CCSD Tops Metro Atlanta on 2015 Georgia Milestones End of Course Tests

CCSD Tops Metro Atlanta on 2015 Georgia Milestones End of Course Tests

Category : CCSD

Cherokee County School District students not only exceeded State passage rates on the new, more challenging Georgia Milestones statewide exams, but its middle and high school students also topped their Metro Atlanta peers in a majority of subjects.

Georgia Milestones, which assesses the mastery of Georgia Performance Standards and replaces the State’s previous testing system, includes End of Grade tests for Grades 3-8 and End of Course tests for middle and high school students taking specific classes for high school credit. Results are reported as percentages of students who are Beginning, Developing, Proficient or Distinguished Learners and include English Language Learners and students who receive Special Education services.

On the End of Course tests, CCSD middle and high school students, in addition to exceeding State passage rates (Developing to Distinguished Learners) on every test, also lead all Metro Atlanta county school systems in six of the eight subjects: American Literature and Composition, Biology, Coordinate Algebra, Economics, Ninth Grade Literature and Composition and U.S. History (tied with Cobb County).

Middle school students in CCSD who meet eligibility requirements have the opportunity to take two of these classes to earn high school credit: Coordinate Algebra and Physical Science; and these students performed extremely well… even when compared to high school students in Metro Atlanta and statewide.

“These results continue to show our community that we provide an outstanding public education to each child in Cherokee County, and one of the best available not only in Georgia, but also in Metro Atlanta and its most competitive school districts,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Frank R. Petruzielo said. “As families relocating to Metro Atlanta decide where to call home, those choosing Cherokee will find an outstanding public school no matter the zip code they choose.”

To view test result percentages, please see CCSD 2015 Georgia Milestones – Metro Atlanta End of Course Tests (PDF) and CCSD 2015 Georgia Milestones – Middle Schools End of Course Tests (PDF).


CCSD Students Exceed State Averages on 2015 Georgia Milestones Tests

Cherokee County School District students exceeded State averages on the 2015 Georgia Milestones End-of-Grade and End-of-Course tests… the first year that new, more challenging State exams were administered.

The tests, which are used to assess the mastery of Georgia Performance Standards, will be administered every spring in Grades 3-8 in the subjects of English Language Arts, Mathematics, Science and Social Studies and for middle and high school students taking courses for high school credit.

Milestones exams include open-ended questions to better assess students’ content mastery; and, with some exceptions for special education students with specific testing accommodations, the tests will be administered entirely online to students statewide within five years. CCSD already met the State’s five-year goal in this first round of tests for all students except those taking the third-grade English Language Arts test, which will be added to our online system this spring.

While Milestones’ Achievement Levels are reported as percentages of students who are Beginning, Developing, Proficient or Distinguished Learners, it should be noted that these percentages include English Language Learners and students who receive Special Education services. Also, these percentages cannot be compared to results for the Georgia Criterion Referenced Competency Tests (GCRCTs) that were administered in past years, due to significant differences in the exams and student performance expectations.

  • For third-grade, the percentage of CCSD students achieving Developing to Distinguished scores was: 75% for English Language Arts (as compared to 66% for Georgia), 83% for Math (79% Georgia), 81% for Science (75% Georgia) and 78% for Social Studies (74% Georgia).
  • For fifth-grade, the percentage of CCSD students achieving Developing to Distinguished scores was: 79% for English Language Arts (73% Georgia), 84% for Math (74% Georgia), 77% for Science (70% Georgia) and 80% for Social Studies (75% Georgia).
  • For eighth-grade, the percentage of CCSD students achieving Developing to Distinguished scores was: 86% for English Language Arts (76% Georgia), 86% for Math (75% Georgia), 74% for Science (62% Georgia) and 81% for Social Studies (71% Georgia).
  • For high school credit courses, the percentage of CCSD students achieving Developing to Distinguished scores was: 89% for 9th Grade Literature and Composition (76% Georgia), 89% for American Literature and Composition (76% for Georgia), 86% for Coordinate Algebra (69% Georgia), 81% for Analytic Geometry (65% Georgia), 79% for Biology (63% Georgia), 76% for Physical Science (65% Georgia), 86% for U.S. History (74% Georgia) and 81% for Economics (69%).

