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School board reviews PROPEL progress
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Forsyth County News

Other business

Also during Thursday’s meeting, the Forsyth County school board:

• Appointed member Ann Crow to serve as its legislative liaison through the Georgia School Board Association for 2012.

In this role, Crow will bring information about bills back to the board and superintendent, and communicate with lawmakers.

• Heard an update on the system’s district accreditation process. Associate Superintendent Lissa Pijanowski said the system is preparing for an on-site evaluation by AdvancED in February.

The system first earned district accreditation in 2007, and must undergo the reviews every five years.

• Reviewed Georgia’s College and Career Readiness Performance Index, a proposal that could serve as an alternative to the current federal No Child Left Behind regulations if approved by the U.S. Department of Education.

Pijankowski said the system would use a variety of performance indexes for college and career readiness, rather than focus primarily on test scores.

Crystal Ledford

The Forsyth County school system continues to pursue its goal of leading the nation in high school graduation rates.

The Board of Education heard an update on the system’s PROPEL initiative during a meeting Thursday.

PROPEL, or Pathways for Reaching Opportunities in Preparing for Excellence in Life, is a joint program of the system and the Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce.

Cindy Salloum, director of secondary education, and Jason Branch, principal of South Forsyth High School, gave an overview of the initiative.

“We just wanted to catch you up on what’s been happening with PROPEL since we started in 2010,” Salloum said.

She said nine action teams were formed to make both short- and long-term recommendations.

In order to guide the development of the recommendations, she said, four benchmark school systems were chosen to collect advice from.

The systems, all in different states, are similar to Forsyth in demographics. They are some of the leading districts for graduation rates in the nation.

From discussions with the action teams, Salloum said 87 ideas developed.

“A lot of great recommendations came out of our collaborations with the chamber,” Branch added.

One of the highlights was adding more professional development training for educators focused on specific strategies to help at-risk learners.

Another was creating a “work force investment board” of school, community and business leaders to have ongoing talks about how to best prepare students for life after graduation.

Other recommendations included: Providing mid-year evaluations for students in fifth-eighth grades who are not meeting academic standards; creating career academies that would be closely aligned with area colleges; and encouraging the school board to continue to be flexible and creative in its guidance.

Board member Ann Crow asked for more information about the career academies.

Salloum said establishing such facilities is a long-term goal, but would likely first include small academies at each high school, followed by an eventual separate site such as the Forsyth Academy.

The career academy could eventually serve as an alternative to traditional high schools.