School evaluations might change

EDUCATION

Georgia school districts will find out in early 2012 whether the U.S. Department of Education grants a federal waiver from certain requirements under the No Child Left Behind guidelines.

This waiver would free schools from meeting strict deadlines, including a requirement to have 100 percent of students be proficient in reading and math by 2014.

If granted, the state will implement a College and Career Ready Performance Index instead, which will evaluate schools on a wider range of indicators, rather than solely the scores on the Criterion-Referenced Competency Test.

Scores on the CRCT, which determine adequate yearly progress, have been a subject of deep debate, primarily because the system marks schools as passing or failing based on if they meet moving targets each year.

If a school misses a single benchmark in one sub-category, the entire school fails – even if it met all other requirements in other categories.

In Richmond County, several schools missed making AYP based on the scores of one student.

Educators say the College and Career Ready Performance Index will be a more accurate way of grading schools. It will look at a wider range of indicators, and it will judge progress by how well students are being prepared for life after high school, not if they can pass a test on a single day.

This will be an important issue in the coming year because it will change how the state and country measures academic progress.

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