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Georgia schools chief, state lawmakers at odds over proposed performance rating system 

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Ross Williams, Georgia Recorder
February 23, 2024

It’s not just students who bring home report cards.

Since 2012, the College and Career Readiness Performance Index has offered a measure of the performance of schools and districts on a number of factors. Parents can use the scores to decide where to make their homes, and school leaders sift through the data to decide what areas to focus on.

For the past few years, the school report cards have been a little different, and one state lawmaker says it’s time to change back.

In 2020 and 2021, the U.S. Department of Education waived assessment requirements because of pandemic closures. In 2022, the feds approved a temporary modification to change CCRPI, including removing the overall score, because of data gaps caused by the pandemic, and that change was made permanent last year.

The report still lists 0-100 grades for the same five categories – content mastery; progress; closing gaps; readiness, and, for high schools, graduation rate – but since 2022, it has not included an overall 0-100 score.

In the past, each of the categories was given a different weight, so calculating a composite score that is comparable with previous years is slightly more complicated than just adding up the categories or averaging them.

In December, State Superintendent Richard Woods said the change would be a good one for Georgia students.

 Superintendent Richard Woods. Ross Williams/Georgia Recorder

“I have long said that the CCRPI’s 100-point single score vastly oversimplified the complicated factors that influence school quality,” he said. “With this change, the CCRPI is more like the ‘report card’ it was always intended to be – encouraging schools, families, and communities to dig into the data and both celebrate achievements and address issues that tended to be obscured by the single score.”

Rep. Scott Hilton, a Peachtree Corners Republican, disagrees. His House Bill 1186 aims to require the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement to calculate a single score for districts and schools and the state Department of Education and local school districts to publish them on their websites. The bill passed the a House Education subcommittee on Thursday and has until this Thursday’s Crossover Day to pass the full Education committee and the full House to have a smooth path to becoming law.

“Imagine going into a restaurant and not seeing a health score, instead seeing four or five different metrics, then you’ve got to decide, ‘Well, the dishes are dirty, but the food’s good.’ You don’t have time to weigh that,” he said. “You want to know is it A, B, or C? So House Bill 1186 says you’ve got to go to a single score.”

 Rep. Scott Hilton Ross Williams/Georgia Recorder

Hilton said the bill doesn’t specify how education leaders should weigh each factor to come up with the single score, but he said it should be consistent so parents and administrators can compare different schools and districts as well as track their progress over time.

“I’m going to let the experts and the grownups in the room get together and decide what the best calculation is. My only ask is that that calculation is one number and that calculation is consistent year over year,” he said.

Scores were previously published by the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement. In an email, Executive Director Joy Hawkins said GOSA supports single scores. Department of Education spokeswoman Meghan Frick said the department hasn’t changed its mind.

“We feel our current CCRPI, with a 0-100 score for each component, is the best way for parents to know how their child’s school is performing across all areas, such as overall academic achievement and academic growth,” she said.

“We are always open to working with legislators through the legislative process and we appreciate Chairman Hilton’s willingness to engage with us as this proposal progresses,” she added.

Last year’s single scores are available, albeit unofficially. The Georgia Public Policy Foundation, a right-leaning think tank, calculated and published scores for schools, grade clusters and districts on its website. President and CEO Kyle Wingfield said the calculations were done with the same formula used in 2018 and 2019, the most recent years with complete data, to make the scores comparable.

“Real transparency means information that’s clear and meaningful, not requiring the public to be experts themselves to know what their government is doing,” Wingfield said.

The foundation’s report shows overall declining scores for Georgia elementary, middle and high schools between 2019 and 2023 – down 5%, 8% and 6.8% respectively, though Wingfield said looking at individual districts and schools shows that some have demonstrated impressive growth.

“And frankly, I would say that’s one of the things that gets lost when you muddle this sort of message is you’re not celebrating the folks that are achieving really highly either,” he said.

Georgia Recorder is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Georgia Recorder maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor John McCosh for questions: info@georgiarecorder.com. Follow Georgia Recorder on Facebook and Twitter.

This article is republished from Georgia Recorder under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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