Priority and Focus Schools
Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA) Flexibility Waiver provides
Georgia flexibility in the implementation of school improvement requirements
found in ESEA section 1116(b) to identify for improvement, corrective action,
or restructuring, as appropriate, its Title I schools that fail, for two consecutive
years or more, to make AYP. Under Georgia’s approved ESEA Flexibility Waiver, the state identifies
Title I schools based on two categories of school improvement: Prioirty Schools and
A Priority School is a school that,
based on the most recent data available, has been identified as among the lowest-performing
schools in the state. The total number
of Priority Schools in a state must be at least 5-percent of the Title I
schools in the state.
A Priority School
- a school among the
lowest 5-percent of Title I schools in the state based on the achievement of
the all students group in terms of proficiency on the statewide assessments
that are part of the SEA’s differentiated recognition, accountability, and
support system, combined, and has demonstrated a lack of progress on those
assessments over a number of years in the all students group;
- a Title
I participating or Title I eligible high school with a graduation rate less
than 60-percent over a number of years; or
- a Tier I or Tier II
school under the School Improvement Grant 1003(g)(SIG) program that is using SIG funds
to implement a school intervention model.
Focus School is a Title I school in the state that, based on the most recent
data available, is contributing to the achievement gap in the state. The total number of Focus Schools in a state
must equal at least 10-percent of the Title I schools in the state.
A Focus School is
a school that has the
largest within-school gaps between the highest-achieving subgroup or subgroups
and the lowest-achieving subgroup or subgroups or, at the high school level, has
the largest within-school gaps in graduation rates; or
- a school that has a
subgroup or subgroups with low achievement or, at the high school level, low
In order to turn around struggling schools,
Governor Nathan Deal proposed creation of an Opportunity School District (OSD). Based on similar, successful initiatives in
Louisiana and Tennessee, it would authorize the state to temporarily step in to
assist chronically failing public schools and rescue children languishing in
- In the governor’s
proposal, persistently failing schools are defined as those scoring below 60 on
the Georgia Department of Education’s accountability measure, the College and
Career Performance Index, for three consecutive years.
- The OSD would take in
no more than 20 schools per year, meaning it would govern no more than 100 at
any given time.
- Schools would stay in
the district for no less than five (5) years but no more than 10 years, and would then
return to local control.
The OSD legislation requires a constitutional
amendment, for which there must be a two-thirds majority in both chambers. The
General Assembly passed the constitutional amendment resolution and the
implementing legislation during the 2015 legislative session. It now requires a
majority approval by Georgia voters in the 2016 general election.
For information on the Opportunity Schools and Districts, please click here.