Weekly Charter News Roundup: Jan. 25 – Feb. 10

Georgia’s ranking for state charter laws has improved. According to the National Alliance of Charter Schools’ 2016 ranking of state charter laws, Georgia moved up five spots from 23 to 18 to because state lawmakers approved regulations to strengthen authorizer accountability, charter school autonomy and the processes for monitoring charter schools.

  • Georgia added 11 new charter schools this year. In addition, charter schools throughout the state enrolled an additional 7,000 students.
  • The first state chartered school in Fayette County will open its doors for the 2016-2017 school year. Liberty Tech will be housed in the former Brooks Elementary School.

  • Parents at Peachtree Charter Middle School have voted to renew the school’s charter.

  • Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent, Meria Carstarphen, has laid out more detailed plans for turning around a number of the city’s struggling schools. The plans include closing one school, merging another four and hiring charter school groups to manage five others.

  • Members of a panel that spoke during the 2016 Georgia Charter Schools Conference say, if approved by state lawmakers next year, the recent recommendations from the Education Reform Commission would benefit charter and traditional schools in the state. 

  • The Heartland Institute says recommendations made by the Education Reform Commission could lead to more equitable funding for charter schools if approved by state lawmakers next year.

  • Entertainer and actor Ludacris spoke during a rally held at the Georgia Capitol during National School Choice Week.

  • Benita Dodd with the Georgia Public Policy Foundation wrote an opinion piece for the Columbia County News-Times during National School Choice Week. She says Georgia’s education system has seen improvements in recent years due to school choice, but there’s still room for improvement.

  • The governing board for Elite Scholars Academy, one of the best performing schools in Clayton County, has announced it will not seek a charter renewal. Clayton County officials plan to operate Elite Scholars Academy as a traditional school.

  • The Alliance Academy for Innovation of Cumming-Forsyth County Inc. has switched from a charter school to a traditional school. The school system made the change after becoming an IE2 district.

  • The Washington D.C. based Brookings Institution gave the DeKalb County School System a D for educational choice and competition in its annual Education Choice and Competition index.

  • The governing board for Macon Charter Academy has approved a contract with Prestige Charter School Solutions.

CCRPI For Dummies

By Nina Rubin 

I’m no dummy, but it’s part of my job to read and digest Department of Education briefs, white papers, and reports in order to explain educational issues in ways that lay readers can easily understand. That’s why I sat down and tried to come to grips, on a “dummy” level, with something called CCRPI – Georgia’s new College and Career Ready Performance Index. CCRPI is one of those ed-jargon acronyms parents and Georgia voters will be hearing about more and more, and they should know what it means.

Lawmakers in the Georgia General Assembly have just given a green light to a constitutional amendment question that will let voters decide, on the November 2016 ballot, whether the state can intervene in turning around Georgia’s lowest- performing public schools.

If voters pass the amendment, beginning in 2016-17 an appointed superintendent, accountable to the Governor, could select up to 20 schools each year to become part of a state-run Opportunity School District (OSD). There would be no more than 100 schools in the OSD at any given time. Schools in the OSD could be closed, converted into charter schools, or reorganized and re-launched under new leadership. An Opportunity School would remain under the supervision of the OSD for a minimum of five consecutive years.

The “trigger” that could make a school eligible for intervention is CCRPI. Schools reporting CCRPI scores of 60 or lower (on a 100-point scale) for three consecutive years become possible candidates for state intervention.

What is CCRPI?
CCRPI is a state school accountability metric which replaces a previous federal system called Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP), which was part of George W. Bush era education legislation, the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act. In 2011, the U.S. Department of Education offered flexibility waivers allowing states to opt out of NCLB. Georgia chose that option in 2012. In opting out of the federal system, the state was required to develop its own metric.

CCRPI, which was developed as part of Georgia’s $400 Million Race to the Top award, was intended to be a more comprehensive assessment that would put a measurable focus not only on math and reading, but on all academic areas, and would also factor in student demographics and special populations with more subtlety. An overarching goal is to assess how well prepared students are for college and careers.

How CCRPI is different from AYP?
CCRPI moves schools away from the all or nothing, pass/fail mentality that repeatedly doomed schools with poor academic performance to the lowest rungs – especially those serving a high number of students in poverty.

