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CCSD Superintendent Dr. Demond Means issues statement


Athens, GA (October 31, 2018) -- The Clarke County School District announced today that Gaines Elementary School has been identified as one of 104 Georgia schools on the state’s Turnaround Eligible Schools List. As a result, Georgia Chief Turnaround Officer Dr. Eric Thomas will take the next few months to determine which of the schools on the list will be targeted for state intervention efforts.


In response, CCSD Superintendent Dr. Demond Means has issued the following statement:


“This is a difficult day for Gaines Elementary School and the entire Clarke County School District community.  The Governor’s Office of Student Achievement has calculated the annual Turnaround Eligible School list to meet the requirements of O.C.G.A. § 20-14-45. This year’s list includes all schools with a three-year CCRPI average of 55.3 and below. Gaines Elementary School has received an average score of 55.3 over a three-year period on the College and Career Ready Performance Index (CCRPI).


Let me be very clear: this issue is not about a lack of effort on the part of our teachers and staff. We know that the teachers and staff at Gaines Elementary School work extremely hard every day to improve the academic and social-emotional health and learning of our students. Instead, it reflects a need for the school district, at a systems level, to make the changes necessary to improve learning outcomes for all students. These efforts have already begun in earnest and extend throughout all CCSD schools.


We must face facts. The low three-year CCRPI at Gaines means that the dreams of hundreds of children have potentially been deferred because they have not yet mastered the skills needed to support academic success. This is not an either/or situation. We must invest more in social services and community school assistance, and double down on improving instruction at the school. We must do everything we can to support the children of Gaines Elementary School.


It is true that the CCRPI changed this past school year, and that Gaines has been named a ‘Beating the Odds’ school in each of the past two years as its academic progress surpassed that of similar schools. I have serious concerns about the metrics being used to evaluate schools like Gaines. As such, the district is prepared to collaborate with state officials to ensure the identification of schools on the list is supported through the use of reliable data.


But these are issues that can be discussed another day with state legislators, officials from the Governor's Office of Student Achievement and the Chief Turnaround Officer. Now is the time for the district to be introspective and realize that the first charge of the professionals in our organization is to serve the academic, emotional and social needs of our students.


We clearly have work to do. And, I must point out that these issues reach beyond Gaines Elementary School alone. CCSD has three additional schools within 4.7 points of also being identified on the Turnaround Eligible Schools List. In short, the entire district must take this time to reflect on the systems we are implementing and ensure we are serving the needs of all our students.


Current efforts to expand Community School services and potential partnerships with the University of Virginia School Turnaround Program are examples of how the district continues to take action toward addressing these issues. We will continue to be vigilant in implementing instructional reforms and social services to improve the performance and well-being of all our students.”


For more information about Clarke County School District, please contact Mary Wickwire at 706-546-7721 or