Education

More midstate schools 'beating the odds' for student achievement

Central High School students gather under the oaks on campus as others board buses after school in 2012. The school is one of 18 in Bibb County that made the 2017 "Beating the Odds" list from the Governor's Office of Student Achievement.
Central High School students gather under the oaks on campus as others board buses after school in 2012. The school is one of 18 in Bibb County that made the 2017 "Beating the Odds" list from the Governor's Office of Student Achievement. wmarshall@macon.com

More midstate public schools are surpassing expectations for student progress.

The Governor's Office of Student Achievement released its "Beating the Odds" report Thursday, and many Middle Georgia districts had additional schools on this year's list.

The list details which schools in each district performed better than statistically anticipated on the College and Career Ready Performance Index, which is based on graduation rates, benchmark test scores and other data. Also considered are student characteristics such as race/ethnicity, enrollment, turnover rate, grade cluster and percentage of the population that's disabled, economically disadvantaged and English language learners.

The report shows how similar schools compare in performance, and about 40 percent of schools "beat the odds" each year, according to the student achievement office. This metric is another way to "identify areas of opportunity" for schools, and it can be used as a "second look" for schools that don't meet CCRPI targets, Houston Superintendent Mark Scott said.

Eighteen of Bibb County's schools beat the odds in 2017, up from 15 in last year's report. All the district's high schools except Rutland are now on the list.

“I was very appreciative of the work that the high schools have done," Bibb school Superintendent Curtis Jones said. "The high school principals have worked hard to improve the processes. This helps validate the work that they’ve been doing over the last two years. I can see that students are attending school more, have less referrals to the office and are taking our benchmark tests more seriously.”

The data is in line with Bibb County's improved graduation rates, which was up 5 points to 77 percent this year. While it is good news, the district still has a long way to go, Jones said.

“I think we’re going to have to continue to stay focused on what’s important, still getting students in school, still focusing on the standards that students have to master, and getting timely and effective feedback," he said. "I think if we do those things well, we’ll continue to see improvements."

Houston County has 26 schools on the 2017 list, including all five of its traditional high schools. Twenty-one district schools made the 2016 report.

"This year’s data indicates that our schools are making great progress toward their school improvement goals," Scott said in an email. "As a result of the hard work of our teachers, students and administrators, we only had three schools that did not reach their CCRPI goals and did not meet the beating the odds targets. All of our schools are committed to continuous improvement in overall metrics and, more importantly, to meeting the needs of each student."

Monroe County increased from two schools in 2016 to all five of its traditional schools this year. Bleckley County Elementary, Middle and High schools were on the list again this year. Only Turner Woods and Gray elementary schools in Jones County made the list, down from four schools last year.

The 2017 report also included West Laurens Middle School in Laurens County; Dublin City's Hillcrest Elementary, Dublin High School and Dasher Elementary; Baldwin's Creekside Elementary and Baldwin County High; Twiggs County Middle and High; and Peach's Fort Valley Middle, Byron Middle and Peach County High.

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