New measurement system shows some of state's best schools not making the grade


Georgia education leaders are grading schools just like teachers grade students, but a new measurement called Beating the Odds shows some of the state’s best schools not making the grade.

Beating the Odds removes excuses for poverty or disability or even wealth.

Gwinnett County’s Norcross Elementary Schools is filled with light, air and teachers up to the challenge. Mostly low income, mostly non-English speaking, this school beat the odds measured by how much more students learn here than in other similar schools.

“We take them as they come in and measure how much they learn,” said Principal Kassia Morris Sutton.

“We shouldn’t blame the school for the students they serve,” said Dr. Ben Scafidi, Kennessaw State University professor of Education Economics. “We should hold the school accountable for doing the best they can with the students they have been given.”

Talk to Scafidi and he’ll tell you that applies to high performing schools, too. This year that includes North Atlanta High School, DeKalb’s Druid Hills High School and Gwinnett’s Parkview High School. All traditional academic powerhouses, but none beat the odds last school year.

Parkview’s Principal David Smith said Parkview is serving a much higher percentage of free and reduced students than the three schools that scored above them.

Other top performing schools said they don’t beat the odds because their performance is so great to begin with. But Beat the Odds school leaders say those are simply excuses for not pushing for excellence.

In Buckhead, Garden Hills Elementary School is particularly impressive, beating the odds over each of the last three years. A big reason is how much fifth graders learned in math over the year.

Georgia’s average is 65 percent. At Garden Hills, they see an 82 percent growth.

“They kept up with other students who scored just like them and showed even more growth than they did,” said Principal Stacey Abbott.

That is Beating the Odds.

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