UPDATED: Winder-Barrow Identified as 'Focus School' Due to Gap in Graduation Rates of Highest and Lowest Achieving Students

The school was identified as a "focus school" by the Georgia Department of Education due to the graduation gap between its white subgroup and the students with disability subgroup.

CLARIFICATION: The Barrow County School System has clarified the reason one of its two high schools has been identified as a "focus school" by the Georgia Department of Education.

"The reason for the Focus School designation for Winder-Barrow High School is due to its graduation gap between it's white subgroup and the Students With Disability subgroup," Superintendent Wanda Creel wrote in an e-mail to Barrow Patch.

Creel said Winder-Barrow High School's graduation rate was 71.6 percent in 2010 and 76.4 percent in 2011. She noted the overall net gain of almost 5 percent in one year. 

Do you feel better about Winder-Barrow High School's graduation rate, given it IS NOT less than 60 percent? Is 76.4 percent an acceptable rate? Tell us in comments.


One of Barrow County's two public high schools has been identified by the Georgia Department of Education as a "focus school".

Winder-Barrow High School is one of 156 schools statewide with graduation rates of less than 60 percent over two years or with large gaps between the highest and lowest achieving subgroup of students.

The schools are one step above the state's worst performing schools — termed "priority schools". A list of those schools was released last week and no Barrow County school was included. 

Georgia schools are categorized under a new accountability system after the state was one of 10 to receive waivers last month from the federal No Child Left Behind law.

What do you think faculty and staff can do to improve the school's graduation rate? Tell us in comments.

