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DoE site compels second look at Long scores

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POSTED: May 13, 2013 10:43 a.m.

The Courier on Wednesday printed incorrect CCRPI scores for Long County’s schools, an error that originated from variations in Georgia Department of Education data online.
The Courier reported the district’s composite elementary-school score of 78.5 as the score for Smiley Elementary School  — but Smiley serves only pre-K through grade three, and the composite score is a reflection of kindergarten through grade five.
Smiley’s score for those grades alone was 87.5, according to Smiley Elementary School Principal David Edwards and verified through the Georgia Department of Education.
Edwards brought the discrepancy to the Courier’s attention Friday.
“I know it’s brand-new, so they’re trying to work through the kinks,” Edwards said.
Fourth- and fifth-grade students attend Walker Middle School, he said, where the score for those grades was 75.8. Walker’s grades six through eight received a 77, according to the GaDoE website.
The score reported for Long County High School, 69.5, is accurate, according to the site.
“Overall, we’re happy with the score based on what we know,” Edwards said about the new evaluation system.
The conversation brings up one area of concern in the performance index, though.
A school and district’s overall score is made up of three major areas: achievement (70 points possible), progress (15 points possible) and achievement gap (15 points possible).
An elementary predictor for high-school graduation evaluates the percentage of fifth-grade students passing at least four courses in four content areas. The predictor can earn a school up to 21 points toward its achievement score.
Edwards said his school did not receive any of the 21 potential achievement points on that predictor.
“That’s what they really need to look at; there are different situations. We’re a pre-K-through-three school, and our score would have been higher, but there’s one section that’s 21 points,” Edwards said. On those specific indicators, Smiley received an “NA.”
Georgia Department of Education spokeswoman Dorie Nolt acknowledged that interpreting the index can be cumbersome and requires adjustments the way Adequate Yearly Progress did.
“We’ve been hearing a lot of positive feedback from the school district superintendents and down into the ranks of schools,” Nolt said. “Obviously, it’s brand-new and there are going to be rough spots, and there are going to be problems, but we are continuing to keep in touch with districts.”
She also acknowledged that accounting for school and district performance by grade band — that is, elementary, middle or high — can be confusing when evaluating data for schools that may serve grade combinations different from kindergarten through fifth grades, sixth through eighth grades and ninth through 12th grades.
Several middle schools received multiple scores, she added. In the case of Walker, they are delineated as either “elementary” or “middle.”
Still, there is an adjustment curve for the media, educators and administrators — and even parents — she said.
“It’s only been out for a couple of days. We will continue to tweak it as we need to,” Nolt added. “It’s not a finished product, but it’s a good start.”

 

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