“It was a three-step process to determine our ranking. First of all they determined whether students were performing greater than statistically expected for the average student in the state ... on the reading and math portions of high school proficiency tests,” Principal Steven Butler explained, adding the study factors in the number of, and academic performance of, economically disadvantaged students in the school.
He continued, “Once we got over that initial hurdle, the second step is to determine whether [the subgroup of] black, Hispanic and economically disadvantaged students were performing better than similar students in the state.”
The study did not factor in the subgroup of special needs students.
“[Step three] was using AP participation, in terms of kids being college ready, and this is why it’s kind of confusing — it’s a 2013 award but they use our 2010-2011 school year data,” Butler said. “... They look at [the data] with what’s called a college readiness index and what they do is they take the number of 12th-grade students who took at least one AP test before or during their senior year, and they divide that by the number of 12th graders to get an index, then they factor in how well [students] did on those tests.”
The AP factor was based on how many students received a 3 or higher score on a test. The report bases 25 percent of a school’s score on how many students take an AP course and bases 75 percent of the score on how many students made a 3 or higher on an AP test.
“One of the really great things is ... we are increasing our AP access for students at Cartersville High School,” Butler said. “This year we had over 250 students taking AP government and we didn’t even have AP government in 2010. In our step three, our kids taking at least one AP class is going up because we’re providing more opportunities, and because there’s going to be more kids taking more AP classes, our percentage of graduating seniors scoring a 3 or higher ought to go up as well.”
He said providing more AP classes is an example of CHS evolving to meet the needs of a diverse student population preparing for the changing landscape of postsecondary education as well as the workforce. He said one challenge in meeting these needs is a decline in state and federal education funding.
“This is my 20th year in education and these are by far the toughest economic times that we’ve been through in education in my 20 years, so we have this situation here where we have to have constant improvement and change constantly and add new things and provide new opportunities while you have shrinking budgets and shrinking support from the state and now shrinking support from the federal government,” Butler said.
He said while working to provide additional opportunities for students and adopting varied teaching styles has resulted in the school receiving accolades, the efforts coincide with the school’s strategic plan, which includes narrowing the achievement gap among students.
“I don’t think it’s good enough to say our subgroups do better than the statistical average for the average kid in the state,” Butler said. “Our expectation is that every student at Cartersville High School, regardless of their cultural background, or their ethnic background, or their race, performs at their highest ability and to me, that’s why you can’t stand still [in education].”