Effingham County ranked among the top 10 percent of school districts in the state on the College and Career-Ready Performance Index for the 2013-14 school year.
Effingham placed 17th out of 197 school systems statewide on last year’s CCRPI, according to data from the Georgia Department of Education. Every school in the county surpassed the state’s average scores.
“We always strive to be in the top 15 percent, and we’re very pleased with this result showing us in the top 10,” said Noralee Deason, information systems coordinator for the Effingham County School System. “I’ve already asked the Career Academy to make us a couple banners, and we’re going to hang that very proudly at Central Registration for all the new families that are coming in.”
The CCRPI replaced the No Child Left Behind standards three years ago as Georgia’s school accountability measurement. Schools and school districts are measured on a 100-point scale, with maximums of 60 points for student achievement, 25 points for progress and 15 for closing achievement gaps.
Only 16 school systems in Georgia scored higher than Effingham last year, and three were charter schools. Of the remaining 13, nine were districts of less than 5,000 students.
More than 11,000 students are enrolled in Effingham County’s 13 public schools. The only districts with enrollments over 5,000 that performed better than Effingham were Oconee, Forsyth, Fayette and Camden counties.
“That’s not bad company to be in,” Deason said. “We feel very proud of that performance.”
While only two of the county’s elementary schools – Rincon and South Effingham – improved their scores from the previous year, all eight surpassed the state’s average score of 72.6. Effingham’s elementary school average score was 85, ranging from 92.1 at Rincon to 76.4 at Sand Hill.
Ebenezer Middle posted an 86.6, making it the county’s highest-scoring middle school for all three years of the CCRPI. Ebenezer ranked third out of 49 middle schools in the First District Regional Educational Service Agency, and the only two with higher scores were specialty programs in Chatham County – the STEM Academy at Bartlett and the Garrison School of Visual and Performing Arts.
South Effingham Middle scored an 84 and Effingham County Middle an 80.7, for a county middle school average of 83.4. The state average was 73.2.
While all three middle schools’ scores dipped from the year before, both of the county’s high schools improved theirs. Effingham County High School made a 9.9-point leap from 70.7 to 80.6, and South Effingham High increased from 79.7 to 81.4.
“The big story here is at the high schools,” Deason said.
Boosted by ECHS’ marks, the county’s high school average score rose by 5.9 points to 80.5, well above the state average of 68.4. The high school results also helped Effingham County’s overall score remain exactly the same as the year before at 84, while the state average for all grade levels declined by 3.8 points to 72.
Striving for more
School system officials presented the CCRPI data at the Effingham County Board of Education’s first meeting of the new year. Board member Beth Helmly asked what strategies are being used locally to ensure students continue to perform well.
“I think the scores are great,” Helmly said, “but we don’t need to sit on our laurels.”
Data is used to identify students who are struggling at the elementary, middle and high school levels, said Judith Shuman, the Effingham County School System’s student and professional learning coordinator. A variety of intervention programs are available to help those students academically.
Shuman added that “we’re constantly talking to folks in other districts” about education strategies. That includes participating in curriculum collaborative meetings every other month, where representatives from the First District RESA school systems share what they have done to improve student performance.
“Many times people are coming to us and saying, ‘Tell us what you’re doing,’” said Assistant Superintendent Greg Arnsdorff.
One simple, cost-effective method, according to Superintendent Randy Shearouse, has been for some of Effingham’s top teachers to share their methods and expertise with others in the district. He used the example of South Effingham High School’s John Cook, who was honored as Georgia’s economics teacher of the year in 2013.
Cook led staff development as part of an effort to improve economics test scores, particularly at Effingham County High. It paid off as ECHS’ pass rate on the economics end-of-course test jumped from 56 percent to 82 percent in a year’s time, which was reflected on this year’s CCRPI data.
“So taking some of our own very best teachers and using those as resources for others really helped that process,” Shearouse said.
Camden County was the only school system in First District RESA to score higher than Effingham on the CCRPI, by four-tenths of a point at 84.4. Helmly asked what Camden was doing to be so successful.
Shuman opined that one factor could be Camden County having only one high school. The enrollment at CCHS is nearly 3,000 students.
“The fewer hands in the pot, the easier it is to be consistent with what happens with every child,” Shuman said. “I think that plays into it a lot – the leadership and culture within a single organization versus having multiple people involved in it.”
To see the results from the 2013-14 CCRPI, visit the Georgia Department of Education Web site at www.gadoe.org. Data is available for each school district and individual school.
Effingham County CCRPI scores
Each school’s score from the 2013-14 CCRPI followed by the difference from the previous year:
Rincon ES: 92.1 (+2.1)
South Effingham ES: 89.7 (+0.3)
Marlow ES: 87.3 (-3.6)
Blandford ES: 86.2 (-1.6)
Ebenezer ES: 84.7 (-0.3)
Springfield ES: 83.4 (-9.9)
Guyton ES: 81.5 (-5.9)
Sand Hill ES: 76.4 (-6.4)
County average: 85.0 (-3.6)
State average: 72.6 (-5.2)
State rank: 21 of 190
RESA rank: 1 of 18
Ebenezer MS: 86.6 (-6.3)
South Effingham MS: 84.0 (-1.1)
Effingham County MS: 80.7 (-0.3)
County average: 83.4 (-1.0)
State average: 73.2 (-1.4)
State rank: 31 of 195
RESA rank: 2 of 18
SEHS: 81.4 (+1.7)
ECHS: 80.6 (+9.9)
County average: 80.5 (+5.9)
State average: 68.4 (-3.4)
State rank: 17 of 189
RESA rank: 2 of 18