Georgia will release new school grades this week. Anybody care?

In 2014, before the state rolled out its new school rating system, four officials with the state Department of Education briefed the AJC education staff on the nuances of the College and Career Ready Performance Index.

It's a shame they couldn’t make house calls as I think many parents still don’t get CCRPI, which replaced the overly simplistic Adequate Yearly Progress or AYP ratings. DOE plans to release the latest set of school grades Thursday.

My question: Are parents focused at all on these state grades?

The CCRPI grades schools on a 1 to 100 score, which is seen as more parent friendly than AYP. The notion is that parents understand what a 100 is on a test, so they can easily grasp that a 65 is a problem and a 91 is a plus. The scores are supposed to show which schools need intervention and guidance from the state, and provide parents insights into the quality of the teaching and administration at each school.

While parents understand that 95 is better an 85, I'm not sure parents understand the other factors that determine a school's final grade. An obvious and familiar consideration is how well students perform on the Georgia Milestones tests. But "progresss" also counts. Even low scores, if they are higher than previous years and higher than what similar students elsewhere attained, can raise a school's standing. Schools also are graded on whether they narrow the achievement gap. And they earn extra points for the number of students who take AP classes.

Along the way, DOE has tweaked CCRPI. In 2015, the Georgia Board of Education amended the "weights" used in calculating school performance, downplaying raw test achievement in favor of "growth" in the state's report card for schools and school districts. That change was seen as a boost to schools serving low-income students who typically lag in achievement but may show considerable progress or growth, which is determined by a complex formula that compares a student's performance to that of similar peers.

I asked educators and parents on AJC Get Schooled Facebook whether the CCRPI grade is useful and whether parents understand what contributes to it. Here are some responses:

•The goal isn't to create a scoring system that is easy to understand, relevant, meaningful or fair. The goal is ranking schools and students to create the appearance that public schools are failing.

•It's interesting to look at the information and I'll sometimes use it to share data with people who aren't local. If I were moving, I would use the reports. Otherwise? Meh.

1) I can't change the school my children attend without moving so knowing how my school stacks up won't change what they get.

2) The things parents can influence at a school are not included on this report. (Except maybe as placing another line item on the list of accomplishments.)

3) My school district does not want parent involvement in the areas that are listed on the report.

I suspect this report is why some schools have become AP mills and why teachers now spend so much class time focused specifically on the tests. That having been said, I think that measuring schools is a probably a good idea to keep them on their toes. I'm not convinced this is the best set of measurements but it appears to be an adequate start. I haven't spent much time looking into the impact of unintended consequences from these specific measures nor what other measures would be better. It is very difficult to quantify quality. As far as your direct question - I don't think I've ever actually looked at the numerical score itself. I just read through the four-page document provided on the county school website.

•Parents care if the teachers care about their kids. Most parents are aware that Deal and all those at the top are trying to sell public schools off to charter schools. So, in answer to your question -- as a parent--- no, I don’t care.

•I look at them, and like most measures of school so-called success, the scores seem to mirror demographics.

Your view on CCRPI?

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About the Author

Maureen Downey
Maureen Downey
Maureen Downey has written editorials and opinion pieces about local, state and federal education policy since the 1990s.