One public school in Muscogee County is among the 15 percent in the state to receive the top grade in the Georgia Department of Education’s third annual School Climate Star Ratings.
Early College Academy of Columbus earned 5 stars on the 1-5 scale, based on surveys of students, personnel and parents, as well as student discipline data and attendance records for students and personnel in the 2015-16 school year.
The ratings are designed to measure what the department calls the “quality and character of school life — the ‘culture’ of the school.” In other words, the ratings show what it feels like to be a student there, have your children attend there or work there. So these are subjective scores, as opposed to the state’s objective measurement, called the College and Career Ready Performance Index. The CCRPI scores, which the Ledger-Enquirer reported last month, are based on the state’s standardized exams, the Georgia Milestones Assessment System.
Early College has improved from 3 to 4 to 5 stars in each year of the ratings. Susan Willard, the school’s dean, praised the staff, students and parents focusing on improving the climate, including implementing the Positive Behavioral and Intervention Supports program. PBIS emphasizes rewarding positive behavior instead of only punishing negative behavior.
For example, Willard said, Early College staff members give students “Cougar Checks” when they see them doing something above-and-beyond in their academics or behavior, such as extra credit, picking up trash they didn’t drop or helping someone carry a load into school.
“That shows pride and responsibility in your school,” Willard told the Ledger-Enquirer on Thursday.
Each week, Early College students who earn Cougar Checks are eligible for a drawing. Winners receive prizes such as school supplies or snacks. Each month they are eligible for more valuable prizes, such as wireless speakers or headphones. Each semester, the students without any discipline infractions are treated to a movie. The school’s Partners in Education and PTA help pay for the prizes and movie tickets, Willard said.
“It has changed the atmosphere of the school,” she said.
It also has boosted the school’s academic performance. Early College improved its CCRPI score from 83.5 to 97.3 on the 100-point scale from 2015 to 2016.
“There’s a definite correlation,” Willard said. “The kids are happier.”
And so is the staff, she said. Willard gives rewards, such as certificates or candy or breakfast, to teachers doing an excellent job, for example, during a parent-teacher conference or on a lesson plan. Students also can give teachers Cougar Checks for making a positive impact on them.
“If we didn’t have teachers who model positive behavior,” Willard said, “this would slip.”
In the 2015 ratings, Britt David Magnet Academy was the only Muscogee County school to receive 5 stars, but Britt David slipped to 3 stars in 2016.
Asked for her reaction and why Britt David dropped from 5 to 3 stars, principal Clara Davis told the Ledger-Enquirer in an email Thursday, “In comparing the four components of our 2016 Climate Survey with those of the 2015 Climate Survey, we found the greatest discrepancy in the ‘Safe and Substance-Free Learning Environment.’ In 2015, we scored a 100 and in 2016, we scored an 85.714. This was due to the way our data input for discipline is interpreted by the State. For instance, according to the State, in 2016 we had seven instances of Battery. What was entered into Infinite Campus as Physical Aggression Level 1 (hitting, pinching, shoving, slapping, etc.) was interpreted by the State to be an unleveled Battery which, of course, would be much more serious. As I understand it, the fewer total incidents reported, the greater the impact on our rating as it is based on percentages. These Physical Aggression Level 1 incidences made up 41% of our report thus a major contribution in the drop of two stars.”
In the first annual ratings, four Muscogee schools received 5 stars: Key and Midland elementary schools, Double Churches Middle and Columbus High. In 2016, Double Churches received 4 stars, Columbus High and Midland 3 stars and Key 2 stars.
MUSCOGEE COUNTY’S 2016 SCHOOL CLIMATE STAR RATINGS COMPARED TO CCRPI SCORES
1. Early College Academy (high school) 97.3
1. Aaron Cohn Middle School 88
2. Northside High School 87.1
3. Blackmon Road Middle School 85.4
4. Hardaway High School 81.7
5. Clubview Elementary School 80.2
6. Double Churches Elementary School 77.4
7. Veterans Memorial Middle School 74.6
8. Double Churches Middle School 73.4
9. Shaw High School 72.8
10. Fort Middle School 70
11. Carver High School 68.3
12. Richards Middle School 67.5
13. Midland Middle School 61.5
1. Britt David Magnet Academy (elementary school) 105.1
2. Columbus High School 102.4
3. Mathews Elementary School 91.3
4. Eagle Ridge Academy (elementary school) 85.7
5. North Columbus Elementary School 83.9
6. Midland Academy (elementary school) 80.7
7. Downtown Elementary Magnet Academy 76.9
8. Dimon Elementary Magnet Academy 67.8
9. Arnold Magnet Academy (middle school) 66
10. Blanchard Elementary School 65.3
11. (tie) St. Marys Road Magnet Academy (elementary school) 64.6
11. (tie) Wynnton Arts Academy (elementary school) 64.6
13. Lonnie Jackson Academy (elementary school) 61.9
14. South Columbus Elementary School 59.7
15. Georgetown Elementary School 59.5
16. Forrest Road Elementary School 58.6
17. Wesley Heights Elementary School 54.7
18. Rothschild Leadership Academy (middle school) 52.9
19. Davis Elementary School 52.1
1. Gentian Elementary School 87
2. River Road Elementary School 81.4
3. Hannan Elementary Magnet Academy 80.5
4. Johnson Elementary School 74.4
5. Allen Elementary School 70.5
6. Reese Road Leadership Academy (elementary school) 68.8
7. Key Elementary School 65.2
8. Fox Elementary School 63.8
9. Dawson Elementary School 62.9
10. Kendrick High School 62.7
11. Spencer High School 61.7
12. Rigdon Road Elementary School 58
13. Eddy Middle School 57
14. East Columbus Magnet Academy (middle school) 55.5
15. Brewer Elementary School 50.7
16. Dorothy Height Elementary School 46.8
1. Jordan Vocational High School 76.4
2. Waddell Elementary School 64.1
3. Baker Middle School 52.8
4. Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School 47.8
HARRIS AND CHATTAHOOCHEE COUNTIES
New Mountain Hill Elementary School 84.4
Mulberry Creek Elementary School 89.3
Harris County High School 85.5
Harris County Carver Middle School 82.3
Park Elementary School 63.3
Pine Ridge Elementary School 84.9
Creekside School (grades 5-6) 80.8
Chattahoochee County Education Center (elementary school) 89.5
Chattahoochee County High School 75.8
Chattahoochee County Middle School 49