Georgia schools are getting grades that look a lot like the report cards that go home with students. And about half of schools in Northwest Georgia appear to be earning above-average marks.
As part of the state's waiver from the federal No Child Left Behind Act, officials rewrote the rules for judging school performance. And the new measurement, called the College and Career Ready Performance Index, doles out grades on a 100-point scale.
Such a framework should be easier for parents to understand. State officials say the new measure takes some of the high stakes off the previous Adequate Yearly Progress yardstick, which measured school performance by using math and reading scores.
The new index sets a broader definition of success by including scores on social studies and science tests, and takes into account graduation rates, progress and achievement gaps.
"This is measuring more of what schools do," state School Superintendent John Barge told reporters Tuesday. "There's a whole lot that they're accountable for now, not just that one test score."
The scores are based on 2012 data and results for the current school year will be posted in the fall.
Area school systems say they're still adjusting to the new yardstick.
Chickamauga Superintendent Melody Day said administrators still are drilling down to figure out what their scores mean and how they were compiled. The district's three schools received two marks in the 80s and another in the 90s. All ranked in the top tier of North Georgia scores.
"I'm not disappointed with the scores," Day said. "But I definitely feel that we have grade A schools. So I have some questions."
Catoosa County Schools scored in the top 25 percent in the state, officials said. In a statement, Superintendent Denia Reese said the new index will make it easier for parents and teachers to judge a school's success.
While the state's new index includes more measuring points than in the past, some warn of placing too much emphasis on a single score.
Eric Beavers, spokesman for Dalton City Schools, said parents will find the new system easy to navigate, but they shouldn't necessarily equate the grades to marks on a child's report card.
"It's something that they can relate to because it looks like their child's scores. But there are so many variables to consider," Beavers said. "There's a lot more to it. This isn't just a math assignment or a piece of homework. It's more comprehensive."