Barrow County school officials are pleased with the scores on the 2016 CCRPI (College & Career Ready Performance Index). The county schools largely raised their scores overall and at most of the individual schools.

The CCRPI is Georgia’s statewide accountability system for all public schools. It measures schools and school districts on a 100-point scale based on multiple indicators of performance.

Elementary schools had the most gain in the scores – raising the average to 76.9, not quite a point better than in 2015 when it was 75.8.

The state average for elementary schools took a nosedive from 2015 to 2016. The elementary average for this year is 71.7, a drop of 4.3 points from 2015.

Barrow County schools outpaced the state average, and its elementary and middle schools also scored above the state average.

Ten of Barrow County’s 14 schools improved their CCRPI score from 2015-2016, and 11 out of 14 had a higher CCRPI than the average score for their level statewide.

Auburn and Statham elementary schools made the largest jumps in scores. Auburn students scored 76.0 for 2016, an increase of 15.3 points from 2015. Statham’s score was up 10.7 points, from 71.5 to 82.2.

Four elementary schools – Bethlehem, Bramlett, Kennedy and Statham – had scores at 80 or above.

The district’s largest drop in the score was at Winder-Barrow High School – from 80.2 to 74.5.

Chris McMichael, Barrow County superintendent, was pleased but cautious about the test results.

“We’ve taken it very seriously” the past few years, McMichael said.

“Elementary-wise we’ve been putting a lot of emphasis into literacy and early literacy.”

He added, “I think that’s why we’re starting to see our graduation rates improve now. We’re starting to see those kids (who had an emphasis on literacy in the lower grades) move into the high schools.”

McMichael also singled out the large gains at two elementary schools. “I’m very proud of Auburn and Statham for the gains they made,” he said.

He explained the schools have tried to focus “on what are our best practices” and spread those throughout the district.

He said teacher planning includes grade-level and department-level work and working between middle and high school grades, for example, to know what each is, and should be, teaching.

McMichael said he tries to tell teachers “if you’re doing the right things in the classrooms, the test scores will come along.”

He also noted cautions, saying the CCRPI is “still based in large measure based on that one test – one test, one day.

“One test can’t define a child or a teacher,” he said.

McMichael also said the CCRPI is a “step in the right direction because it brings in some other pieces – student growth.

‘That’s a real important part – where does a student start at the beginning of the year and where does a student end up at the end of the year.”

He also cautioned, “Education is a messy business” and said, “we’re really trying to quantify things that aren’t quantifiable.”

The key, he said, is developing steady gains and scores, by any measure.

Large changes, not accompanied by a trend of improvement, should be viewed with suspicion, McMichael said.

The CCRPI assesses a broad range of indicators including student achievement, student attendance, academic growth year to year, achievement gaps, and the performance of at-risk students.

Barrow’s overall CCRPI score was 54th out of 197 districts, placing the system in the top third of Georgia districts in performance.

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