In a new evaluation tool released to the public Thursday, the effectiveness of Georgia schools is no longer measured just by how many students pass standardized tests each year but also by how much individual growth students show over time.
The Georgia Student Growth Model calculates how much growth a student has made year-to-year relative to students on similar academic levels across the state.
Under the metric each student earns a Student Growth Percentile, or SGP, score from one to 99 that indicates how much they learned that year.
For example, a student who gets a failing grade on the math portion of the Criterion Referenced Competency Test in both fourth and fifth grades could still be making progress.
If this student failed the math CRCT in fourth grade but scored higher than 16 percent of his peers - then again failed the test in fifth grade but scored higher than 50 percent of his peers - his SGP would reflect that progress.
Similarly, if a student scores a high passing grade on a test for two consecutive years, the SGP would still be low if the student didn’t show much growth between those years.
Teachers and school districts have used this tool for the past two years to monitor student progress, but the state on Thursday released a web tool for the public to view data for the first time. Individual student data is not public record, but the public can browse district and school level SGP data from the 2012-13 school year, with 2013-14 SGP data to be released this fall.
“This is really a tool for parents, for teachers, for community members to use to get a better idea of student progress,” said Matt Cardoza, spokesman for the Georgia Department of Education.
In Richmond County, the highest achieving schools do not necessarily show the most growth. John S. Davidson Fine Arts Magnet School had 100 percent of students pass the biology End of Course Test, but had a low median growth percentile of 28 percent.
T.W. Josey High School had 40 percent of students pass biology, but had a median growth percentile of 50 percent, showing more students progressed from the previous year.
Sixty-one percent of sixth graders at Freedom Park Elementary School passed the science Criterion Referenced Competency Test in 2013 and had a median growth percentile of 31.5 percent.
Pine Hill Middle School’s sixth graders had almost the same achievement in the subject, 62 percent passing, but showed larger growth with a 51 percent median growth percentile.
Glenn Hills Middle School Principal Glen Andrews said although this data has been available to teachers for two years, it’s not as useful as Periodic Assessment Reviews that show what a student learns week-to-week.
“To use it day-to-day, it’s not that type of data,” Andrews said. “It’s just a snapshot in time. Right now we are just looking at the data from a professional learning standpoint, like these are the things that you as a teacher need to work on.”
Allison Timberlake, growth model program manager for Georgia Department of Education, said parents will be given annual data reports showing how much growth their child is making in each tested subject and how much growth they need to meet expectations.
SGPs will also factor in to the new teacher evaluation system because the data system can break down how much growth students made under the same teacher.
Westside High School teacher David Bradberry said he has not used the data to monitor students throughout the year.
He said the data can become cumbersome, and it’s easier to determine a student’s progress using daily classwork and old fashioned teaching methods.
“I can really tell after about a month where a student is and how far he needs to go,” Bradberry said. “It’s kind of an innate part of teaching.”