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DeKalb Schools: We're improving so less risk of state takeover

DeKalb Schools is first out of the gate this morning with a response to the long-awaited release of the state College and Career Ready Performance Index by the state Department of Education.

The index is a dense thicket of data the state now uses to assign schools a numeric performance grade. I don't have a lot of confidence in the index yet; it may too complicated for parents to penetrate it, which is a reflection of DOE's effort to consider multiple performance indicators.

The index relies on the scores from the new Georgia Milestones tests, which have not been around long enough for us to know whether they meet validity standards.

That said, here is what DeKalb had to say about its newly released scores:

The DeKalb County School District has shown significant academic growth in the College & Career Ready Performance Index for school year 2015 released today by the Georgia Department of Education.

All three categories of schools (high, middle, and elementary) received nearly 34 or more points out of a maximum of 40 points for academic growth (progress) as follows: · High schools – 36.0 · Middle schools – 35.4 · Elementary schools – 33.9

“Our students demonstrated significant academic growth, which is a precursor to achievement,” Superintendent Dr. R. Stephen Green said. “Learning comes from mastering content and our students are proving they are making progress. By continuing our laser focus on classroom instruction with the best teachers, who are fairly compensated, properly motivated, and retained for the long term, we will continue to see our students grow and excel.”

From 2014 to 2015, students in 10 of the District’s 27 high schools showed double digit growth in overall scores with no declines in overall scores. These schools included:

  • McNair HS – 19.5
  • Clarkston HS – 17.9
  • Gateway to College Academy (closed) – 16.6
  • Destiny Achievers Academy of Excellence – 14.5
  • Dunwoody HS – 12.5
  • Elizabeth Andrews HS – 12.5
  • Tucker HS – 12.5
  • Arabia Mountain HS – 12.4
  • Columbia HS – 10.8

For middle schools, 17 schools, or 55 percent, of the 31 schools demonstrated growth. Twelve elementary schools had double digit growth in overall scores with eight of these schools qualifying for Title I free or reduced lunch costs. A total of 66 elementary schools, or 79 percent, of 84 schools showed growth.

Fourteen schools scored the maximum 40 points for growth (progress) and include:

  • Austin ES
  • Arabia Mountain HS
  • Brockett ES
  • DeKalb Early College Academy
  • DeKalb School of the Arts
  • Dunwoody ES
  • PATH Academy Charter
  • Globe Academy Charter
  • Idlewood Elementary
  • Indian Creek ES
  • Kittredge Magnet
  • Laurel Ridge ES
  • Leadership Preparatory Academy Charter
  • Wadsworth Magnet

There were 11 very high performing schools with CCRPI scores exceeding 90 points as well as four schools that exceeded the 100-point scale by earning additional bonus points and include:

  • Wadsworth Magnet – 107.3
  • Kittredge Magnet – 106.4
  • DeKalb Early College Academy HS – 102.5
  • DeKalb School of the Arts HS – 102.1
  • Arabia Mountain HS
  • Museum School Charter
  • DeKalb School of the Arts MS
  • Austin ES
  • Dunwoody ES
  • Fernbank ES
  • Vanderlyn ES

“The DeKalb County School District is regaining its rightful place as a leader in public education,” said Dr. Green. “We have regained full accreditation, built a modest fund balance through fiscal responsibility, and give all our principals and teachers a needed pay raise as well as increasing SAT scores by 103 points, improving graduation rates by more than 10 points, and being a leader in STEM education.”

Opportunity School District Schools

The DeKalb County School District has 24 schools that qualify for the Governor’s proposed Opportunity School District. That is, they have a three-year CCRPI average under 60 points. Under the Governor’s definition, the 2015 CCRPI scores demonstrate the following:

  • One school, Columbia High School, is now off the list of OSD-eligible schools.
  • Six schools have a three-year CCRPI average of 55 points or higher and are within 1-2 years of being off the list. These schools include: Towers High School, Freedom Middle, Salem Middle, Cedar Grove Elementary,  Flat Rock Elementary, Snapfinger Elementary.

Thirteen schools have a three-year average between 45 and 55 points and are on a path of coming off the list within 2-3 years. These schools include: Cedar Grove Middle, Browns Mill Elementary , Canby Lane Elementary, Clifton Elementary, Columbia Elementary, Dunaire Elementary, E.L. Miller Elementary, Fairington Elementary,  Oakview Elementary, Redan Elementary , McNair DLA, Panola Way Elementary,  Toney Elementary.

This leaves three schools that are in need of intensive, enhanced assistance and services. These schools are: Stoneview Elementary, Flat Shoals Elementary, Meadowview Elementary.

“Our students, parents, and staff are dedicated and working hard to improve academic growth, said Dr. Green. “Now that we are not distracted on matters other than academics, we can put the focus back where is needs to be… in the classroom.”

About CCRPI The CCRPI is Georgia’s statewide accountability system, implemented in 2012 to replace the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Adequate Yearly Progress measurement, after the U.S. Department of Education granted Georgia’s waiver from NCLB. It measures schools and school districts on an easy-to-understand 100-point scale, helping parents and the public better understand how schools are performing in a more comprehensive manner than the pass/fail system previously in place under AYP. Schools are awarded up to 100 points as follows: Achievement – 50; Progress – 40; Achievement Gap – 10; Challenge points – 10. An addition 10 Challenge Points may be awarded.


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About the Author

Maureen Downey has written editorials and opinion pieces about local, state and federal education policy since the 1990s.