Theme School tops state in CCRPI scores

Strong gains made in other schools despite transient population

COVINGTON — The Newton County Theme School Middle School reported the highest 2013 College and Career Readiness Performance Index score in the state with the NCTS Elementary School not far behind.

According to the scores, which were released Monday by the state Department of Education, the NCTS Middle School scored a 99.6 out of a 100-point scale on the statewide assessment that replaced the No Child Left Behind’s Adequate Yearly Progress measurement in 2012.

The NCTS Elementary School scored 93.5, with both scores outpacing the state average.

Georgia’s average CCRPI score for middle schools in 2013 is 75 and 78.5 for elementary schools.

Not only did NCTS outperform the state averages, the school logged significant improvement over the 2012 scores, with the elementary school climbing from 89.8 and the middle school from a score of 82.

“These scores are huge,” said Allison Jordan, director of testing for Newton County School System.

“I attribute these scores to the leadership and teachers and parents at the school working together,” she said. “Parent involvement is very, very significant to student achievement.”

Jordan said that while other scores in Newton County weren’t as high as the Theme School’s, many made similar gains over the previous years, pointing to equally significant results.

CCRPI scores are made up of three major areas: achievement based on standardized tests and graduation rates (60 points possible); progress based on academic growth evaluated by test scores (25 points possible); and how successful schools are addressing achievement gaps (15 points possible).

While not specifically accounted for in these scores, Jordan said there is another factor that is critical to student achievement.

Mobility rates, she said, show how transient the school’s population is, either because students drop out or the parents move in or out of district, or other reasons students may begin a year in one school and end it in another.

“When you have a highly transient population, a highly mobile population, you have a decrease in student achievement,” Jordan said.

She said research shows that when a school’s mobility rate is 30 percent or higher, student achievement declines, and not just for the transient students, but also for those students who are stable but have a classroom situation that is ever-changing.

For instance, Jordan said, Porterdale’s Elementary School’s mobility rate as of Friday was 34 percent. Fairview Elementary School’s is 39 percent and Middle Ridge Elementary School has a 46 percent mobility rate.

She said when considering those rates, the improvement in CCRPI scores these schools made from 2012 to 2013 is that much more significant, even if the score itself is not where the school system would like it to be.

In 2012, Porterdale’s CCRPI score was 52 and it improved to 71.4. Fairview’s score jumped more than 17 points from 57.2 to 74.6 in 2013.

With a mobility rate of 46 percent — nearly the highest in the county — Middle Ridge Elementary School’s improvement of 1.3 points speaks volumes for the leadership, Jordan said.

The same can be said in the middle schools. Cousins Middle School had a 64.4 CCRPI score in 2012 and climbed to 75.4 in 2013, with a 28 percent mobility rate.

Clements Middle School score moved 14.3 points — 69.5 in 2012 versus a 2013 score of 83.8 — with a mobility rate of 34 percent.

“First and foremost, success in a school is driven by leadership and excellent teachers,” Jordan said. “I know these (school) administrators are in those classrooms day in and day out working together with teachers and students and making sure the curriculum is implemented with fidelity.”

Even with these successes, a couple schools’ scores dipped.

Two of the county’s high schools — Alcovy and Newton — reported drops from 2012 to 2013.

Jordan said there are a number of explanations for the difference in results between the high school level and the lower grades. The primary reason was that some of the older students were evaluated using two different tests — the Georgia High School Graduation Test versus the more rigorous End of Course Tests — and standards during their tenure in high school, given the recent advent of the CCRPI.

“That makes Eastside’s improvement from 80.2 to 81.1 even more significant,” she said.

Jordan said that mobility rates were lower in 2013 than in 2012, but even if they should rise again in 2014, she is confident Newton County schools are moving in the right direction.

“These scores indicate a positive trend and we will continue to work to improve and exceed,” she said. “We have a system full of dedicated administrators and teachers.”