The first CCRPI scores were released in 2013, based on 2012 data. The latest scores, for 2013-14, were lower for most schools than the previous year. It is not clear why the scores are trending lower, but it could be because of the activation of additional criteria for measurement, coupled with schools’ learning curve on how to earn more CCRPI points.

How is the CCRPI score derived?
There are three components to a school’s CCRPI score:

Achievement (60 points) 

  • Content mastery on Georgia’s new standardized test called Milestones (which replaces the CRCT
  • Post-high school readiness and student progress on career pathways
  • School’s graduation rate over four years, and adjusts for certain populations that might take five years to graduate

 Progress (25 points) A more nuanced measure of student progress based on a    students’ past academic history and compares students with “like” score histories.

Closing the Achievement Gap (15 points) Looks at the bottom 25% of school’s student population compared to state averages. High-performing schools may earn more on the Gap size than on Gap change. Lower-performing schools may earn more on change than on size.

Challenge Points (Up 10 points can be awarded for indicators that a school is going above and beyond targets in its efforts to address achievement). This is an opportunity for high-poverty districts, schools with many English Language Learners and/or students with learning disabilities to earn additional points. Beginning in 2013-2014, schools received ratings based on their financial efficiency and school climate, but these ratings were for the public’s information only and were not factored into the school’s overall CCRPI score. School climate is not measured in online schools, and it is not know yet whether alternate challenge points could be measured for virtual schools.

What are average CCRPI scores in Georgia?
In 2013-14, for the state as a whole, CCRPI average scores were:

  • 72.7 for elementary schools
  • 73.8 for middle schools
  • 68.4 for high schools

How did your school score on CCRPI?
Find out here.

Where are the “chronically failing” schools?
There are 141 “chronically failing” schools in the state, concentrated in these locations.

  • Atlanta (27)
  • DeKalb County (26)
  • Richmond County (21)
  • Bibb County (14)
  • Muscogee County (10).  

The remaining schools are scattered around the state. The full list can be found here.

What do Charter School Leaders Say?
Matt Underwood, Executive Director of Atlanta Neighborhood Charter School (GCSA’s 2015 Charter School of the Year), posted a long analysis of CCRPI on his school blog, and you can read it here.

Chris Clemons, who leads Latin Academy Charter School, asserts that CCRPI is a better metric than AYP. “It incorporates all of the most important dimensions of a schools functioning. Schools should be measured on their student-based outcomes above all other measures. The extent to which factors are weighted against other factors always merits close attention, but I do not currently see any issues with CCRPI that could be said to miss the mark.  CCRPI certainly broadens the scope of data points that are incorporated in understanding school performance and allows for more incisive analysis than AYP.” 

Pataula Charter Academy’s Kylie Holley has written on this blog (What Data Collection Can Miss) about the disconnect between the rave reviews her school received for school climate when it earned AdvancED accreditation, and a less optimal school climate score from the state.

Learn more about CCRPI
For a data-driven critique of CCRPI, see Jarod Apperson’s article “Bending the Curve; Why CCRPI Misleads Educators.”

For a look at how schools that could be targeted for takeover are working to improve their CCRPI scores, this story illuminates the strategies several Savannah-Chatham public schools are using. http://savannahnow.com/news/2015-04-04/savannahs-targeted-takeover-schools-focus-improvement

In a confusing twist, Neighbor Newspapers reported recently that a school with the lowest CCRPI score in Fulton County, had the highest School Climate score! McClarin Alternative School in College Park, which at 49.9 ranked the lowest in south Fulton schools’ 2013-14 CCRPI, came out on top in this month’s inaugural school climate ratings, based on information gathered during the same school year.

Nina Rubin is Director of Special Projects & Strategic Initiatives for the Georgia Charter Schools Association.

The views and opinions expressed on CharterConfidential are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any agency. 


Weekly Charter News Roundup: March 21-27, 2015

GA House passes Governor Deal’s Opportunity School District plan, unleashing a tidal wave of reporting and opinion. Also this week, Dick Yarbrough, now a member of Governor’s Education Reform Commission, praises the its work in an Op Ed that gets wide pickup across the state.