The Georgia Department of Education’s (GaDOE’s) Academic Achievement Awards Program honors and rewards K-12 Title I schools and school districts for significant progress in improving student achievement and/or making significant progress in closing the achievement gaps. Georgia’s ESEA Flexibility Waiver has allowed the State’s Title Programs Division to move from the ESEA’s Distinguished School and Distinguished District Awards Program to the Reward School and Reward District Program.
Title I Reward Schools
The Title I Reward Schools Program recognizes and honors two categories of Reward Schools: Highest-Performing Reward Schools and High-Progress Reward Schools.
• A Highest-Performing Reward School is among the Title I schools in the State that have the highest absolute performance over a number of years for the “all students” group and for all subgroups based on statewide assessments, and, at the high school level, is also among the Title I schools with the highest graduation rates. A school may not be classified as a highest-performing school if there are significant achievement gaps across subgroups that are not closing in the school.
• A High-Progress Reward School is among the top ten percent of Title I schools in the State that are making the most progress in improving the performance of the “all students” group over a number of years on the statewide assessments, and, at the high school level, among the top ten percent of Title I schools in the State that are making the most progress in increasing graduation rates. A school may not be classified as a high-progress school if there are significant achievement gaps across subgroups that are not closing in the school.
Reward Schools may use their Academic Achievement Award funds to provide teachers and staff bonuses and/or to purchase instructionally related supplies and services for the school.
Funding for the Title I Reward Schools Program is provided through the Title I, Part A of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA). ESEA allows state educational agencies (SEAs) to earmark funds from its total Title I, Part A allocation to reward schools for academic success. Seventy-five percent of the funds must be distributed to those schools with the highest percentage of poverty.
Georgia will recognize Highest-Performing and High-Progress Title I Schools each year at the Annual Statewide Title Programs Conference. Further, when available, these schools will each receive a monetary reward equal to Georgia’s total reward allotment divided by the total number of reward schools. Each Title I Highest-Performing and High-Progress School will also receive a Reward Certificate.
Title I Reward Districts Program
The Title I Reward Districts Program recognizes and honors local school districts that have made the greatest gains in the percent of economically disadvantaged students meeting or exceeding state standards on assessments administered in the previous school year compared to assessments administered in the current school year. Four school districts receive the award:
• One school district with a student population over 10,000
• One school district with a student population of 4,000 to 9,999
• One school district with a student population of 2,000 to 3,999
• One school district with a student population under 2,000
Honored school districts receive a certificate of recognition, a $50,000 monetary award, and are honored at the Annual Statewide Title Programs Conference.
Funding for the Title I Reward Districts Program is provided through ESEA. GaDOE elects to earmark $200,000 ($50,000 per local school district) per year of its administrative funds to reward four local school districts for academic success. Districts may use their funds to provide district staff, teachers, and school level staff bonuses and/or to purchase instructionally related supplies and services for the district.
National Title I Distinguished Schools Program
The National Title I Distinguished Schools Recognition Program (NTIDSRP) recognizes two schools from each state as examples of superior Title I school programs. Each selected school must have a poverty rate of at least 35% for the selected year, demonstrate high academic achievement for making the greatest gains in closing the achievement gap and/or exceeding the school’s adequate yearly progress (AYP) for two or more consecutive years. Schools are honored in one of two categories:
• Category One recognizes Title I schools that have exhibited significant progress in improving student achievement for two or more consecutive years.
• Category Two recognizes Title I schools that have made the most progress in significantly closing the achievement gap between the subgroups (economically disadvantaged students; students from major racial and ethnic groups; students with disabilities; and students with limited English proficiency).
Honored schools receive a grant award from GaDOE. National Title I Schools are honored each year by the National Association of State Title I Directors (NASTID) at their annual National Title I Conference.