Overall, the Bulloch County school system scored lower on Georgia’s main measure of public school performance in 2018-19 than the previous school year, as did schools on average statewide.
The Bulloch County Schools’ overall score in the College and Career Ready Performance Index, or CCRPI, for 2019 is 73.7, compared to the state’s score of 75.9. Last year, the Bulloch County school district’s score was 74.8, while the statewide score was 76.6. Some of the local schools’ scores improved, but other schools showed declines in the report issued Oct. 25 by the Georgia Department of Education.
Bulloch County Schools Superintendent Charles Wilson said the school system will put the data to use as “a learning opportunity” in itself, to continue improvements underway for the schools and for students’ learning.
“That’s the model of continuous improvement we have set to build the culture of the learning environment,” he said. “It goes back to our belief statement, ‘Everyone can learn. …’ We are using this data as constant feedback. We have our own in-house data we look at, but this is sort of that annual reality check on how the state measures us. It’s telling us some things, some good things, and it’s telling us some things that we need to pay a lot of attention to.”
The CCRPI uses a 100-point scale. The Bulloch County school system’s 2019 overall elementary school score of 74.8, middle school score of 70.6 and high school score of 74.3 were all below the state scores of 77.1 for elementary, 72.1 for middle and 77.0 for high schools. Bulloch County’s elementary school score improved from 72.7 the previous year, but the local middle school score dropped from 78.5 and the high school score from 75.8 in 2018.
The index gauges all schools and school systems’ performance in four areas: academic content mastery, progress, closing achievement gaps and readiness. The first three areas, making up 80% of elementary and middle schools’ scores and 70% of high schools’ scores, are based on annual Georgia Milestones testing.
But “readiness” numbers, which account for 20% of elementary and middle and 15% of high school scores, are based on other things, such as how many students complete courses beyond the core and take part in programs to prepare them for college or careers. A fifth element, graduation rates, makes up the other 15% of high school scores.
Besides making progress for students in general, schools are expected to reduce “achievement gaps” for subgroups, including students with disabilities, economically disadvantaged students, students learning English and different races.
Twelve of the Bulloch County system’s 15 schools showed improvement in students’ mastery of academic content.
Five schools – Mill Creek Elementary, Nevils Elementary, Sallie Zetterower Elementary, Statesboro High School and Portal Middle High School’s middle grades – posted significant improvements in closing achievement gaps for subgroups of students. But this continues to be a weaker area for many of the local schools, Wilson acknowledged.
“If you look data, the subgroups measure, it’s telling us that our subgroups are a hot area in terms of where we’re not showing the progress we need to,” he said. “There are no excuses for that. The question we should be asking ourselves is, now that we know this, what do we do? … And I think that we should pay attention to the schools that are improving, too.”
In this year’s CCRPI, Sallie Zetterower Elementary is Bulloch County’s top performing and most improved elementary school with a score of 85.0, having gained 17.1 points from 2018. Nevils Elementary, with a score of 82.6, Julia P. Bryant Elementary, with 80.8, and Stilson Elementary, with 80.0, also surpassed the state’s overall elementary school score, 77.1.
Portal Middle High School’s sixth through eighth grades constitute Bulloch County’s top-performing and most improved middle school, with an overall score of 81.5, an increase of more than 15 points from 2018. Southeast Bulloch Middle School, with 78.6, and William James Middle School, with 74.0, also exceeded the overall state middle school score, 72.1.
Southeast Bulloch High School is the district’s top performing high school with a score of 79.0, which is two points higher than the state’s score, 77.0. But Southeast Bulloch High’s overall score dropped five points from 2018.
Meanwhile, Portal Middle High School’s ninth through 12th grades, with a CCRPI score of 71.3 this year, and Statesboro High School, with 71.2, each increased their overall scores from 2018 but still fell well short of the statewide high school score.
Room to improve
While Statesboro High received the lowest score, by a tenth of a point, among the local high schools, Langston Chapel Middle School with 62.8 and Mattie Lively Elementary School with 57.8 had the county’s lowest scores for their grade levels by more significant margins.
The Bulloch County Schools have put a “framework for school improvement” in place that allows leaders of all of the schools to look at their data, see if they are doing what they said they would do and whether it has made a difference, Wilson said.
Underperforming schools can also learn from those that are improving, he said, mentioning Sallie Zetterower and the other top performing elementary schools as examples.
For the lowest-performing schools, the Bulloch County district under its Strategic Waivers School System agreement with the state promised to establish “a district intervention process” so that the state would not have to intervene, Wilson noted.
In the past year the school district identified Langston Chapel Elementary School and Portal High School to receive “intensive support,” he added. School system officials may now consider Mattie Lively Elementary School and Langston Chapel Middle School for similar support, he said.
Summaries of CCRPI results for Bulloch County and other Georgia public school systems can be found on a state website, http://ccrpi.gadoe.org.