It came as no surprise to me that the test scores from Banks County Middle School surpassed many of the systems in this area and across the state.
The Criterion-Referenced Competency Test (CRCT) has gained plenty of publicity in recent weeks and most of it bad. However, the news was certainly not all bad at the local level as BCMS students seemed to handle the controversial test better than many.
State-wide, approximately 50,000 students failed and will be attending summer school and retaking the portions test before becoming eligible to advance to the ninth grade. BCMS, on the other hand, will have only a few students (less than 50) attending summer session.
Looking closer at the numbers sees almost 62 percent of state-wide eighth graders passing the math portion of the test. At BCMS, that pass rate was close to 80 percent.
What’s the secret to success at BCMS? Is it some magical formula put in the school lunches? Is it simply a stroke of good luck? Hardly.
You have to start at the top at BCMS with principal Matthew Cooper, who is the best educational motivator I have met. Cooper’s enthusiastic approach to learning is contagious. When listening to him speak at Board of Education meetings, I am ready to take out pen and paper and go to work. Motivation is so vital to any student, but especially at the middle school level. Cooper has what it takes to make learning fun but he also doesn’t let his students lose track of what’s important.
Testing of this nature can be very stressful. Many students who realistically know the material they are being testing on are apt to freeze up when they see the test in front of them. Cooper has found ways to take the stress out of testing (not just on the CRCT but in all aspects of daily learning). In the end, students are more relaxed and are able to excel on the CRCT.
BCMS is also blessed with quality teachers who implement Cooper’s game plan on education. Without the teachers, success would not be possible. The teachers put in countless hours of work. Their jobs go so far beyond the time they are actually in the classroom. They take high levels of pride in teaching the students and their ultimate goal is to see each one of them succeed at a high rate.
How well is the formula working at BCMS? Almost immediately after this year’s CRCT preliminary results were released, other school systems in the Northeast Georgia area were looking into visiting BCMS to see its game plan for success.
When you are successful year after year, you are obviously doing something right. Other educators realize this and will be making their way to Banks County to visit with Cooper and his teachers.
While parents in other school systems across Georgia have been protesting the poor CRCT results, the parents of BCMS students have to be pleased with how many their children are performing. Even with the state school superintendent throwing out results because they were so poor overall, students at BCMS were overall moving right along and continuing their past success.
It’s easy to criticize education officials when even the smallest of things aren’t to our liking. However, something very positive is taking place at BCMS. Students are excelling year after year. That’s something worth celebrating. A tip of the hat to Cooper and his teachers for all they have accomplished in helped their students succeed with each passing school year.
They deserve a high level of praise for all they have been able to accomplish. Other systems may be struggling, but the stars are shining brightly at BCMS.
Chris Bridges is a reporter for The Banks County News. Contact him at 706-367-2745 or e-mail comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.