All local school districts improved their scores on the state’s overall index that measures how well they prepare children to be productive adults.
The results of the 2015 College and Career Ready Performance Index, which the Georgia Department of Education released Tuesday, show Muscogee County improved its score to an all-time high in the four-year history of the accountability system. On the 100-point scale, Muscogee improved 0.5 points this past year, from 68.5 in 2014 to 69.0 in 2015. Muscogee’s scores were 67.2 in 2012 and 66.5 in 2013.
Muscogee, however, still ranks below the Georgia average and didn’t keep pace with the state’s overall improvement. The state average increased 3.5 points, from 72.0 in 2014 to 75.5 in 2015. The state average was 74.1 in 2012 and 75.8 in 2013.
Harris County continues to rank above the state average. Harris improved its CCRPI by 2.2 points, from 77.4 in 2014 to 79.6 in 2015. Its scores were 75.6 in 2012 and 81.3 in 2013.
Chattahoochee County made the largest local improvement, jumping 7.0 points, from 60.4 in 2014 to 67.4 in 2015. Its scores were 66.9 in 2012 and 69.9 in 2013.
Noteworthy points for Muscogee County in Tuesday’s report:
▪ Two of the 10 district schools originally identified last year as eligible for a possible state takeover now are off the “failing” list — and no more were added.
By scoring at least 60 on their 2015 CCRPI, Georgetown (63.0) and Rigdon Road (63.6) elementary schools don’t fall under the Opportunity School District criteria of scoring less than 60 on the CCRPI for the past three straight years. Baker Middle School and Davis, Dawson, Forrest Road, Fox, Lonnie Jackson, Martin Luther King Jr. and South Columbus elementary schools remain on the list.
That means, if Georgia voters approve Gov. Nathan Deal’s proposed Opportunity School District amendment on the Nov. 8 ballot, those eight schools would be among the 127 in the state (down from the original 141) still eligible for state takeover. The proposed law would allow the state to take over 20 eligible schools each year and control no more than 100 such schools at any time.
▪ Out of the district’s 53 schools, 17 of them earned their highest scores in CCRPI’s four-year history: Britt David, Dimon, Georgetown, Gentian, Hannan, Johnson, Martin Luther King Jr., North Columbus, Rigdon Road, South Columbus and Wesley Heights elementary schools; Aaron Cohn and Baker middle schools; and Carver, Columbus, Hardaway and Northside high schools.
▪ The district’s nine high schools combined to surpass the state average for high schools, 76.7 compared to 75.8. But the district’s 11 middle schools (63.5) and 33 elementary school’s (66.2) scored below the state average (71.2 middle, 76.0 elementary).
Patrick Knopf, the district’s director of research, assessment and accountability, contends in MCSD’s news release that a direct comparison to between the 2014 and 2015 CCRPI scores “is not possible” because the state changed its standardized exams from the Criterion-Reference Competency Tests to the more rigorous Georgia Milestones Assessment System.
But he added, “We are, however, pleased to see a positive historic trend in our district’s CCRPI score and historic high scores for 17 of our schools. We are particularly encouraged with the improvement at Georgetown Elementary and Rigdon Road Elementary, which qualifies both schools to be removed from the proposed Opportunity Schools list.”
The CCRPI performance targets were recalculated and the weights were altered. That’s why Georgia Department of Education chief communications officer Matt Cardoza wrote in an email to education reporters, “Comparisons to the 2014 CCRPI will not be apples-to-apples.”
Nonetheless, school officials and education reporters across the state spent the day making those comparisons. For MCSD, a comparison also can be made among school districts in Georgia’s other second-tier cities. In that regard, Columbus ranks first: Muscogee County 69.0, Chatham County (Savannah) 65.4, Richmond County (Augusta) 62.4 and Bibb County (Macon) 60.8.
Third-year MCSD Superintendent David Lewis welcomes the higher expectations.
“We are focused on the need for improvement at all levels, particularly elementary and middle schools,” Lewis said in the release. “We recognize that some schools are not yet performing at desired levels and often have students entering school far below grade level.
