CCSD Makes AP Honor Roll for Fourth Consecutive Year as Students Continued to Exceed National Average

CCSD Makes AP Honor Roll for Fourth Consecutive Year as Students Continued to Exceed National Average

Cherokee County School District high school students not only continue to beat State and National averages on college-level Advance Placement (AP) exams, but CCSD also has earned national recognition for its AP achievement for the fourth consecutive year!

The School District is one of only 10 school districts in Georgia named to the College Board’s elite AP Honor Roll for 2016, and this was CCSD’s fourth consecutive year to earn the prestigious distinction.  With a passage rate of 70% among the 4,784 tests administered in the spring of 2016, CCSD exceeds the State average of 58% and the National average of 57%.

“Preparing students for college and career is our primary mission, and this recognition affirms that we’re delivering on that promise,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower said.  “I’m especially pleased to see both the number of courses offered and the number of students participating increase, as research shows the significant positive impact this rigor has on students’ future success.”

The AP program has grown significantly in CCSD, with AP courses and exams currently offered in 30 subjects… up from 26 last year.  The number of exams taken by CCSD students increased by 16% from 2015, and has risen by more than 80% in the last five years.

The AP Program allows high school students who score a 3, 4 or 5 on an AP exam to earn college credit in high school and, subsequently, to exempt those courses in college.  Studies show that students who participate in AP courses are more likely to earn higher scores on the SAT and ACT and to complete their college education…. AP exams were administered to 22% of all CCSD high school students in 2016. Passage of AP exams places students at an academic and financial advantage, studies show, as they can both begin classes in their major sooner and avoid tuition costs for exempted courses.

Selection for the 7th Annual AP District Honor Roll is based on the examination of three years of AP data (from 2014 to 2016).  To qualify for the elite list, school districts must:

  • Increase participation/access to AP by at least 4 percent in large districts, at least 6 percent in medium districts, and at least 11 percent in small districts;
  • Increase or maintain the percentage of exams passed by black/African American, Hispanic/Latino, and American Indian/Alaska Native students; and
  • Improve or maintain performance levels when comparing the 2016 percentage of students scoring a 3 or higher to the 2014 percentage, unless the district has already attained a performance level at which more than 70 percent of its AP students are scoring a 3 or higher.

All of CCSD’s high schools additionally have been named Georgia AP STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) or AP STEM Achievement High Schools in recognition of outstanding student passage and participation levels and the variety of course offerings.

Principals annually review these scores with teachers, department heads and Data Management Teams to evaluate improvement strategies, including use of College Board preparatory materials and sharing best practices among teachers.

“Continuous improvement is more than a catch-phrase for us — it’s what we do, and new initiatives like our Instructional Framework standards for teaching and assessment will only further enhance our ability to build on successes like this,” Dr. Hightower said.  “I’m so proud of the team effort that makes such achievements possible, from the students and teachers in the classroom to the vast support network of staff, volunteers, partners and parents.  Congratulations to you all!”

Four CCSD Schools Honored by Gov. Deal for Outstanding Academic Performance

Four Cherokee County School District schools have been honored by Gov. Nathan Deal for outstanding academic performance!

E.T. Booth Middle, Woodstock Middle and Sequoyah High all have received Silver Awards for “Greatest Gains,” while Bascomb Elementary received a Bronze Award for “Highest Performing.”

“I congratulate all of the students, teachers and administrators in Georgia’s award-winning schools who worked tirelessly toward these accomplishments,” Gov. Deal said.  “The bright minds of Georgia’s students are the state’s most precious resource and I commend the schools that are exceeding expectations in preparing their students for future success.”

To earn “Greatest Gains” awards, schools must earn a three-year average CCRPI (College and Career Ready Performance Index) Progress Score that ranks in at least the 93rd percentile.  Only 139 schools in the State received a “Greatest Gains” award.

To earn “Highest Performing” awards, schools must earn a three-year average CCRPI Achievement Score in at least the 93rd percentile.  Only 130 schools in the State received a “Greatest Gains” award.

Winners receive a certificate to display at their school.  Sequoyah High and Woodstock Middle also were recognized last school year.

“We’re very proud of this accomplishment,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower said.  “These honors are the result of hard work happening in our schools on a daily basis.  These four schools, like many throughout our School District, are making continuous, significant gains in academic achievement, and the students, teachers and staff, parents and partners deserve a huge congratulations.”

Five More CCSD Schools Earn National Recognition for Digital Education

Five more Cherokee County School District schools have earned national recognition for digital education initiatives!

Ball Ground Elementary School STEM Academy, Holly Springs Elementary School STEM Academy, Knox Elementary School, Mountain Road Elementary School and Teasley Middle School all have been named Common Sense Certified Schools for Digital Citizenship by Common Sense, a national nonprofit organization dedicated “to helping kids and families thrive in a world of digital media and technology.”

