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A recent report has been presented to the Georgia Department of Education’s Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) Working committees titled, “Comparisons and Systems Research of States’ Accountability Measures.” The report by UGA’s Dr. Richard Welsh, of the Department of Lifelong Education, Administration and Policy compares accountability models state by state for 5 southeastern states and 5 additional high performing states based on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).

Click here to read the full report.

Welsh Preliminary Report Abstract

The purpose of this study is to provide a state-by-state comparison of accountability models to inform the work of Georgia’s Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) working committees. In this preliminary report, Georgia’s accountability model, the College and Career Ready Performance Index (CCRPI), is compared to a select group of Southeastern (Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Tennessee, and Virginia) and high-performing – based on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) – states (Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Maryland).

Overall findings: 

Demographics: In Georgia, as the percentage of African American and Free and Reduced Price Lunch (FRPL) students in a school increases and the percentage of White students decreases, school performance decreases. School performance decreases as the percentage of Hispanic students increases, however, not as distinctly as other racial/ethnic subgroups (the proportion of Hispanic students in F schools is less than that of D, C and B schools and similar to A schools).

Gaps: ‘A’ schools and ‘F’ schools have the widest performance gap in regards to achievement points and the smallest gaps in regards to earning progress points.

Weights: Overall, states generally place emphasis on growth at the elementary level, whereas proficiency and other indicators to gauge college and career readiness play a larger role in high schools; however, Georgia uses uniform achievement and growth weights across grade levels. Georgia’s use of achievement gap and bonus points warrants further consideration.

Variation: There is large variation among states’ accountability models in regards to the formula used to calculate performance. Other variations include: number, type, and weight of indicators, ranking system, scaled points, and growth measures.

Rating System: States use a variety of rating systems including: letter grades, numeric levels, categories, star systems, and color coding. States used a variety of scaled points – Georgia (1-100), Louisiana (0-150), Tennessee (0-4) and Florida (800-1000). No high-performing state analyzed used an A-F grading system.

Measuring Performance: Of the five Southeastern states analyzed, only two other states have letter grades for performance. Georgia schools have to earn 82% of possible points or greater to earn an ‘A,’ whereas Louisiana schools must earn 67% or greater and Florida schools 62% or greater. Georgia schools have to earn 53% of possible points or less to earn an ‘F’, whereas Louisiana schools must earn 32% or less and Florida schools 31% or less. Overall, it appears that Georgia has a harsher grading scale than other Southeastern states. Georgia’s accountability system appears to identify the tails of school performance distribution fairly accurately (A & F schools), however, the middle of the distribution (B, C, and D schools) appear to be the schools that would trend higher on other states’ accountability models (especially Southeastern states).

Click here to read the abstract in its entirety and the full report