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Climate, Financial ratings released for public schools in Georgia

LaGRANGE- Last week, the Georgia Department of Education released two ratings reports for each public school in the state: the School Climate Star Ratings and Financial Efficiency Ratings. Both ratings are solely based on the 2015-2016 school year and are part of the CCRPI (College and Career Ready Performance Index) report that the state developed to measure public school accountability.

“The ratings do not represent one thing in particular, rather it helps the Troup County School System look beyond test scores,” said Yolanda Stephens, schools spokeswoman. “It pulls in perceptual data from parents, teachers and students that we can use to continue enhancing the culture within each of our school buildings.”

School Climate Star Ratings are a response to the research that underscores the importance of school climate. It’s a ratings system that has a diagnostic tool to determine if a school is on the right path to school improvement.

The way the ratings work is that each school receives a 1-5 rating – with five stars representing an excellent school climate and one star representing a school climate most in need of improvement.

When it comes to the climate ratings being distributed out to schools throughout Georgia, 15 percent of schools earned a 5-star rating (excellent), 39.8 percent earned a 4-star rating (above average), 28.9 percent earned a 3-star rating (average), 11 percent earned a 2-star rating (below satisfactory), and 3.7 percent earned a 1-star rating (unsatisfactory) – an increase of 3.6 percentage points in the number of schools earning the top 5-star rating.

The ratings are based on the following indicators:

  • Student discipline data
  • Attendance records for students, teachers, staff, and administrators
  • Results from the Georgia Student Health Survey II, the Georgia School Personnel Survey and the Georgia Parent Survey

The Troup County School System has 12 schools in the 2015-2016 school year whose climate ratings increased, with 11 schools receiving a rating of 3 or higher.

To help with behavior issues, many Troup County schools have included PBIS (Positive Behavior Intervention & Supports) standard which is a proactive strategy for defining, teaching and supporting appropriate student behaviors to create positive school’s environments.

  • Gardner Newman School’s score increased 6.9 points; going from 76.3 to 83.2
  • Franklin Forest Elementary’s score increased 6.4 points; going from 86 to 92.4
  • Ethel W. Kight Elementary score increased 5.1 points; going from 84.3 to 89.4

In the beginning of the 2015-2016 school year, six Troup County schools had PBIS implemented. Now in the second year of PBIS, discipline actions towards students have reduced and because of the success, four other schools added the PBIS framework on their campus. While their scores will not reflect current improvements, the district looks to see those in the next phase of climate ratings.

“Several PBIS schools have seen a reduction in the number of referrals to the office. In addition, we have seen the number of tribunal hearings, discipline appeals, and hearing recommendations decrease,” said Cole Pugh, Troup County School System superintendent. “The recently released Star Ratings do not capture improvements in this current year.”

In the first quarter of the 2016-2017 school year, Ethel W. Kight Elementary School reported that there was a 70 percent reduction in discipline referrals. Ethel W. Kight Principal Candace McGhee said that the cutback is mainly due to PBIS being inserted.

“We attribute the decrease in discipline referrals to the implementation of PBIS along with teacher buy-in,” said McGhee. “The decrease in referrals can also be attributed to the Rigor and Relevance Training/Coaching we have participated in this year. The focus was clearly on rigorous instruction and student engagement.”

Financial Efficiency Star Ratings provides a measure of local school district’s per-pupil spending in relation to the academic achievements of its students. The purpose of the rating is based on a three-year average of per-pupil spending, which is then associated with the district’s CCRPI score. Each district receives a rating ranging from one-half star to five stars, with a five-star district being described as having strong academic outcomes and lower levels of expenditures in comparison with other districts. This year’s ratings are based on data from the 2013-2014, 2014-2015, and 2015-2016 academic years.

Troup County’s Financial Efficiency Star Rating was a 3.5.

Overall – positively and negatively – Stephens believes there are plenty of things to take away from these ratings being released.

“It allows us to hone in on which school needs support in the area of attendance,” said Stephens. “If students are not in school, on time and ready to learn, they may miss instruction. If attendance issues are not caught early, and happen consistently, a student may not be able to academically keep up with their classmates. The ratings are also indicators for support that students may need outside of the classroom. These questions are not necessarily school specific, but it gives us insight into areas where parental and community involvement are key to keeping students focused and on the path to graduation.”

 

Shirttail- Reach James Simpson II at 706-884-7311, ext. 2155, or email at james.simpson@lagrangenews.com