Welcome to the Pike County School District. As a treasure hunter excavating the layers of rubble called the World Wide Web, you have unearthed a jewel nestled in the heart of middle Georgia. A stone’s throw away from Atlanta, Macon, and Columbus, Pike County is one of the highest academically achieving small school districts in Georgia. The Pike County School District has 3,500 students housed in four schools (K-2, 3-5, 6-8, and 9-12). Pike County has become a choice destination for urban dwellers looking for a simpler way of life, reminiscent of days gone by. And, although we cherish the rolling fields of agriculture and enjoy the wide open spaces, the Pike County School District is a progressive school system committed to student success.
We are excited to acknowledge our place as one of Georgia’s highest academically achieving school districts. In 2013, we continued a trend of strong academic performance with a graduation rate reaching 86%. This is up from 63% in 2004.
The new College and Career Ready Performance Index (CCRPI), the state-wide accountability system, gives each district and each school a grade from 1 to 100. The District score in 2013 was 78.9; Pike Primary 88, Pike Elementary 81, Pike Middle 86, and Pike High 73. The scores revealed the District must improve academic rigor and hence the number of students exceeding standards. To this end, we must challenge our students with more than bookwork, worksheets and rote memorization, if we hope for our students to compete for seats in the nation’s most prestigious universities and for careers that require critical thinking and creative problem solving.
Greater depths of learning occur when students apply the knowledge and skills they have learned in relevant and meaningful ways. The Center for Authentic Intellectual Work at the University of Wisconsin-Madison is partnering with us to provide expert professional development to build our capacity to offer challenging intellectual work. Additionally, the District has completed Phase 1 of a 21st Century skill initiative, which included 500 community members participating in a study to identify the skills Pike County students need to succeed in an ever-changing labor market. Critical Thinking, Creativity, Communication, Collaboration, Personal Responsibility and Digital Literacy were identified and will serve as the foundation for how we organize the curriculum, plan professional development, develop the budget, recruit personnel, and evaluate programs.
Additionally, the District is improving and diversifying its Career, Technical, and Agricultural programs by coordinating courses with Southern Crescent Technical College and working toward industry certification in all career, technical and agricultural program areas. Industry certified CTAE courses include Agriculture (Horticulture and Forestry) and Health Care Science. We have also enhanced our dual-enrollment partnership with Gordon State College; and, this school year, almost 100 students attend Gordon part-time. Rigor is being furthered at the K-5 levels with dedicated science connection classes and further identification of gifted and talented students.
The future success of the Pike County School System does not rest with national standards, shrinking budgets, charter schools, or the myriad of special interests that attempt to influence the education of Georgia’s children. It resides firmly in our vision to look inward and hold ourselves to a standard of achievement that best serves the children of Pike County. In 2010, we set the goal of becoming a 90-90 school district; that is, 90% or higher graduation rate and 90% or more of all students meeting and exceeding standards in every grade, every year. I recognize that this is a difficult and challenging goal. However, history teaches us that great accomplishments begin with a goal that is seemingly unachievable, one which pushes us beyond our current capabilities, challenges our beliefs, and separates those who can from those who cannot.
The challenge is great; the goal is hard, but it is the right work, at the right time, for the right reasons.