Results on the latest CCRPI show schools in Long County are faring better in most areas than they have in recent years.
The College and Career Ready Performance Index results, released earlier in November, cover a three-year span starting in 2015.
The system’s scores are higher in nearly every category, and overall the system is above the state average at both the middle and high school level, and among the higher performing schools in the area.
Not surprisingly, Long County Schools Superintendent Dr. Robert Waters said the results are good news.
“We’re happy we’re moving in the right direction,” Waters said. “But we’re not satisfied. It’s very positive news, but we want to continue to get better.”
The results, broken down by school, include Smiley Elementary, which is grades K-3, and Walker, which is grades 4-5, along with Long County Middle and Long County High schools.
Though CCRPI results are couched in educational jargon, essentially it seems schools are scored in four categories.
The first is how well students do on tests and whether they appear to be ready to move to the next grade or graduate. What’s more, both four-year and five-year graduation rates are considered in the category, which can earn schools up to 50 points, or half the grade.
The second category, which accounts for up to 40 points, or 40 percent of the grade, scores the progress students are making.
Schools earn up to 10 points based on how poorly performing students fare on closing the “achievement gap” between themselves and the state average.
In addition, schools also earn up to 10 points for the performance of students who face certain challenges, such as those who don’t speak English, and for students who perform exceptionally well.
But Waters said that because the state doesn’t test students in the earlier grades, Smiley Elementary doesn’t compare to traditional K-5 elementary schools where students take the CCRPI tests.
Also impacting Long County’s scores are students moving to Long County from other states, primarily through the military. That can skew numbers somewhat at the school level, and Waters also said it’s important to remember that the tests are basically a measure of how students fared at one particular time.
“It’s a snapshot of today,” he said. “It’s not tomorrow, it’s not yesterday. It means I took the
test today. Is that a true representation of everything I know? Maybe I had a bad night and woke up at 2 in the morning and couldn’t get back to sleep, but came in to take the test and did poorly? You just never know.”
Other factors include the fact different classes may test differently, from year to year. In all, about 3,000 of the district’s approximately 3,700 students are involved in the various tests that evaluators use to score the CCRPI.
Waters said it’s important for teachers to know whether students are progressing as they move through the system.
That’s apparently happening in Long County, where CCRPI scores go up from elementary school to middle school, and then up again in high school.
The elementary schools received a 63, well below the area-leading 88.2 given to Camden County, which is among the 17 area school districts Long is compared against.
By contrast, Long County Middle School earned a 77.1, which is behind all but middle schools in Effingham, Tattnall, Camden, Evans and Glynn counties.
Long County High School was awarded an 82.1, which puts it fourth in the area, behind Camden, Screven, Effingham and Appling.
There’s sustained improvement over a three-year period, as well. While Walker saw its CCRPI scores fall from 64.4 last year to 63.8 this year, both Long County High and Long County Middle have fared better each of the past three CCRPIs.
The middle school turned in a 77.1 this year after a 63.7 score two years ago. The high school went from 71.3 in 2015 to 82.1 in 2017.
Waters said the state is changing the CCRPI, beginning this school year. so that more weight is given to how students improve. That apparently will be reflected in future scores.
“They’re putting more emphasis on progress, on where you start and where you finish, and that’s the way it should be,” he said. “Say your kids took the test in the third grade last year and you’ve got a different set of kids taking the same test this year, how can you compare the two sets of kids? You can’t, they’re not the same kids. But you can see how the same students are performing from one year to the next, to the next.”
Also part of the CCRPI are the school climate ratings, a one-to-five star grade based on surveys by the state Department of Education involving parents, students and teachers, Waters said.
Both Smiley Elementary and Long County Middle School earned five stars, the highest possible, while Walker and Long County High School each got four stars. All four schools improved each year for the past three years in that category, as well.
“I think that’s pretty good,” Waters said. “It’s all very positive. But again, we’re not satisfied. We’re just happy we’re moving in the right direction.”