Burgess-Peterson Academy achieved the highest value-added academic growth of any public or charter elementary school in Atlanta Public School (APS) for the 2012-2013 school year. Additionally, of all APS elementary schools, Burgess-Peterson achieved the highest average months of learning, averaging approximately 13 months of learning during the nine month academic year.
Burgess-Peterson is the highest performing traditional elementary school in the district’s east region, and with an average CRCT score of 836, the school ranks in the top 10 of all APS traditional elementary schools.
The school’s principal, Robin Robbins, credits the students’ success and growth to the effective teachers in the Burgess-Peterson classrooms. Robbins says that longitudinal studies support her assertion that “the teachers make the difference.”
And what does effective teaching look like at Burgess-Peterson? It includes small group instruction, technology, and a print rich environment. Teachers aim for excellence, share concerns about their students with the principal, and refuse to give up on their students. And as long as teachers can provide data to support their positions, Robbins allows them to disagree with her and take risks by implementing alternative strategies.
Robbins understands the importance of putting the right people in the right places to achieve the best results. So, to ensure that effective teachers were in each of the Burgess-Peterson classrooms, Robbins took a bold step last year: she refined the hiring process and repositioned teachers according to the needs of the school.
Progress monitoring – a process Robbins has implemented that alerts teachers when a student is not showing academic growth – has also played a role in Burgess Peterson’s high student growth. When diagnostic data indicate a student is not growing, the staff creates a specific need-based learning plan, and offers academic support ranging from tutoring to the school’s afterschool program.
When the Georgia Department of Education’s (GaDOE), new report card for schools, the College and Career Readiness Performance Index (CCRPI), is published in December 2013, Burgess-Peterson will receive additional information on how well students are growing on state tests relative to other students in other Georgia schools using the GaDOE’s new student growth model.
On the CCRPI, schools can earn up to 15 points for progress, one of the three major components of the report card. These points are based on the number of students at the school who demonstrate academic growth that is competitive (i.e., “high” or “typical”). In addition to progress, schools can earn 70 points for achievement, 15 points for achievement gap (closure), and 10 extra credit points. The CCRPI is based on a 100 scale.
The Scholar Academy, an after school program funded by a 21st Century Learning Committee Grant, has had a tremendous impact on Burgess-Peterson’s student success and value-added growth. The program provides students with an additional 1.5 hours of academic support every day. The Scholar Academy not only assists students who are not meeting the academic standards, but it also offers support to students who are excelling in their classes.
By offering exciting enrichment opportunities like building robots, karate and step class, The Scholar Academy motivates students and gets them excited about going to school. Therefore, Robbins is strategic about selecting vendors, as she believes engaging and motivating students are critical components of a successful program.
Before launching the Scholar Academy, Robbins submitted a grant to help fund her vision for the perfect afterschool option for Burgess Peterson students.
“Writing a grant is difficult and time consuming,” says Robbins, “But it’s all about taking the kids to the next level and providing them with opportunities.”
Student growth measures provide truer measures of influence of programs and practices, regardless of socioeconomic background. Moving to measuring student academic growth and achievement versus the traditional accountability systems that have focused solely on achievement is a different focus—and requires a change in thinking, which Robbins has embraced.
“I am so proud of the teachers, students, and parents who make this a wonderful place for children!” she says.
About Burgess Peterson Elementary
We focus on student achievement as the main priority of teaching and learning.
We expose students to authentic learning experiences to engage and motivate students.
We collaborate professionally as teachers, parents, and community members to be change agents in order to promote effective teaching practices and transform student learning.
We embrace cultural differences and diversity as opportunities to prepare our students for global thinking.
The vision of Burgess-Peterson Academy is to become the school of choice for the community.
About Principal Robbins
A native of Georgia, Ms. Robbins attended the Dekalb County School System prior to earning a B.A. in Early Childhood Education from Spelman College, Atlanta, GA. Ms. Robbins began teaching in the Atlanta Public School System in 1997 as a teacher at Mary McLeod Bethune Elementary School. After teaching for eight years, Ms. Robbins was promoted to the Instructional Liaison Specialist at Mary Lin Elementary and worked there for three years until 2008, when she was promoted to the Principal of Burgess-Peterson Academy. Going into her sixth year of the instructional leader of the school, Ms. Robbins continues on her quest to be a lifelong learner and has received her Masters in Early Childhood Education (Brenau University), and her Educational Specialist Degree in Instructional Leadership (Argosy University). She absolutely loves being a public school educator and serving the community of East Atlanta.