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Schools receive Title I honors
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All four of Dawson County's elementary schools have received Georgia Title I designation from the state Department of Education.

And three of the schools - Black's Mill, Kilough and Robinson - have maintained their status as Title I Distinguished Schools for a seventh consecutive year, according to a recent state report.

Riverview Elementary, the county's newest school, opened in August 2010 and must wait one more year to apply for the distinction.

To be eligible, schools must first make Adequate Yearly Progress, or AYP, at least three years in a row.

The measurement, part of the federal No Child Left Behind Act, is assessed through standardized testing.

"It's nice to get that extra recognition," said Janice Darnell, the local school district's director of student support. "We are expected to receive a certificate at this summer's Title I state conference."

For the schools ranking as distinguished, their longer history of making AYP carried a monetary award of $742 each.

To be eligible for the funding, a school must have been measured for eight years or longer.

Kilough, Black's Mill and Robinson have been taking part in the AYP assessment process for nine years.

Also, under Title I certification, the four elementary schools were separated into two subcategories.

Whereas Riverview and Robinson are deemed "school wide schools," meaning their Title I funding is available to all students and teachers, Kilough and Black's Mill are "targeted assistance." That designation means only some students and teachers can receive funds.

Darnell explained that all Dawson County schools seek to be "school wide schools" because there is more freedom for using the money.

Title I status is determined by the amount of students on the free and reduced lunch program at a school.

As a result, receiving Title I certification can be seen as both positive and negative.

Although Title I schools receive federal funding, they must first have a certain number of economically disadvantaged students.

Dawson County schools choose to look at the designations as positive.

"It is really quite an achievement," Darnell said. "If you look at how the school's requirements have been slowly getting harder for AYP, and how we have been continually meeting them, it's really great that we are jumping all the hurdles."