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Most schools in Liberty, Long counties below state average
Frank Long Elementary, Snelson-Golden Middle get Fs; Liberty County High stands out with A

School grades

The following are College and Career Ready Performance Index scores and accompanying letter grades on an A-F scale assigned by the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement for 2014-15, the first year students took the Georgia Milestones Assessment System tests.

School/district Grade CCRPI
Georgia C 75.5
Liberty County C 72.2

Button Gwinnett D 64.3
Frank Long F 58.3
Joseph Martin D 67.9
Liberty D 63.6
Lyman Hall D 68.1
Taylors Creek C 75
Waldo Pafford C 71.1

Lewis Frasier C 73.9
Midway D 63.4
Snelson-Golden F 58.4

Bradwell B 82
Liberty County A 90.1

Long County D 67.2

Smiley N/A
Walker D 60.6

Long County D 63.7

Long County C 71.3

Source: Governor’s Office of Student Achievement

In 2014-15, schools in Liberty and Long counties performed below state averages in most subjects, according to the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement.

One notable exception is Liberty County High School, which garnered the only A in the two school systems, with a College and Career Ready Performance Index score of 90.1 and a Platinum Award for being in the 99th percentile among schools statewide in terms of gains in student achievement between 2012-13 and 2014-15. Bradwell Institute also fared well, garnering a B with its CCPRI score of 82.

But the Liberty County School System had an overall CCRPI score of 72.2. The statewide average was 75.5. And the district had two F-graded schools, Frank Long Elementary (58.3 CCRPI) and Snelson-Golden Middle (58.4).

The state has not calculated the results for the just-completed school year.

This is the first time the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement has used the CCRPI scores to assign letter grades to public schools. The system is designed to cut through the complex CCPRI reports, which can overwhelm the public with data. The grades, and accompanying data, are available online at

The 2014-15 school year was the first in which students took the new state tests, the Georgia Milestone Assessment System, which replaced the Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests.

“We must empower Georgia citizens with tools like the Georgia School Grades website if we want to continue to improve student achievement for future generations,” Gov. Nathan Deal said in announcing the website and reports.

Liberty County School System Superintendent Dr. Valya Lee said she takes seriously the district’s “less-than-stellar performance” shown on the report cards. GMAS results make up a large part of the CCRPI scores.

But, she pointed out, Liberty is not alone in having D- and F-graded schools. She said that 868 of the 2,130 Georgia schools that received report cards were graded D or F, a rate of 40.8 percent. In Liberty County, seven of 12, or 58.3 percent, received a D or F. (The district’s D-graded schools are Liberty, Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall and Joseph Martin elementary and Midway Middle schools.)

“Needless to say, we did not take the results lightly,” Lee said. “We knew that the test would be more rigorous than the CRCT, and we took measures to prepare our students. However, I believe we underestimated the rigor. Because our students traditionally perform exceptionally well on standardized tests, no one expected results such as those we received.”

Lee said that when the district received the test scores after the 2014-15 school year, “We implemented a great deal of professional learning and development for our teachers and spent a protracted amount of time working on constructed responses.”

The GMAS tests go beyond the CRCT’s multiple-choice answers to include open-ended responses in language arts and math.

Both Lee and Long County School System Superintendent Dr. Robert Waters noted that the CCRPI data were not released until a year after the 2014-15 school year had ended, which both said limited their districts’ abilities to make adjustments based on the information.

“We hope we get results much sooner in the future,” Waters said in an email to the Courier.

The Liberty County School System has received its preliminary 2015-16 GMAS scores, and Lee said those “reflect significant improvement as teachers and students become familiar with the new and more rigorous GMAS format.”

Lee said the Platinum Award for LCHS “is the result of thoughtfully planned initiatives implemented by a dedicated team of administrators, teachers and support staff.”

She credited LCHS teachers with paying “particular” attention to struggling readers, which has resulted in a consistent rise in reading scores over three years. And advanced students at Liberty High have “opportunities to explore learning to a greater, more personal depth made possible by the system’s 1-to-1 iPad initiative and the system’s STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) focus.”

“This wonderful recognition belongs to the staff, the students and their families,” Lee said. “Their hard work has paid off. The graduation rate continues to rise, and students are leaving Liberty County High School prepared for success as they enter college, technical school, the military and the workforce. The LCHS team personifies our system’s overarching theme, to be ‘simply the best.’ I couldn’t be more proud!”

Long County

Long County schools also struggled in the new system. The district’s overall CCRPI for 2014-15 was 67.2, which is 8.3 points lower than the statewide average.

Long County High School was the only one in the system to get a C, with a CCRPI of 71.3.

Long County Middle and Walker Elementary schools both received D’s, and Smiley Elementary did not receive a grade. However, Smiley’s GMAS data gives reason for optimism.

Smiley has only one tested grade, third, and it students topped statewide proficiency averages in all four GMAS-tested areas: English, math, science and social studies, according to state report-card.

The other bright spots were: Long County High’s four-year graduation rate was 83.1 percent, above the state’s 79 percent, and Long County Middle’s science proficiency rate was 37 percent, matching the state average.

In every other measured area, Long County fell short of state performance. The largest gap was in high school U.S. history, where 12.8 percent of Long County test takers were proficient or above, compared to 40.2 percent statewide.

Waters said the district’s biggest concern is retaining teachers.

“We have greatly improved our teacher induction program, implemented professional learning communities within all schools, and we are implementing (Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports) as part of improving school climate,” he said.

As for what the 2015-16 CCPRI results might look like, Waters noted that the state has changed the calculations for the rating every year since it started in 2012 but that he expects results to improve over time.

“We are continuing to understand the ever-changing CCRPI data calculations and the standards assessed by the Georgia Milestone tests,” he said. “We expect our graduation rate to continue to improve. By successfully implementing the strategies previously mentioned, we expect to see improvement in all areas.”

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