Georgia school scores revealed: Cobb’s top schools improve, bottom schools fall further
by Nikki Wiley
April 22, 2014 04:00 AM | 12859 views | 15 15 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A.L. Burress Elementary School first-grade teacher Teresa Green reads to some of her 23 students about a section they are studying on reptiles. Cobb schools got a score of 80.7 on the state’s College and Career Ready Performance Index, which is slightly less than the 81.6 score the district was given last year. Some high-ranking schools inched up higher while some bottom schools saw their rankings continue to fall.<br>Staff/Kelly J. Huff
A.L. Burress Elementary School first-grade teacher Teresa Green reads to some of her 23 students about a section they are studying on reptiles. Cobb schools got a score of 80.7 on the state’s College and Career Ready Performance Index, which is slightly less than the 81.6 score the district was given last year. Some high-ranking schools inched up higher while some bottom schools saw their rankings continue to fall.
Staff/Kelly J. Huff
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MARIETTA — Cobb schools’ ranking fell less than one point on a report card released by the state Monday, with some top schools continuing to improve and some bottom schools falling further.

The state’s College and Career Ready Performance Index ranks each public school and school district across the state using a number of different factors, including student test scores, academic progress and efforts to close the achievement gap between high-income and low-income students. CCRPI, as it’s more commonly known, was created in 2012 by the Georgia Department of Education with the intention of being a more comprehensive school ranking system.

Schools and districts are graded on a scale of zero to 100. Bonus points of up to 10 are also available.

Cobb schools received a score of 80.7, which is slightly less than the 81.6 score the district was given last year. Some high-ranking schools inched up higher while some bottom schools saw their rankings continue to fall.

Randy Scamihorn, school board vice chairman, said he had not yet reviewed the new rankings in detail Monday afternoon, but said any drop in scores is a concern.

“We’re always striving to improve,” Scamihorn said. “It’s extremely important that we educate our kids or students to the best of our abilities.”

Scamihorn added that, even in areas where scores are improving, “we need to continue striving.”

Gwinnett County, the only public school system in Georgia larger than Cobb, scored an 83.1, improving over last year’s 82.8 ranking.

Districts were also given rankings on overall elementary, middle and high school scores. Cobb received 77.4 for high school, 80.6 for elementary and 82.9 for middle school.

Chairwoman Kathleen Angelucci says the school board will get an analysis from district staff at its next meeting.

“I’m a little disappointed in our high school score, which is 77.4,” Angelucci said adding she thought the middle school scores were more encouraging.

She’s also skeptical about the accuracy of the CCRPI system.

“I know that this is somehow supposed to be an indicator for college and career readiness, but to be honest with you, I don’t think that it is,” Angelucci said.

It may be too early to determine if elementary school students will be ready for college or careers when they graduate high school, she said.

“How many 18 or 19 year olds do you know that don’t know what they want to do?” Angelucci said.

Walton stays on top

Walton High School remains Cobb’s top performing high school, scoring 92.8, although that’s down from the last year’s 93.1. By contrast, Osborne High School is ranked as the district’s worst school and dropped by almost 15 points, receiving a score of 59.2. Osborne received 73.6 points last year.

Judy McNeill, principal of Walton, said she is pleased the school received high marks and attributed the school’s dip to normal fluctuations.

“You have fluctuations in SAT scores and ACT scores,” McNeill said.

Garrett Middle School was Cobb’s lowest-ranking middle school, receiving a score of 57.4, which dropped 10 points from last year’s 67.6 score. Hightower Middle School received the top ranking at 96.6.

Dodgen Middle School wasn’t far behind at 95.8.

Phil Wilkes, principal at Dodgen, attributes his school’s high score to data-driven instruction and planning by teachers.

“When your scores are high, sometimes it’s hard to move up, but it shows me that our focus has been where it needs to be,” Wilkes said.

Teachers are spending more time reviewing data to determine where instruction could improve, he said, and more high school-level courses are being offered to Dodgen’s middle school students.

Rocky Mount Elementary School received the county’s top spot for elementary schools with a score of 96.6, which is higher than last year’s score of 92.9. Green Acres Elementary scored the lowest at 60.6, down from 66.9 last year.

Administrators at Osborne High Schools, Garrett Middle School and Green Acres Elementary School did not return a message left by the MDJ on Monday. Karen Courant, assistant principal of Green Acres Elementary School, said she had not yet reviewed the scores and declined comment.

