Friday, October 11, 2019

Oconee County School System Students Show A Drop In SAT Scores But An Increase In Graduation Rate

***Oconee Students Outperformed Students In State***

Oconee County students taking the SAT college admissions test in 2019 had a mean composite score of 1157, down a small amount from the average score of Oconee County students who took the test a year ago and up slightly from the average score of Oconee County students who took the test in 2017.

Oconee County schools increased its graduation rate to 97.7 percent in 2019, up from 94.4 percent a year earlier and from 90.5 percent in 2012.

The graduation rate for students at North Oconee High School in 2019 was 97.4 percent, compared with 98.0 percent at Oconee County High School, and both rates were considerably higher than the 82.0 percent figure for high schools in the state of Georgia.

Oconee County students taking the SAT also outperformed students in the state of Georgia and across the country.

Claire Buck, chief academic officer for Oconee County Schools, noted these accomplishments of the school system in her report to the Board of Education at its short work session on Monday.

Anisa Sullivan Jimenez, director of Communications for Oconee County Schools, had sent out news releases about these two achievements of the students late last month and earlier this month.

At the Board meeting on Monday, Brock Toole, chief Operations officer, told the Board that it will be asked to vote at its regular meeting on Oct. 21 to purchase four new 84-passenger buses and two special education buses for a total cost of $671,040.

SAT Scores

The SAT, or Scholastic Aptitude Test, is one of two college admissions tests.

Wayne Bagley, Tim Burgess, Buck 10/7/2019

In 2019, 472 students in Oconee County’s two high schools took the test, up from 441 a year earlier and 411 in 2017, Buck told the Board.

Of those 441 students in 2019, 245 were at North Oconee High School and 227 were at Oconee County High School, Buck’s report showed.

Oconee County’s 2019 composite mean score of 1157 placed it fourth in the state, behind Decatur City Schools with a mean score of 1177 (for 275 test-takers), Forsyth County Schools with a mean score of 1162 (2,421 test takers), and Catoosa County Schools with a mean score of 1161 (56 test takers).

Decatur City Schools also reported a slight decrease from its 2018 scores, as did the state overall and the nation, according to the data released by Buck. Oconee County's score was 1163 in 2018 and 1151 in 2017.

Oconee County schools ranked second to Decatur City Schools in 2018, according to data on the Georgia Department of Education web site.

The SAT was revised in 2017, making comparisons with earlier years problematic.

Oconee County has 339 students taking the rival ACT (American College Test) in 2018, according to the data on the Georgia Department of Education web site. The 2019 ACT data have not yet been released.

Graduation Rates

Buck presented the Board with a chart showing a relatively steady increase in the graduation rate for Oconee County schools going back to 2012.

For most of those years, the county’s two high schools had performed at similar rates, but last year North Oconee High School greatly outperformed Oconee County High School.

The four-year cohort data in 2018 was 97.0 percent for North Oconee High School and only 91.9 percent at Oconee County High School. The combined rate was 94.4 percent, down from 96.0 percent a year earlier.

The four-year adjusted cohort graduation rate defines the cohort based on when a student first becomes a freshman; it is calculated using the number of students who graduate within four years and includes adjustments for student transfers, Buck’s report to the Board explains.

School Rankings By Graduation Rate

Oconee County ranked seventh in the state this year in terms of graduation rates, up from a rank of 23 a year ago.

Graduate Rates Reported By Buck (Click To Enlarge)

The six school systems with higher graduation rates were Echols County, Webster County, Union County, Bremen City, Chickamauga City, and Calhoon City.

(I downloaded the data from the state Department of Education and calculated the ranks for both years. Buck had not reported the 2018 ranks and reported the Oconee County rank for 2019 as five because of two ties in the top six schools. The proper rank is seven because six schools scored better.)

Board member Amy Parish questioned Buck on the graduation rate differences between the two high schools when they were released in 2018, and Buck said she had analyzed the data and the rates reflected real differences between the schools that year.

Neither Buck nor any Board member commented on the significant improvement at Oconee County High School in 2019 at the Board meeting on Monday.

Racial And Ethnic Comparisons

Buck did not present the Board with data on the different rates of graduation for students based on race and ethnicity, but Jimenez did include those data in her news release on Sept. 18 touting the graduation rate of Oconee County Schools.

I also downloaded those data and analyzed them as well.

Of those students classified as Asian/Pacific Islander, those classified as Black, and those classified as Multi-Racial, 100 percent graduated in four years.

The students classified as White had a graduation rate of 97.5 percent.

Of the students classified as Hispanic, 94.7 graduated in the four-year time period.

The state data also classify students as “economically disadvantaged,” and of those students 93.2 percent graduated in the four-years of high school.

Finally, the state has a classification for “students with disabilities.” The graduation rate for those students in 2019 was 84.2 percent.

Neither the state data nor the data released by the county indicate how many students fell into each of the categories, but Oconee County Schools does release data on overall enrollment by race and ethnicity.

Buses Recommended For Purchase

Toole told the Board that it is the Superintendent’s recommendation that the Board of Education approve the purchase of four new 84 passenger buses and two Special Education buses from Peach State Freightliner at its meeting on Oct. 21.

The four 84-passenger buses will cost $117,960 each, and the two special education buses will cost $99,600 per bus, Toole reported.

The purchase will be funded through a State Grant of $386,100, with the remaining $284,940 coming from the Education Local Option Sales Tax revenues, Toole said.

Toole told me earlier that the school system plans to purchase six buses each year.

None of the 84 buses in the system at present is more than 20 years old, he said, and none of those buses holds more than 72 passengers.

The larger buses will accommodate growth in the school system, Toole told the Board of Education on Monday.

The Peach State Freightliner bid was low among three bids for the buses, documents released by the school system show.


The video below is of the Board of Education meeting on Oct. 7.

The Board did not have any recognitions, shortening the session from what is the norm.

Buck made her report at 4:19 in the video.

Toole made his report at 15:02 in the video.

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