Cherokee County School District has improved its overall College Career Readiness Performance Index score and stayed above state averages, according to data released Friday by the Georgia Department of Education.

CCSD’s 2018-19 CCRPI average is 83, an increase from 79 the previous year, and exceeding the state average of 76. All three levels of CCSD schools also improved from the previous year’s scores and surpassed those of the state: 86 elementary (77 Georgia); 80 middle (72); 82 high (77).

CCRPI is calculated from measures of five performance areas: content mastery, progress, closing gaps, readiness, and for high schools, graduation rates. This includes the state-mandated Georgia Milestones test scores.

According to CCSD, the district and its school leaders and data teams review data throughout the year upon receipt to allow for immediate adjustment and improvement.

“We’re proud of the hard work by all of our students and teachers every day in the classroom,” Superintendent Brian Hightower said. “Our students are not data points, but limited standardized testing results do help us evaluate our instructional best practices to continuously improve. Our recent adoptions of new initiatives and resources have asked our teachers to do more, and they continue to rise to the challenge for our children’s benefit.”

Hightower said CCSD and school instructional leaders will take a deep look into the data to determine how struggling students can be better supported. He noted that the CCRPI formula results in lower scores for schools with higher populations of students facing obstacles to educational success such as financial challenges, learning English as a special language, and learning differences.

The CCRPI accountability system is required by the federal Every Student Succeeds Act, which replaced No Child Left Behind.

While Cherokee schools showed improvement, the state’s averages were lower this year, particularly for middle school, despite improvements in Georgia Milestones and graduation rates. Gov. Brian Kemp, as well as state Superintendent Richard Woods, have called for reforms to the system.

“I believe that we need to engage in a thoughtful process to create an accountability system that paints a true picture of what’s happening in a school,” Kemp said. “I’m confident that we’re finally in the right position to make long-needed refinements to this measurement.”

Woods said he is committed to reducing the weight of standardized testing in the CCRPI, focusing instead on measuring schools on how they prepare students for life.

“As we aim to lessen the number of high-stakes tests our students take, we need the weight of testing in CCRPI to reflect the same priorities,” Woods said. “Georgia’s parents, taxpayers, students, and educators deserve a fair measurement of performance that lifts up, rather than labels, our public schools. Working with Governor Kemp and the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement, the time is right to make that shift.”

To view the CCRPI results for Georgia, school districts and individual schools, visit ccrpi.gadoe.org.

Shannon is a reporter covering education, city governments, crime, features, religion and other local news. She is a graduate of Young Harris College and currently lives in unincorporated Woodstock.

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