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School superintendent holds leadership forum

COVINGTON -- Newton County School System Superintendent Gary Mathews met with a group of educational stakeholders Tuesday morning for his annual Superintendent's Community Leadership Forum.

Earlier this year, Mathews invited members from each school's PTO and other local business and organization leaders to review last school year's progress and look forward to current initiatives.

About 40 individuals attended the forum, including Newton County Board of Education Chair Eddie Johnson, members of the Newton County Chamber of Commerce and the Newton County Arts Association and several parents and PTO members.

Mathews presented data to those in attendance, showing that although his students on average are not yet in line with the state on college entrance exams like the SAT and ACT, scores are improving. He pointed out that research shows that systems with a high free and reduced lunch rate -- Newton's is about 70 percent -- tend to have lower test scores since those students tend to have less background knowledge and parental support at home.

"We're not where we want to be, but we're not where we were either," he said.

He showed school scores and charts that showed progress on the Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests, which elementary and middle school students take, and End of Course Tests, which high school students take. He acknowledged that NCSS students, like students across the state, are struggling especially in math with a change of curriculum, but even that is improving.

"You're not going to find a school system that jumps 25 points. I'm going to be suspect every time I see that. You have to show steady progress," Mathews said.

He explained to guests how Georgia is moving from the federal No Child Left Behind to a different accountability system, which groups schools by Reward Schools for being high performance schools, Priority Schools for being the lowest 5 percent of achieving schools across the state, Focus Schools for being in the bottom 10 percent of Title I schools and Alert Schools for having alerts in certain areas like graduation rates. NCSS currently has one Priority School and two Focus Schools; the Reward Schools have yet to be identified.

Mathews explained that under Georgia's new College & Career Ready Performance Index that elementary, middle and high schools will be scored on a 100-point scale based on test scores, industry credentials earned at the high school level and counseling and guidance in the lower grades, among other factors. The state is expected to release the scores either before the end of this calendar year or the end of this school year.

Mathews told the group how Georgia's new curriculum will hold students to "much higher standards" compared to previous ones.

"This is a very tough haul," he said. "It's very rigorous and more difficult than we've ever asked our kids to perform before."

Students will be reading two or three grade levels above where they currently are reading, and they will be given new types of assessments beginning in the 2014-15 school year that will allow classrooms, systems and states to be compared to classrooms and systems across 20 other states, he said.

"It's a true apples to apples comparison," Mathews said.

Comments

PaperChase 1 year, 10 months ago

SAT scores are down huge at Alcovy High moreso than most area schools. Explain.

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ThePublicGood 1 year, 10 months ago

Saying that SAT scores are improving in math and verbal at Alcovy High is like obama saying a video cAused Benghazi. Who thinks we are this dumb?

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Frustrated 1 year, 10 months ago

Mathews told the group how Georgia's new curriculum will hold students to "much higher standards" compared to previous ones. If they are struggling now how will they do with the "much higher standards"? Sounds like they are being set up to fail.

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LOVINGLIFE 1 year, 10 months ago

Frustrated.......I dont think the State is setting anyone up to fail. Its called being PUSHED..If the students fail , its because they and their parents were LAZY!! . It is outlooks like yours that is more than likely why the State of Ga. is lingering behind in education. STOP WHINING and you and your kids suck it up and take some RESPONSIBILITY!!!!!!

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Frustrated 1 year, 10 months ago

I agree the students need to be pushed to do better but at a rate they can succeed at. There is a difference between PUSHING and SHOVING. Dont confuse my concern for whining.

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Fetacheese 1 year, 10 months ago

@ frustrated I do think you are right, but I have to agree.
Those scores aren't improving at alcovy that needs. To be looked at. Wow I just don't get it.

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will 1 year, 10 months ago

To hold a leadership forum one must first be a leader. My kids all went to private school and they were not left behind like students from the public school system. If you love your children do what it takes to get them out of the Newton County School System. 70% free or reduced lunches that tells you what is taking over this county. These kids need to be pushed and if they fail keep them back, its alright to fail at something as long as you learn from the failure. I've lived in Newton county my entire life and it is sad to see where our school system is heading. Parents need to be involved with their childs education, it is not a childcare its a school.

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LOVINGLIFE 1 year, 10 months ago

If the kids are pushed , shoved , challenged .......they will do a better job. If their parents do not see to it that they are completing the assignments , completing homework , studying. They make horrible grades. I know for a fact that this is not happening , and it becomes the schools fault. The fault is on lazy students , that learned their habits from their parents...I dont want my child to have to be held to lower standards , because of another childs laziness.Why lower curriculum standards to account for laziness???

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gsm7476 1 year, 10 months ago

leadership forum????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

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gsm7476 1 year, 10 months ago

Gary I voted last week put me down for a yes. I was not sure how to vote until you said it was a bad bill. That’s how I knew it was good.

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