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Schools getting ready for life after AYP
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The Effingham County School System is preparing to join others around the state in adopting a new set of guidelines to measure student and school success.

Starting this fall, Georgia public schools no longer will use the Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) standards under the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. Georgia has applied for a federal waiver from NCLB, enabling

school districts instead to adopt the College and Career Ready Performance Index (CCRPI) as the measuring stick.

"It’s a whole new ballgame," said Assistant Superintendent Greg Arnsdorff. "On the whole, I think we we’re pleased with the move to this index, but the devil is in the details of how we arrive at the calculations."

Those details of the CCRPI are still being finalized by the state Department of Education.

"We have as many questions as answers at this point," said Noralee Deason, information systems coordinator for Effingham County Schools. "They’re tweaking this and will continue to tweak it. This document is different every time we see it."

Despite the ongoing revisions to the CCRPI, local school officials do know several ways it will differ from NCLB. Arnsdorff and Deason gave the Effingham County Board of Education a preliminary look at the new accountability standards last week.

Under the new guidelines, a performance index will be used to give each school a numeric score. A number of measures will be used to determine those scores, including writing assessments, attendance rates, Lexile Framework for Reading scores, career readiness measures, Advanced Placement courses, SAT/ACT scores and college entry percentages. How much weight each of the components will carry remains to be seen.

Gone will be the NCLB requirement that all students be 100 percent proficient in all areas. The CCRPI will use "performance targets" to decrease the number of students notmeeting requirements by 50 percent by the year 2017.

That requirement will apply to every combination of students and subjects. Deason used the example that, if 20 percent of students with disabilities are not meeting CCRPI science proficiency, the school district would need to decrease that number to 10 percent by 2017.

One big change from NCLB is that all Criterion-Referenced Competency Test subjects and State End of Course Tests will be part of the new accountability plan. So, in addition to measuring math, reading and language arts, now science and social studies will be added to the mix.

"We are going to have to look much more closely at performance in every content area," Arnsdorff said.

Although the school system will have to adjust to new requirements, Deason pointed out that Effingham County is meeting or exceeding state standards in a number of categories.

"I worry a little bit, when you look at if you’re already at 97, 98 percent proficiency and you have to grow, what does that mean if you don’t meet your target yet you remain in the high number? How are they going to score that?" asked Superintendent Randy Shearouse.

Once the state irons out all the details of the CCRPI, Effingham schools then will need to decide which areas to prioritize for improvement.

"We’re going to have to make some decisions in the district as far as what we’re going to target, because we certainly can’t afford to target every area," Shearouse said.