OUR VIEW: You can find good and bad in the GMAS numbers

Published 9:30 am Saturday, August 19, 2023

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On the front page of today’s newspaper is a breakdown of the latest Georgia Milestone scores for the Troup County School System.

Just like any statistics, you can look at them and find something to celebrate. Or, you can find something that need to improve. 

You could make a list a mile long in both directions — good and bad.

The truth is the school system is still below the state average in most categories. It’s also true that in many categories, the gap between TCSS students and the average state of Georgia student has shrunk. 

Superintendent Brian Shumate spoke Thursday night, often referencing former NFL coach Bill Parcells and his leadership style. One thing he noted was Parcells focused on small, incremental improvements that could be made, rather than aiming for the moon right away.

And TCSS has clearly reached some of those smaller improvements in Shumate’s time as superintendent.  

Shumate will tell you that after taking over in 2019, he thought TCSS would’ve already hit this benchmark. Probably two years ago. But he couldn’t foresee a worldwide pandemic, one that took students out of the classroom. The focus then wasn’t on test scores, it was just on trying to reach students and to get them back in the building.

The story we wrote does its best to break down positives and negatives comparing 2023 to 2019 and comparing 2023 to 2022. 

The story is an overwhelming barrage of numbers, one that is hard to wrap your head around. The GMAS website breaks it down with charts and graphs and makes it easier to see how your child’s school fared.  You can look by grade, school, subject, even gender or race. 

Ultimately, the scores are important because they are something you can measure TCSS on. It’s hard to measure the impact of after-school programs like sports or music programs in a quantifiable manner, though it’s clear they obviously make a big difference. This is the school system’s report card. 

For better or worse, the GMAS scores and the upcoming College and Career Ready Performance Index serve as a scoreboard and are a measurement of how TCSS fares against other school districts. It’s the best way for parents and community members to really determine if things are improving. Everyone takes the same test. So, if you want to evaluate the results and find positives, there are plenty. If you want to find numbers that need to be better, there are plenty. It’s all about your perspective, but there’s clearly a long way to go — one small steps at a time.