Senate passes new grading system

ALBANY -- In the final action of the 2012 Georgia General Assembly, the Senate passed SB 410 by a 38-16 vote Thursday evening, clearing the way for a new method of evaluating Georgia's public schools.

The bill, which would implement a new five-star grading system for the state's schools, now goes to the governor's desk.

The new school grading system is a result of the state's recent federal waiver from the No Child Left Behind Law, effectively doing away with AYP (annual yearly progress).

Sen. Freddie Powell Sims, who voted against the bill, did not return calls requesting comment on Friday.

Asked his thoughts on the bill's passage, Dougherty County School Superintendent Joshua Murfree refused to comment.

"This is my private cell number and I am on vacation with my family," he said when contacted Friday. "I will talk to you Monday when I get back into the office."

The Herald obtained Murfree's "private" cell number when he announced it twice during a recent town hall meeting in the Westover High School Auditorium, inviting the crowd to "call me at any time."

According to the bill, schools will be graded on "annual indicators of the quality of learning by students, financial efficiency and school climate for individual schools and for school systems; to provide for individual school and school system numerical score ratings based on student achievement, achievement gap closure and student progress; to require that a letter grade be assigned to each school and school system and included on school and school system report cards; to revise provisions relating to awards and interventions; to provide for related matters; to repeal conflicting laws, and for other purposes. "

Schools will be ranked by stars; five stars is the top ranking and one star signals unsatisfactory performance.

"In some ways, I think here in Lee County AYP actually helped us, but from here on out it (achieving AYP) was going to be really tough for some school districts," Lee County School Superintendent Larry Walters said. "I think we'd reached a point where it was time for a change and take a look for other ways to hold school systems accountable."

In addition to using a star system, the new bill will also rate schools numerically. The bill states: "The office, in coordination with the Department of Education, shall establish and annually calculate individual school and school system ratings, which shall be a numerical score on a scale of 0-100, for each public school and school system in this state based on the indicators of quality of learning adopted pursuant to this Code section for student achievement, achievement gap closure, and student progress with a majority of the score based on student achievement."

Education reform advocacy group StudentsFirst Executive Director Tim Melton was pleased with the bill's passage.

"Georgia took a vital step toward empowering parents and students today," Melton said. "I applaud Sen. Tommie Williams and Georgia lawmakers for putting kids' needs ahead of any other interests, and I congratulate StudentsFirst members who called for providing parents with this vital information about their children's schools."


CJ_Fan 3 years, 6 months ago

Now Now Terry you know he meant what he said, here’s my number “call me at any time”. But WOW how rude he is to his own family to think so little of them while on vacation that he answered the phone when it rang instead of letting it go to voicemail. Maybe he thought it would be someone more important than his family and that person just wasn’t you. Sadly that number was not published so more of us could try our luck and see how we rank against his family. Or was that just more hollow words from #34?


chinaberry25 3 years, 6 months ago

This will be not good when scores are changed. There need to be audits of schools just like businesses have accountants. There are big bucks of our taxpayer monies. When a teacher is told not to give below a 60, something is wrong and the students know this. But what the problem is that the students have no desire to learn. How do you overcome that??


Sister_Ruby 3 years, 6 months ago

Want to bet that the "private cell phone" is paid for by the DCSS/taxpayers?


gotanyfacts 3 years, 6 months ago

A much better determination of the quality of a school system would be to assess the performance of former students after graduation. Perhaps impractical if not impossible, following up students' performances in colleges, trade schools, and in the workplace would better answer how well schools are performing at their (hopefully) primary objective: to prepare our children to be productive citizens. Getting info from post secondary institutions should be no problem, but determining the success of those going directly into the workplace would be a problematic chore. Still, in fairness to the school systems, comparisons would have to include conditions beyond the control of the schools. Crime rates, family structures, social attitudes, etc. that actually work against developing a strong sense of personal responsibility within a moral society. Some schools are handicapped with a high crime rate, broken/patch quilt family structure, and an attitude of being owed something from the rest of society.


tocar 3 years, 6 months ago

If Mr. Murfree gave out his cell phone number, you didn't really think he would talk to anyone. When he does say anything his comments do not go very far. He is really talking in circles not saying anything. I think Mr. Murphee was rude to answer his business phone if he was vacationing with his family. Seems like he has his priorities in the wrong order or does he really think about those things?


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