Georgia students made some progress on math and language arts tests, according to state officials. The Georgia Department of Education released the results of the 2017 Georgia Milestones assessment Thursday.
The test scores students in one of four categories of learners: beginning, developing, proficient and distinguished. The GDOE says students who score in the proficient designation are on track toward being college- and career-ready. In 2017, the number of students scoring proficient or distinguished increased or held steady in most cases, officials say. Where scored dropped, they did so by three percentage points or less.
“Our students’ performance continues to trend upward, and some of these gains are particularly encouraging,” State Schools Superintendent Richard Woods said in a statement. Woods also admitted there is still plenty of room for improvement.
“I agree with the Georgia Department of Education when it says, ‘We are moving in the right direction,’” said Dana Rickman, director of policy and research at the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education.
Despite the gains, though, roughly two-thirds of Georgia students are not reaching the proficient level in most subjects. That’s important to keep in mind, Rickman said.
“We have a large percentage of students in that developing learner category, and by DOE’s own definition, those are learners who are progressing, and they have some mastery of the skills, but when they move to the next grade level, they’re probably going to need some additional supports to help them catch up,” she said.
Despite incremental gains in math and language arts, science scores were lower.
"Science is – probably looking across all the grades – it's the one that has the biggest percentage of students consistently in that beginning learner category,” Rickman said. “And that's concerning for me."
With so many technology jobs coming to Georgia, particularly metro Atlanta, some schools have tried to beef up their STEM – short for science, technology, engineering and math – curricula. Rickman said science competency could become increasingly important.
Locally, 57 APS schools improved their scores. Fulton County saw gains in elementary and middle school math. In DeKalb, 24 elementary schools met or exceeded state averages. Cobb County’s scores were generally higher than state averages.
This is the third year the state has administered Georgia Milestones. The test replaces the Criterion-Referenced Competency Test (CRCT). Milestones was designed to set higher standards for students than the CRCT, which was criticized for setting the bar too low.