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June 1, 2016

The Georgia Department of Education today released the 2015 School Climate Star Ratings for all schools in the Newton County School System. The ratings reflect school climate data from surveys taken by students, teachers and staff, and parents during the 2014-2015 school year. Included in the final calculations are data from the Georgia Student Health Survey 2.0, Georgia School Personnel Survey, and Georgia Parent Survey, as well as student discipline data and attendance records for students, teachers, staff and administrators. 

School climate refers to the quality and character of school life – the “culture” of a school. A sustainable, positive school climate fosters youth development and student learning, which are essential elements for academic success, career-skill improvement and overall quality of life. The School Climate Star Rating is one measure that helps assess whether a school is perceived to be moving forward.

School Climate Star Ratings are required by law; they also serve as a companion to the Department of Early Care and Learning’s Quality Rated program, which includes an assessment of the learning environment.

All schools received star ratings of 1 to 5, with five stars representing an excellent school climate, and one star representing a school climate most in need of improvement. School Climate Star Ratings are an informational tool for schools, administrators, and parents; they do not affect the school’s College & Career Ready Performance Index (CCRPI) score.

Star rankings are explained below:

'5-star' schools ranked excellent;

'4-star' schools ranked above average;

'3-star' schools ranked average;

'2-star' schools ranked below satisfactory, or

'1-star' schools ranked unsatisfactory.

According to the report, the majority of Newton County’s school scored a three or four rating. Each Newton County school’s final score and star rating is listed below:

“Our Newton County teachers and leaders are committed to ensuring that students are taught in environments that are supportive of their needs,” said NCSS Superintendent Samantha Fuhrey. “Most of our schools received three or four stars and the Newton County Theme School Middle School posted a score of five stars; however, I’m still concerned about the reliability of these calculations.  We are in the midst of researching a discrepancy with the Rocky Plains star rating. In 2014, Rocky Plains earned a four star rating; however, in 2015, the school only received a one star rating. According to the Georgia Department of Education, this was attributed to low participation in both the student and teacher surveys. We hope to be able to capture and provide, to the state, electronic evidence that indicates student and teacher participation in the surveys did indeed meet the required threshold.  Finally, it is important to note that this report, just like our CCRPI report, was received more than one school year after the data was collected. These ratings are based on data from the 2014-2015 school year, and we just received the information. For these reports to be meaningful, or even helpful, school districts must receive the information in a timely manner. It doesn’t help us and most importantly, it doesn’t help our students, to receive data two school years later. There has to be a better way.”

For more information, contact Ms. Sherri Davis-Viniard, Director of Public Relations for Newton County Schools, at