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Effingham County schools surpass state scores
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All of Effingham County’s public schools except one scored higher than the state averages on the College and Career-Ready Performance Index for the 2012-13 school year.

According to CCRPI data released by the Georgia Department of Education, every Effingham elementary and middle school surpassed the state averages, as did South Effingham High School. The lone exception was Effingham County High.

“We’re working on that and we’ll continue to work on that to make some improvements there (at ECHS),” Superintendent Randy Shearouse said.

The CCRPI is in just its second year as the school accountability measurement in Georgia, after replacing the No Child Left Behind Adequate Yearly Progress standards. Schools and school districts are measured on a 100-point scale.

The scoring system for year two was tweaked to increase the importance of students’ academic progress from one year to the next. Schools could earn maximums of 60 points (down from 70 last year) for student achievement, 25 points (up from 15) for progress and 15 for closing achievement gaps.

The new scoring system benefitted, for example, Springfield Elementary, which has the school district’s highest number of students on free and reduced lunch and therefore receives the most Title I federal funding. Springfield’s score of 93.3 was not only the highest among Effingham’s 13 schools, but also the district’s largest improvement (15.1 points) from the previous year.

By comparison, South Effingham Elementary, a traditionally high-performing school on standardized tests, increased its score by 2.3 points to 89.4.

“South Effingham Elementary scores a whole lot higher than Springfield does if they went head-to-head,” Shearouse said. “But when you take into account how Springfield is moving those kids up, reducing that achievement gap, they’re doing a fantastic job there. So they were actually able to get more points in other areas that South wouldn’t have been eligible for.”

Effingham County’s elementary schools scored particularly well, ranking eighth out of 191 school districts in Georgia and first among the 18 in the First District Regional Educational Service Agency. Effingham’s average elementary score was 89.6, well above the state average of 78.5.

Along with SES, two other elementary schools scored 90 or above — Marlow (90.9) and Rincon (90.0). Guyton raised its score by 9.3 points to 87.4, Sand Hill improved by 5.9 points to 82.8 and Ebenezer increased half a point to 85.0. Blandford was the only elementary school with a decline, of 2.1 points to 87.8.

Effingham County middle-schoolers also topped the state average by double digits, 85.1 to 75. Effingham ranked 28th out of 194 districts statewide and third in First District RESA.

Ebenezer again was the county’s top-ranked middle school, increasing by nine-tenths of a point to 92.9.

“Ebenezer Middle, as they were last year, will be one of the top middle schools in the state, I’m sure, with that score,” Shearouse said.

South Effingham Middle improved by 2.2 points to 85.1. Effingham County Middle, a Title I school that steadily has been improving its test scores, posted the third-largest leap in the district — 6.8 points, to 81.0.

“It’s great to see that they’re moving into the 80s there,” Shearouse said.

Effingham’s high school results were a mixed bag. The county scored above the state average, even though both high schools’ numbers declined from the previous year.

South Effingham High’s score dipped by 2.5 points to 79.7, and Effingham County High had the district’s largest drop, of 8.9 points to 70.7. The county’s high school average decreased by 6.6 points to 74.6, ranking it ahead of the state’s 72.0, 55th among 185 districts statewide and sixth of 18 in the RESA.

Shearouse identified economics, coordinate algebra and U.S. history as the three subject areas that need the most improvement on the county’s high school end-of-course tests. He anticipates seeing higher scores on the next CCRPI.

The rigorous coordinate algebra exam was added to the end-of-course test last year. Shearouse believes, now that teachers and students know what to expect from it, scores will improve.

In addition, steps have been taken to improve economics scores, particularly at Effingham County High. Continuity was established by keeping the same economics teachers rather than assigning the courses to different teachers each year. The district also provided staff development, led by South Effingham’s John Cook, who was honored as the state’s economics teacher of the year by the Georgia Council on Economic Education.

It paid off as ECHS’ pass rate on the economics end-of-course test given in the fall jumped from 56 percent to 82 percent in a year’s time, and Shearouse expects more of the same this spring. That improvement will be reflected on next year’s CCRPI data.

“We made those changes, so we know we’re going to get more points (for this year) where we didn’t get many last year because students didn’t perform well,” Shearouse said.

Effingham County CCRPI scores
Listed are scores from the 2012-13 school year followed by the difference from the previous year

*Springfield: 93.3  (15.1)
Marlow: 90.9  (2.5)
*Rincon: 90.0  (0.6)
South Effingham: 89.4  (2.3)
*Blandford: 87.8  (-2.1)
*Guyton: 87.4  (9.3)
Ebenenzer: 85.0  (0.5)
*Sand Hill: 82.8  (5.9)
County average: 89.6  (6.6)
State average: 78.5  (3.6)
State rank: 8 of 191
RESA rank: 1 of 18

Ebenezer: 92.9  (0.9)
South Effingham: 85.1  (2.2)
*Effingham County: 81.0  (6.8)
County average: 85.1  (1.7)
State average: 75.0  (1.1)
State rank: 28 of 194
RESA rank: 3 of 18

SEHS: 79.7  (-2.5)
ECHS: 70.7  (-8.9)
County average: 74.6  (-6.6)
State average: 72.0  (-1.0)
State rank: 55 of 185
RESA rank: 6 of 18

*Title I schools