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Phil Lanoue Is a Finalist for Superintendent of the Year as Clarke School Scores Fall

Clarke County School Superintendent Philip Lanoue, Georgia’s superintendent of the year, is one of four finalists for national superintendent of the year.

The district’s announcement came today—one day after the state’s College and Career Ready Performance Index figures showed that the majority of local schools are doing worse, not better.

The Georgia Department of Education has used CCRPI—which takes into account statistics like test scores and graduation rates—in lieu of No Child Left Behind performance measures since receiving a federal waiver in 2012.

A Tuesday news release from CCSD emphasized that middle-school scores are higher than the state average and improving, and downplayed the importance of the CCRPI.

“CCRPI is one indicator—among many—that we are using in our planning process. That being said, in order to ensure the growth and progress of our students, we use many factors that are beyond those found in a test score,” Lanoue said in the statement.

Middle-school scores are up an average of 9.9 points on the 100-point scale. But the average Clarke County elementary school’s score fell 3.7 points from 2013–2014, and the average high school’s score fell 14.2 points. All three high schools and 11 of 14 elementary schools had lower scores than last year. Overall, the district’s score is down 2.7 points. You can look up your child’s school’s score here.

To be fair, this is only the second year we’ve used CCRPI in its current form. However, there are other troubling signs.

In October, DOE figures showed that the four-year graduation rate had fallen at all three Athens high schools, from 69.5 percent to 63.2 percent district-wide. At Clarke Central and Classic City, graduation rates had dropped the previous year, too. CCSD officials said at the time that they expect the five-year graduation rates to show improvement. Those figures haven’t been released yet.

Today came news that Lanoue is up for the national award, which will be given out at the National Conference on Education Feb. 26–28 in San Diego. 

Finalists will be judged on their leadership, communication skills, professionalism and community involvement, according to CCSD. A news release laid out Lanoue’s case:

Under Lanoue’s leadership, the Clarke County School District has been honored as a Title I Distinguished District for being Georgia’s #1 large district for closing the achievement gap between economically disadvantaged and non-disadvantaged students. In addition, student achievement has risen – especially in crucial transition years of 5th and 8th grades. All middle schools, as well as Cedar Shoals and Clarke Central High Schools, are now International Baccalaureate Authorized World Schools.  

He has also been instrumental in innovative partnerships including the revitalization of the Athens Community Career Academy, a partnership with Athens Technical College. He also worked closely with the University of Georgia College of Education in forming one of the nation’s only Professional Development School Districts.

Said Board President Charles Worthy, “Dr. Lanoue is more than deserving to be the Superintendent of the Year. Under his 6-year leadership, students are achieving at much higher levels, we have formed a variety of partnerships in our community and students have a multitude of opportunities to succeed. Our Board is incredibly proud of him for being named Georgia Superintendent of the Year and a finalist for National Superintendent of the Year.”

That’s all terrific. Why isn’t it translating into improved CCRPI scores at most schools, and why aren’t more students graduating?