January 12, 2021 – Two Georgia public schools – St. Simons Elementary School in Glynn County and Elm Street Elementary School in Coweta County -- have been recognized as 2020 National ESEA Distinguished Schools.
This is a national honor awarded by the National Association of ESEA State Program Administrators (NAESPA) to two of the highest-performing Title I schools in every state; in Georgia, the top-performing five percent of Title I schools are eligible to apply.
"St. Simons Elementary and Elm Street Elementary are both working hard not just to improve students' academic achievements but to expand the opportunities available to them," State School Superintendent Richard Woods said. "This is a well-deserved national honor for the faculty, staff, and students of each school."
The honorees are selected based on academic achievement (as determined by the school's CCRPI score, including the year-over-year increase in score), poverty level, and initiatives implemented over the past two years that resulted in outstanding academic achievement among traditionally underserved subgroups of students.
Staff at St. Simons Elementary School have paired high-quality, individualized instruction with robust parent engagement to close achievement gaps and improve the performance of Economically Disadvantaged students, English Learners, and Students with Disabilities. Schedules and instruction are built around individual student needs, and an innovative Ocean Lab program provides opportunities for students to study and explore the local beaches and habitats, focusing on the state science and math standards, with an emphasis on conservation and preservation. The school has a 2019 CCRPI score of 92.9 and is a past recipient of GaDOE's Family-Friendly Partnership School Award.
At Elm Street Elementary School, initiatives like "Brainy Tuesday" -- which expands opportunities for students in the gifted model while strengthening support for students at all levels of achievement -- have resulted in strong gains for individual subgroups of students, including Economically Disadvantaged students, Students with Disabilities, and Black and Hispanic students. The school has focused on student ownership of learning, allowing students to set achievement goals and track their progress. Elm Street's CCRPI score increased from 81.8 in 2018 to 91.9 in 2019, and the school has a five-star School Climate Star Rating.
Each winning school will receive a $20,000 grant from the GaDOE Title I, Part A program to support registration for the school team to attend the virtual national ESEA Conference, and to support the school's Title I initiatives.