DOUGHERTY CO., GA (WALB) - Monroe High School was removed from the state's priority list because of the dramatic changes it has made to improve academics.
Priority schools on the list represent the lowest-performing five percent of Title I schools based on achievement data.
The school was put on the list in 2012, about the time when principal Vinson Davis arrived.
While many credit him for the improvements, he said it's been a community effort.
At Monroe High School on Wednesday, students were busy taking 'benchmark tests,' one of the many tests they take each year to help school leaders measure academic improvement.
"There are different requirements such as assessing students as you teach, as they learn, to see what they know, what they don't know," explained Alethia Samuels. She has been a teacher at the school for about five years.
Samuels said the tests' results help show where improvements need to be made. It's measuring improvements, that she said has helped to get the school off the state's priority list.
Samuels was one of the many teachers who was walking around with smiles this week. But maybe the happiest out of all the staff was the principal.
"This is a proud moment for a lot of us here who contribute to the work each day at Monroe High School," said Vinson with a bright smile. He stood proudly with many of the people who have helped improve the school on Wednesday afternoon.
Since 2012 Monroe Comprehensive High School was a school that was not performing as well as others in the state. Principal Vinson Davis said a lot of things have changed since then, starting with the teachers.
"We've had a lot of changes with the teaching staff, but more so teacher capacity," said Vinson. "There's a lot of training we've been able to get to our teachers."
Vinson said a school improvement grant helped pay for more teacher training and technology.
He said parents and the community have also become more involved over the years.
Former Principal John Davis, as well as many alumni often spend time at the school helping students, from academically to socially and even financially.
"Kids that are here now, they love to see that because they know there's all kinds of help," said John.
But one improvement students, teachers and alumni said they recognize and cherish the most is the close-knit feel of the entire school.
"It's like family here," said Samuels. "And that's one of the biggest differences that have taken place here. When Mr. Davis got here, he kind of pulled everybody together."
When Vinson took leadership of the school about five years ago, he wanted to extend the school day.
Now, students at Monroe have more instructional time than any other school in the district.
Vinson said he thinks that extra time has also played a role in the improvements, but said there is still a lot of work to be done in the school in the future.
Copyright 2017 WALB. All rights reserved.