Education

Middle Georgia school districts show improvement on latest state index

State Supt. Richard Woods talks STEM at Houston County schools

State schools Superintendent Richard Woods visited Eagle Springs Elementary School on Thursday, along with Northside Elementary to recognize the schools' STEM efforts.
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State schools Superintendent Richard Woods visited Eagle Springs Elementary School on Thursday, along with Northside Elementary to recognize the schools' STEM efforts.

While the College and Career Ready Performance Index score for Georgia as a whole decreased since last year, most Middle Georgia school districts showed improvement.

The report, released Thursday by the Georgia Department of Education, measures schools on a 100-point scale, taking into account graduation rates, test scores and other data. Georgia received a 73.6 for the 2015-16 school year, falling from 75.5 the year before.

“I don’t believe the CCRPI captures all the great work happening in our schools. We have seen improvements and, in some cases, record results on the ACT, SAT and in graduation rates,” state school Superintendent Richard Woods said in a statement. “We are evaluating what changes should be made to our accountability system to better measure the overall achievement of our schools.”

The Houston County school district led the area with a score of 79.5 for the 2015-16 school year, an increase from 78 during 2014-15. The top schools were Langston Road Elementary at 89.7 and Feagin Mill Middle at 89.2, while the Houston County Crossroads Center scored 47.1.

“We are proud of our continuous commitment to meet the needs of all of our students,” Houston Superintendent Mark Scott said in a news release. “Houston County will continue to utilize this important tool to guide our school improvement plans to ensure that all students are prepared as they work toward and achieve graduation.”

The most significant change came from Peach County, which went from 66.2 in 2014-15 to 71.5 this year. Leadership and extra effort from teachers and students factored into the increased scores in the district, Superintendent Daryl Fineran said. Peach County High School now boasts a 99.8 score, up from 76. 4 the year before. The high school has one of the longest school days in the state and incorporates extended learning time into its schedule.

Fort Valley Middle School, at 59.8, and Hunt Elementary, at 45.9, were the only two Peach schools out of six that saw decreases. Fineran said he’ll be collaborating with principals and staff there to provide more resources and professional development.

“There’ll be a strong emphasis on working with the schools that aren’t above the state average,” he said. “The main thing is to show improvement every year and try to be above the state average. We also want to perform well within our area.”

Bibb County showed slight gains, from 60.8 in 2014-15 to 61.4 on the most recent report. Springdale Elementary and Alexander II Magnet School led the pack with scores of 91.4 and 94.8, respectively. Macon Charter Academy, which closed at the end of the 2015-16 school year, earned a score of 36.2.

A lot of the CCRPI score is based on the Georgia Milestones Assessment, and the district’s focus on reading is helping students better understand the test, Superintendent Curtis Jones said. They are learning critical thinking and analyzing skills. Other district reading initiatives that are making an impact include the Read to Succeed program with the United Way and Reading Mentors Program from the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement.

“What we hope is the initiatives that we have in place will continue that growth that we are seeing. The schools will begin their planning for next school year in January, and so this information is timely in that regard and can help validate what we’re doing,” Jones said.

Jones said he expects the district’s score to further improve next year because of new technology in the classrooms, such as cameras, interactive panels and audio enhancement devices, and as teachers do Reading Endorsement training with the Regional Education Service Agency.

In addition, the elementary schools’ new schedules, which have designated times for different subjects, and school days that are 30 minutes longer should make a difference.

Monroe County is up to 75.5, from 73.1. Sutton Elementary was the leading school in Monroe County, with 88.1, while Hubbard Elementary was the county’s lowest at 62.4.

Jones County’s score, on the other hand, decreased from 80.8 last year to 77.8 now. The district’s lowest-scoring school, Gray Elementary at 74.7, was still above the state average. The highest scorer was Turner Woods Elementary with 86.2.

Assistant Bibb County schools Superintendent Michael Kemp discusses the roll out of new technology in the classroom. Cameras and new sound systems are being installed.

Andrea Honaker: 478-744-4382, @TelegraphAndrea

All the figures

View the complete results for the CCRPI at http://www.gadoe.org/CCRPI/Pages/default.aspx.

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