Nine Central Georgia schools are back on track after being removed from the Department of Education's Priority or Focus Schools lists. Those are struggling schools that need additional help from the state. Madison Cavalchire has more from Miller Elementary School in Warner Robins to explain how they are taking some big steps forward.
Miller Elementary School Principal Elizabeth Johnson says the last two years have been like working out an equation.
When the school was put on the Georgia Department of Education's Focus list in 2015, Johnson says Miller Elementary added new programs that led to multiplied success.
"The Focus list is the 10 percent of the lowest performing schools in the state of Georgia that were not able to close the achievement gap," Johnson said.
The achievement gap is based on Georgia Milestones end of grade test scores. Johnson says the gap between the lowest and highest performing students at Miller was growing -- putting them on the Focus list.
But thanks to mentoring and tutoring programs, and intervention teachers, she says that gap is now closing.
"Literacy was our focus, and our goal was to work really hard to make sure all of our students were reading on grade level," Johnson said.
That's where early intervention prevention reading teacher Ashley Casson comes in:
"Reading is a very important part of the educational process," Casson said. "If a child can't read and doesn't have that reading foundation, then he or she will be set up to struggle throughout school."
She says it took both motivated students and teachers to close the achievement gap and get off the Focus list.
"I've seen our teachers really go above and beyond to strive to try new instructional strategies and methods to meet whatever the students need and whatever reaches them," Casson said.
Huntington Middle and Pearl Stephens Elementary are the only two Houston County schools that remain on the state's Focus list.