Georgia schools did better on report card, but there are caveats

Credit: David Barnes

Credit: David Barnes

Results on the latest Georgia school report card show slight gains statewide, but parents should read the results for their schools with caution.

The overall score of 75 points on the 2016-17 school year College and Career Ready Performance Index, or CCRPI, was 1.4 points above the result for the prior school year. That’s a good thing, but this year’s scores aren’t necessarily comparable with the past, especially at smaller schools.

That's because a 2016 state law mandated a reduction in the number of tests. Students in fewer grades took standardized state tests in social studies and science as a result of Senate Bill 364, so points for "growth" -- student gains over time -- on the tests that were given in those subjects did not influence the report card, said Allison Timberlake, director of accountability for the Georgia Department of Education.

Timberlake said the effect will be negligible at the state level and in the overall scores of larger school districts. However, it could be more pronounced in smaller schools or school districts, where the results in one classroom could have a relatively larger effect. Anyone who finds major changes in a local score should dig deeper into the CCRPI data to look for a cause, she said.

The state level gains were greatest at the middle school level, where the score of 73 points was up 1.5 points from the prior year. High schools had the highest overall score at 77 points, up 1.3 from the prior year. The elementary school score of 72.9 was up 1.2 points.

Each grade level is judged on its own set of measures. There are 21 for elementary schools, 19 for middle schools and 30 for high schools.

The scope and complexity of the report card baffles some. The state education agency, recognizing that, plans to reduce the number of measures next year to 11 in elementary and middle school and 15 in high school.

The simplification of the CCRPI is part of an overhaul that was mandated by Washington to comply with the new Every Student Succeeds Act. Georgia submitted its plan in September and is awaiting approval.

The scores are meaningful for schools, where poor results could eventually cost teachers and principals their jobs and disrupt students and parents.

>>Read more: How the report card will be used to hold schools accountable, at