CF, SF Cited For Academic Success
Representatives from two Fulton County school districts received special recognition last Wednesday in Harrisburg for being among the top 50 school districts across the commonwealth for improved student achievement over a seven-year time frame.
Invited to the state Capitol Rotunda by none other than Gov. Ed Rendell, administrators, faculty, board members and even a handful of students from Central Fulton and Southern Fulton were treated to praise and accolades for their accomplishments in student testing between 2002 and 2009. On hand for the announcement were popular comedian and education supporter Bill Cosby and Jack Jennings, president and chief executive officer of Center for Educational Policy (CEP).
Rankings released by the governor's office as compiled by the CEP, an independent nonprofit organization based in Washington D.C., show that the Southern Fulton School District made a 31.4 percentage point gain over the time frame, ranking the school third in the entire state. Meanwhile, CEP's announcment listed Central Fulton as 15th after having made a 25.7 percentage point gain.
Looking at the state as a whole, the governor stated, Pennsylvania has been identified by CEP as the lone state to see consistent increases in student achievement in all three levels of learning - elementary, middle and high school.
"This report confirms that our investments in student achievement are paying off and making us a more competitive state," Rendell stated during the rally. "We need to continue to make these investments and build on this success, especially in tough economic times, rather than retreat as some would prefer."
In further evaluating CEP's report, Pennsylvania was determined to be the only state to "reduce the percentage of students performing at the lowest achievement level and increase the percentage of students who are at least on grade level or at the highest achievement level." Furthermore, Pennsylvania is touted as one of a total of eight states to record a "moderate to large" improvement in the percentage of students performing at grade level in reading and math in all three levels of learning.
On the heels of their return from the Capitol, Central Fulton lead administrator Superintendent Dr. Julia Cigola told the "News," "We are so proud of our students, teachers, administrators, parents, school board members and everyone in the educational community that has helped us achieve this recognition. Our district will keep putting forth the effort required to continually improve student achievement because there is no greater investment to be made than the one we make in our students."
Dr. Cigola was accompanied to the rally by various school officials and students, including elementary Principal Alicia Mellott, Alexi Mellott, Lexi Richards, Jenna Richards, Rylan Cutshall, transportation coordinator Angie Marshall, board secretary Kim Richards, Sara Beth Winegardner, Cheryl Cutshall, special education director Ginger Thompson, Billie Jo Beatty, Nancy Shearer, Michelle Eichelberger, director of curriculum Dwayne Northcraft, high school Principal Todd Beatty, Larkin Shearer, Hayken Covert, school board President Denny Richards, Denise Mellott, board member Rick Marshall, and Linda Heuston.
Representing Southern Fulton at the Capitol Rotunda were Southern Fulton Superintendent Ralph Scott, elementary Principal and assistant to the superintendent Kendra Trail and board member Donald Whiteside.
With the budget crisis far from resolved, Rendell went on to say that improvements in education would not have been possible without the annual funding allocation from the state. Rendell concluded school districts cannot afford to balance their budgets on the taxpayers in the event the allocation is reduced or cut.