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 Priority, Focus, and Opportunity Schools

Priority and Focus Schools


Georgia’s approved 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 Focus Schools.  


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 is
  • 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.

A 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 graduation rates. 

Opportunity Schools 


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 them.

  • 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.​