New state school report card less punitive, state official says

The state Department of Education is rolling out a gentler, kinder, school report card.

 

The new report card will be designed more to reward positive things than to punish shortcomings, according to Allison Timberlake, interim deputy superintendent for assessment and accountability for the Georgia Department of Education.

The new report card — formally called the CCRPI, for College and Career Ready Performance Index — will score schools and school districts based on a simpler scoring scheme, all based on a 0 to 100 scale, Timberlake said Friday.

The new version maximizes local flexibility and is more in tune with the concept of “educating the whole child,” putting slightly less emphasis on scores on state standardized tests, she said.

“It’s designed to award points where possible as opposed to denying points,” she said.

Timberlake was one of the speakers Friday at the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education’s 12th annual Media Symposium in Atlanta, designed to give about two dozen reporters and others a glimpse of key issues and developments in K-12 education as the state Legislature convenes.

The new CCRPI awards points in five areas — content mastery, as demonstrated by student scores on the Georgia Milestones achievement tests; progress from year to year; closing the gaps between subgroups, such as between black and white student averages; readiness for the next step or grade; and graduation rates.

The new system also should reduce the opportunities to “game” the system, such as by having low-scoring students stay home on testing day. Scores will be adjusted when participating in testing falls below 95 percent, Timberlake said.

Because the scoring is simplified, the state Department of Education should be able to get reports out earlier, addressing another frequent complaint about the state’s current method of calculating CCRPI scores.

The new system will also allow for more flexibility for school systems to use different methods of measuring how well they’re doing, she said.

For example, three indicators come into play under the “readiness” area — students’ reading ability; school attendance; and the percentage of students who earn a passing score in fine arts or world language courses.

At the high school level, that indicator will also take into account statistics such as the number of students entering the state’s public colleges and technical schools without having to do remedial work.

For middle and elementary schools, content mastery will be 30 percent of the school or school system score; progress 35 percent, closing gaps 15 percent, and readiness 20 percent.

At the high school level, graduation rates count for 15 percent of the score, while content mastery is 30 percent, progress 30 percent, closing gaps 10 percent and readiness 15 percent, she said.

The report card could see more change in the not-too-distant future.

State schools Superintendent Richard Woods, another speaker at the day-long media symposium, said the state is still doing too much high-stakes testing.

Even though Georgia legislators cut back on some of the dozens of tests they were requiring students to take a few years ago, the state still tests more than federal law requires, Woods said.

Woods would like to see even less testing than federal law now requires.

“I think we’ve reached the saturation point with that (high-stakes testing),” he said.

While Woods wants to see less of the high-stakes end-of-year and end-of course tests legislators have imposed on schools as “accountability measures,” he has high hopes for another kind of testing the state Department of Education is developing and expects to begin rolling out this fall.

The “Keenville” tests will be a “game-changer,” he said.

Designed for use in early grades, they’re meant to be diagnostic and formative, guiding teachers’ and parents’ efforts by letting them know what kinds of things children are doing well, and which they are not.

 

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