Bulloch Schools: Attendance impacts student achievement

This fall the Georgia Department of Education (GaDOE) released the 2022 College and Career Ready Performance Index (CCRPI) reports and its 2022-2023 lists of schools who are identified for comprehensive and targeted support and improvement, which is based on students’ mastery of academic skills that are tested by the Georgia Milestones Assessment System and high school graduation rates.

Importance of Regular School Attendance

In reviewing available data from the state and school district, school attendance is an area of concern. In order for students to fully benefit from the interventions that have been put in place and to fully overcome the learning loss that was incurred from the pandemic, it is imperative that families make regular school attendance a priority for their children. During the 2021-2022 school year, 47.6% of students (5,595 students) missed 10 or more days of instruction for reasons other than COVID related absences. Of those 5,595 students, 2,164 (18.4% of total students) missed between 18 and 36 days of instruction and 680 students (5.7% of total students) missed 36 or more days of instruction.

Research shows that missing 10 percent of the school year, or about 18 days, negatively affects a child’s academic performance. This is just two days a month and it’s known as chronic absenteeism.  

Two schools placed on Georgia’s Targeted Support & Improvement List

Langston Chapel Elementary School and Langston Chapel Middle School have been identified as Targeted Support and Improvement Schools. This is based on their students with disabilities whose scores on state assessments consistently show that the children are underperforming in their mastery of academic content. This placed both schools in the lowest five percent of all schools in the state in at least 50 percent of the CCRPI’s content mastery and readiness components.

Content mastery addresses whether children are achieving at the level necessary to be prepared for the next grade, college, or career. It includes achievement scores in English language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies based on student performance on the Georgia Milestones Assessment System and the Georgia Alternate Assessment (GAA) 2.0.

According to the state, identification for support and improvement does not mean a school is not improving or making progress, as many schools identified this year serve children who were disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. This is the case with both Langston Chapel schools. The schools may exit the lists if no student subgroup is performing in the lowest 5% of all schools in at least 50% of CCRPI components.

This year, 116 schools in the state were identified for Comprehensive Support & Improvement and 59 were identified for Targeted Support & Improvement. No other schools in the district were previously on these lists, nor identified for placement this year. Under the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), states are required to identify schools in need of additional support.

Plan to support Langston Chapel schools

The school district is working with the state to create a plan to provide additional support for the Langston Chapel schools. The district has already started this process with both schools which includes support from the district’s school improvement directors, instructional coaches and school climate coaches. The state will also assign a district effectiveness specialist; and the two schools will participate in required professional learning. Both schools will also receive additional federal funds from the Annual Title I, Part A 1003 School Improvement Funds to support the achievement challenges they are facing.   

College & Career Ready Performance Index (CCRPI)

On November 16, 2022, the GaDOE released the 2022 College and Career Ready Performance Index (CCRPI) reports.

Overall Bulloch County Schools as a district scored slightly below the state; however, six of the district’s 15 schools scored higher than the state average for content mastery within the respective grade bands. This included Brooklet, Julia P. Bryant, Nevils, Portal Elementary, and Southeast Bulloch’s middle and high schools. The school district’s average content mastery for Math was higher than English Language Arts in grades 3 through 5. In grades 6 through 12, English Language Arts’ average content mastery was slightly higher than math.

Overall, the graduation rate for Bulloch County Schools (88.0%) was slightly higher than the state graduation rate (84.7%). The graduation rate for both Southeast Bulloch High School (88.9%) and Portal Middle High School (90.8%) were higher than the state average. The graduation rate for Statesboro High School (83.5%) was slightly lower than the state graduation rate (84.7%). All three high schools increased their five-year graduation rate from 2021. Portal and Statesboro increased their four-year graduation rate while Southeast Bulloch’s graduation rate dropped slightly.

GeorgiaCCRPI CategoryElementaryMiddleHigh
 Content Mastery636064.7
 Graduation RateNot ApplicableNot Applicable84.7
Bulloch County Content Mastery59.7 54 59.6
 Graduation RateNot ApplicableNot Applicable88.6

Under a waiver received from the U.S. Department of Education, the 2022 CCRPI does not include the usual overall 0 to 100 score for schools, districts, or the state, and additional modifications were made to account for data limitations resulting from the pandemic. The state is encouraging schools to use the 2022 CCRPI to establish a baseline for data comparison in future years and has suggested that districts refrain from comparing the data to previous years. Due to the lack of comparison data, the following components were not included in this year’s CCRPI report: Summative Ratings, Progress (Student Growth Percentiles for math and ELA), Closing Gaps, and the school attendance portion of Readiness.

The CCRPI reports include scores for these three components:

  • Content Mastery includes student scores on state assessments in English Language Arts, mathematics, science, and social studies.
  • Readiness at the elementary- and middle-school levels includes literacy scores and data on the percentage of students passing “Beyond the Core” instruction. Beyond the Core at the elementary level includes fine arts, world language, and computer science, and at the middle school level fine arts, world language, physical education/health, career exploratory, and computer science. At the high-school level, Readiness includes literacy scores, pathway completion data, and accelerated enrollment data.
  • Graduation Rate is reported at the high-school level.

