(Rome City Schools media release):
Rome City Schools underwent an accreditation review in 2016 by AdvancED (currently Cognia). At the time of that performance review, Rome City Schools ranked as a top-performing district with an above-average rank of 340.24. Knowing the result was strong, the system set out for more.
Mr. Louis C. Byars took the reins as Superintendent in September of 2016 and accepted the challenge to be better. Over the next 5 years, Rome City Schools went to work and accomplished greatness.
Since 2016, enrollment has grown to over 6,600 students in 2021, while the State enrollment numbers have decreased. Even with enrollment growth, Rome City Schools has maintained small class sizes with an average of 17 students per class in grades K-6. Students within the gifted programs have increased by 33% to 464 students.
Rome City Schools has expanded many areas to create advantageous opportunities for students. Advanced Placement courses have increased from 16 courses offered in 2016 to 30 courses currently being offered. Significant growth has been noted within the Dual Enrollment Programs. In 2016, 18 students were enrolled, as of 2021, 285 students are participating in dual enrollment. Career Technical and Agricultural Education (CTAE) pathways have increased at both the middle school and high school. Rome Middle School began with one CTAE pathway in 2016. Today, Rome Middle School offers six pathways. Rome High School started with nine CTAE pathways in 2016. Today, students can explore a variety of pathways with 30 being offered. Students engaged in Work-Based learning have grown by 270%, many working within their field of study. The review team praised the expansion of CTAE, AP, and dual enrollment offerings. According to the report, “The expansion of courses to meet individual student goals guides decisions to provide a wide range of offerings to meet students’ interests to improve the graduation rate.”
During the 2016 AdvancED review, Rome City Schools had one STEM Certified school. Today, Rome City Schools is proud to have 3 certified STEM schools.
Rome City Schools takes pride in the diversity of its student and employee populations. Throughout the past 5 years, Rome City Schools has closed the graduation rate gap within subgroup populations. Additionally, Rome City Schools has taken steps to increase the employment of minorities, as well as minorities within leadership groups. In 2016, Rome City Schools only had four minority employees within school level leadership and zero at the district level. Today, Rome City Schools has nine minority employees serving in school level leadership positions and six serving in coordinator and director roles at the Central Office.
Enrichment programs and initiatives have grown significantly in the past five years. Through these programs, Rome City Schools is able to identify individual student needs and provide opportunities for each student to be successful. This is accomplished through advocacy programs, reading incentives, focused parent engagement, strong community support, along with many other areas of commitment.
During this time of accepting the challenge of being better, Rome City Schools had to take over the transportation of students to and from school. This required the system to purchase a fleet of buses and hire additional personnel to drive and monitor the buses. Building projects were successfully completed with Main Elementary and the College and Career Academy. COVID-19 presented its own set of challenges with funding cuts and adapting to new ways to educate students. With strategic planning, Rome City Schools has been able to overcome these adversities and continue on the path of being the best.
While the district has received a multitude of accolades and recognitions, there is one that truly defines Rome City Schools as the best school district in the state of Georgia, and among the top 20 within the world.
Cognia returned to Rome City Schools in 2021 to re-evaluate what the system has been accomplishing since 2016. Upon completion of their evaluation, they were impressed. Rome City Schools earned a score of 381.61 out of 400. In addition to top rankings, Rome City Schools has been named a District of Distinction.
To be considered a District of Distinction, Cognia’s website states, “The Schools of Distinction award recognizes schools and systems that truly stand out in their service to learners”.
Cognia serves over 36,000 schools. Only 20 districts worldwide received this honor, Rome City Schools has set the bar high for the rest and is honored to have received recognition of leadership in education with the designation of Accreditation of Distinction.