"These schools have shown that high expectations, hard work and collaboration do improve student achievement," Barge said. "I'm so pleased to recognize the educators, students and parents in these schools and school districts."
Title I Distinguished Schools have made Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) three years in a row, but are considered to have an economically challenged majority population. These schools receive federal funding to assist with the education of their students.
Adequate Yearly Progress is a measurement defined by the United States No Child Left Behind Act that allows the U.S. Department of Education to determine how every public school and school district in the country is performing academically according to results on standardized tests.
Bartow County Title I Distinction schools are Adairsville Elementary School, Adairsville Middle School, Allatoona Elementary School, Cass Middle School, Clear Creek Elementary School, Cloverleaf Elementary School, Emerson Elementary School, Euharlee Elementary School, Hamilton Crossing Elementary School, Mission Road Elementary School, Pine Log Elementary School, South Central Middle School, Taylorsville Elementary School and White Elementary School.
City of Cartersville Title I Distinction Schools are Cartersville Primary School and Cartersville Middle School.
Donald Rucker, principal for South Central Middle, said increasing attendance has been a key factor in making AYP.
"We've had a strong focus on attendance, and we wanted to make sure our kids were here every day," Rucker said.
Rucker said absenteeism for students missing 15 or more days a year has decreased in the past five years from around 16 percent to 11 percent.
He added because SCMS has a larger transient population, Bartow County schools as a whole have worked to "stay on the same page" in terms of instruction.
"If a student transfers within the Bartow County school system, they'll be studying the same math, English and so on," Rucker said.
Bertha Nelson, assistant principal at Cartersville Primary, said acquiring the distinction was a "community effort."
"It's the kids, the parents and the teachers that make it come full circle," Nelson said.
She said recent changes in the school to improve student testing include implementing "focus classes" for struggling students, placing them in smaller classes with two teachers.
"We test students and are able to locate where they are at and if they need any additional help," Nelson said.
She said there are similar classes for gifted students to help them excel at their strengths.
Peggy Cowan, director of curriculum for Cartersville City Schools, said schools are pushing for their curriculums to stay challenging but to also emphasize instruction.
"We are insuring a rigorous curriculum in English-language arts, math, science and social studies, but we are also dedicated to providing instruction," Cowan said. "That is our emphasis."
Anne Marie Wiseman, Title I Coordinator for Bartow County Schools, said the school system as a whole has worked to support schools and teachers through workshops and extra assistance.
"We are very proud of our schools," Wiseman said. "Our administrators and teachers are always motivated to help their students and are eager to reach their goals."