U.S. Department of Education Waiver

Georgia, along with other states, requested and received approval to pause accountability reporting in 2020 and 2021 due to the impacts of the pandemic. In 2022, the U.S. Department of Education invited each state to submit an addendum to its state Every Student Succeeds Act plan outlining one-year modifications to its accountability plan as a result of pandemic-related data limitations. Georgia’s addendum request was approved in May 2022.

While the CCRPI’s Readiness component typically includes student attendance at all grade levels, the U.S. Department of Education approved Georgia’s request to remove this indicator for 2022, given the impact of illness and quarantines. Additionally, College and Career Readiness – which is typically included in the high-school Readiness score – is not included due to incomplete data. As outlined in Georgia’s waiver request, the Progress and Closing Gaps indicators were not calculated for 2022 due to data limitations resulting from the pandemic.

Georgia’s Focus on Academic Recovery

In response to the pandemic’s impact on student learning, GaDOE has partnered with schools and districts to make strategic investments in academic recovery. Those investments include:

  • Hiring state- and regional-level Academic Recovery Specialists who work directly with school leaders and educators to address gaps in learning
  • Awarding grants to expand afterschool and summer learning
  • Providing formative assessments at no cost to all districts and schools
  • ·Developing an extensive library of publicly available instructional resources and supports
  • Establishment of an Office of Rural Education and Innovation to target supports to underserved schools and districts

“Georgia will continue to remain laser-focused on academic recovery,” State School Superintendent Richard Woods said in a statement issued by the state. “We know the pandemic had an undeniable impact on student learning – it’s our role, responsibility, and privilege moving forward to ensure districts and schools have the resources they need to continue investing in students and combatting the effects of lost learning opportunities. Georgia’s teachers, students and the rest of our public education family have already worked incredibly hard to get learning back on track, and I am entirely confident in their ability to continue those efforts.”

Under the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), each state is required to have a “statewide accountability system” that provides information on how well schools are performing. The CCRPI meets that requirement in Georgia.

Georgia Milestones Assessment System Scores

In July, the Georgia Department of Education released results from the Georgia Milestones Assessment System’s (GMAS) End-of-Grade (EOG) and End-of-Course (EOC) tests which were administered to third through twelfth-grade students in the spring of 2022. Georgia law requires a comprehensive summative assessment program for these grade levels.

There were five tested EOG subjects and four EOC subjects. GMAS assesses student learning along four levels of achievement: Beginning Learners, Developing Learners, Proficient Learners, and Distinguished Learners. Proficient Learners and Distinguished Learners demonstrate proficiency or advanced mastery in the knowledge and skills necessary at a grade level/course of learning, as specified in Georgia’s content standards. Proficient and Distinguished Learners are considered prepared for the next grade level or course and are on track for college and career readiness.

The Georgia Milestones’ EOC and EOG tests include multiple choice, short answer and open-ended questions to better gauge students’ content mastery. Students in grades three, four, six and seven were tested in Reading, English language arts and mathematics. Students in grades five and eight were tested in these same subjects plus science. Eighth-grade students are also tested in social studies.

In grades 9 to12, students who were enrolled in American Literature, U.S. History, Algebra I, and Biology took the Georgia Milestones End of Course assessment. Middle school students enrolled in Algebra I or Physical Science for high school credit also took the EOC/EOG for the respective course.

Bulloch County Schools’ GMAS Performance Highlights

  • At the state and local level, scores remain lower as students and teachers adjust from the learning loss that occurred as a result of the pandemic.
  • Bulloch County Schools performed similar to the state in 12 of the 20 subjects and grade levels tested on its overall proficiency (proficient and distinguished learners).
  • The district’s students matched or outperformed their peers within the First District Regional Education Service Area in 13 of the 20 tested subjects.
  • Overall, Bulloch County students performed slightly higher on English Language Arts than the other tested subjects. This is an indicator that the district’s emphasis on improving literacy skills has potentially impacted student achievement. As the district continues to expand its interventions and emphasis on literacy, it is expected that the number of students scoring at the proficient or distinguished level will increase.
  • Excessive student absences throughout the school year potentially impacted performance across the district.

Bulloch County’s Focus on Recovery

Bulloch County Schools continues to adjust to the impact the pandemic has had on the community and schools. Test data confirms that disruptions to learning have occurred district-wide. Educators have focused this semester on helping students get back on track and to fill the gaps in learning that have occurred. District initiatives for the 2022-2023 school year have placed an emphasis on Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS), Professional Learning Communities (PLCs), Literacy, and attendance.

  • Bulloch County Schools will continue to utilize Georgia’s Multi-Tiered Systems of Support to provide interventions, remediation, and enrichment to meet the individual needs of students academically, behaviorally, and related to attendance.
  • Teachers continue to participate in their professional learning communities (PLC). These provide a layer of support to help educators continuously improve which in turn benefits students.
  • The district will continue to improve literacy instruction by providing Guided Reading and phonics training for elementary teachers and promoting early literacy initiatives such as the Book Bus, reading nooks, and partnering with community organizations to support literacy for children from birth to age five. The READ 180 program utilized to support struggling readers at Langston Chapel Middle School was expanded to include students at William James Middle School and ninth grade students at Statesboro High School.
  • The district will continue to support schools with instruction and behavior by providing instructional coaches and climate coaches. Instructional coaches work directly with teachers using the Engage2Learn eGrowe model to improve instructional practices in the classroom. Climate coaches work with teachers and schools to develop behavior intervention plans and coaching for best practices for classroom management and behavior interventions.

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