Priorities will be clear for next superintendent

Published 6:00 am Wednesday, February 13, 2019

The first priority of the new superintendent will be to address the abysmal, 2018 Governor’s Office of Student Achievement Report that gave the Troup County School System a grade of “D” (66.1). With an enrollment of nearly 12,000 students in 2018, the school system was barely able to achieve a grade of “C” for the three-year period preceding the “D” grade.

For the record, the Governor’s report states that only 48.4 percent of the school system’s graduates are college and career ready. Only 37.8 percent of its third-grade students are reading at or above the grade level target. If you are a parent of an eighth-grader, you might be interested in knowing that in 2018, only 53.5 percent of 8th grade students were reading at or above the grade level target.

It does not take a rocket scientist to understand that a major intervention is needed to reinvigorate the school system. In Coweta County, right up the road from LaGrange, the school system received a grade of “B” (81.6). With a student population twice that of Troup County Schools, it was revealed that 65.8 percent of graduates were college and career ready. The county’s overall performance was higher than 91 percent of districts. In comparison to Troup County, 52.9 percent of its third graders were reading at or above the grade level, while 72.8 percent of its eighth grade students were at, or above, their targeted grade level. In stark contrast to Troup County schools, the graduation rate in 2018 for students in Coweta County, was around 84.8 percent, which was 28 percent higher than other districts.

In ameliorating the causal factors that have resulted in poor student academic achievement, the new superintendent must understand that small school districts are not exempt or immune from what is happening in inner-city schools. The fact of the matter is that with community and private sector support, we can develop strategies to prevent the potential academic decline of our schools.

We must begin again, to believe that schools can make a difference. Schools – even small districts, should have the following: a clearly-stated mission to raise students’ reading and mathematics test scores and a method of instruction that requires teachers to have the same high standards for each student. Teachers should be evaluated and trained to alter any preferential attitudes toward students predicated on race, ethnicity, or gender. Active parental involvement and support and participation from the business community need to be sought as well.

Regrettably, the Governor’s Report on the state of Troup County schools is damaging, for students, but could also have potential negative consequences for future business investment in the community.