The State also compared select Milestones responses to the performance of students Nationwide; and CCSD students scored on average exceptionally well in comparison.

The Milestones results, which parents will receive for their own child next month, also include an assessment as to whether a child is reading at grade level. For third-grade, the percentages of CCSD students reading on or above grade level was: 77% (69% Georgia); fifth-grade, 75% (66% Georgia); and eighth-grade, 85% (71% Georgia).

Leadership teams at both District and school levels will closely review these scores to determine needed adjustments in teaching and learning, as well as in strategic planning tools (such as School Improvement Plans), to ensure that students are mastering Georgia Performance Standards. Just as with the GCRCT, Milestones End-of-Grade scores, beginning with the 2015-16 administration, will help teachers and administrators determine if students are ready to be promoted to the next grade. Additionally, results from this administration will be counted toward calculation of CCSD’s College and Career Ready Performance Index (CCRPI) scores, which comprise the State’s new accountability system.

“We commend our students, teachers and administrators for their performance on these new tests, which required everyone involved to increase their efforts to achieve success,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Frank R. Petruzielo said. “Teaching and learning is our primary mission; and we are committed to ensuring that each child learns the knowledge necessary for success in their next step… whether that be the next grade in school, enrolling in college or launching their career!”

For further information, please see the CCSD Milestones Results 2015 memo issued by Dr. Frank R. Petruzielo, Superintendent of Schools.


CCSD to Test School Messenger Notification System Friday, Nov. 20, 2015

Category : CCSD

CCSD will be testing its School Messenger notification system Friday afternoon, Nov. 20, 2015, so parents should expect a text, email or phone call. If parents do not receive a communication by 8 pm Friday evening, they are asked to please check their contact information in the Aspen Parent Portal to be sure it is updated to reflect any changes.

CCSD uses the School Messenger system to send important timely information to parents, such as school closings and other important communications. CCSD will continue its practice of posting important information on its website and through social media; School Messenger is an enhancement of our communication system.

If parents have not signed up for Aspen Parent Portal access for their child, please contact the school front office after Thanksgiving Break to obtain a username and password.


Cherokee County Educational Foundation Accepting Nominations for CCSD Alumni of the Year Awards

Category : CCSD

The Cherokee County Educational Foundation (CCEF) is now accepting nominations for its second annual Alumni of the Year Awards.

The Foundation, which is dedicated to raising awareness and funds for the Cherokee County School District, presented the first-ever Alumni of the Year Awards at its inaugural “Celebration of Education” Gala in March. The Alumni of the Year Award was created by CCEF to honor at least one Cherokee County School District high school alumnus and one alumna each year for outstanding professional and civic contributions.

The inaugural Alumni of the Year Award recipients were Judge Marion T. Pope Jr., who served as Chief Judge of the Georgia Court of Appeals, Blue Ridge Judicial Circuit Superior Court Judge and as a member of the House of Representatives among many other accomplishments; and Janice Prather, a lifetime educator whose career included serving as an Assistant Superintendent and Principal for the School District among other roles and is the immediate past president of the Retired Educators Association.

For the 2016 and subsequent Alumni of the Year Award presentations, the Foundation Board will accept nominations from the community. The CCEF Alumni of the Year Nomination Form and supplementary materials must be post marked by Jan. 11, 2016. Nominations may be emailed to cceducationalfoundation@gmail.com or mailed to CCEF, PO Box 4754, Canton, Ga. 30114.


CCSD “Child Find” Program Determines Special Education Eligibility

Category : CCSD

The purpose of Child Find is to identify, locate, and evaluate children and youth, who are suspected of having or have a diagnosed disability or developmental delay, in order to provide free appropriate Special Education services.

The Cherokee County School District serves children from three years through 21 years of age. How can children be referred? The referral process must be initiated by the parent. Please direct the parents of children suspected of having a disability to CCSD at (770) 479-1784.

