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JEFF MEADORS: New school scorecards coming in May

Georgia taxpayers should gain new insight into the schools they fund as 2013-14 annual scorecards appear in May.

Georgia is one of 10 states initially granted a 2012 waiver from the federal No Child Left Behind Act. The College & Career Ready Performance Index (CCRPI) is the new scorecard. Systems are graded on achievement, graduation rate, achievement gap size and change, content mastery, and an enhanced calculation for third-grade CRCT results, a critical grade for reading achievement where life trajectories can be formed.

A 2011 Education Week study of 4,000 high school graduates found that third-graders who cannot read on grade level by grade three are four times less likely to graduate from high school by age 19 than their proficient counterparts. While debate exists as to whether or not prison planners use grade three reading scores for future site construction, only one-half of the nation’s departments of corrections will address the topic. A New York Times report showed high school dropouts 3.5 times more likely to end up incarcerated if they are male.

The total possible CCRPI score is 110 points (100 points plus 10 Challenge Points). All calculations are based upon Full Academic Year students, meaning students who are enrolled for at least 65 percent of the school year and during the testing window. Scores are split into Elementary (K-5), Middle (6-8), and High School (9-12) categories. The instrument’s score is weighted as follows: achievement (70 percent), progress (15 percent), achievement gap (15 percent), and challenge points (10 percent).

Graduation rate calculations will change in the 2013-14 report. The four-year graduation rate will count for two-thirds of the total weight in this area while the five-year graduation rate will count one-third.

In 2012-13, the state of Georgia elementary school average system score was 83.4, 81.4 for middle schools, and 72.6 for high schools.

The Oconee County School District ranked No. 1 in the state at the high school level for 2012-13 and earned a 93.4 at the critical elementary level with zero performance flags. The system earned a 93.2 at the middle level with two flags and a high school score of 92 with three flags. Oconee ranked second in this grouping for students participating in accelerated enrollment programs like dual enrollment, advanced placement and international baccalaureate. The system beat all state numbers.

Morgan County Charter School System earned an elementary score of 94.9 and one flag, a middle school score of 82.8 with one flag, and a high school 2012-13 score of 75.3 and 17 flags. Math was Morgan’s strongest subject area. Morgan High ranked No. 1 in this grouping for students earning credits in accelerated enrollment programs. The charter system has a viable IB program and students participate in dual enrollment as well. Morgan beat all state numbers.

Newton County School System’s elementary score was 79 with six performance flags. Math performance tanked for the system where a middle school score of 77 generated 14 red flags, half of which were in math and science, and a high school 2012-2013 score of 77.1 with nine performance flags. Newton ranked last in this grouping for student enrollment in accelerated programs and fell below the state at all levels except high school.

While changes to the 2013-14 instrument will prevent meaningful comparisons, an analysis of the expected scores will be forthcoming with an emphasis on reading and math.

Columnist Jeff Meadors may be reached at pjeffreymeadors@gmail.com