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Heard County Schools Remain Top of the Class in 2021-2022 School Year

 Amidst the global pandemic, national and state education leaders held legitimate concerns for learning loss and the potential to see large drops in standardized test scores from students. However, when so many systems remained closed across the country, Heard County Schools operated as normal a system calendar for the past two school years. The willingness to conduct in-person learning to serve the Heard County community and the tremendous dedication of Heard County school personnel combined to maintain high levels of performance in almost all tested academic areas when compared with school systems in the West Georgia area for the 2021-2022 school year. “We are ecstatic that our students are performing at the highest levels, but we are not close to being satisfied,” said Heard County School Superintendent Rodney Kay. “There is more that needs to be done to meet our goal of having every student prepared for success by graduation.”

At the elementary level, Heard County Schools outperformed all other West Georgia RESA district school systems in five of seven tested subjects in third, fourth, and fifth grade. Heard County Middle School students outperformed all other West Georgia RESA district school systems on four of the eight tested subjects in sixth, seventh, and eighth grade. Heard County High School students were tested in four subjects, and finished either in first or second place in the West Georgia RESA district. This includes finishing substantially above state average on standardized tests covering American Literature, Biology, and United States History. “Everyone at the high school is pleased with our standardized test scores,” claims Heard County High School principal J.J. Wahl. “However, our teachers are already working hard to get even better at teaching required standards.”

Heard County School System leadership does not want Heard County educators to become complacent, but rather to continue to strive to improve each year. This includes improving at virtual instruction and in-school remediation for students who had to miss school during the pandemic. “Quite honestly the goal over the past two years has been to keep the buses rolling, the doors open and feed the kids who were able to show up,” stated Kay. “ It was good to see that our teachers utilized every precious second of instructional time and their efforts paid off for our children.”

While the Heard County School System will use the test score data to improve student learning, some of the information extrapolated from the test scores illustrates realities already known to professional educators: attendance matters. Students who missed significant time due to quarantines or other reasons were unable to perform as well as their peers with good attendance. This is especially true in the area of reading where there is a direct correlation between those students who are on grade level and those who regularly attend school. “I know we’re talking about test scores here, but I want our community to understand that we will be attacking student attendance head on,” added Kay. “The pandemic forced several quarantines, but I also believe some of our students got way too comfortable sitting at home under the umbrella of COVID.”  

Heard County School System leaders will be reviewing current attendance protocols and publishing any changes soon. “To put it very bluntly, in early elementary especially, when your child is missing 10, 12, 15 and 20 days you are handicapping their ability to learn and their teacher’s ability to teach,”  insisted Kay. “I know our community will hear the message, respond in a positive way, and we will be better off for it.”