The schools earned the recognition by “taking a whole-community approach” to preparing students to use digital media safely by avoiding dangers such as plagiarism, loss of privacy and cyberbullying.

“We applaud the faculty and staff of these schools for embracing digital citizenship as an important part of their students’ education,” said Jessica Lindl, Head of Common Sense Education. “These schools all deserve high praise for giving their students the foundational skills they need to compete and succeed in the 21st-century workplace and participate ethically in society at large.”

In addition to certifying both schools as a whole, Common Sense also announced that Ball Ground ES STEM Academy Media Specialist Hollen Pope, who coordinated her school’s certification process, has been certified individually as a Common Sense Digital Citizenship Certified Educator, as has Holly Springs ES STEM Academy Media Specialist Stephanie Gauthia, who coordinated her school’s certification; Knox ES Media Specialist Leslie Hicks, who coordinated her school’s certification; Mountain Road ES teachers Alexis Basel, Kristin Day, Kelly Gilstrap and Frank Graham; and Teasley MS teacher Lee Banks, who coordinated her school’s certification.  Mountain Road ES Media Specialist, Shelley Sheldon, who coordinated her school’s certification process, was awarded individual certification last month.  Both schools and these educators will be recognized for the accomplishments by the School Board and Superintendent of Schools at the School Board meeting on Jan. 19.

Common Sense Education’s digital citizenship resources were created in collaboration with Dr. Howard Gardner of the GoodPlay Project at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.  The free resources teach students, educators and parents skills related to Internet safety, protecting online reputations and personal privacy, managing online relationships and respecting creative copyright.

Johnston Elementary School in 2016 became the first CCSD school to earn the certification.

Hollen Pope

Leslie Hicks

Frank Graham

Alexis Basel

Kelly Gilstrap

Kristin Day

Stephanie Gauthia

Lee Banks

Shelley Sheldon


Two CCSD Seniors Named 2016-2017 Coca-Cola Scholars Program Semi-Finalists

Category : CCSD

A.J. Cox

Two Cherokee County School District high school seniors have been named semi-finalists for a prestigious national scholarship!

Isabelle Riddle of Sequoyah High School and A.J. Cox of Woodstock High School are 2016-17 Coca-Cola Scholars Program semi-finalists.  Only 1,914 students were selected from 86,000 applications nationwide.

Semi-finalists were selected based on their outstanding leadership, a

Isabelle Riddle

cademic achievements, and dedication to their community.

Detailed applications submitted by semi-finalists will be evaluated by a review committee this month to determine finalists.  The Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation will award 150 college scholarships worth $20,000 each.

The Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation, a joint effort of Coca-Cola Bottlers across America and The Coca Cola Company, is one of the largest corporate-sponsored, achievement-based scholarship programs of its kind in the United States.

“As a premier scholarship provider, we recognize our role in helping young people achieve their college goals,” said Mark Davis, President of the Foundation. “The economy continues to affect many students’ ability to attend the college of their choice, so it is critical we continue to stay the course.  The Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation received nearly 86,000 applications this year, and the Semifinalists are truly some of the most accomplished students in the country.”

Three CCSD High School Seniors Named National Hispanic Scholars

Three Cherokee County School District high school seniors have earned National recognition for outstanding test scores and academic performance!

Julia Kochansky of Cherokee High School, Kelly Hart of Creekview High School and Anabelle Paulino of River Ridge High School all have been named National Hispanic Scholars by the College Board.

Julia Kochansky

The National Hispanic Recognition Program recognizes only the top 2% of the more than 250,000 Hispanic/Latino juniors who take the Practice SAT nationwide.

To be eligible, students, as juniors, must earn qualifying high scores on the Practice SAT, as well as a cumulative GPA of at least 3.5 and have at least one-quarter Hispanic/Latino ethnic

Kelly Hart

heritage.  This ancestry can be from any of the following countries: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Puerto Rico, Spain, Uruguay, or Venezuela.

Anabelle Paulino


CCSD Exceeds State College & Career Readiness Average, Increases Score

CCSD CCRPI 2015-16 Scores

The Cherokee County School District for the fifth consecutive year has exceeded the State’s average score under the College and Career Ready Performance Index (CCRPI) system that annually assesses student academic achievement and progress… and increased its average score by more than 3 points!

The School District’s average CCRPI score for 2015-16 released today by the Georgia Department of Education is 81.6, up from 78.2 the previous year, and exceeding the Georgia average of 73.6.  Averages at all three levels of CCSD schools – elementary, middle and high – increased; no schools scored below 64.

Individual pieces of data used to formulate CCRPI, such as Georgia Milestones assessment results and graduation rates, are analyzed by school and CCSD data management and leadership teams upon receipt throughout the year.  As a result, CCSD’s efforts to track college and career readiness and address school performance issues are not halted while waiting for the State to calculate a score based on these metrics.

