Georgia is among 10 states recently granted a waiver of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law by the U.S. Department of Education, and state officials have implemented a new index to rate performance.
“No longer will we be bound by the narrow definitions of success found in No Child Left Behind. We will now be able to hold schools accountable and reward them for the work they do in all subjects and with all students,” State Superintendent John Barge said.
Under NCLB, end of the year results were based on Annual Yearly Progress (AYP) measurements that used standardized test results to determine how every public school and school system in the country was performing academically.
The results then determined how much federal and state funding a system received based on the number of schools it had making AYP.
Walter Woods, a spokesman for DeKalb County Schools, said school system officials were hopeful the new index would be a positive thing for the system.
“We hope that the flexibility will provide us more options to do this but we’re not really sure at this point. It may be a while before we see results,” Woods said.
Woods said DeKalb County School Superintendent Cheryl Atkinson had expressed that she would prefer to gauge schools by a number of different criteria, more than AYP offered.
“We think overall it will be positive. What we want to do is give the schools that are performing well the autonomy to keep doing well and identify the schools that aren’t and help them any way we can,” Woods said.
Georgia Department of Education (GDOE) spokesperson Matt Cardoza said now each school will be assessed based on more than just the English/Language Arts, reading and math criteria on which AYP was based.
“It will change everything we know of AYP. Based on specifics, we will identify those schools that need improvement and provide services for them,” Cardoza said.
The GDOE will implement the College and Career Ready Performance Index (CCRPI), which focuses on student achievement across the board and “attendance, content mastery and next-level preparation.”
The index also emphasizes college readiness and career development through a number of indicators such as Advance Placement, ACT and SAT scores, which was not provided by data collected for AYP.
Additionally, the GDOE will collect data from all core content areas and graduation rates data will be used to identify priority schools, focus schools and reward schools.
“The new performance index takes into account multiple indicators and it will also give the school a grade of up to 100 percent,” Cardoza said.
Cardoza said the funding mechanism would remain the same for schools under the CCRPI.
“A lot of the money is still the same. The funding for the Title I Schools and the rewards for those Title I Distinguished Schools is the same,” Cardoza said.
Cardoza said Superintendent Barge hoped the new index would ensure schools were no longer going to be labeled unfairly by just taking into account a few areas.
“His hope is that schools have a real firm improvement plan and are also noted for those things that they’re doing well,” Cardoza said.