Valdosta Daily Times

May 8, 2013

New school scoring system

The Valdosta Daily Times

VALDOSTA — The first year of any new program is always a tough one. After years of poor results statewide, Georgia won an exemption from the rigourous No Child Left Behind standards and the Adequate Yearly Progress scores. Those have now been replaced by the College and Career Ready Performance Index or CCRPI.

The goal of the state is a lofty one — to ensure that all students are ready to walk into a 2 or 4 year college or university without having to take remedial courses upon graduation. It’s a worthy goal, but the question remains if it is realistic.

Georgia still has a high dropout rate, with students leaving before graduation for a number of reasons. Until the retention rates are addressed, a small but significant percentage of the state’s population will be borderline literate and not equipped for anything higher than minimum wage positions.

And not all students aspire to obtain a higher education. There are a number of careers where a high school diploma is sufficient. In today’s tech savvy world, individuals with certain computer skills, regardless of educational attainment, have little to no problem finding a well paying job.

For the majority, moving on to a higher degree will ensure that they have work skills and academic credentials to go farther in life. The scores are a good indicator of their potential success and how well the schools are preparing them for that next step.

But let’s hope the state does not remove the remedial programs such as South Georgia College anytime soon. A number of students would never be able to progress into regular college classes without these bridge programs. Would it be better to hold them back in high school for another year or two? Or give them an opportunity post-graduation to voluntarily improve their lot in life?

One size fits all tests always have outliers who do not fit into the mainstream. Let’s hope Georgia doesn’t forget that all students are not created equal, and some would be lost from the system altogether if this new index means an end to remedial opportunities.