State officials released scores for the 2016 Georgia Milestones Assessment Tuesday.
The results divide students into one of four categories: beginning learners, developing learners, proficient learners and distinguished learners. Overall, scores for middle and high school students showed moderate improvement from last year, while results for elementary schools remained flat.
“That begs the question, ‘Why?’” says Dana Rickman, director of policy and research with the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education. “It really behooves us — and especially the folks at the DOE and within the districts — to really take a closer look at this data and try and sort out what it might be telling us about what’s going on in the lower grades.”
The scores were similar in most Atlanta-area school systems: middle and high schoolers showed gains, while elementary students made only modest improvements.
Bill Caritj, Chief Accountability and Information Officer for the Atlanta Public Schools, says APS plans to put resources toward teachers in an effort to boost student achievement.
“Teachers have been asking for training, they’ve been asking for a clear curriculum, they’ve been asking for integration of technology,” he says. “And I think you’re going to see us make great progress at the elementary level as well as the secondary level.”
The percentage of students reaching proficient or distinguished learner status increased for 23 of the 32 tests.
“I’m pleased to see our students’ performance trending upward in many key areas,” Georgia School Superintendent Richard Woods said in a statement. “Georgia’s students and teachers should be commended for these results – we asked them to clear a higher bar, and it is not a surprise to me that they delivered.”
Due to computer glitches during online administration of the tests in some districts, the 2016 scores will not be used for accountability measures, such as teacher evaluations or student promotion or retention. State law requires students to be tested in grades 3-12. Until this year, students in grades 3-8 had to take standardized tests in science and social studies in addition to English/language arts and mathematics. However, a new law reduces the number of tests students are required to take. So, science and social studies tests will only be required in grades 5 and 8 going forward.