Test scores just another tool for educators

Georgia Department of Education

Thursday was the day when nervous teachers, principals, district personnel and school district superintendents, approached their computers with sweaty palms and pulled up the Georgia Department of Education’s website. There at the top of the homepage with a picture of a student taking a test declared the words: “2016 CCRPI Data.”

CCRPI is education-speak for College and Career Ready Performance Index, and it is the standard by which all schools in the state are judged. Granted, the CCRPI is not without its detractors and during its short life (four years) it has been in a constant state of refinement. That’s why so many educators and others were against Amendment 1 in November that would have used the CCRPI as a measure that would decide whether the state could take over a school that had scored below 60 on the index for three years or more.

The CCRPI is a 100 point scale. The districts are measured on the elementary, middle and high school levels, and each school has a separate CCRPI score. For example, Bibb County’s elementary school CCRPI score for 2016 is 61.7; the middle school score is 56.4 and high school, 62.4. All but the middle school scores are slightly higher than 2015.

In Houston County, the elementary CCRPI score for 2016 is 79.9; middle schools, 76.3 and high schools 79.7. Monroe County’s elementary score is 76.2; middle school, 73.6 and high school, 72.3. Jones County, 77.2 for elementary schools, 77.4 for middle, and 76.8 for its high school.

In Bibb, only two high schools had 70 or better scores, Howard, 78.4 and Academy for Classical Education, 95.9. All of Houston County’s high schools scored 70 or better with Veterans High School coming in at 89.1.

In Bibb County’s elementary schools there are signs of improvement — some incremental — some large. Porter Elementary’s 2015 CCRPI was 57.7, the 2016 score is 75.8. Lane Elementary in 2015 scored 47.7, but in 2016 improved 15.2 points to 62.9. And there were some schools that took a step in the opposite direction. On the middle school level only two schools managed to hit 70 or higher, Howard Middle at 70.4 and ACE at 93.5.

While school systems, schools and school personnel are most times judged by test scores, it’s important to remember the proper use of test scores are on the individual student level. The test results identify weaknesses and strengths of an individual student and are used to enhance a student’s strengths and turn weak areas into strengths. They are but one tool in an educators toolbox and unfortunately too many people give test scores too much emphasis when making educational decisions.