Legislation supported by a powerful member of the Georgia House of Representatives would give added flexibility to school districts that score well on the state’s new College and Career Ready Performance Index.
Rep. Brooks Coleman, R-Duluth, chairman of the House Education Committee, introduced a bill this year that would give high-scoring districts some freedom from class size and salary rules.
The goal, Coleman said Wednesday, is to reward districts that perform well and provide a platform for other districts to benefit from their success.
» HOW THEY SCORED: Find CCRPI data by system or school in our database
Precisely what flexibility districts would receive is not clear. Coleman said the bill, which he plans to bring up during the next legislative session in January, is still a work in progress.
But Coleman said the 0-to-100 College and Career index grades released by the state Department of Education on Tuesday raise questions that need to be answered.
“Those that are doing good, what’s happening there?” Coleman asked. “Why are they doing well? Some of the schools that are doing well are small schools. What does that tell you? Then you had Gwinnett, a giant system. Why did they do well?”
Gwinnett and several other metro Atlanta districts fared well in the College and Career index grading system, which takes into account factors such as graduation rates, student attendance, academic progress and performance on standardized tests.
Some metro Atlanta districts, however, struggled under the new system. Four area districts — Atlanta Public Schools, Clayton, DeKalb and Douglas — all had grades that were below the state average for elementary schools, middle schools and high schools.
APS’ scores were, by far, the worst in metro Atlanta. The district’s average grades for high schools, middle schools and elementary schools all fell below 70.
Clayton and DeKalb fared better than APS, and Douglas outperformed those three. But Douglas still fell short of the state average at each school level.
Douglas County Schools Superintendent Gordon Pritz said staff at the district “are currently trying to better understand the complex and multiple methods and criteria used to determine the scores and how these now indicate school successes and achievement.”
Getting the scores this late in the school year will keep the district from implementing changes that could lead to a better score, Pritz said. And while he praised the College and Career index as a system that measures a broad array of factors, Pritz said he is not sure how the district’s newest school, New Manchester High, was graded, given that it is new and had no data to indicate whether or not students made progress.
Department of Education officials said student progress can still be measured using scores the student received before attending the new school.
Georgia crafted the College and Career index after the state was granted a waiver from the federal No Child Left Behind law. Grades won’t lead to bonuses or firings, as was the case with designations tied to No Child.
But just as failures under No Child brought painful consequences, they also opened the door to assistance in the way of additional funding.
Bad College and Career index grades won’t give schools or districts access to additional funding. State education officials had predicted that schools that got bad grades would likely be eligible for additional resources because they would already have been designated as “focus” or “priority” schools, federal designations that are tied to having a high percentage of poor students and gaps between the academic performance of different groups of students.
Of the 85 focus and priority schools in metro Atlanta that got College and Career index grades, 76 of them had scores that fell below the state average.
Four districts in metro Atlanta had College and Career Ready Performance Index grades that fellow below the state average for high schools, middle schools and elementary schools.
High schools (state average, 72.6)
Atlanta Public Schools, 60.3
Middle schools (81.4)
Elementary schools (83.4)
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has been mining reams of data to bring you a closer look at the new school grading system you won’t find anywhere else. Today, we explain a Georgia legislator’s proposal that would reward districts that score well and provide a platform for other districts to benefit from their success.