“However, our sustained plan over time provides acceleration strategies for these students to catch up with their peers earlier in their school career. We are gratified that our results indicate that we are reducing the performance gap with respect to college and career readiness but surpass the state average at the high school level. This is a notable indicator of educational progress that yields a favorable return on investment.”
The Muscogee County School Board has approved several recommended reforms from Lewis, such as changing principals, reorganizing the central administration and adopting new instructional materials aligned with the more rigorous reading and math standards.
In Harris County, the CCRPI rose from 2014 to 2015 at three schools but dropped at four others.
The improved schools are Pine Ridge (from 72.8 to 75.3), Mulberry Creek (from 90.3 to 91.3) and Harris County High (from 71.4 to 81.6). The schools that slipped are (from 83.2 to 78.9), Park (from 80.4 to 62.0), New Mountain Hill (from 82.0 to 73.4) and Harris County Carver Middle (from 82.4 to 75.7).
Jeff Branham, the district’s chief information officer, told the L-E in an email on behalf of second-year Superintendent Jimmy Martin, “All HCSD schools saw a marked increase in performance for subgroups. The subgroups that received the most weighted calculation were: Economically Disadvantaged, English Language Learners, and Students with Disabilities.”
Each school in the district will incorporate this information in its School Improvement Plan, Branham said. The schools must keep up with the tougher standards, supporting struggling students to plug the achievement gap and pushing high-scoring students to achieve even more, he said.
“During the past few years, CCRPI and other results have been greatly lagging,” he said. “These CCRPI scores reflect last year’s 2015 scores from the first administration (of the Georgia Milestones). We feel that the first administration allowed students to realize the new expectations for standardized testing.”
In Chattahoochee County two of the three schools improved their CCRPI from 2014 to 2015. The elementary school’s score soared from 69.4 in 2014 to 85.9 in 2015, the middle school’s score fell from 50.0 to 41.5, and the high school’s score increased from 58.5 to 64.1.
Second-year ChattCo Superintendent David McCurry, in an email to the L-E, praised the elementary school teachers for “consistent review of achievement data to create daily lesson plans, strong leadership within the building and a very involved, supportive group of parents.”
The elementary school also implemented “differentiated instruction focused on the unique needs” of economically disadvantaged and disabled students, he said.
McCurry, who succeeded Martin, attributes the high school’s improvement to “the hard work of teachers and students” earning more CCRPI points by raising their standardized tests scores.
The biggest concern in ChattCo is at the middle school.
“It would be easy to point fingers at individual factors, but it's a combination of many things that have been addressed and will continue to be addressed,” McCurry said. “With significant changes in curriculum and instruction taking place this current year and major changes for next year, we expect to see growth.”
System 2012 2013 2014 2015
Muscogee Co. 67.2 66.5 68.5 69.0
Harris Co. 75.6 81.3 77.4 79.6
Chattahoochee Co. 66.9 69.9 60.4 67.4
State average 74.1 75.8 72.0 75.5
COLUMBUS COMPARED TO GEORGIA’S OTHER SECOND-TIER CITIES
2015 CCRPI scores
Muscogee County (Columbus) 69.0
Chatham County (Savannah) 65.4
Richmond County (Augusta) 62.4
Bibb County (Macon) 60.8
State average 75.5
ABOUT THE CCRPI
The College and Career Ready Performance Index is the Georgia Department of Education’s way of combining state-mandated annual data into one number to measure and communicate how well public schools are doing.
The index comprises three main factors adding up to 100 points, with their weights changed from 2014 to 2015:
▪ Achievement was decreased from 60 to 50 points.
▪ Progress was increased from 25 to 40 points.
▪ Achievement Gap was decreased from 15 to 10 points.
Achievement is based on standardized test scores and graduation rate. Progress is determined by Student Growth Percentile, defined as improvement compared to other students with similar prior achievement. Achievement Gap compares the achievement of a school’s bottom 25 percent of students with the state average on standardized tests.
Schools also may receive a maximum of 10 Challenge Points, accounting for the percentage of students who are economically disadvantaged, English learners or disabled. Challenge Points also may be awarded for participation in college and career readiness programs that exceed expectations.