When should a child be referred to Child Find? A child should be referred when:

  • A health or medical disorder interferes with development and or learning
  • A child seems to have difficulty seeing or hearing
  • A child appears to have social, emotional or behavioral difficulties that affect his/her ability to learn
  • A child has a diagnosed progressive or degenerative condition that will eventually impair or impede the child’s ability to learn
  • A child seems to have difficulty understanding directions like others that are his/her age
  • A child’s speech is not understandable to family or friends
  • A child has difficulty with reading, math, or other school subjects

What is Special Education and who is eligible for services? Special Education is instruction designed to meet the unique learning strengths and needs of individual students with disabilities from ages 3 through 21. A child must be evaluated and identified as having a disability to be eligible for Special Education and/or related services. Disability categories are: speech/language impairment, specific learning disability, traumatic brain injury, mental retardation, emotional disturbance, visual impairment, hearing impairment, orthopedic impairments, autism spectrum disorders, and other health impairments.

Where can I find out more about Child Find? Call CCSD at (770) 704-4315 for additional information.

Please feel free to distribute this CCSD Child Find flyer (PDF).


Cherokee County School District Graduation Rate Increases, Continues to Top State Average

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Category : CCSD

The Cherokee County School District’s four-year graduation rate increased for the Class of 2015 and continues to exceed State averages.

The School District’s four-year graduation rate of 86% for 2015, up from 82% for 2014, made it the third-highest ranked metro Atlanta county school system, according to data released today by the Georgia Department of Education. This rate also exceeds the State four-year rate of 79%.

In addition to CCSD’s four-year graduation rate increasing by four points, each of our high schools saw gains: Cherokee HS up to 77% from 72%, Creekview HS up to 91% from 89%, Etowah HS up to 89.5% from 83%, River Ridge HS up to 92% from 91%, Sequoyah HS up to 89% from 87% and Woodstock HS up to 83% from 81%.

“While we are proud of this improvement, we also remain committed to the students not included in this total… as it’s important to note that the inverse of these rates is not a ‘dropout’ rate,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Frank R. Petruzielo said.

This is the fifth year the Georgia DOE has used a more challenging cohort formula that does not include students who take more than four years to graduate. “Many of our most challenged students are not counted in this total… such as those delayed by serious illness or the need to work to support their family, those pursuing a GED and those who earn a Special Education diploma.”

The increase in the CCSD and individual school graduation rates shows further evidence as to why CCSD’s local programs are vital to ensuring on-time graduation, Dr. Petruzielo said, noting that these programs include, but are not limited to: ACE Academy, Polaris Evening School, online C3 Academy and credit recovery courses, the District-wide Graduation Coach and the CHOICES special education program, “which has expanded to a second high school this school year, with plans for further expansion next semester,” Dr. Petruzielo said.

If the Governor and State Legislators agreed to provide necessary funding in this regard, Dr. Petruzielo said he would recommend offering a comprehensive summer school program for all interested students . . . to further increase the graduation rate and to enhance the focus on mastery of student performance standards, rather than the current focus on timing (i.e., graduation in no more than four 10-month years of instruction).

The School District also will continue to share “best practices” among high school Principals and counselors, as the graduation rate is an important component of School Improvement Plans and Innovation Zone initiatives.

“Graduation is the capstone for a lifetime of hard work by students, with the strong support of parents, grandparents, teachers, counselors, administrators, support staff, business partners and volunteers, who together ensure that each our community’s children is ready for a bright and successful future!” Dr. Petruzielo said.


CCSD Announces 2015-16 High School Winter Sports Athletic Events

Category : CCSD

Please see the PDF link below for a complete listing of Cherokee County School District 2015-16 High School Winter Sports Athletic Events. Mark your calendar so you can cheer on our outstanding student-athletes! Times and dates are subject to change due to inclement weather.

CCSD Winter Sports Schedule 2015-16


Board Briefs: School Board Unanimously Approves 2016 Legislative Program

The School Board on Thursday, Nov. 5, 2015, approved its 2016 Legislative Program, which is published annually to inform the community as to how the Cherokee County State Legislative Delegation could better assist the Cherokee County School District.

