TCSS receives mixed GMAS scores

Published 8:00 am Saturday, August 20, 2022

As expected, the Troup County School System saw a mixed bag of results in the annual Georgia Milestones Scores released by the Georgia Department of Education.

The school system closed its gap on the state of Georgia average score in many categories — including in 8 of 10 tested categories in both elementary and middle schools — but also saw the high school gap increase in 4 of 5 categories.

The scores also show the impact the COVID-19 pandemic played on education, an impact that is being felt around the state and around the nation. Almost every score across the board is lower than it was in 2019, the year before the pandemic, and that’s not just for TCSS. Every school district around TCSS and similar school districts to TCSS’ demographics and size show the same dip in nearly every tested grade and category.

“We could talk about the COVID years, and all of what we did, but learning loss was real. While we were in school, all 2021, we still had upwards of 40% of our kids being virtual, we finally got it down to about 20%,” Superintendent Dr. Brian Shumate said. “The 2021 scores were down from the 2019 scores, we do feel like we made progress in our scores in 2022 over our scores in 2021, however, we’re still not back to where we were in 2019.”

The GMAS is a comprehensive assessment that spans all three levels of the state’s educational system – elementary, middle, and high school.  The assessment is designed to send consistent data about how well students are prepared for the next level of schooling.

The purpose of the Milestones is to provide information about how well students are mastering the state-adopted content standards in the core content areas of English language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies.

GMAS divides student data into four categories: beginning, developing, proficient and distinguished.

Beginning learners do not show understanding of the knowledge and skills essential at their current grade level. Developing Learners show partial understanding of the knowledge and skills necessary at their grade level. Proficient learners show clear understanding of the knowledge and skills necessary at their grade level. Distinguished learners show advanced understanding of the knowledge and skills necessary at their grade level.

In grades third, fourth and fifth, which are tested on English Language Arts, reading status and math, TCSS closed the gap in all three grades in English Language Arts and math. TCSS fifth graders also closed the gap by four percentage points in science. Another highlight was that math scores in third and fourth grade closed on the state level by six percentage points, though both numbers dropped from 2019. As an example, 52% of third graders in Georgia were proficient or above in math in 2019 but that number fell to 43% in 2022. Meanwhile, TCSS had 45% of third graders proficient or above in math in 2019 and now that number is 42%, within one of the state average.

While there were highlights, the numbers also reminded of the work to be done, as 41% of TCSS third through fifth graders are not reading on grade level.

The perceived COVID impact is also shown throughout the numbers. For instance, in elementary reading, the three-year change shows TCSS’ percentage of students reading on grade level or above, a number that has dropped 5% since 2019. GMAS was not taken in 2020 due to COVID-19.

The learning gap created by the pandemic is why TCSS is comparing data from the 2022 results to 2019, rather than looking at one-year data.

In high school, in the five measured categories in high school, four of the gaps increased with the state average from 2019 until 2022 — American literature, biology, reading status and U.S. history.

“We do have concerns in our high school level with our end of course exams but we will

continue to work to improve,” Shumate said. “We’ve got issues in many different places that we can look at but I do feel good about our instructional program, as we’ve designed it in the last six months.”

To view the entire presentation of local GMAS numbers, visit www.troup.org.