Friday November 27th, 2015 4:00PM

Gainesville, Hall school districts show improvements in report released Mon.

By The Associated Press
ATLANTA (AP) The Gainesville and Hall County school systems each showed improvement last year over the year before in performance data released for the two years Monday by the state Department of Education.

New data on Georgia's schools suggests the state's elementary and middle schools have improved during the last two years. But high schools haven't made the same gains statewide.

Monday's report from the Department of Education is the second year of using Georgia's homegrown ratings system for school performance.

Each school, district and the entire state is given a score out of 100, using statewide tests, graduation rates and other factors. Bonus points of up to 10 also are available.

The Gainesville School System scored a 68.8 on the 2012 report, improving to a 71.6 last year. The Hall County School System's 2012 score was 66.8; for 2013, it was 70.9

(For a detailed report on the data and links to school-by-school and district-by-district information for the entire state, you can click on the links below.)

Hall County school officials said the College and Career Ready Performance Index (CCRPI) scores reflect improvement in approximately 75% of the district's schools and noted that the index is "heavily dependent" upon student performance on the CRCT and EOCT standardized assessments.

"In Hall County, we are continually working on school improvement for all of the schools," said Kevin Bales, School Improvement Specialist for the county system. "Our improvement efforts should indeed help students meet competency targets measured by standardized tests, but should also bode well for future student success in ways that cannot be measured with standardized assessments.
The numbers released today indicate positive progress as it relates to standardized assessments. Students and teachers have shown tremendous resiliency and resolve in recent years. The released CCRPI data supports that fact. We are now looking to continue these trends while at the same time improving the overall student experience in each of our schools."

(Click on the accompanying graph to see how each county school faired. Click on it again to enlarge it to view the graphs for elementary, middle and high schools.)

"There were major changes made to the CCRPI calculations that the Department of Education has warned will decrease scores and set a lower baseline with the 2013 data," noted Jamey Moore, Director of Curriculum & Instruction for the Gainesville School System. "Even with this expected decrease, the scores for the Gainesville City School District increased from 68.8 to 71.6 overall."

A tool on the department's website lets parents drill down into the results of each measure at individual schools.

Statewide, Georgia's elementary schools received an average score of 74.9 and 78.5 for the 2012 and 2013 school years. Middle schools scored 73.9 and 75, with high schools scoring 73 and 72.

The system known as the College and Career Ready Performance Index replaces the ratings method created by the federal No Child Left Behind Act in 2001. The state received a waiver from using that system and worked on its own for several years before launching to review the 2011-2012 school year.

But when the first results came out last May, educators complained of too much emphasis on current results rather than improving student performance from one year to the next. The scores released Monday try to address those concerns by putting more weight on improving performance, education officials said.

There's no benchmark dividing a successful school or district from a failing one in the index. Education officials said the 100-point scale allows parents to make their own judgments about what's acceptable.

The highly specific system makes it difficult to compare Georgia to other states' schools, or to compare schools here to their own performance before 2012. And more changes are on the way: the statewide test known as CRCT administered each year to third through eighth graders will be replaced by another based on federal Common Core standards.

About 137 school districts improved their score from 2012 to 2013 under the new system, ranging from marginal increases in Fannin and Troup counties to a jump of more than 30 points at the Georgia Academy for the Blind.

About 59 schools were given lower scores for 2013 than the previous year.

('s Ken Stanford contributed to this story.)
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