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Report shows student achievements measuring up to money spent

A state report has found students’ academic achievements in both of Bartow County’s school districts measure up to the amount of money their district is spending on them.

The Georgia Department of Education released on Jan. 26 the Financial Efficiency Star Ratings for the state’s schools and school districts.

FESR measures a district’s per-pupil spending in relation to its students’ academic achievements; specifically, the rating is based on a three-year average of per-pupil spending and is then associated with the district’s College and Career Ready Performance Index score, according to a DOE press release.

Each district receives a rating of one-half star to five stars, with a five-star district being described as having strong academic outcomes and lower levels of expenditures compared to other districts. Each individual school in the district also received a rating on the same scale.

The Bartow County School District received 3.5 stars, while the Cartersville City School District earned a three-star rating.

Chief Financial Officer Megan Brown said while Bartow’s rating puts the school system in the top 37 percent, “we are always striving for perfection.”

“However, when looking deeper into the data that is used to compile the ranking, we have to take into consideration that the rankings can vary based on reporting practices, procedures and outside factors, some being out of our control, such as student attendance,” she said. “There are many other factors that drive our decisions — primarily individual student need — and we are confident that the needs of our children are being met.”

As for individual schools, Bartow’s 19 ratings ranged from two to four stars: Cloverleaf, Emerson, Hamilton Crossing, Kingston and Pine Log elementary receiving two stars; Allatoona Elementary receiving 2.5 stars; Clear Creek, Euharlee, Mission Road and Taylorsville elementary and Adairsville High receiving three stars; Adairsville and

White elementary and South Central and Woodland middle receiving 3.5 stars; and Adairsville and Cass middle and Cass and Woodland high receiving four stars.

“The ranking is not solely a reflection of how money is being spent at each school,” Brown said. “These school rankings are calculated using surveys, student discipline, safety of the learning environment, attendance of students and staff, along with financial data. Some of these factors are out of our control, such as perception surveys and student attendance.”

A change in the way the ratings are calculated makes it hard to compare the three years of data, according to Brown.

“These ratings are based on data from 2013-14, 2014-15 and 2015-16 academic years,” she said. “The calculation for the Financial Efficiency Star Ratings changed between the 2015 and 2016 rating, so a comparison between the years is not valid. We will continue doing what we can to offer the best possible education for each individual student.”

The school district also will take a look at the “various factions within the calculation to determine what can be done as a district to improve in the areas in which we have control,” Brown said.

“We are confident that we are using our resources wisely between schools and continuously explore options to be more efficient and meet the needs of all our wonderful students,” she said.

Cartersville spokeswoman Cheree Dye said district officials were “very pleased” with their schools’ ratings — 3.5 stars for the elementary school and four stars for the middle and high schools.

“However, at times, the rating systems applied to schools can be an arduous process to navigate and a moving target that shifts from year to year,” she said. “Our financial priority, which is to be cost-effective and efficient while distributing as many dollars as possible to the classroom, is our continual focus. With that in mind, we believe the rating is acceptable. We are always receptive to any useful information that supports our system priority of fiscal responsibility.”

Because kindergarten, first- and second-graders do not take standardized tests, the primary school didn’t receive a rating since part of the calculation is based on a school’s CCRPI scores, she added.

State law requires the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement, in coordination with DOE, to create a financial efficiency rating that must be based on five stars.

This is the third time the ratings for districts have been released and the first time for the individual school ratings to be released, the press release said.

All districts have been given an opportunity to provide a response or additional information that they believe will assist their stakeholders in understanding the expenditures included in the calculation and the effect on the district’s rating.

To view a district report, go to http://ccrpi.gadoe.org/2017/, choose a school district and select one of the following report types: elementary, middle or high school. Then click on the “Financial Efficiency” tab. The overall district rating is displayed in each of the three report types.

For an individual school, choose a school district and school and select the elementary, middle or high school report type. Then click on the “Financial Efficiency” tab.

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