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Hall schools’ scorecard a process renewed, but in flux
District leaders use their own benchmarks parallel to federal standards
Hall County Schools Office

A recent discussion during a Hall County Board of Education meeting about what school leaders call the “balanced scorecard” comes at an interesting time in the long debate over local versus federal control of public education.

For more than a decade, the Hall County School District has taken its own approach to measuring student success while this national conversation has played out.

While district leaders pursue their own benchmarks, in addition to federal requirements, the process by which they achieve these goals shifts and evolves.

But a constant seems to be a focus on tracking student progress over time, versus relying only on test scores, graduation rates and other data points.

“Test scores are important, but (it’s about) 'how much did my child grow?'” Superintendent Will Schofield told The Times.

It’s an approach that attempts to account for “competency, character, rigor,” Schofield said, “letting kids tap into those passions and gifts that every one of them have.”

The scorecard was scrapped for a while but re-emerged three years ago, with the weight the College and Career Ready Performance Index (which ranks achievement by schools and districts) now carries.

Board member Craig Herrington, at the recent meeting, said it’s important for educators to interview graduates about how well they’ve been prepared for the next level.

The idea stems from a larger concept of developing a 10-year education portfolio for students beginning in their middle school years to explore and plan career options before graduating. Tracking enrollment of graduates in trade or liberal arts colleges and universities might produce relevant data, officials said.

Board member Brian Sloan said a practical step would include breaking up what this entails — from new curriculum to new partnerships with community and business groups — into meaningful chunks that students can digest.

“Kids deserve to know why they’re being asked to do things,” Schofield said.

Challenges in hiring and retaining quality teachers, particularly in health sciences and other specialized fields, remain persistent when demand outpaces supply.

Schofield said competing with private industry is a reality officials must face. He laments what he said is a move away from the esteem teachers and educators once held, and how a restored sense of reverence might help attract more to a thankless profession.

Getting creative in hiring pay is a short-term pursuit, Schofield said, but recognition for just how important educators are in the long term is priority.

“It’s getting harder and harder,” he said.

Kids deserve to know why they’re being asked to do things.
Will Schofield, Hall schools superintendent
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