Marietta schools close to Cobb score

Marietta City Schools improved its 2012 score from 77.4 to 80.2. That score is also just under the ranking given to Cobb’s schools at 80.7.

On average, elementary grades earned 82.5 points and middle 84.3 received points.

Marietta High School’s ranking increased slightly from 71.3 to 72.7. The lowest ranking school in the district is Hickory Hills Elementary School at 68.3 while Westside Elementary School received the top elementary ranking of 93.8. Overall, the Marietta Center for Advanced Academics, a magnet school that offers special science, technology, engineering and math courses, scored the highest at 100.3.

“The CCRPI provides our schools with achievement information on a variety of indicators,” said Superintendent Emily Lembeck in a prepared statement. “Our teachers are working hard to meet the needs of all students as expectations increase and more rigorous standards are taught. We are pleased with this progress and look forward to addressing areas in need of further improvement.”

Lembeck also pointed to the district’s improving graduation rate, which is used to calculate the CCRPI scores.

“Although there is more work to be done, I’m especially mindful of the positive changes in our graduation rate.  Graduating students is our ultimate responsibility and we need to continue working collectively to graduate Marietta.” 

Comments
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Proud CCSD Educator
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April 24, 2014
In response to several comments...There are many reasons some schools flourish while others struggle. Demographics can certainly play a part, but it is naive and small-minded to blame the skin color of an administrator or the cultural background of a student population for the entirety of challenges faced in the school.

Teachers and administrators are not generally in the career for the money, but for the opportunity to make a difference in the life of a child, every child that enters our classroom each morning. We work very hard everyday. We plan, implement and assess. We collaborate. We analyze. We report. Mostly we teach, and try to do it with innovative and inspiring methods so that students have the opportunity to be successful. We work in the present with an eye to the student's future. Most of us care deeply and go beyond the time requirements of the school day and choose to overlook inadequate pay because of our concern for students.

CCSD offers one of the best opportunities for education in our state. I am proud to call CCSD home.

Long Time Obserser
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April 25, 2014
You are exactly right. Neither race nor ethnicity are the top determining factors in the success of a school. Socio economic factors are. Families of low socio economic status are more transient and less active in the schools that their children attend. This just to mention a couple of reasons it is important that local school districts should be set in a way that balances these factors as much as possible rather than accentuating them.
Classy Lassie
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April 23, 2014
One reason that Osborne's scores have gone down, could be the administration at that school. Since when is it permissible for an ASSISTANT PRINCIPAL to bring HER puppy to school each day (and all day) to train? Maybe she just doesn't have enough to keep her busy? Don't believe me? Just go by Osborne and check it out. I would be really surprised if the area super didn't know about this since he hangs out at "his" schools all the time. Maybe if students were made to go to class instead of roaming the halls, scores would go up. Wow! What an idea!
Cobb teacher
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April 23, 2014
You left out Hightower Trail who scored higher than Dodgen or Dickerson. Why is that? I know others have asked this same question but their comments haven't been posed. Why?
Long Time Observer
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April 23, 2014
The problem here can not be explained away with socio-economics. This is a big part of the problem but not all of it. Many years ago the CCSB and administration decided that it was to politically difficult to district effectively. So, they started to district schools into three types of schools, the good, the average, and the bad. They would district all of the lower income students into one "throw away" school to make two better schools in that part of the county. When this began to prove difficult for high schools, they jumped on board with IB and Magnet programs to artificially raise test scores for lower performing schools. What will they do now to kick the can farther down the road?

By the way, these scores are for last year. This years scores will be even worse when they come out this time next year.

For some reason the CCSB and administration will not look at and compare the school climate surveys and test scores of the principals and area superintendents of these lower schools. They just keep on blaming it all on the teachers.
Momcomment
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April 23, 2014
It looks like. Dale Gaddis needs to go. He has the lowest performing High schools Osborne and Campbell. The fact is Campbelll was a succeeds school when it had the long time white male P rincipal. It has the IB school the white principal was loved by all. Then he was suddenly moved and Campbell was stuck with the incompetent and arrogant Grant Rivera from South Cobb.

