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GCPS, Buford outperform state average on assessment

SUWANEE -- Gwinnett County Public Schools and Buford City Schools beat statewide averages in a new statewide accountability system that measures schools and districts.

Officials with the state department of education announced this week results of the first ever Georgia College and Career Ready Performance Index, an assessment which replaces the No Child Left Behind Adequate Yearly Progress measurement in Georgia.

The U.S. Department of Education granted Georgia's waiver from NCLB's assessment system earlier this year.

Ranking schools and district's on a 100-point scale, the new index takes into account achievement, progress and achievement gap. The district outperformed the state at the elementary, middle and high school levels.

The GCPS index score for elementary schools was 93.5; middle schools, 94.3; and high schools, 76.4. Buford City Schools also bested state averages, with a 93.4 at Buford Academy; 96.7 at Buford Elementary; 91.5 at Buford Middle; and 89.6 at the high school.

State averages were 83.4, elementary; 81.4, middle school; and 72.6, high school.

In addition, Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science and Technology got the best score of any high school in the metro area: 99.8.

J. Alvin Wilbanks, superintendent of GCPS, said that officials were pleased with the outcome for the most part.

"Overall, our schools are doing well; however, this index provides additional information on areas in which we need to improve," Wilbanks said. "More importantly, this index is a communication tool that will help our communities better understand how their schools are doing."

Other district officials said the CCRPI system will indeed help parents and the public better understand how schools are performing than the pass/fail system previously in place under AYP.

"We do feel this is a better system and a more understandable system than was in place with AYP," said Steve Flynt, associate superintendent of school leadership and operations.

"That said, this is the first release of data using the index, and we look forward to learning more about it and the accountability that will be tied to it. CCRPI can be another tool we use in our efforts to improve schools...a tool that focuses on the very things our schools are focused on day in and day out...achievement, progress and closing the achievement gap."

At the state level, Superintendent John Barge too was "pleased" with the CCRPI measurement.

"We are no longer bound by the narrow definitions of success found in the (AYP) measurement. Holding schools accountable and rewarding them for the work they do in all subjects and with all students is critical in preparing our students to be college and career ready. The index effectively measures how schools prepare our students for success."

A school and district's overall CCRPI score is made up of three major areas: Achievement (70 points possible), Progress (15 points possible) and Achievement Gap (15 points possible).

In addition, some schools receive "Challenge Points" to add to their score (up to 10 points) if the population is made up of a significant number of Economically Disadvantaged students, English Learner students and Students with Disabilities meeting expectations. Extra points also are rewarded for going beyond the targets of the CCRPI, challenging students to exceed expectations and participate in college and career readiness programs.

Beginning in 2013-2014, schools will also receive ratings based on their financial efficiency and school climate, but these ratings will be for the public's information only and will not factor into the school's overall CCRPI score.