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Monday, August 8, 2011 - 12:26pm

Reforms Working At Savannah's Beach High

Savannah-area school officials say, they believe an under-performing high school has made standards for Adequate Yearly Progress for the first time since the No Child Left Behind law was passed nine years ago.

The turn-around for Beach High School comes a year after receiving a million-dollar federal grant for radical reform.

The grant paid for extra staff and intense training for students and teachers.

But in return, the school had to replace administrators and half the faculty. Only 23 teachers were kept. 52 came on new.

Principal Derrick Muhammad says, the state won't confirm Beach's AYP for a month, but test results make it certain.

"We're very excited over here," Muhammad says. "We had a chance to really just drill down and look at the data and deal with students by name with what they needed and make decisions on how we could help them."

Beach is one of three Savannah-area schools to get large grants in exchange for big staff changes.

"As we identified a math student or a language arts student that was falling a little bit behind in a subject area and we could pinpoint exactly what that need was, we would hire a retired teacher to come in and work with that student or group of students," Muhammad says.

The school faces a new hurdle next year when ever more rigorous tests will raise standards again.