No one at Campbell thought things could get any worse. Then Gaddis promotes Iris McGee from failing Campbell Middle school to Campbell High school. That woman can not even speak or write correct English. I sent an e-Mail directly to Hinjoisa and Gaddis pointing this out, and that moron forwards it with my name on to Iris. instead any decent supervisor would bring in an employee and counsel them. She even had a letter on the schools web site full of grammatical errors it was ridiculous. My question was how can a school excell if the leader can't correctly speak or write English. Then their was her "sister" issue blowing the whistle, etc..

If these scores don't result in Gaddis and Iris both being non- renewed, then I do not know the purpose of having the scores. It is clear they are both failures.
History Lesson
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April 22, 2014
Let me carry Not Rocket Science's comments about the economic level of the households in east Cobb a step further. The household incomes of homes in the districts of Walton, Dickerson, Rocky Mtn and Mt. Bethel, are mainly high because east Cobb's population began to grow in the 1970s with white collar, educated, white people who were not only escaping the high property taxes of Fulton County, but the black students who were now in more schools due to integration. Up until 1966, the only high school in east Cobb was Sprayberry HS. Developers saw the opportunity & started building homes in east Cobb. Atlanta County Club Estates was started and even more wealthy white people flocked to east Cobb.

So when east Cobb started really being developed it was for educated, wealthy, white households. When you start out with mostly expensive homes the price of the homes and land are driven up and it is likely to continue that way. There is more diversity in race now in east Cobb. You don't take the expensive land and build $150,000 homes and apartments. Even the homes which were expensive in the 1970s and 1980s are being bulldozed and mansions are being built. This will not change any time soon.

Then you come to south and southwest Cobb and it is to the other extreme. When the household income is low, test scores will be low. And there are many reason why. Consequently, extra help is needed in south and southwest Cobb and it is not getting it. An example- should a new performing arts center at Lassiter HS have been before rebuilding an aging elementary school in south Cobb? Money brings influence and those with the influence demand things. It is only getting worse.
SuZeqM
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April 23, 2014
I agree with your response to her article 100%... Sadly, it's always the affluent areas that seem to received the most attention.
Lib in Cobb
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April 22, 2014
Overall, GA earned a "C". No improvement at all.
Not Rocket Science
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April 22, 2014
Kudos to the teachers at the schools with the highest rankings, but really, it doesn't take a great teacher nor a PhD to correlate the CCRPI scores to family economics. In fact, there is a direct correlation. If anyone would like to put my theory to the test take all of the teachers from Walton and switch them with Osborne and do the same with Dodgen and Garrett. Scores will stay the same at both schools. The teacher is not the variable that is driving the score. But again, I do not want to undermine the work of any teacher at any school. Just please, let's not use this to start bashing teachers.
moliere
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April 22, 2014
Looks like there needs to be some KIPP and Urban Preparatory Academies in Cobb. There also needs to be more low-cost private schools. Private education in Cobb is very expensive, and that is a real problem.
Concerned parent
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May 16, 2014
There are several private schools in the west and south cobb area that are reasonably priced. My children attend for $395 a month and receive an awesome education. I agree there has to be more choices for students who are stuck in lower scoring schools. There is school choice but when we applied, we didn't get our 1st, 2nd or 3rd choice school. Thank goodness the scholarship program for the state is in existence, even though many hate it because it takes money from the schools. The fact is that some schools are not cutting it and we need options other than moving to educate our kids.
Just Sayin'....
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April 22, 2014
Hmmmm....if this were a business, the school board should look at it's worst performers first, i.e. Osborne. That score alone could have brought the entire district down.
Very unfortunate
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April 22, 2014
Look closely at the scores and the Hispanic community is not passing any area. They are transient and receive no help at home. The parents refuse to assimilate into the culture, and it is ruining the schools and their children. The only country to allow illegals to be educated. We spend billions, and it is bringing the district down. They need to do something fast.
Call it what it is
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April 22, 2014
The fact is CCSD is slipping steadily into a minority school district. The schools that are scoring highest are where the is parent involvement and school is a priority with less minorities. The schools that are the lowest are where there is less parent involvement, more diversity, and less focus on the importance of education. The new pay coming down the line for educators will truly plummet those scores further. Who will want to work in a school with scores like those and get paid according to those scores? No one. The board needs to come up with solutions to the parents and none speakers in those areas. The Hispanic community refuse to learn our language and assimilate into the culture. It makes it nearly impossible for their children to get anywhere when the parents aren't involved. The board is going to need a dramatic change to help those schools. This is what you get when you have diversity. That is simply the truth!
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