According to the department, this means that Lake Forest is a “Title I school among the 10 percent of Title I schools in the state that is making the most progress in improving the performance of the ‘all students’ group over three years on the statewide assessments.” Significant achievement gaps across subgroups disqualifies a school from this title, according to the state. The elementary school is one of 156 elementary, middle and high schools to be awarded with the title of high progress, and the only one in Buckhead, Sandy Springs or Vinings to earn the honor.
The statewide assessment used in elementary schools in third, fourth and fifth grades is the CRCT, or Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests.
Title I, a provision of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, distributes funding to schools and school districts with a high percentage of students from low-income families.
“Ninety-seven percent of our students are on free or reduced lunch,” said Lake Forest Principal Harvey Oaxaca. “Eighty-five percent of our students are English-learning [ones].”
Oaxaca, who has served as principal since July, said he attributed the school’s success to three things — the school’s staff and community and parent involvement.
“Our teachers are constantly developing themselves professionally, learning how to better serve English-learning students,” he said. “We have computer learning programs and teachers who tutor in the mornings. We also have a lot of community volunteers, from faith-based organizations and high school students who tutor. And our parents are becoming more involved. There’s a lot of things in place here that have helped advance academic achievement.”
Oaxaca also gave credit to former Principal Dara Jones Wilson.
“She is very intentional in helping students achieve,” he said. “We’re very excited. It’s always good to have the state validate the work you’re doing.”