Georgia Department of Education Releases Star Ratings for School Climate, Financial Efficiency

The Georgia Department of Education today released the 2016 School Climate Star Ratings for local schools, as well as the 2016 Financial Efficiency Star Ratings for local districts. These ratings are provided as informational tools for schools, administrators, parents, and communities; they do not affect a school or district’s College & Career Ready Performance Index (CCRPI) score.

“We’re committed to providing – in a responsible fashion – information on school performance for the use of educators, parents, and communities,” State School Superintendent Richard Woods said. “The Financial Efficiency Star Rating helps stakeholders see how districts are using the funds they’re allotted, providing a baseline for future conversations, while the School Climate Star Rating gives a clear overview of the climate and culture within a school, which is a crucial factor for student success. The School Climate rating, in particular, has clear ties to student achievement – and to third grade reading, which is a major predictor of students’ later success.”

For the School Climate Star Ratings, 15 percent of schools earned a 5-star rating (excellent), 39.8 percent earned a 4-star rating (above average), 28.9 percent earned a 3-star rating (average), 11 percent earned a 2-star rating (below satisfactory), and 3.7 percent earned a 1-star rating (unsatisfactory)—an increase of 3.6 percentage points in the number of schools earning the top (5-star) rating. In addition, 1.6 percent of schools did not receive a rating because they are virtual schools, which are not traditional brick-and-mortar schools. Also, Residential Treatment Centers (RTCs) and alternative programs do not receive a rating because the students are in attendance for such a short period of time.

For the Financial Efficiency Star Rating, 1.1 percent of districts earned a 5-star rating, 4.4 percent earned 4.5 stars, 12.8 percent earned 4 stars, 19.4 percent earned 3.5 stars, 17.2 percent earned 3 stars, 20.6 percent earned 2.5 stars, 12.8 percent earned 2 stars, 6.7 percent earned 1.5 stars, 5 percent earned 1 star, and no school districts earned 0.5 stars.

In response to feedback from district stakeholders, the K-12 expenditures included in the Financial Efficiency Star Rating were adjusted between the 2015 and 2016 rating, so a comparison between years is not valid.

To view the School Climate Star Rating or Financial Efficiency Star Rating, visit Choose a school district from the drop-down menu, then select the school, and then select one of the following report types: elementary, middle, or high school. Finally, click on the “Financial Efficiency” tab or the “School Climate” tab. The Financial Efficiency Star Rating is only available at the district level, and the School Climate Star Rating is only available at the school level.

To view a school-level rating, follow the steps above, but narrow down to an individual school after choosing a school district from the drop-down menu.

School Climate Star Rating

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 assesses the climate of a school on a 1-5 scale using the following indicators:

  • Survey – a measure of student, teacher, and parent perceptions of a school’s climate
  • Student Discipline – a measure of student discipline using a weighted suspension rate
  • Safe and Substance-Free Learning Environment – school discipline incidents and student survey responses on use of illegal substances and the prevalence of violence, bullying, and unsafe incidents within a school
  • Attendance – the average daily attendance of teachers, administrators, and staff members and the percentage of students with fewer than six unexcused absences

Each school in Georgia receives a 1-5 star rating, with five stars representing an excellent school climate, and one star representing a school climate most in need of improvement. Interpretations of each possible star rating are below; this information can also be found in the enabling legislation.

  • 5-star schools ranked excellent according to the school climate index
  • 4-star schools ranked above average according to the school climate index
  • 3-star schools ranked average according to the school climate index
  • 2-star schools ranked below satisfactory according to the school climate index
  • 1-star schools ranked unsatisfactory according to the school climate index

The below chart represents the year-to-year change in School Climate Star Ratings for each possible rating level.

2015 2016
1 star: 87 schools (3.8%) 1 star: 83 schools (3.7%)
2 stars: 224 (9.9%) 2 stars: 251 (11%)
3 stars: 660 (29.1%) 3 stars: 665 (28.9%)
4 stars: 1,014 (44.96%) 4 stars: 904 (39.8%)
5 stars: 258 (11.4%) 5 stars: 341 (15%)


Also of interest is the link between a positive school climate and grade-level reading. The data makes a compelling case: the better a school’s climate, the higher its percentage of students reading on grade level by third grade.

2016 Star Rating Number of Schools Mean percent of 3rd graders scoring at proficient learner or above on 2016 Georgia Milestones ELA
1 39 12.7%
2 164 20.3%
3 346 31.0%
4 506 38.1%
5 178 43.5%

Financial Efficiency Star Rating

The Financial Efficiency Star Rating provides a measure of a local school district’s per-pupil spending in relation to the academic achievements of its students. Specifically, the rating is based on a three-year average of per-pupil spending, which is then associated with the district’s CCRPI score. Each district receives a rating ranging from one-half star to five stars; a five-star district can be described as having strong academic outcomes and lower levels of expenditures in comparison with other districts. This year’s ratings are based on data from the 2013-14, 2014-15, and 2015-16 academic years.

All school districts have been given an opportunity to provide a response or additional information which they believe will assist their constituents in understanding the expenditures included in the calculation and the effect on the district’s rating. To view the ratings along with district responses, visit Choose a school district, then select one of the following report types: elementary, middle, or high school. Then click on the “Financial Efficiency” tab. The overall district rating is displayed in each of the three report types.

The calculation for the Financial Efficiency Star Rating changed between the 2015 and 2016 rating, so a comparison between years is not valid. The changes were made to better align K-12-only expenditures with the student achievement reported for those districts.

Comparisons between the Financial Efficiency Star Rating and student achievement, similar to the comparison above between the School Climate Star Rating and reading proficiency, are not applicable because the rating itself includes achievement.

OCGA § 20-14-33 requires that the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement, in coordination with the Georgia Department of Education, create a financial efficiency rating. The rating must be based upon five stars.

Matt Cordoza
GaDOE Chief Communications Officer

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