Three Columbia County high schools and a middle school have won their appeals to the Georgia Department of Education to be taken off the "needs improvement" list.
School officials said Monday that Lakeside, Greenbrier and Evans high schools have been taken off the list. The appeal was based on the participation rate of students taking the Georgia High School Graduation Test.
Riverside Middle School's placement on the list also was appealed, but a response from the Department of Education said they had never been on the list, though they are still listed as not making adequate yearly progress on the DOE's Web site.
"Their letter in response was that the school made AYP all along, and the request was just a data correction. They clearly had them down as not making it," School Superintendent Tommy Price said.
Harlem High was the only high school whose appeal was rejected, but Price said he would ask state officials to take a second look at the data the school submitted. The state claims the school did not have 95 percent of the four categories of students - ethnic, students with disabilities, limited English speakers and economically disadvantaged - taking the Georgia High School Graduation Test.
"It doesn't appear to me they gave very careful consideration to the information the school supplied them," Price said.
Greenbrier, Evans and Columbia middle schools' appeals were rejected.
"For the most part, the appeals were made on the 15 percent being absent 15 or more days," Price said. "We pointed to the flu being the common cause, and they rejected that outright. It did push a number of kids to the 15 day point, and that should have been considered, in my opinion."
Elementary and middle schools were administering the state's Criterion Referenced Competency exam at the same time some schools were experiencing 26 percent absentee rates because of a flu epidemic.
Columbia Middle School's appeal was based on participation of pupils with disabilities. Though the new data showed more pupils in that category taking the test, those pupils did not pass the reading or math portion of the test, Price said.
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