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Forsyth schools fare well on new state scoring system

POSTED: April 21, 2014 6:33 p.m.
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South Forsyth High School

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FORSYTH COUNTY — Forsyth County remains among Georgia’s leading school districts, according to the state’s new scoring guidelines.

The state Department of Education released the results of the 2013 College and Career Ready Performance Index, or CCRPI, on Monday. Implemented last year, the new accountability system reports school ratings on a scale of 0 to 100.

Forsyth County’s elementary schools earned an 89.8 rating, far outpacing the state’s average of at 78.5.

At the middle school level, Forsyth posted a 92.9, while its high schools received an 85.5, according to state figures. Georgia’s middle school rating average was 75; it was 72 for high schools.

"I am excited to see Forsyth County Schools performing at, for the most part, higher than the previous year’s reports,” said Forsyth Superintendent Buster Evans. “Additionally, several of our schools report out among the top schools in Georgia.”

The index is using a new formula this year to determine school ratings, causing confusion for some. Original 2012 scores cannot be compared to 2013 scores unless the 2012 scores are recalculated using the new formula.

The score comes from calculating achievement, progress and gaps in achievement between the bottom 25 percent of scores and the state average. Originally, achievement made up 70 percent of the equation, with the other two equaling 15 percent each.

This year, achievement accounts for 60 percent, while progress has more emphasis at 25 percent.

“While our high school averages were the only grade cluster that went down, this appears to mirror what happened pretty much in other districts with their being a slight drop in scores at that level,” Evans said.

“As always, we will use this data as one set of performance indicators for our schools and district.  We will find ways to celebrate as we look at the scores, and we will find further opportunities to improve at the school and district level."

Karl Mercer, the system’s assessment coordinator, attributed the high schools’ dip in large part to the introduction of coordinate algebra.

“There are a lot of different factors because the new indicators for all levels are more rigorous and involve more,” Mercer said. “All in all in the district, more than two-thirds of our schools saw improvements from 2012 to 2013 with the new apples-to-apples comparison.”

Forsyth ranks in the 98th percentile for state performance, said Mercer, who added that it’s No. 4 in the state based on scores.

“And the districts that are above us are much, much smaller,” he added. “So if you compared us to the districts around us and around the state ... we’re much higher than Fulton, Cherokee and Fayette. We’re really excited with our score.”

Johns Creek and Big Creek elementary schools were among the county’s highest performing, with scores of 97.8 and 97.1, respectively.

Cindy Salloum, the system’s chief accountability officer and director of legal services, said support will be offered to any schools that might be struggling.

“They’ll take all the data that they now have with the CCRPI and they’ll take the comparison and then we will help them with that and we’ll start working on what they feel like can get them the most benefit the quickest,” she said. “We do have a process and we’ll be working through it.”

While some schools in Forsyth may not have performed as well as others, Mercer said they are still in the top 30 percent in the state.

“Every school wants to improve and get better,” he said. “This is a new vehicle we have and so all of the schools are going to look at where their score is and look at areas of need.”

Mercer went on to note that the data from the new index is much more comprehensive and will make it easier to target problem areas than its predecessor, Adequate Yearly Progress, or AYP.

According to Mercer, AYP focused on math and English scores and either graduation rate for high school students and attendance for middle and high school students.

“It takes into account, not just the kids going to college, but also kids getting ready for career,” he said. “With CCRPI, you have a number of indicators you’re looking at. You’re looking at not only achievement on state-mandated assessments ... but you’re also looking at the progress that all the kids make. You’re looking at progress toward [career] pathways and you’re looking at writing test scores.

“We’re able to get a good snapshot of where our schools are at and it’s really helped us with school improvement.”

 

Carly Sharec of the FCN regional staff contributed to this report.

 

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