How does it feel to go to Columbus area schools? The 2018 climate ratings explain.

Muscogee County Public Education Center
Muscogee County Public Education Center

A barrage of data measuring various aspects of how well Columbus area schools educate their students has been released in the last week. Now, here’s a rating that attempts to describe what it feels like to attend those schools.

Following reports of the 2018 scores for the SAT and ACT college entrance exams, the College and Career Ready Performance Index for all Georgia public schools, and earlier this year the graduation rate and the Georgia Milestones Assessment System, which are the state’s standardized tests, here comes a more subjective measurement: the School Climate Star Ratings.

The ratings comprise the following indicators:

Surveys of students, teachers and parents, measuring their perceptions of the school’s climate.

Student discipline, defined by the suspension rate.

Safe and substance-free learning environment, factoring discipline incidents and student survey responses about use of illegal substances and the prevalence of violence, bullying and unsafe incidents at school.

Attendance, factoring the average daily attendance of teachers, administrators and other staff members, as well as the percentage of students with fewer than six unexcused absences.

That information is crunched into a formula that results in a rating system of 1-5 stars: 5 stars is considered excellent, 4 stars above average, 3 stars average, 2 stars below satisfactory and 1 star unsatisfactory.

School Climate Star Ratings are given to individual schools, not districts.

Muscogee County

In the Muscogee County School District’s 2018 climate ratings, compared to 2017:

37 percent of the schools (20 of 54) improved their rating, including 11 percent (six schools) that increased their rating by 2 stars: Blanchard Elementary, Double Churches Elementary, Lonnie Jackson Academy, Mathews Elementary, South Columbus Elementary and Waddell Elementary.

7 percent of the schools (4 of 54) had their rating decrease: Baker Middle (by 2 stars), Davis Elementary, Hardaway High and Rothschild Leadership Academy.

89 percent of the schools (48 of 54) earned 3 stars or more, up from 75 percent last year.

57 percent of the schools (31 of 54) earned 4 stars or more, up from 36 percent last year.

11 percent of the schools (6 of 54) earned 5 stars, up from 4 percent (2 of 53) last year.

MCSD superintendent David Lewis said in the school district’s news release, “As evidenced by the significant increases in the Star Climate Ratings, our teachers and administrators have demonstrated a strong commitment to improving the climate and culture of our schools, which directly correlates with student and school performance.”

Here are MCSD’s 2018 School Climate Star Ratings, with the 2017 ratings in parentheses:


Elementary schools: Blanchard (3), Double Churches (3), Mathews (3).

Middle schools: Rainey-McCullers (didn’t receive a rating last year because it was a new school then; also serves high school students).

High schools: Columbus (5), Early College (5).


Elementary schools: Britt David (4), Clubview (4), Dawson (4), Dimon (3), Downtown (3), Eagle Ridge (4), Forrest Road (4), Gentian (3), Hannan (3), Johnson (3), Key (4), Midland (3), North Columbus (4), River Road (3), South Columbus (2), Wynnton (4).

Middle schools: Aaron Cohn (4), Arnold (3), Blackmon Road (4), Double Churches (4), Midland (4), Richards (4), Veterans Memorial (4).

High schools: Carver (4), Northside (4).


Elementary schools: Allen (3), Brewer (3), Dorothy Height (2), Fox (2), Georgetown (3), Lonnie Jackson (1), Martin Luther King Jr. (2), Reese Road (3), Rigdon Road (2), Waddell (1), Wesley Heights (3).

Middle schools: East Columbus (2), Fort (3).

High schools: Hardaway (4), Kendrick (3), Shaw (3), Spencer (2).


Elementary schools: None.

Middle schools: Eddy (2), Rothschild (3).

High schools: Jordan (2).


Elementary schools: Davis (2), St. Marys Road (1).

Middle schools: Baker (3).

High schools: None.

Harris County

Out of Harris County’s seven schools, one earned 5 stars (New Mountain Hill Elementary), four earned 4 stars (Harris County Carver Middle, Mulberry Creek Elementary, Park Elementary and Pine Ridge Elementary) and two earned 3 stars (Creekside and Harris County High).

“The results are in line with what Harris County is all about,” HCSD assistant superintendent for curriculum David Dennie told the Ledger-Enquirer via email. “We strive every day to provide a safe, caring environment for our students, faculty and staff. We are fortunate that our parents are supportive of the work we do in the schools and our students enjoy coming to school each day. The scores are the result of the hard work and dedication of all the faculty and staff throughout our district.

“While the star climate ratings are indicative of how great it is to be part of the Harris County School District and community at large, we have room to grow and will continue to work on lagging indicators through school improvement plans to make our schools the best they can be. We do all of this to produce educated, well-rounded students that become great citizens for our community, or wherever their lives may take them.”

Creekside dropped to 3 stars in 2018 from 5 stars in 2017 after being at 3 stars in 2016. All the other Harris County school ratings remained the same from 2017 to 2018.

Chattahoochee County

Out of Chattahoochee County’s three schools, the high school improved from 3 to 4 stars, and the elementary and middle schools remained at 3 stars. ChattCo superintendent David McCurry, however, noted that the points within those star ratings improved for the elementary and middle schools.

“The Chattahoochee County Education Center (our elementary school) moved from 89.2 in 2017 to 89.4 in 2018, two points shy of a four-star rating,” McCurry told the Ledger-Enquirer via email. “ChattCo Middle increased to 83.3 in 2018, 4.8 points higher than 2017. The middle school score was just one-tenth of a point from receiving four stars. ChattCo High’s 2018 score increased by two points over the previous year with a score of 84.3, a four-star rating.”

McCurry mentioned some of factors he and his staff think contributed to this improvement.

“The creation of a school system police department two years ago has led to a safer learning environment for students and employees, as well as a sense of security for the parents,” he said. “Through programs such as Attendance Works, our system social worker and parent coordinator have made focused efforts to teach the importance of school attendance, thus leading to higher attendance rates.

“Our partnership with CareConnect Health to provide school-based healthcare has had a positive impact on student attendance as well. Two years ago, the school administration completely redesigned the student handbooks to include tiered discipline codes that are clear and consistent. This redesign has resulted in a code that is easy to understand and follow, thus fewer discipline infractions.

“All of this leads to better relationships within the school system and within the community, which has led to improvements in our perception surveys with student, parents, and employees.”

Mark Rice, 706-576-6272, @MarkRiceLE.