"We're ecstatic about these numbers," Superintendent Dr. Kent Edwards said Thursday. "Improving by three percentage points may not sound like a lot, but in the testing world, even one percentage point is impressive."
Edwards called the improvement a "monumental shift" that can only be attributed to the work of "many, many people."
"It's become a point of emphasis and an important goal for us to get students from meeting the standard to exceeding it," Edwards said. "It's a disservice to say that a student who should meet but isn't meeting is not the same as a student who should be exceeding but is meeting the standard."
Wina Low, the school system's director of Student Services and coordinator of standardized testing, presented the numbers to the board ditsuring work session Thursday morning.
Eighteen percent of Carrollton High students exceeded the standard, with 78 percent meeting the standard and 4 percent failing to meet the standard. In Georgia, 10 percent of students were in the "exceeding" category.
Statewide numbers improved as well, with 93 percent of students passing, up two percentage points from last year. The state has improved five percentage points since 2007, when the current, more rigorous assessment was first introduced.
Students must pass the test to receive a high school diploma, and can take it multiple times in their junior and senior years. Students can score up to 350 points, with 200 points required to pass the test.
Carrollton High students had a mean scale score of 233 points, seven points higher than the Georgia average of 226.
"That number shows how high the quality of our papers are," Low said. "We are extremely proud of that number."
The 96 percent figure is the highest the school system has recorded since the Georgia Performance Standards changed the test several years ago.
Also during Thursday's work session, the board heard from April Jones-Byrd, principal of the new Performance Learning Center (PLC).
The center, described as a "tentacle" specific to the system of the national network Communities in Schools, started serving 57 students in August, with 54 attending classes there now.
The local affiliate of Communities in Schools is a joint effort between Carrollton City Schools and Carroll County Schools, with Cynthia Langley serving as executive director. However, the PLC is specific only to the city school system.
Jones-Byrd told the board that 98 percent of freshmen are on target to graduate along with their cohort group, a number she finds "exciting." Additionally, 19 students have so far completed their coursework early, earning class credits.
The principal said the early-goings of the center were a bit of a struggle, with students not sure why they were targeted for the PLC. The intended goal of the affiliate at large is to lower drop-out rates and increase graduation rates of at-risk youth by identifying students who have trouble in a traditional classroom setting.
"It's being embraced more now, and our students are becoming more successful," Jones-Byrd said.
The principal told the board that student logistics is a crucial piece that hasn't clicked yet and will provide an opportunity for growth in the coming years.
"Scheduling adjustments and just simply moving students from place to place has been the most difficult part," Jones-Byrd said. "Once we get all that in place, everything will be as it should be."
Ward 3 board member Dr. Jason Mount praised the PLC, saying it is doing "exactly what is needed."
"These are the students who don't have it all," Mount said, "and it's important to this community at large that will educate every student that walks through our doors."
The board also heard from Assistant Superintendent Mike Sanders on the implementation of a pilot program for the system's bring-your-own-device policy, meant to encourage the use of technology in education.
The system will start a pilot program consisting of 15 classrooms in January, lasting most of the spring semester. The 15 teachers brought from all around the system were sorted into three levels of technological proficiency, to ensure that even the least technologically advanced will be able to grasp the policy.
A feedback meeting has been scheduled among the 15 teachers in late February, with a final meeting to be held in April on what worked and what didn't.
"We're excited about it," Sanders said. "This will help us develop a long-term, viable plan. We want to customize it for Carrollton City Schools and make it look like us."
Sanders said he's heard from numerous other school systems that the policy has reduced discipline issues.
"As a former assistant principal, I'm all for anything that reduces discipline problems," he told the board. "Teachers decide when the devices can come out, and students have to access the system's wireless Internet."
Edwards assured the board that taking a slower approach to the implementation is a good thing done deliberately.
"We always want to be on the cutting edge, but this is done differently so we can learn to use the technology wisely," the superintendent said. "We want to maximize the technology that's being brought in for education."
Edwards warned that other school systems who are rushing to implement the policies may find issues.
"Some school systems in the Atlanta area are implementing their policies so fast, you just know that they're getting both the good out of it and also the bad with thefts and misuse," Edwards said. "Crafting a meticulous plan like this will help diminish the bad tremendously."