Is Your School on the List to be Taken Over by the State of Georgia’s Opportunity School District?

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Is Your School on the List to be Taken Over by the State of Georgia’s Opportunity School District?

Last week the Georgia Senate voted and passed two bills, Senate Bill 133 and Senate Resolution 287.  Senate Bill 133 will set up the Opportunity School District (OSD), which will enable the state to take over public elementary and secondary schools that have a grade of F for three consecutive years.  Senate Resolution 287 proposes an amendment to the Constitution of Georgia, which allows the General Assembly to set up the OSD.

These bills will enable the Governor’s office to take over 20 of Georgia’s “chronically failing” public schools in the 2017-2018 school year, and then increase the number to 100 schools throughout the state.  These “chronically failing” schools will make up a statewide school district called the Opportunity School District.

To get on this list, your school must earn less that 60 on the CCRPI for the previous three years.  You might ask, does such a list exist, and can you see it.  The answer is yes.  You can see it here.

For a several years, once state legislators got ahold of bills from the ALEC Bill Mill, schools in Georgia were rated using either stars, letter grades, and now a number: the College and Career Ready Performance Index (CCRPI), which is a composite number or score of achievement points, progress points, achievement gap points and challenge points.  No matter how you look at this, its how students score on standardized tests. For the state as a whole, CCRPI scores are 72.7 for elementary schools, 73.8 for middle schools, and 68.4 for high schools.  Instead of stars, the state uses six performance flags (2 for each color): green (subgroup meets standards), yellow (subgroup meets some of the standards), red (failed to meet standards).

The List of Chronically Failing Schools

Data from the Georgia Department of Education indicates that schools scoring lower than 60 on the CCRPI measures for three consecutive years would be considered a potential turnaround or failing school. There are 141 “chronically failing” schools in the state.  The schools are concentrated in these locations: Atlanta (27), DeKalb County (26), Richmond County (21), Bibb County (14), and Muscogee County (10).  The remaining schools are scattered around the state.

It’s a Bogus List

The list is based on a committee deciding that a school scoring lower than 60 on CCRPI for three years is a failing school.  How did they get that number (60)?  Is it a scientifically based number?  Could this number change from one year to the next?  What would be implication for the 141 schools if the “passing” grade was 55?  Or 52.5?  Or 50?  It would mean a lot.  For one thing, a lot of schools would not be stigmatized by being labeled “failing.”  How would you like to know that the school in your neighborhood was rated by a method that has no valid reason to choose a number, such as 60, and go on to pretend that the state knows what it is talking about.

It’s hogwash.

A lot more to come about these Opportunity School District bills.


About Jack Hassard

Jack Hassard is a writer, a former high school teacher, and Professor Emeritus of Science Education, Georgia State University.