The 2016 Legislative priorities outlined in the Program, which was unanimously approved by the School Board, ask the State Legislature to:

  • Fund the existing State educational funding formula to fully restore “austerity budget cuts”;
  • Address skyrocketing premiums and out-out-pocket expenses for participation in the State Health Benefit Program;
  • Support local control and management of public schools rather than supporting State takeover plans like the Governor’s proposed “Opportunity School District” Constitutional Amendment;
  • Correct evaluation models for teachers and administrators to allow greater emphasis on observation of their performance by trained administrators and supervisors;
  • Stop the erosion of the State’s tax base through tax exemptions for private companies;
  • Oppose the continuation and/or expansion of programs that use public funds to pay for private school tuition and/or provide tax incentives; and,
  • Undertake no modifications to Federal funding access and availability that would delay or reduce local school districts’ earned allocations.

School Board Member Clark Menard thanked the Superintendent and his staff for adding the last priority, which he had requested. Mr. Menard said he is frustrated by State Legislators’ proposals to take away the local control of a school board’s ability to accept Federal funds for such needs as Title I schools, which have higher percentages of low-income students, and outstanding teachers who qualify for grants.

“There’s nothing more local than a school board,” Mr. Menard said, as to who should make the decision whether to accept Federal funds.

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Frank R. Petruzielo agreed, and also spoke to the recently unveiled proposals from the Governor-appointed Education Reform Commission that would continue to shortchange public schools the State funding they are owed through the existing funding formula by reconfiguring the formula with a lower starting point.

“It’s convenient to say ‘we’re going to fully fund a new formula,’ but to not start it out at the funding levels we’re currently owed,” Dr. Petruzielo said, noting the State “austerity budget cut” for CCSD currently totals $11 Million. “I think it’s irresponsible, and the quality of education is going to be in direct correlation with the lack of full funding. People like to say ‘You can’t fix a problem by throwing money at it,” but I’m here to say that I’ve been a superintendent for 25 years, and I don’t remember anyone ever throwing money at me. I’ve had to fight and claw for every dollar that our children were owed.”

Dr. Petruzielo’s passionate advocacy for public education resulted in a special moment at Thursday’s meeting when two Woodstock High School students, Brittany and Sydney Gunter, spoke during Public Participation to thank him for his 50 years of service as an educator and present him with a U.S. Flag flown over the U.S. Capitol.

Woodstock High School students Sydney, left, and Brittany Gunter present Superintendent of Schools Dr. Frank R. Petruzielo with a U.S. flag flown over the U.S. Capitol in appreciation of his 50 years of service as an educator and his advocacy for public education.

Woodstock High School students Sydney, left, and Brittany Gunter present Superintendent of Schools Dr. Frank R. Petruzielo with a U.S. flag flown over the U.S. Capitol in appreciation of his 50 years of service as an educator and his advocacy for public education.

During its regular meeting, the School Board also:

  • Recognized CCSD Transportation Department for earning ASE Blue Seal of Excellence… becoming one of the first school systems in the State to obtain this prestigious level of National certification. A list of all recognized employees is posted online;

    The CCSD Transportation Department was recognized at the School Board Meeting for earning ASE Blue Seal of Excellence… becoming one of the first school systems in the State to obtain this prestigious level of National certification.

    The CCSD Transportation Department was recognized at the School Board Meeting for earning ASE Blue Seal of Excellence… becoming one of the first school systems in the State to obtain this prestigious level of National certification.

  • Recognized CCSD High School Seniors named 2016 National Merit and National Achievement Semi-Finalists: Matthew Wang of River Ridge HS, Mackenzie Joy of Sequoyah HS and Paula Ruiz of Woodstock HS;
  • Recognized Georgia School Public Relations Association (GSPRA) Publication Award-winning CCSD staff members;
  • Presented a “trailer” with excerpts from the first “Learning from Legends: Retired Educators Share Their Wisdom” video record, a new collaboration between CCSD and the Cherokee Retired Educators Association inspired by the StoryCorps national oral history project and the annual observance of Retired Educators Day;
  • Approved monthly financial reports;
  • Approved out-of-state and overnight student field trips;
  • Approved monthly update on capital outlay projects;
  • Approved monthly personnel recommendations including appointing: Abbey Philpot, currently an assistant principal at Hasty ES Fine Arts Academy, as the new Principal of Clayton ES; Jennifer McIntosh, currently a teacher at Clark Creek ES STEM Academy, as a new assistant principal at Hasty ES Fine Arts Academy; and Dr. Susan McQuade, a teacher at Boston ES, as a new assistant principal at Macedonia ES; and,
  • Met in Executive Session to review a personnel matter and a student discipline matter; upon returning to open session, the Board voted to uphold the tribunal’s decision in regard to the student discipline matter. Next School Board meeting: 7 p.m. Dec. 3, 2015

Nest School Board meeting: 7 p.m. December 3, 2015


Jeremy Law of Teasley MS Named CCSD Teacher of the Year!

