COVINGTON -- Newton County has some of the highest progressing schools in the state.
The state Department of Education announced Wednesday that five Newton County schools are Reward Schools, which is one of the four state lists as part of the state's waiver from the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, or the federal No Child Left Behind Act.
The category is reserved for schools with the highest performance or the biggest academic gains by students in the last three years.
"These schools are shining examples of what we can achieve in public education in Georgia," said State School Superintendent John Barge in a press release. "I want to take what's working at our Reward Schools and replicate that in every school in the state. These are the schools making education work for all Georgians."
The state named schools in two categories:
-- Highest-Performing School: a Title I school among the 5 percent of Title I schools in the state that has the highest absolute performance over three years for the all students group on the statewide assessments.
The school must have made Adequate Yearly Progress for the all students group and all of its subgroups in 2011.
-- High-Progress School: a Title I school among the 10 percent of Title I schools in the state that is making the most progress in improving the performance of the all students group over three years on the statewide assessments.
For the Newton County School System, no schools were named to in the highest-performing school category, but five of its schools were named in the highest-progressing category -- the Newton County Theme School at Ficquett, Alcovy and Newton high schools and Heard-Mixon and Porterdale elementary schools.
"We've been sharing the message of an improving results in our public school system, especially when it comes to state assessments. Today's announcement from the State Superintendent further confirms what we already know," said NCSS Superintendent Gary Mathews in a prepared statement Wednesday. "These specific five schools have done quite well indeed over a multi-year period of time. Congratulations are certainly in order to the faculty and administration of each of these schools."
Other state lists include priority schools, which identifies the 5 percent lowest performing Title I schools; focus schools, which are Title I schools with a graduation rate of less than 60 percent over two years or that have large gaps between the highest and lowest achieving subgroup of students on campus; and alert schools, which have subgroup graduation rates below the state mean, if subgroup achievement is below the state mean or if subject achievement is below the state mean, according to the waiver.
Subgroups are identified as Asian/Pacific Islander, black, Hispanic, American Indian/Alaskan, white, multiracial, students with disabilities, English learners and economically disadvantaged, similar to how they were identified under NCLB, according to the waiver.
In Newton County, Challenge Charter Academy, an independent public charter school, was named on the state's priority school list, and Live Oak and West Newton elementary schools are on the state's focus school list. NCSS has no alert schools.
Later, the classifications will be integrated with the College & Career Readiness Index, which the state is implementing in place of AYP that was required under NCLB.