Georgia Voices: Georgia trying to grade schools on a fairer scale
by The Columbus Ledger-Enquirer
April 09, 2013 11:23 PM | 2057 views | 1 1 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The College and Career Ready Performance Index, to be unveiled as a new school assessment formula, has a longer name than the simpler but widely disdained Annual Yearly Progress (AYP) measure. There’s apparently a good reason: The new index is a more complex and detailed way of evaluating Georgia’s schools.

Whether it’s too complicated depends on who’s assessing it. Educators who were provided copies of the state’s 40-page explainer might or might not have different thoughts on that question before and after reading it.

What it will do, state education officials say, is take into account many other performance indicators along with standardized tests like the familiar Criterion Referenced Competency Test (a name that has always sounded as it if crawled from the rubble of a bureaucratic laboratory accident).

The new formula will grade schools, using a classroom-type 100-point scale, on graduation rates, attendance, academic growth and, yes, standardized test scores.

But it reportedly will also give greater weight to schools’ success in closing achievement gaps, offering special programs in math and other sciences and — perhaps most significant — showing significant progress in the performance of poor students, and those with disabilities or limited English language skills. As the education of poor and otherwise disadvantaged children always has been and perhaps always will be the most daunting challenge of public schools (politicians’ glib and tiresome “no excuses” mantra notwithstanding), it’s altogether appropriate that success in that realm should carry more weight.

The College and Career Ready Performance Index will get a test run later this month, when “advisory” scores are released for the 2011-2012 school year. That should give the state and its public school districts a sense of how the new system works. Education is not a simple process, and simplistic means of evaluating it serve nobody’s best interest.

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April 10, 2013
I know that our government is struggling to come up with a way to measure and quantify teachers' job performance and the education our children are receiving. However, far too much classroom time is dedicated to too many tests. Georgia needs to settle on one test or one group of tests that can be completed within five days. That test should be given on the second week of school, following a week for orientation. The same test should be given again during the last week of school. The scores could be evaluated for individuals to determine the progress a child has made and the areas the child may need additional assistance. The aggregated scores for a school could be examined to determine if, overall, there has been progress on the items tested. There would, of course, be details that would need to be worked out, but a reduction in standardized testing time would result in an improved education for most students.
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