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School officials: New index better gauge of progress
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Forsyth County News

The Forsyth County school system recently received strong results from the state’s new performance index.

But perhaps more importantly, the new College & Career Ready Performance Index, or CCRPI, allows the system to better analyze and compare data based on more than just test results.

Fonda Harrison, the school district’s chief academic officer, said the new standard is something we’ve been wanting “for quite some time.”

“Because we feel that accountability should be more than how students are performing on the state test,” she said. “[The CCRPI] takes so many areas of education, other than just a state test score, and looks at the schools and the school progress.”

The breakdown of the new index scoring includes, among other factors, progress, attendance rates, closing the achievement gap, percentage of students with disabilities participating in general education classes and career readiness.

The scoring doesn’t omit test results, but instead they account for about 70 percent of the main score, with progress from one year to the next accounting for 15 points.

The last 15 of 100 points covers how well a school closes the achievement gap.

There are also bonus points for schools with high numbers of economically disadvantaged students, as well as those with disabilities or learning English as a second language.

Big Creek Elementary School scored highest in the county, with 100.8 points, thanks to earning some bonus points that took it over the 100 mark.

As it’s the first year of the new assessment system, results this year will not count against schools. And unlike the old system of Adequate Yearly Progress, Harrison said the new measures make it easier to pinpoint problem areas.

“This is a benchmark year for us,” she said. “This gives us an opportunity to actually drill down and see in which areas we need to make improvements. And we can be very specific when we do that because of how this data is actually determined.

“It gives a more specified look at a broader range of data ... to help us truly impact student performance.”

Another new piece to the index puzzle is the career pathways component, starting at the elementary level. The idea is to make sure students graduate high school primed for either college or a career.

The measures look at percentages of students completing advanced placement courses, earning language credits, finishing a pathway or enrolling in other high-achievers programs such as International Baccalaureate or dual enrollment.

“We’re very excited with how we scored,” Harrison said. “We know with all of our schools, there’s room for improvement and areas that we need to work on, but we know this is a benchmark year for us because it’s the first time we’ve had this accountability system.

“This is an opportunity for us to see where we are and make plans to make even better scores for next year.”