For the second straight year, the Muscogee County School District has reduced its number of schools considered chronically failing.
MCSD had 10 of the 141 schools on the state’s original list of chronically failing schools released in February 2015 and had eight of the state’s 127 chronically failing schools last year. This year, MCSD again reduced its number chronically failing schools, to seven, while the state’s number increased to 153.
The Governor’s Office of Student Achievement, which serves as the reporting and accountability agency for education in Georgia, defines a chronically failing school as one with a College and Career Ready Performance Index below 60 the previous three straight years. The CCRPI is the state’s way of measuring its public schools and districts by combining their standardized test results and other factors into one overall score on a 100-point scale.
MCSD’s current chronically failing schools are Baker and Eddy middle schools and Davis, Dorothy Height, Forrest Road, Martin Luther King Jr. and South Columbus elementary schools.
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Dawson (from 51.5 to 62.9), Fox (from 55.6 to 63.8) and Lonnie Jackson (57.0 to 61.9) improved enough on their 2016 CCRPI scores compared to 2015 to move off the list, but Dorothy Height and Eddy students scored below 60 for the third straight year to be added to the list.
Despite existing for only the past two administrations of the state’s standardized tests, Dorothy Height, which opened in August 2014, is on the chronically failing list because the state counts the test results from the schools that closed and merged into the new school, GOSA executive director Martha Todd explained in an email Monday to the Ledger-Enquirer.
Cusseta Road and Muscogee elementary schools combined in 2014 to create Dorothy Height. So GOSA calculated a 2014 CCRPI score for Dorothy Height by using a weighted average by enrollment of the scores for Cusseta Road and Muscogee.
MCSD superintendent David Lewis said in a news release Monday that he is “pleased to see improvement and continuous overall reduction in the number of schools on the ‘chronically failing’ list. We are particularly proud of the efforts made by Fox, Dawson and Lonnie Jackson elementary schools and their community partners that resulted in their removal from the list.”
Lewis noted Forrest Road Elementary, South Columbus Elementary and Eddy Middle also improved their CCRPI scores despite being on the list.
“We will continue to differentiate support and resources in our highest need schools based on identified needs as evidenced by the improvement made at Fox, Dawson, and Lonnie Jackson to include additional staff, instructional resources, professional development, and changes in leadership, as deemed necessary,” Lewis said. “We will not be satisfied until all schools are off the list.”
DeKalb County leads the state with 26 chronically failing schools (out of 129), followed by Atlanta with 23 (out of 103), Richmond County 21 (out of 56), Fulton County with 14 (out of 105), Chatham County with 12 (out of 55), Bibb County with 11 (out of 38) and Muscogee County with seven (out of 53).
So comparing state’s second-tier cities, Augusta (Richmond) has 38 percent of its public schools on the chronically failing list, Macon (Bibb) has 29 percent), Savannah (Chatham) has 22 percent and Columbus (Muscogee) has 13 percent.
Chattahoochee County and Manchester middle schools and Central-Talbotton Elementary/High School are the other Columbus area schools on the chronically failing list.
The list lost some of its significance when Georgia voters defeated the November referendum called Amendment 1, which would have created an Opportunity School District empowered by the state to take over chronically failing schools. But the list might regain its potential impact, Todd noted.
“At this point, there are no state consequences or actions in place,” she said. “However, legislative leaders have indicated that there will be discussion during the 2017 legislative session.”