Category : CCSD

Hope is more than a word for Jeremy Law.

It’s the force that pushes him out of bed early in the morning and carries him through long days as a special education teacher at Teasley Middle School.

It’s the light he sees in students’ eyes when they understand not only a lesson, but also that he believes in them… especially those students who feel no one does.

It’s the strength that fills his heart when the Sequoyah High School football players he coaches need encouragement to overcome challenges on and off the field.

And it’s so much more for the man who on Thursday, Nov. 5, 2015 was named the Cherokee County School District’s Teacher of the Year.

It’s his mission. It’s his calling. It’s his life.

“Due to circumstances beyond their control, many students enter our classrooms each day without hope,” Coach Law said. “In spite of the grim situations some of our students are surrounded by, we must make an effort to go above and beyond our normal teaching duties to give our students hope. We must help them see a reason to live. We must help them see a reason for tomorrow.”

Principal Dr. Susan Zinkil testified to the impact his hope has on students by sharing the story of one, who years after being in his class recently reached out to Coach Law for support. The student’s mother later told Principal Zinkil that Coach Law’s words saved her daughter’s life.

“These are the students he was born to teach,” Dr. Zinkil said.

The CCSD Teacher of the Year is selected by a panel of community leaders, who evaluate applications from each school’s Teacher of the Year. The school winners are selected by their peers. Coach Law will be honored in December at CCSD’s annual Teacher of the Year Banquet sponsored by Northside Hospital-Cherokee and Credit Union of Georgia. He also will serve as CCSD’s nominee for 2017 Georgia Teacher of the Year; the winner will be named in the spring.

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Frank R. Petruzielo, who made the surprise presentation to Coach Law on Thursday, praised his service above self and compassion for every child.

“He is deeply committed to giving his students hope no matter where they are,” Dr. Petruzielo said. “If you can give children hope for the present and the future, everything else will fall into place.”

An Etowah High School graduate, Coach Law earned a bachelor’s degree in business and pursued a career in banking, but felt called to make a difference in the lives of young people. He remembered his teachers who showed they loved and believed in him, and hope filled his heart again. His new path, Coach Law decided, would be to serve youth as a teacher and football coach.

Coach Law is in his sixth year teaching at Teasley Middle School, where he teaches special education students in resource and general education classes, and at a Sequoyah High School, where he coaches football. He has earned a master’s degree in special education and a specialist degree in curriculum and instruction, as well as the respect from his peers, who now call upon him to mentor new teachers.

“Knowing that I have the opportunity to make an eternal impact on a kid’s life thrills me each day,” Coach Law said. “It’s easy to get out of bed each morning knowing that you have the chance to give a child hope through education.”

In addition to his service in the classroom and on the field, Coach Law also serves the community through his church, First Baptist Woodstock, and as a volunteer at Goshen Valley Boys Ranch.

“He treats all children, despite their circumstance, with dignity and honor encouraging each of them to excel and succeed,” Zach Blend, executive director of the Goshen Valley Foundation, said.

Coach Law, upon being surprised with the District-wide honor on Thursday, said he was humbled to even have been named a finalist for his school’s title.

“We share the same heart,” he said of his colleagues at Teasley Middle. “We’ve got a school full of teachers who want to serve the community.”

Eduardo Carreno, a seventh-grader who sees how Coach Law works with special education students, described him as having “a soft spot for every kid.”

“He pushes us to do out work and doesn’t let us fail,” Eduardo said.

This care, Dr. Petruzielo said, should fill every person in our community with hope, too.

“Teachers like Coach Law are the heroes of our country and certainly our community,” he said.