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Schools react to new evaluation method

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The Georgia Department of Education released a new report card Tuesday and Dougherty County is below average.  But school officials are confident that they'll be able to bring up those scores next year.

This is the first year Georgia is using a new method of evaluating schools' performance. It's called the College and Career Ready Performance Index. This system replaces AYP, or Adequate Yearly Progress, which just looked at one test and was pass or fail.

"We're not just measuring academic performance anymore. That is still absolutely a significant part of the index of the accountability, but we're also looking at school culture and school climate, which are both critical to student success," said Dr. John Barge, the State School Superintendent.

Each school receives a score out of 100. The overall score is made up of three areas, achievement counts for 70%, progress is 15%, and achievement gap accounts for the remaining 15%. Then each of those areas is broken up into sub-categories.  There is also an option for a school or system to earn 10 additional points for exceeding the bar.

"We're now looking at the whole school, the whole system. We're looking at all the programs that are in place. And so there are a lot of things, there are a lot of advantage points I guess you could say in the new system, compared to the old way of measuring a schools worth," said Renee Bridges, the Dougherty County School System's Testing and Evaluation Coordinator.

But Dougherty County came up short compared to the state numbers. The average score for Georgia's elementary schools is 83.4 compared to Dougherty County's 68.2. The county's middle schools were a little closer with 72 compared to the states 81.4. And high schools in Dougherty County saw the lowest scores with 57.4 compared to 72.6.

"I'm pleased with what we've made, I really am. We just need to shoot for scoring higher next year.  I want our high schools to do better. I think we do need to improve in our test scores."

Bridges says high schoolers need to start taking their end of course test more seriously.

"I think a lot of students right now look at the end of course test as a final exam and they're thinking well I've got a 85 average in this class, I can kind of blow off the final and still pass. But we've got to change that attitude. And we've got to put something else stronger in place in order to make sure they take it seriously," said Bridges.

There were some bright spots.  Below are the scores for some other Dougherty County schools. 

Robert Cross Middle  95
Lake Park Elementary  91
Lincoln Magnet School 92
Lamar Reese   89
Merry Acres    80
International Charter 82

Overall, Lee County schools had higher scores, but school leaders say they're still looking at ways to improve. 

Lee County middle and high schools scored above the state averages with scores of 85.5 and 78.3 respectively.  Lee County's elementary schools score of 81.9 is slightly below the 83.4 state average.

"At first I thought, well yeah, this is pretty good considering this is the first year and we're looking at all of this and trying to decipher where we can improve and a lot of that we did last year because this is all of last years data and scores," said Gail Melvin, the Lee County Schools Curriculum and Testing Director.

"There are just some things that we do for economical reasons and what's best for the students with our special needs students and our ELL students. And in order to serve those populations we can't always have teachers at both schools, so we might put several of those students that would be going to one school at another school. So this kind of skews the scores at that school, so we're just going to have to look at that stuff now that we're seeing those things. But it's all about trying to take care of the needs of the students and not upping scores on for CCRPI," explained Melvin.

These scores were for the 2011-2012 school year.  School officials say it will be easier to evaluate the next set of scores when they have something to compare it to.  The scores for the 2012-2013 school year are expected to be released this fall.

School officials urge parents to look at more than just the final score of a school since there are so many parts that make up the system.

For a complete look at all the scores for schools across the state, click on one of the links below.

http://www.gadoe.org/External-Affairs-and-Policy/communications/Pages/NCLB-Waiver.aspx

 

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