tabby March 21, 2012 at 01:00 PM
I have 2 kids who have graduated from wbhs one in 2007 the other 2010 with honors,they are both in college now. I have watched the school go to hell with my 3 child.The staff let's the kids get away with a lot more.The new math gave most of the kids problems.The teachers need to teach and not try to be their friends.The kids think it is all a joke,because they have no structure.They don't have any respect for the staff that is why they drop out!!!!
cindy ward March 21, 2012 at 03:01 PM
Take these cell phone and computers out of schools, go to uniforms & monitor the halls, cracks, corners & yards a little better. If I had "caught" my kids doing what I have seen some of these "kids" doing... the school would not have to take all this away. I would have.
Tracy March 21, 2012 at 03:05 PM
It's not all the teachers fault I am sure improvements and changes can be made but my opinion is when you take God out of schools an anything for that matter it's not going to make it better. I also think parents are to blame too, I graduated in 1996 and a lot of my friends parents bought us alcohol and tried to party with us. I am sure a lot of that has to do with it. We need God not only in our lives but in schools, and also be stricter-no phones and have consequences! All of my teachers were fabulous and my mom was a single mom but she punished me when she caught me. I pray WBHS gets things under control for the parents to be involved more and the students to realize how important highschool is!
amber murphy March 21, 2012 at 04:25 PM
they need to focus more on the students who are falling behind instead of giving up on them. The students who turn homework in and pass tests don't need more help, the ones that aren't doing the work need the attention. When i was a freshman there, there was a senior who was almost 21. They just passed him and let him graduate. I don't want to sound like a stereotype either but when i was there athletes and cheerleaders were often, not always, given a better grade than they deserved just to be eligible to play.
KRW March 21, 2012 at 04:36 PM
Draw a correlation with the percentage of Barrow Co/WBHS family populations that are working full time + above the national or state poverty level and you might not see this as such a surprise. Having recently returned to Barrow for a short visit, I was truly embarrassed by the visible changes of the general population (in general - meaning not calling out or blaming any specific demographics, but what you see in public, the condition of properties and general deterioration of community/civic pride ). This problem really begins whenever the expectations towards post high school education became significantly relaxed. With UGA, GC, Athens Tech and so many technical/trade schools in the area, the opportunities are there, but it doesn't seem like there is much of a push to set that as a goal. These things are based at home where your choice of religion (including choice of a different or no religion) create shared values. At home you develop and reinforce your beliefs towards community, drive for accomplishment, accountability to self and others and dreams for the future. All of these things are created and nurtured in our home environment (traditional, non traditional or otherwise - basically, how are we raising our children, giving them a purpose and preparing them for the future??). When those basic elements aren't present - the teachers don't have anything to work with. Want proof? - find a successful graduation rate or similarly poor model and compare the communities.
N. Matthews March 21, 2012 at 05:31 PM
I had always heard the graduation rate was bad, but below 60% is rediculous. You might as well close the doors and send everyone home to talk on their cell phones & play on the computer all day long. Rewind to when it was much better. When I was in high school you got after school detention for being late to a class. Not showing up to school even one time meant a call to a a parent (they called every number on file until they actually spoke to them). Three times meant an automatic suspension. We had hallway monitors & admiistrators that actually watched to see if we were leaving campus. It was hard to play hooky back then (20 years ago). Where did all of that supervision go? Aren't the adults employed by the school system paid to 'be in charge' of the children we send there??? Isn't this part of their job? The previous posters are correct, from what I hear, there are little or no consequences at WBHS. Can I suggest a change in School Administration from the top down? The people in charge are obviously NOT doing their jobs. Also, year round school would help A LOT.
tabby March 21, 2012 at 06:19 PM
N.Matthews that is right on it. And for Tracy leave god in the church and out of school and politics.It's time to move forward ,we live in 2012 not 1900.We need to educate,we can have bible study on sunday.
Roddy White March 21, 2012 at 07:20 PM
I'm pretty sure this all stems from the kids only being allowed to have 2 packets of ketchup at lunch.
Roddy White March 21, 2012 at 07:23 PM
It is "rediculous" isn't it, N. Matthews.
WBHS graduate March 21, 2012 at 10:23 PM
The problem begins way before high school....it starts in elementary school when students aren't held accountable for poor work. Students don't actually have to do anything, regardless they get moved on to the next grade since retaining a child might harm his/her self-esteem. This sends the message to kids that hard work just isn't needed. Students get to middle school and social promotion continues. Social promotion finally stops in high school. In high school you do the work or you get a zero...no one cares about how your feelings might get hurt or whether or not your parents told you the work wasn't important. In high school you perform or you fail...sort of like in life. As long as teachers are forced to make learning "fun" in elementary school and to make sure that everyone is successful, even if it means dumbing down the assignments to the point of making them useless, you will see drop out rates that are higher than you want. These problems aren't just at Winder-Barrow High School, they are at most high schools...you can replace administrators and teachers but the bottom line is that teachers can only do what they are mandated and allowed to do...they can't enforce any real consequences because self-righteous parents don't want their child to experience the harsh realities of life. May parents raised me with the understanding that you get out of life what you are willing to put in.
peachy March 22, 2012 at 01:01 AM
It is really sad how much bashing and blame placing is done on these news websites. It takes a COMMUNITY to raise a child. It takes parents, teachers, business leaders, churches, EVERYONE to educate a child. Each piece of the community has a part. With that said, if the graduation rate is decreasing- then as a community we need to STEP UP and RISE UP to help these kids! WBHS is on the list, and AHS is not far behind. STOP placing the blame onto someone else! We need to mentor and show the good to the students who are struggling. We need to help families in need (and there are many in Barrow.) ADULTS set the example of children (that includes all children from teens to toddlers.) If parents do not show respect for teachers, students will not show respect for teachers. If parents do not show the importance of education, students will not care. Just as teachers need to show the importance and excitement of education and learning so that children will crave learning and want to learn. It takes everyone influencing students to do better for them to "be boldly committed" and wanting a high school diploma!
Arlene Murrell March 22, 2012 at 01:09 AM
Tabby, if you look back to see when the schools really started getting bad was when they took prayer and God out of the schools. I attended school in Atlanta and when we started our school day, every class had the pledge and prayers. It helps to set the atmosphere for the day. You could hear a pin drop on the floor the classes were so quite. It has been proven that prayer helps people with stress, mental problems, even I ready today how it had been proved that people that prayed their minds were clearer and also even helped people with Alzheimer patients... so Lets get prayer back in the school and see our children improve. God will honor our children and the prayers that are prayed in the schools. Get strict with the children and let them know what they are their for. Let the teachers be teachers and have more control with the class room. The trouble now is that teachers have so many rules that they cannot control the classrooms. The children are not taught at home to respect the teachers, the students run home when the teacher fuses at them and the parents run to the school to take up for their child. This is so wrong... we need to let the teachers control the classrooms. I know my sister in-law was a school superintendent and we have talked about the rules the teachers have. We as parents need to support our teachers. There may be a bad teacher here and there but in general the teachers are good and dedicated.
tabby March 22, 2012 at 12:07 PM
Arlene there is nothing wrong with praying but there is a time and a place for this ,we need to focus on teaching .Not only did the teachers lose control but the parents did to .The kids have all the control and they know it !! If the parents make them mad they run to the teachers are the police.The problems starts when the kids fear nothing and that is the power we gave them by not sticking together.
N. Matthews March 22, 2012 at 12:59 PM
The misspelling was the point...glad you got it! :)
Deanna Allen March 22, 2012 at 02:58 PM
We received clarification from the school system on why Winder-Barrow is included as a focus school and it's not because the graduation rate is lower than 60 percent — it was actually 76.4 percent in 2011. It's due to the gap between its white subgroup and the students with disability subgroup. Just wanted to make sure you saw the clarification.
N. Matthews March 22, 2012 at 03:19 PM
So, 1 in 4 students are not graduating. What can the public do to help? Do students need more one on one tutoring, different study aids, more enforcement of homework at home, etc? They are our future and everyone one in the community should be concerned. School leadership - please tell us what would make a difference.
olena March 22, 2012 at 07:59 PM
I graduated in 2010 and saw that it allll stems from the mindset of the students....it's the "cool" thing to not want to do well in school, and you don't really get recognized for doing well, either. I think that that school first needs to bring on many strong motivational speakers and more rewards to students that do well so everyone is motivated to do well, and, also, bring in actual EDUCATION! I bet you a million dollars that even special education students can pass the regular classes. The curriculum is rediculously easy and people are too lazy. The school needs to bring in teachers and staff who have strong character and can motivate kids and teach them about the FUTURE. People don't think about the future at all! And, they need to teach kids on why education is important by backing it up with the facts, and to teach kids how to apply to college because I had to teach myself how to do it.
Amber Spain March 28, 2012 at 01:39 AM
Not exactly everyone has the same views as you on religion. Just saying.
tabby March 28, 2012 at 12:35 PM
I am glad we all have different views on religion and everything else .It would be weird to live in this world where people are all the same . It would be boring and Stepford like,but some people don't like to think for themselves they just like to follow the next guy .Sorry this didn't stay more focused on the school. " just saying"
J April 13, 2012 at 12:04 AM
One thing is certain...teachers are tirelessly working to educate students every day. However, the public cry for them to improve while they continue to get cuts in pay and are expected to participate more and more in clubs and other activities gets exhausting. Maybe if the community, on a national level, became more understanding and respectful of what it is like to essentially raise children, teachers would feel more accepted and have more passion to continue educating children instead of burning out.


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