SUWANEE -- During Thursday's work session, leaders with Gwinnett County Public Schools examined a study by Harvard University that looked at teacher effectiveness and post-secondary outcomes for students over a period of several years.
Gwinnett County Public Schools was one of six school districts in the nation asked to take part in the diagnostic report, a research project by Harvard University's Center for Education Policy Research.
By connecting student data to teacher data through a Human Capital Diagnostic, the study aimed to calculate teacher effectiveness.
Deputy Superintendent Gale Hey provided the school board with the project's findings: high turnover rates can lead to new hires and less experienced teachers; late hires are slightly less effective than their peers hired before the school year began; and teacher effectiveness for teachers with advanced degrees is, on average, no different from their colleagues without such degrees.
The last point Chairwoman Louise Radloff found "surprising."
"That's a very strong statement," Radloff said.
Hey echoed that it was indeed surprising. She then read the results of the College-Going Diagnostic, which measured post-secondary outcomes for students.
The study found that ninth-grade performance had a large influence on graduation; schools with students who have higher incoming eighth-grade math scores generally have higher graduation rates; more than 10 percent of high school graduates choose not to go to college despite having the academic qualifications.
The study also found that among seamless four-year college enrollees, almost 50 percent attend the same five-year colleges: Georgia State University, the University of Georgia, Gainesville State College, Georgia Institute of Technology and Georgia Southern University.
Spokeswoman Sloan Roach said that the study also revealed that in Gwinnett, the college-going rates of black students surpassed those of similar white students by 5.2 percent.
In addition, the data review "confirmed that (GCPS) has more work to do in terms of helping our Latino students achieve their college goals."
Roach said the district "also would like to study the finding that just about 18 percent of highly qualified high school graduates in Gwinnett choose to attend less selective postsecondary institutions or opt to not attend college."
Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks said that such data will help the district vastly.
"I contend that sometimes we're starving for good information," Wilbanks said. "There were a few things that were a surprise to us in this project, but the information has been extremely valuable and we'll be able to analyze it."