New school data released today is intended to give the public a new look at how Georgia schools are performing.
The “student growth model” data released this morning is part of a significant change in how Georgia grades its schools and teachers.
Designed to show how much students at each school learn in a year, regardless of whether they passed state tests, it’s part of a shift away from grading schools almost entirely on pass/fail rates on tests. Some thought that approach was unfair to schools with high percentages of students from low-income families, learning English or in special education programs.
This data is still based on standardized tests. But Georgia policymakers are basically telling parents not to worry only about whether kids passed the test, but to look at the progress they made from last year too.
Overall, most Metro Atlanta school districts showed student growth near the state median for many grades and subjects.
But at the school level, the data suggests that while students at some of metro Atlanta’s top schools may have few problems passing state tests, but they’re not learning as much in some subjects as their peers at other schools.
The Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science and Technology, for instance, typically tops Georgia’s performance charts, but under the new measure being the high school is a low performer in one key area of math. Cobb County’s Walton High School is another top performer that isn’t tops on the new list.
And schools with more students from low-income families tended to have lower growth scores than schools with schools with fewer low-income students.