Additionally, School Board Policy provides for an administrative team to intervene whenever the Superintendent of Schools determines action is needed.  The process, which has been utilized three times in recent years, sends a team of CCSD leaders to the school for a thorough operational review with specific recommendations issued for changes.

Annual CCRPI scores do serve a purpose for CCSD: the 2014-15 CCRPI scores were designated by the School Board as the benchmark for achievement for our Strategic Waiver System reform model; we now are working to improve annually on those benchmark scores… which these new results illustrate is being accomplished.

“We applaud the hard work underway by students, teachers and staff in schools across CCSD to ensure that every student is as successful as possible, which we know also requires the support of parents, families, volunteers and partners,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower said.  “Thank you to everyone who plays a role in preparing our future generation for college and career readiness… together we’re successfully ‘Educating the Emerging Generation!’

2015   CCRPI 2016   CCRPI
Arnold Mill 76.2 77.5
Avery 80.3 87.1
Ball Ground 68.9 75.7
Bascomb 87.8 93.1
Boston 84.8 81.7
Canton 60.0 68.7
Carmel 75.0 83.1
Clark Creek 75.7 78.5
Clayton 75.6 75.9
Free Home 84.9 76.6
Hasty 62.4 64.5
Hickory Flat 82.6 88.4
Holly Springs 56.9 68.6
Indian Knoll 72.4 78.8
Johnston 81.3 80.0
Knox 68.5 78.3
Liberty 72.1 81.3
Little River 76.2 73.9
Macedonia 86.9 88.6
Mountain Road 69.5 83.3
Oak Grove 65.6 76.7
R.M. Moore 69.1 84.5
Sixes 80.0 83.3
Woodstock 75.1 77.4
STATE MS AVG 71.2   71.5
CCSD MS AVG 77.6 81.3
Creekland 78.9 84.4
E.T. Booth 84.3 86.4
Dean Rusk 78.7 82.1
Freedom 84.5 80.6
Mill Creek 74.8 78.6
Teasley 63.7 74.3
Woodstock 82.4 85.3
STATE HS AVG 75.8 75.7
CCSD HS AVG 83.0 85.6
Cherokee 79.7 71.8
Creekview 82.9 88.7
Etowah 88.0 85.1
River Ridge 83.1 89.5
Sequoyah 84.7 90.4
Woodstock 83.8 90.2
STATE AVG 75.5 73.6
CCSD AVG 78.2 81.6


CCSD Educator Wins Georgia Education Technology Innovation Grant!

A Cherokee County School District educator has won a 2016 Georgia Education Technology Innovation Grant from the Georgia Educational Technology Consortium!

Clark Creek Elementary School STEM Academy media specialist Madeline Hall is one of only four winners to earn the $2,500 grant.


Madeline Hall

The grant will benefit the SMArTE (science, math, art, technology, and engineering) Space Ms. Hall created in the media center.  The project provides design process opportunities for students in all grades to use creativity and inventive thinking to build prototypes, explore questions, experience failure and successes and bounce  ideas off each other.  Ms. Hall works with classroom teachers to align SMArTE Space activities with curriculum and standards.

The Georgia Educational Technology Consortium is an independent nonprofit organization that also sponsors the annual Georgia Educational Technology Conference for educators and the Technology Fair student competition.


CCSD to Host Parent Input Meetings on “Instructional Framework”

The Cherokee County School District is currently developing a comprehensive, consistent and systemic “Instructional Framework” plan for teaching and learning that is focused on establishing consistent, research-based expectations for teaching and learning, identifying the most effective instructional and assessment strategies to increase student achievement, as well as to support and sustain teacher effectiveness in the classroom.

The draft document can be reviewed here:  draft-instructional-framework

Opportunities for feedback on the “Instructional Framework” draft document  from CCSD’s parents and stakeholders have been scheduled for each CCSD Innovation Zone.  Parents and stakeholders are invited to attend any of the sessions listed below:

Instructional Framework Stakeholder Feedback Zone Meetings

Discussion/Feedback Facilitated by Susan McCarthy & Keith Bryant

Date Zone Location Time
Monday, October 10, 2016 Etowah Zone

Kathleen Chandler

(EIZ Lead Principal/host)

Etowah HS


6:00 p.m.
Monday, October 17, 2016 Woodstock Zone

Mark Smith

(WIZ Lead Principal/host)

Woodstock HS


6:00 p.m.
Tuesday, October 18, 2016 Cherokee Zone

Dr. Susan Zinkil (host)

(CIZ Lead Principal/host)

Cherokee HS


7:00 p.m.
Thursday, October 20, 2016 River Ridge Zone

Dr. Kerry Martin

(RRIZ Lead Principal/host)

River Ridge HS


6:00 p.m.
Monday, October 24, 2016 Sequoyah Zone

Dr. Ann Gazell

(SIZ Lead Principal/host)


Dean Rusk MS


6:30 p.m.
Wednesday, October 26, 2016 Creekview Zone

Karen Carl

(CIZ Lead Principal/host)

Creekview HS


6:00 p.m.

