Local News

May 6, 2014

Dalton, Whitfield, Murray show improvements on CCRPI

— Last year, Whitfield County Schools Superintendent Judy Gilreath was “very disappointed” with a report that said county high schools were below the state average in how well students were learning.

This year, things look a “little bit better,” she said.

That’s according to a state Department of Education accountability system called the College and Career Ready Performance Index (CCRPI). The system rates the success of schools on a scale of 0 to 100 by crunching data including test scores, graduation rates and how well different groups of students — including the disabled and impoverished — are preparing for college.

CCRPI data have only been released twice, reflecting information from school years 2012 and 2013, which begin in July. Information from this school year won’t likely be released until 2015, school officials said. The 2012 CCRPI scores were recalculated under new standards released this year, including CRCT (Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests) and end of year test scores.

The state average for high schools increased from 71.8 in 2012 to 72.8 in 2013, while the average for Whitfield high schools went from 65.3 to 72.5. The state elementary school average increased from 74.5 to 77.8, while the middle school average went from 73.8 to 74.6.

The biggest increase in Whitfield occurred at Coahulla Creek High School, which opened in 2010 and jumped from 48.7 to 74.

“The thing is that when you open a new school, it’s always difficult to score well,” Gilreath said of the increase. “We have good teachers out there that have stayed. I think, this year, they just knew better what the state was looking for. It was new to everybody the first year. We weren’t always sure what they were looking for.”

Principal Stanley Stewart said he has focused on Common Core, across-the-board standards all states must meet under federal rules. Those standards are tested periodically during the school year, a major factor in the CCRPI score.

Northwest Whitfield High School also showed an increase, going from 72 to 80.

“That score is very good,” Audrey Williams, who oversees assessment for Whitfield schools, said. What made Northwest do so well is just “hard work” from students and teachers, Williams added.

“I can only see them going up further and further,” she said.

Whitfield elementary schools averaged 74.2 (up from 65.2), while middle schools averaged 70 (up from 69.7).

Gilreath said the school system is going to add academic coaches who will help teachers learn how to better teach math and reading, particularly to Hispanic students learning English. While some elementary schools have had coaches for five years, Gilreath said every elementary school will have at least one next year.

“We’re focusing on the elementary schools because what I’ve found, with students, is that if they get to middle school and they don’t know how to read,” she said, “they have found ways to mask it or cope. We’ve got to get them while they’re young.”

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