With districts drowning in state data demands, can’t DOE throw a lifeline?

With the increasing demand for data, GaDOE has to give some help when districts make mistakes and need direction. (AJC File)

The Georgia Department of Education has delayed the release of its annual school rankings due to errors in a state data set concerning English language learners. So much information goes into the state’s new College and Career Ready Performance Index that I doubt parents understand what’s being graded and how it’s determined.

While parents may shrug off CCRPI as a morass of numbers, districts, schools and teachers are held accountable and judged on the final rating. So, it’s critical the information be accurate since reputations and standing are at stake.

I’ve heard rumblings from school systems about the amount of data they’re required to submit and the complexity of it. While they’re held to strict deadlines to gather and submit their information, the districts point out the state can simply push back deadlines to correct in its own data, as it has just done.

Not so for school districts, one of which was willing to share its saga with trying to get the state to correct the data in the CCRPI.

Columbia County has hit a wall with the DOE trying to correct what seems like a straightforward fix: The district failed to fill in a title section although the correct information was provided. They will now lose earned extra bonus points due to what they consider a technicality.

We already have Georgia districts spending a lot of time chasing data and now they have to chase the DOE to make what seems like a obvious  fix.  These state-mandated data collections steal time away from the classroom. Do they help kids at all?

This is from Jeff Carney, associate superintendent of the Columbia County School District: (By the way, the scheduled phone conference call today with DOE he mentions has yet to occur.)

CCRPI has turned into such a beast that we have trouble keeping up with what goes into it. For the state Department of Education, it’s their daily business, but to our schools it’s one big piece of the pie along with the Teacher Keys Effectiveness System implementation and the million other daily demands involved in running a school.

This new state rating system takes an inordinate amount of data reporting, checking and rechecking at the school level. It’s taken on a life of its own and consumes our administrators and teachers.

This CCRPI score that we and other Georgia districts are awaiting is going to be one year past due. We’ve waited this long, so let’s make sure the data is accurate before reporting it. We contacted the state about incorrect data in October for our county and it has yet to be corrected. Our teachers work too hard not to earn every single fraction of a point for CCRPI.

In our efforts to get the data fixed, we’ve been passed from one person to the next at GaDOE with the explanation that the data has been signed off and can’t be changed because they would have to recalculate the scores for the entire state. We are being told this even though we provided the information correctly.

In four cases, because “SLO” was not included in the title, schools lost half a point, even though the narrative contained the term. That is akin to a teacher not grading a student’s paper because he didn’t write his name in the right spot.

Then, lo and behold, the GaDOE realized they made an error reporting ELL scores in the state for CCRPI, and they get to correct their own data, extend the deadline another month and recalculate the CCRPI scores. They obviously are held to a different standard than local school districts.

We just want our CCRPI scores to accurately reflect what our schools earned, yet GaDOE isn’t willing to correct this.

To their credit, we were informed last week that data on one indicator that involved middle school career portfolios could be corrected, which we did by the deadline.

Why can’t we also correct the data from October that was uploaded correctly?  It just doesn’t make sense.

Our superintendent has tried to contact state School Superintendent Richard Woods and was referred to the deputy superintendents but their response was not sufficient, and we are compelled to keep appealing it to whomever to properly resolve this issue for the sake of our teachers.

Richard Woods was out of the country last week, but we are scheduled now to have a phone call with him today because surely he has the authority to mandate that his department do the right thing and report accurate data.  Also, we know for a fact that other districts have requested to correct data, but were also denied.

We understand this is a huge undertaking for GaDOE, but it is for us as well. Our schools have worked tirelessly to earn every point they can even though some of the “targets” change from year to year.

GaDOE owes it to the educators in Georgia to report accurate CCPRI information when they know there is incorrect data. Otherwise, the educators in Georgia, as well as the general public, will lack the faith and confidence in what those scores really stand for.

 

Reader Comments 0

22 comments
Debra Welch
Debra Welch

What a shame!!! Send in the dogs and ponies!! Heck, send in the fire-eating torches too! This is why I retired and, more importantly, why I dread Miles starting school next year!! Unfortunately, her kindergarten teacher will never get to know what a sweet and creative five year old she is! She will be known only through her SLO (spelling?) scores, her GKIDS scores and her AIMSWEB data!!! Shame on our country!!

Jessica Heilman Whitehead
Jessica Heilman Whitehead

Lol SLOs are put in place to make the whole "hold teachers accountable for student test scores" fair. Its only really given to the Connections type teachers and since our content isnt on any high stakes test, each district makes up a test for us and there ya go! So valid, right?

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

24 hours have passed--has Columbia County gotten that call?

MaureenDowney
MaureenDowney moderator

@Wascatlady Yes, the district has heard from the state schools superintendent. Hopefully, this can be worked out.

LegislatorKoolaid
LegislatorKoolaid

I'm not surprised at the problems that Columbia County is having with GADOE.  I've heard many systems have met a roadblock with DOE.  And it's not surprising that Richard Woods is unresponsive...that's his M.O.  Yet, he spent last week in Germany instead of taking care of business here at home.  I'm sick of GADOE...it's time the legislature dismantled it.  They are shifting everything to GOSA anyway.  Why have two bureaucracies wasting our tax money.

Help the schools get their information correct and be done with it.  

dg417s
dg417s

@LegislatorKoolaid actually..... GADOE is Constitutionally defined. GOSA isn't. That's the one that needs to go and put the power back in the elected State Superintendent of Schools.

Dunstann
Dunstann

What parents are drowning in are decades of mediocre education results, oceans of bureaucratic excuses for those results and school administrators unwilling -- even now -- to recognize the crisis.

redweather
redweather

@Dunstann Maybe this has something to do with all the mediocre students. Remember, we aren't living in Lake Wobegon.

Shanna Reed Miles
Shanna Reed Miles

the notion that CCRPI is for parents is preposterous. Parents ask other parents if a school is safe, what do their test scores look like and what extra curricular activities are available. Everything else is useless.

Jac DuPree Dorminy
Jac DuPree Dorminy

generating copious amounts of data and paper work has one main purpose... so the state dept people will continue to keep their jobs. glad I'm retiring in 29 days!!

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

Here is the bottom line:  These data "requests" are for one reason--to justify decreased funding for public education!  Oh, wait, one more reason--to justify employment at inflated salaries "managing" the data at the state DOE!

redweather
redweather

@Wascatlady You got that right. Dozens of people with the job title PROG EVAL & DVLPMT making over $80,000, and anyone with the title BUSINESS OPERATIONS is above $100,000. Then there are the Deputy and Associate School Superintendents who are up around $130,000--$150,000.

Visit the Georgia Department of Audits . . . but only if you've got a strong stomach.

Starik
Starik

@redweather @Wascatlady Right up there with the football coaches in some of our rural school districts. The one in Buford makes over $174,000.

Pam McBride Sewell
Pam McBride Sewell

Glad I am retired! Teaching was so much more fun in the last century.