About half of Richmond County schools made one-year gains on Georgia’s 2013 accountability report card that measures student achievement and progress, although most still fall below the state average, according to data released Monday by the Department of Education.
The new College and Career Readiness Performance Index factors in test scores, progress made in closing the achievement gap, and a variety of other indicators to calculate a numerical score of zero to 100 for schools and districts.
After replacing the pass/fail Adequate Yearly Progress measurement under No Child Left Behind, the index debuted last year for 2011-12 data but the methodology has since been tweaked for more rigor and clarity. On Monday, the state released scores for the 2012-13 school year and reissued 2011-12 results under the revised formula.
Richmond County sits in what is theoretically the D range, averaging 60.1 percent in elementary, 61.5 in middle and 61.3 in high schools, below the state averages of 78.5, 75 and 72 respectively.
Columbia County schools outrank the state at 85.1 percent in elementary, 84.4 percent in middle and 84.5 percent for its high schools. Columbia County as a whole increased its 2013 scores for each grade cluster by about 2 percentage points over 2012.
Richmond County’s elementary schools gained 0.6 percentage point and middle schools jumped 2.6 points, while the high schools fell by about one point.
At 80.2 percent, Monte Sano Elementary School achieved the highest CCRPI score in Richmond County, apart from the four magnet schools. Principal Kathryn Perrin said the success was a result of teachers, parents and students placing a high priority on intervention in weak areas.
Students received weekly tutoring from volunteers and district consultants. To boost attendance, which is one of 14 indicators in the achievement category, students were rewarded with candy when they didn’t miss a day. The leadership team also broke down where the school stood weekly on the 14 indicators, which includes test scores, the percent of students with disabilities served in general education classes, writing achievement, career awareness and other factors.
“I knew we had the tools to work with, we just had to believe in the children and have the children believe in themselves,” Perrin said.
Along with the achievement category, which accounts for 60 percent of the total score, schools are given up to 25 progress points for the percentage of students showing growth on state assessments relative to students with similar past achievement. About 15 points are available for closing the achievement gap, which is measured by comparing the achievement of a school’s bottom 25 percent of students with the state average on standardized tests.
While it still lags behind the state’s average, Morgan Road Middle School showed the largest one-year gain in the district, jumping almost 19 points to 64.3 percent in 2013.
Principal Shontier Barnes said to make progress, utilizing data was key. Students were given weekly 10-question assessments in every class to monitor progress, and the school administered a mock Criterion Referenced Competency Test three weeks before the real thing to identify the trouble areas.
“My big thing is progress, that’s what I preach to my parents and my teachers,” Barnes said. “It’s great to see we did show progress and some of the things we’re implementing really helped.”