What is it? 

Research Engagement and Communities for Hispanic/Latino Educated Students—REACHES, supported by The Goizueta Foundation, was carried out from 2011 – 2015.

A REACHES Replication Manual, created to help communities who want to develop their own improvement initiatives, is available here. The manual received a Gold Award and Best in Category Award during the 2015 Georgia School Public Relations Association’s annual Publications and Electronic Media competition.

REACHES’ purpose was to improve student achievement and ultimately increase graduation percentages of Hispanic/Latino students who were college or career ready in Calhoun City and Tattnall County School Systems.

The initiative had two phases. The Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education carried out the Research Phase (Year I) of REACHES in June 2011-June 2012 and held the Community Engagement and Planning Phase (Years II-III) from July 2012 – June 2015.

Check out these stories from the Calhoun Times:
May 2015: Program boosts readiness of Hispanic students 

January 2014:  City schools, LEJO partnership breaks language barrier for students

What happened during the REACHES Initiative?

Research Phase (Year I):
The Georgia Partnership…

  • -Recruited an expert state Advisory Board (see left side)
  • -Selected REACHES communities based on 27 criteria including enrollment and demographic data, student achievement levels, and community leadership readiness
  • -Researched the existing conditions of education for Hispanic/Latino students in Georgia
  • -Benchmarked successful programs and initiatives for Hispanic/Latino students

Community Engagement and Planning (Years II-III):

  • -REACHES Communities assembled local advisory boards to address the academic, social, emotional, and physical needs of Hispanic/Latino children to become college and career ready
  • -The Partnership conducted community and school focus groups to diagnose local birth-to-work pipeline weaknesses (and track anticipated post-initiative changes)

Who participated?
REACHES Communities:

Calhoun City Schools

  • -Located 68 miles north of Atlanta
  • -Seat of Gordon County
  • -3,476 K-12 students
  • -1 cluster of 4 schools
  • -Charter system
  • -32 percent Hispanic, 57 percent White, and 7 percent Black students
  • -13 percent, or 452, ESOL students

Tattnall County Schools

  • -Located in the heart of southeast Georgia
  • -Home to Reidsville (county seat), Cobbtown, Collins, Glennville, and Manassas
  • -3,472 K-12 students
  • -7 schools (including 1 high school)
  • -18 percent Hispanic, 54% White, and 25% Black students
  • -8 percent, or 278, ESOL students
  • -5 percent migrant students

Data Source: OSA 2012-2013

REACHES Communities used local student achievement and focus group data to guide community planning and track project progress on REACHES Action Plans.

The Georgia Partnership  worked with state leaders to connect key research and resources to communities.

Overall REACHES programs addressed:

  • -Parent communication and engagement
  • -Academic support for students learning English (Pre-K and high school)
  • -Educator professional development on diversity and English Learners
  • -College and career readiness camps, university visits and partnerships.

Continue reading for a closer look at Calhoun and Tattnall’s specific plans.

REACHES Action Plan Objectives:

  1. Reduce academic performance disparity compared to “all students”
  2. Improve literacy skills and school readiness of Pre-K students
  3. Improve high school students’ knowledge base of post-secondary opportunities
  4. Improve parental involvement and remove communication barriers
  5. Improve teacher quality through professional development

2013 Outcomes:

  • -REACHES high school students consistently passed over 80 percent of their academic classes (Spring 2013 n=25, Fall 2013 n=48).
  • -3 REACHES seniors obtained scholarships from the Hispanic Scholarship Fund Spring 2013.
  • -Calhoun partnered with the Department of Early Care and Learning to pilot a rising Kindergarten student English Language Learner (ELL) program for 28 students.
  • -REACHES Pre-K students demonstrated gains ranging from 3-37 points on the Holly Lane Phonological Awareness Strategies Test (measured November 2012-May 2013, n=70)
  • -After receiving language intervention normally not offered in Pre-K, fewer REACHES rising Kindergartners required K-12 ELL services in 2013 than in 2012 (prior to REACHES Pre-K work).

2014 Outcomes:

  • -A Calhoun REACHES language intervention specialist worked with 61 developmentally delayed Pre-K English Learner students. In one school year, against the odds, 33 students advanced a year and a half to developmentally to match performance expectations for their age.
  • -Calhoun’s 32 high school ESOL students served by the REACHES ELL Liaison had a 90 percent pass rate in academic classes.

REACHES Action Plan Objectives

  1. Improved school attendance
  2. Improved reading and math performance
  3. Parents will have increased understanding, participation, and involvement in the school system
  4. Increased character building and self-esteem

2013 Outcomes:

  • -100 percent of district counselors and 40 community members were trained on the educational and legal rights of immigrant students
  • -20 teachers began using Rosetta Stone to learn Spanish.
  • -100 percent of Parent Cafe’ participants were very satisfied with the program (n=16).  75 percent believe the program will have a lasting effect.
  • -Transportation is a critical challenge in Tattnall County.  REACHES transportation has made attendance to an ongoing afterschool college-readiness program for 30 students, and campus visits to two regional colleges for 20 students and five parents possible.

2014 Outcomes

  • -Tattnall REACHES improved the cultural competency skills of 60 of its leading system educators and administrators.
  • -Responding to the requests of parents, Tattnall launched and grew a free English language program, helping accomplish the goals of 40 adults.
  • -100 percent of high school Summer Camp participants (n=17) were very satisfied with the program which included goal setting, job application and interview tips, and a personalized college experience day at Georgia Southern University.
  • -100 percent of Parent Cafe participants were very satisfied and believe the program will have a lasting effect on on their children (n=17).


The Georgia Partnership presented Promising Practices for Engaging Hispanic/Latino Students in Georgia to education leaders at statewide conferences. The best practice and research resource was highlighted by community partners to national stakeholders.


Contact the Georgia Partnership at (404) 223-2280 or communications director, Robert Gaines.