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RES success leads to study in education excellence
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Rincon Elementary School is among a select group of Georgia elementary schools studied as part of a new Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education report that identifies best practices that have resulted in significant academic gains.

According to the report’s author, Dr. Donna O’Neal, earlier studies looked at the successes of high schools and middle schools so the new focus aimed to complete the education pipeline, elementary through high school.

“We wanted to continue the feeder pattern research from the high school and middle school studies to see if a successful pipeline of K-12 schooling could be identified,” O’Neal said.

She said that, instead of simply highlighting top-performing elementary schools, the Georgia Partnership wanted to demonstrate schools that were experiencing significant gains over time.

“The large gains we found indicate that these schools tackled problems and implemented solutions that worked, many times with diverse populations,” O’Neal said.

Two other criteria were used in the selection process. First, schools that demonstrated the greatest average percentage point increase between 2008 and 2012 in the Criterion Referenced Competency Tests “exceeds expectations” categories in reading, mathematics, and science combined for third and/or fifth grades. There were seven, including Rincon Elementary. Second, schools with clean feeder patterns to the schools in previous Georgia Partnership high school and middle school studies were identified. Three school systems met this category.

O’Neal praised Rincon Elementary School for its innovative use of classroom time.

“This school packs the normal curriculum into four days a week,” she said, “and uses the fifth day to provide remediation to the students who need it and advanced curriculum for other students.”

O’Neal explained that, although the elementary schools in this study were implementing various school improvement strategies, numerous similarities were found. For example, the most evident was a “laser-focus” on student learning. “Everything centered on this,” she said.

“These educators viewed curriculum, assessment and instruction as intertwined and dependent on one another. The school culture was extremely important to the school leaders, and the schools used continuous improvement principles and tools to enhance teaching and learning,” she added.

Georgia Partnership president Dr. Steve Dolinger stressed the importance of the study: “By identifying and studying some of our most successful schools throughout the pipeline, we have been able to clearly identify successful characteristics of achieving schools.”

Dolinger added that sharing the best practices uncovered in the research will help other Georgia schools establish and maintain proven processes.

The full report is available on the Georgia Partnership Web site at and can be found in the Programs/Reports (Reports/Papers tab) section. The previous high school and middle school reports may be found on that page.