Which local school districts aren’t making the grade?

Published: Mar. 19, 2021 at 9:09 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Report cards are out for Georgia school districts.

But this time, it’s not the students getting graded.

It’s the schools.

Every year, the governor’s office releases a letter grade for each public school in the state.

Each county is given an overall letter grade, too, based on things like school performance and graduation rates.

We went through the reports for all of our Georgia counties.

Columbia County is getting one of the highest grades in our area, with a B.

Burke and McDuffie counties both score D’s.

Richmond County is the only one in our area to get an F.

And keep in mind these grade reports are based off the 2018-2019 school year, so they’re pre-pandemic.

One retired teacher says there’s more going on here beyond the surface of these grades.

Pat Burau was an educator in Richmond County for more than 40 years.

Going back into her memory, she recalled a day when she visited a student at home.

“The floor was a very neatly swept dirt floor,” she said. “The table was a cardboard box turned upside down with a plastic cloth. And the children were eating ketchup on bread for their meal. That is not that unusual.”

According to the Georgia Governor’s Office of Student Achievement, 49 percent of Richmond County students are economically disadvantaged.

It’s a lot higher than Columbia County, where 14 percent face those types of issues at home.

“We’re not left with the children who are the easiest to teach, or who learn the easiest,” Burau said. “We’re teaching children who struggle every day.”

According to the state report cards, about 44 percent of Columbia County students weren’t proficient in English

In Richmond County, the number jumped to almost 75 percent.

“If a child can’t read on level by third grade, I don’t wanna say we’ve lost, but we’re fighting a very steep uphill battle,” Burau said.

And she says there’s work to be done in Richmond County, but she’s proud of the employees there.

“I have a daughter who did a paper many years ago that said, ‘Real teachers teach in Richmond County,’” she said.

“And that’s the truth.”

Georgia Milestone results are one of the biggest factors of those grades given out to schools.

Columbia County school officials say those scores will not be factored into a student’s report card.

And in Richmond County, due to the pandemic, those tests only count for 0.01 percent of a student’s grade this year.

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