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School scores delayed while state adjusts to changes

Ga. plans to go back, recalculate 2012 results

POSTED: January 25, 2014 12:09 a.m.

Georgia’s grade in education for 2013 isn’t in yet, but school systems are bracing for a big change from the 2012 scores.

“They’re setting a completely different baseline from 2012,” Gainesville’s Director of Curriculum and Instruction Jamey Moore said. “That’s the big difference. It’s a totally new data set, and totally new data rules.”

The 2013 scores from Georgia’s school accountability system, the College and Career Ready Performance Index, were tentatively scheduled to come out at the beginning of the year, but the state has held off releasing them.

“It’s going to be a whole new way of looking at these numbers, so anything they put out last year wouldn’t in any way tell us anything about what’s coming out this year,” Moore said.

The index takes standardized test results from the Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests to calculate a final grade for both individual schools and overall school districts.

This evaluation system was developed by the state as part of the waiver from the federal No Child Left Behind mandate.

The overall 2012 scores, the first year the information is available, were 76.1 for Gainesville City Schools and 71.6 for the Hall County School District. Schools can earn a total grade of 100, though extra points are awarded to schools with high numbers of economically disadvantaged or English-learner students.

Comparing 2013 to 2012, Moore said, just won’t work. That’s because late in 2013, the state revised how the index is calculated.

To help schools show accurate changes, the state plans to redo the 2012 results.

“(The Department of Education is) in the process of completing the 2013 calculations and they will also take the 2012 data that was used for the previous release and calculate it using the same metrics so that the schools will have an apples-to-apples comparison,” explained Martha Ann Todd, executive director of the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement. “So any improvement (the schools) have made won’t be camouflaged in the change in the way the calculations are done.”

The index score is broken into three components: achievement, progress and achievement gap. The old scoring had achievement take 70 percent of the final score, while progress and achievement gap were worth 15 percent each.

The changes in place have brought the achievement component down to 60 percent, while the progress component is now worth 25 percent of the overall score, placing more emphasis on student growth rather than just final test scores.

The focus on growth is a good thing, school leaders say, but the calculation is off causing a significant change in scores from just one year ago.

“We’ve been reviewing the data in Hall County now for weeks,” Hall’s Middle Grades School Improvement Specialist Kevin Bales said. “We realized as far back as two months ago that the new changes to the formula calculations could have a dramatic impact on some of our schools.”

He said there’s no issue with the ideology behind how the three index components are weighted, just in how they’re calculated.

“We have lots of concerns about how the math is working,” he said.

It’s an issue for schools across the state, Todd said, but she thinks releasing the comparable scores will help in showing more accurate year-to-year comparisons.

“We’re working hand-in-hand with the Department of Education to try to be collaborative in producing the best measure that can have the greatest impact on improving student achievement in Georgia,” Todd said. “We’re glad to do that.”


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