has been named an AP Honor School, contact me for the real story. We have AP Honor Schools falling double-digit percentages below state AP exam pass rates.
Education experts and data analysts find students scoring above a 2 on AP exams and those participating in dual enrollment programs more likely to complete college. Eastside has the highest AP pass rate and the highest number of students participating in dual enrollment.
On fiscal year 2012 American College Test data, Eastside placed at the state level in English (20.5), above the state and nation in reading (21.6), and above the state in science (20.7), showing statistically significant gains above county scores in all areas of the ACT along with the highest HOPE Scholarship eligibility percentages, spelling success and cost savings for students.
Strong leadership, laser focus, Eagles taking flight.
Jeff Meadors may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org