Troup compares state, local Milestones scores

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Matthew Strother

LaGRANGE — The first set of results from the new Georgia Milestones testing proved to be a mixed bag for Troup County students.

Melanie Traylor, director of school improvement and assessment, broke down the numbers released Monday for the Board of Education at its caucus meeting. The new testing standard replaces the criterion referenced competency test, or CRCT, and end of course tests for high schools.

It uses a different formula to calculate results. Students are classified by scores into four categories, from lowest to highest: beginning learners, developing learners, proficient learners or distinguished learners.

Statewide, no grade or course had 10 percent of students scoring as a distinguished learner in language arts and science, Traylor noted. In math and science more than 60 percent statewide were classified as either beginning or developing learners, she said.

“Does this mean teachers, administrators and students are not doing a good job?” she said, rhetorically. “No, it means the state of Georgia has raised the bar. Previously when we were taking the CRCT or old end of course test, the bar was much lower.”

Comparing scores of the top two tiers of learners, Traylor laid out how local students compared to the state average. In language arts for elementary and middle schools, students in third to eighth grades all fell below the state scores between 1 and 9 percentage points. Traylor said the students’ language arts writings were “some of the best (the evaluators) had ever seen,” but the students didn’t always answer the questions asked.

In math, elementary and middle schools students fell below a few points in third, fourth and sixth grades, but were equal in seventh and higher in fifth and eighth grades.

In science, sixth grade students scored 14 points higher than the state average with fifth and seventh also exceeding the average, Traylor said.

Elementary and middle schools students showed the strongest scores in social studies, scoring above the state average in all but sixth grade, which was one point below the state average.

Social studies and science showed strongly because the state has not had new curriculum in those areas since the mid-2000s, said Karen Cagle, assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction, answering a question from board member Ashley Adams.

“ELA (English language arts) was one of our big overhaul subjects this summer, so I would hope that would have an impact,” Cagle said. “We’ve showed strong in science in those grade levels, it was good last year and even stronger the year before.”

She said the system’s offering is strong, and because teachers are used to those science and social studies standards they can better teach them.

For end of course tests for high school grades, students scored an average three points above the state in biology, Traylor said.

Analytic geometry was up to 15 points below the state average, but Traylor said the scores only reflect spring testing results. Students tested in the winter are accelerated analytic geometry students and were not calculated in the scores so far.

Economics scores were up to 12 points above the state in high schools.

Traylor said the system has not received individual test scores for students to issue to parents, but will analyze them when they come in. Staff will also be available to go over the results with parents because of the change, she said, and she plans to have zone meetings to help parents understand the results.

Matthew Strother is the editor at LaGrange Daily News. He may be reached at 706-884-7311.