On Monday, April 21, the Georgia Department of Education released the 2013 College and Career Readiness Performance Index results, a “report card” for every school in the state, critiquing schools in performance and improvement in relation to the Georgia Performance Standards.
“What the governor and the state is trying to do is come up with a way to compare schools. It’s a Georgia thing, not a national thing, and they grade you on a lot of different areas,” said Principal Duncan.
Principal Duncan explained how, before the CCRPI, there was no accurate way of ranking schools in the state.
“In the past, if you think about it, if someone was going to say this school was better than another, what did you look at? The only data you really had available was SAT scores… It’s very difficult to this school is number 42 and this school is number 242. A lot of highlights on the high-achieving SAT schools, but SAT, as important as it is, is not a very good indicator at all of the school. When you think about how many kids at this school pay for extra SAT tutoring and go to SAT workshops on a Saturdays, it’s an awful lot. So sometimes that measure is tied to affluency of the area… It’s a good measure of how smart you are, and how you might compare to other college folks, but it’s not a very valuable resource to judge a school’s performance.” Principal Duncan also mentioned the issue with SAT, that dedicating more class time to SAT prep would distract teachers from the Georgia Performance Standards and what they are assigned to teach.
“The new system looks at what we’re supposed to be teaching, which is the Georgia Performance Standards, which are tested on your End-Of-Course-Tests, so it looks at E.O.C.T test results. The E.O.C.Ts are good because they’re eight tests, and so you’re measuring a lot of teachers who all teach E.O.C.Ts, and it also looks at how you’re working with ninth, tenth, eleventh, and twelfth graders, because all four grade levels have E.O.C.Ts,” said Principal Duncan. “It’s also looking at our A.P. participation and our A.P. success, our graduation rate, and it’s looking at the progress we’re making. You’re actually getting awarded points from how you were last year to how you are this year and giving you some credit for how much you’re improving…. It looks at how we work with our special needs kids and our ESOL kids, and it also looks at our attendance rate, so it’s looking at a lot of things we can control and have an impact on… I love the new report card because it looks at what a lot of us can have an impact on, and everyone’s a part of a team, everyone’s accountable.”
Overall, Chattahoochee High School received a total index rating of 93.8, up from 91.9 in 2012, with improvements in all but one criteria. Chattahoochee ranked number two in traditional high schools in the state, behind Northview High School.
“Many people wouldn’t expect us to be number two in the state, to have beaten out some of the other great schools around us,” said Principal Duncan, who credits the improvement in ranking and E.O.C.T results to the implementation of six-week common assessments and a strategic focus on teacher collaboration.
“While the students were not happy about the six-week common assessments, that’s something that’s unique to Chattahoochee High School, and that was a big vision we had a couple of years ago… We let all the underclassmen have an hour-long lunch once a week so that the teachers can meet and work on developing that test and looking at data. We call it PLCs, Professional Learning Communities, so that was a direct plan to allow teachers to meet together to share instructional strategies that are effective, to look at data from tests, to look at how they can improve the data by improving instruction, and decide which questions they would like to retest and develop the six-week common assessments together.”
This new strategy did not provide an instant improvement in performance, however.
“The students and the teachers, I don’t think either initially were excited about taking the six-week common assessments and we initially saw grades drop… and we struggled with that as a school… we talked to the teachers about it to try to make sense of it, but it was a great problem to have because it forced us to go back and have a dialog about what’s happening, and adjust to it… so surprisingly, we had higher E.O.C.T scores than anybody. We beat Northview. We had higher success rate on AP than Northview and all the schools around us. So we’re right there at the very top, and we have great kids, we have great teachers, but we have some great strategies that are paying off.”
For a full list of ratings for Georgia schools and counties, click here.
For 2012 results, click here.
(cover photo courtesy wjcl.com)