When CCRPI scores were released almost two weeks ago, it was announced that Cliftondale Elementary in South Fulton was the frontrunner in gains. The school posted a score of 81.2, an increase of 23.3 points over last year.
Even more extraordinary, while elementary scores trended downward across the state, Cliftondale became one of less than one-third of Georgia’s schools to score above the 80-point mark.
As a thank you to Cliftondale’s teachers and administrators for their hard work, parents showed up this morning to set up an appreciation breakfast catered by Waffle House. The meal was sponsored by the Parents of Cliftondale with help from Safe Haven Afterschool Program, Councilwoman Carmalitha Gumbs and South Fulton Parents for Education.
When asked what they attributed to the CCRPI gains, parents and teachers cited leadership, an emphasis on literacy, a supportive environment and a commitment to closing gaps, especially among students with disabilities.
Sheila Brown, a Cliftondale parent, applauded Principal Miranda Freeman and said that leadership plays a big role. “If you have the right people in place and children are taught correctly, they can improve.”
Marquila Mack, curriculum support specialist, says that the school’s implementation of an initiative to emphase literacy made all of the difference. During the process, students were receptive and motivated, and many developed a love for reading. “I think kids want to learn,” she said. “They just need the right tools and the right teachers in front of them.”
Fran Warren, founder of South Fulton Parents for Education and a Cliftondale parent agreed that a literacy-rich environment is critical for student success. She said that it’s also important that parents and students feel supported.
“When I come to Cliftondale, I think of home,” she said. “Everybody’s smiling, and everybody knows your child and your child’s story. And I think they make it a priority that student’s with disabilities are properly serviced.”
Warren, also founder of The Educator’s Room, says that it’s common to see students with disabilities being ignored or left behind in schools, but not at Cliftondale.
“Often you’ll see that students with disabilities are allowed to continue to fail, and their learning gaps aren’t addressed,” said Warren. “Since last year’s CCRPI scores were released, Cliftondale has made a conscious effort to close those gaps and ensure that all students have quality teachers and are exposed to the same type of work as students who don’t have disabilities.”
Warren’s observation aligns with Principal Freeman’s charge to teachers to “serve every student, every day.” Principal Freeman proudly showcased Cliftondale’s CCRPI scores on Twitter with a message of thanks to the students, families, staff and learning community with a note of encouragement, “Let’s keep pushing.”
CCRPI scores for all schools are available on the Georgia Department of Education website. An executive summary on the performance of Fulton County Schools is also available on the district’s website.