A number of schools across Middle Georgia are beating the odds, a new analysis from the Georgia Department of Education shows.
The state released a 2016 report and a five-year report this week detailing which schools in each district had performed better than statistically expected on the College and Career Ready Performance Index, which is based on graduation rates, test scores and other data.
Factors such as school size, grade cluster, student mobility and demographics — including race, disability, English learners and poverty — were used to predict how much a school’s CCRPI score was likely to fall. Schools that defied those expectations made the list, according to the Department of Education.
The Beating the Odds analysis was created as an accountability piece for school systems that chose a charter or strategic waiver school model, said Houston County Superintendent Mark Scott. Almost all of Georgia’s districts fall under one of these two models, according to the state. Doing so means that districts can obtain waivers from certain state laws, rules and guidelines, but they’re held accountable for increased student performance.
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Schools have to increase their CCRPI scores every year. However, if they don’t but make the Beating the Odds list, they still get credit for having met their goals for the year, Scott said.
The data compares “apples to apples,” looking at schools of similar demographics and students who may be more at risk because of their economic situations, said Tony Jones, the Bibb County system’s director of research, evaluation, assessment and accountability.
A total of 1,037 schools in Georgia beat the odds in 2016 and 271 did so every year from 2012 to 2016. The majority of the schools had a 25 percent or higher poverty rate.
“We view these schools as major success stories,” state school Superintendent Richard Woods said in a release. “In fact, it’s difficult to express the magnitude of what they’ve achieved. Statistically, a high rate of poverty presents multiple barriers of achievement, but these schools are beating the odds and doing excellent work on behalf of Georgia students.”
The 2016 report listed 15 Bibb County schools, which is 40 percent of the district and the most county schools to make the list since CCRPI scores started being recorded in 2012, Superintendent Curtis Jones said in a statement.
Fifteen Bibb schools have beaten the odds for two or more years, and several have done it for three or more years, Tony Jones said. Alexander II Magnet and Springdale Elementary were on the five-year list.
“(The data) is a another piece of the puzzle,” Tony Jones said. “It’s another validation of the hard work or the opportunities that we have in our schools. It’s an opportunity to look at where we can provide more or less assistance.”
Houston County had 21 schools that beat the odds in 2016, and Veterans High and Centerville, Northside, Parkwood, Quail Run, Shirley Hills and Westside elementary schools did it for five years.
“I think (the report) says that those schools have aligned the curriculum so they’re teaching what’s important and the kids are able to come away with mastering the standards,” Scott said.
The district has been doing its own comparison against similar districts in the state for a while, and its findings were very close to the state’s. It’s a “second look” at schools and a way to jump-start school improvement plans.
“That doesn’t mean that if a school’s not on that list, they’re not performing well. But that is our long range goal. If there’s a list, we want to be at the top of it,” Scott said. “We want to continue to get better at all of our schools and get as many schools as we can on this list.”
The 2016 list also included Bleckley County Elementary, Middle and High; Clifton Ridge Middle and Dames Ferry, Wells and Woods elementary schools in Jones County; Sutton and Scott elementary schools in Monroe County; and Byron Middle and Peach County High in Peach County.
Bleckley County Elementary and Middle schools were on the five-year list, as was Sutton Elementary in Monroe County.
View the full “Beat the Odds” reports