A number of Columbia County schools received awards last week for outstanding performances on benchmark exams, but Greenbrier Middle School was doubly honored.
Greenbrier Middle accomplished a rare feat last school year by becoming one of just 17 schools in Georgia to receive recognition for "greatest gains" and "highest performance" by the Governor's Office of Student Achievement and the state Department of Education.
The school, and 10 others in the county, won Single Statewide Accountability System Awards for showing the greatest improvement on such exams as the Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests or the Georgia High School Graduation Tests in the 2009-10 school year. Others won awards for producing some of the highest scores on those exams.
The awards are delineated as platinum, gold, silver and bronze. Based on performance, Greenbrier Middle won platinum in the greatest gains category and bronze for highest performance.
"Our students rose up to the high expectations the teachers, parents and the administration had for them," said Sharon Carson, the principal at the school when the tests were administered and now the Columbia County director of middle school learning. "Our whole identity was, 'We are a good school. How can we be great?' "
As the new principal of Greenbrier Middle, Chip Fulmer said he feels the pressure "to maintain that level of excellence."
"The expectation level never changes and it's our job to maintain that, but with the parent support, I don't see any worries doing that," he said.
Also recognized with platinum awards for greatest gains were Grovetown Elementary and Riverside Middle schools.
Riverside Elementary won a bronze award for highest performance. Silver awards were given to Blue Ridge Elementary, North Columbia Elementary, Stallings Island Middle and Greenbrier High. Winning gold awards were Greenbrier, River Ridge and Stevens Creek elementary schools. No county school won a platinum award for highest performance.
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