“What happens at the state level is they look at the test scores and they’re looking particularly at the Title I schools and all of the Bartow County elementary schools are Title I schools,” Principal Bernadette DiPetta said. “[The state] is looking for two things: they are looking for highest performing and they are looking for progress made. So, they rank every elementary Title I school, and after they rank them, they look at the top 10 percent and the top 10 percent of schools that are looking for high progress are identified as a High-Progress School. The top 5 percent of the Title I schools earn Highest-Performing [School designation].
“This is the highest performance over three years for all student groups on the [Criterion Referenced Competency Tests] assessment, which was last April.”
DiPetta said employees as a school working together to encourage student achievement has been a determining factor in the school receiving the recognition twice in a row.
“I think it’s prestigious to be recognized by anybody for hard work and ... what I want parents to know is the staff at Taylorsville — whether it’s a teacher, custodian, secretary — they’re all pulling together and supporting that culture of learning in this building and success,” DiPetta said. “...I don’t think that we intentionally prepared to receive any award. I think that the classroom teachers just work so diligently every day that the end result is great work, which produces great test results.”
Fourth-grade teacher Charlene Wilson echoed her statements and said while she is proud of the progress made by students resulting in the recognition, she aims to educate students, not simply teach for the test.
“We work as a unit and we worked toward that achievement as a whole ... [and] we teach the standards, whatever they are. That is my goal,” Wilson said. “I am teaching so you have the knowledge that evolves with those standards.
“Now we are really backing up [in teaching the math standards] and saying, ‘Show me why.’ The whole focus in fourth grade is show me the multiple ways that you can [solve the problem]. I think that deep, deep understanding that we’re producing is going to make us produce some exceptional math students in time.”
State School Superintendent John Barge previously said he appreciates the work of individual schools who have been named Reward Schools.
“These schools are shining examples of what we can achieve in public education in Georgia,” Barge said 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.”