CCSD Earns Highest SAT Scores in Metro Atlanta, No. 3 in State!

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Category : CCSD

Snapshot: CCSD 2016 ACT and SAT Results

The Cherokee County School District, which earned the highest average among metropolitan Atlanta districts, increased its score by 17 points and ranked in the top 3 school districts in Georgia for average SAT scores.

The School District’s Class of 2016 earned an average total score of 1577, up from 1560 last school year, which is the 3rd-highest score out of 180 school systems in the State of Georgia, according to data released today by the College Board.

The School District’s Class of 2016 graduates exceeded the National average by 93 points and the State average by 118 points on the curriculum-based, college entrance and placement exam, which is the most commonly recognized measure of achievement for high school students.

All CCSD high schools, with 54% (1,412 students) of the Class of 2016 participating, scored above the National average and ranked in the top 10% in Georgia on the test, which measures critical reading, mathematics and writing abilities that are related to successful performance in college.

The School District’s average total score increased, and CCSD also earned the second-highest average Writing score, third-highest average Mathematics score and fourth-highest average Critical Reading score in the State.

As different groups of students are being tested, annual fluctuation in scores is anticipated; but CCSD continues to show consistent, extraordinary performance when compared at the National and State levels.

CCSD Principals will analyze individual scores with their Leadership and Data Management Teams to review instruction and curriculum practices, evaluate intervention strategies and set new SAT goals. Counselors also will examine the results to ensure that every student is guided toward and prepared for the entrance examination that best suits their strengths and needs.

“We are extremely proud of the success of our students on the SAT, as this extraordinary accomplishment illustrates how well each of our schools, from preschool through high school, is preparing students for success in higher education and future careers,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower said. This accomplishment follows the recent release of record-high ACT scores earned by CCSD students and data that shows how few CCSD graduates need remediation at the college level.

“These outstanding achievements would not be possible without the enduring support of our entire community – families, teachers, staff, administrators, business partners, volunteers, taxpayers who support the continuation of our Education SPLOST and a School Board that makes teaching and learning its top priority,” Dr. Hightower said. “Thank you to everyone who is helping us in meeting our mission of Educating the Emerging Generation!”


CCSD 2016 SAT Results

CCSD Earns Highest-Ever Scores on ACT

Snapshot: CCSD 2016 ACT and SAT Results

The Class of 2016 earned the Cherokee County School District’s highest-ever scores on the challenging ACT college entrance and placement examination, continuing to rank the system in the top five in the State and topping the National average.

The CCSD average ACT composite/total score on the curriculum-based test is 23.1, rising from 22.7 last year and from 20.8 over the past decade; the State average increased to 21.1 and the National average declined slightly to 20.8.  Students earn a score on a scale of 1 to 36; the ACT is taken in lieu of or along with the SAT.

The CCSD Class of 2016 earned the system’s highest-ever scores in the English (22.8), Reading (23.9) and Science (22.9) sections, with averages for those three areas increasing from the previous year, and Math holding steady at 22.1 – all of these subject scores exceed State and National averages.  The number of CCSD seniors who took the ACT also soared to 1,623 – 62% of the senior class – a jump from 1,450 and 59% the previous year.

ACT 2016 Chart

CCSD 2016 ACT Results Chart

CCSD Principals will evaluate these results with leadership and data-management teams to determine instructional areas to target for improvement.  Counselors will review these scores to ensure the best testing choices are recommended to students for college admission and scholarship success.  The ACT will be administered in CCSD this year on Sept. 10, Oct. 22, Dec. 10, Feb. 11, April 8 and June 10.

“We firmly believe that our students and teachers are not numbers, and that a successful education cannot be defined only by achieving high test scores,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower said.  “Results such as these ACT scores do provide a useful benchmark for a wider evaluation of teaching and learning… and we are very proud that our students and teachers continue to excel at such an impressive level!”

“We appreciate all of the effort it takes to succeed at this height: dedicated students and supportive families working together with our CCSD team of teachers at every grade level, support staff, administrators, volunteers and partners, and a community that has supported investing in education through renewal of our Education SPLOST,” he added.

Another benchmark that goes hand-in-hand with these results is the State data that shows when CCSD students enter college, they are more prepared than their peers: 90 percent of recent CCSD graduates who enrolled in a state college or university (9,100 students) did not need a single remedial class.

“We remain focused on the progress of every student and ‘Educating the Emerging Generation’ for the next step in their lives, whichever path they choose!” Dr. Hightower said.