School System’s Focus on Literacy Shows Gains in English Language Arts Assessment of the Georgia Milestone
When the Georgia Department of Education (GaDOE) released individual and system-wide Georgia Milestone Assessment (GMAS) scores, Troup County School System (TCSS) employees celebrated the upward movement in both Reading and English Language Arts (ELA) scores. System employees and community members were laser focused on increasing literacy levels of students, particularly in third grade.
According to GaDOE representatives, the state uses a reading status measurement called a Lexile score. It is derived from reading comprehension and vocabulary questions on the ELA assessment of GMAS. The Lexile score indicates the percentage of students reading on grade level or above.
The largest increases for TCSS were recorded in the fifth grade (increased seven percent) and third grade (increased five percent) scores of students reading on grade level or above. The third-grade increase is particularly notable given the long-term impact of students’ ability to read on grade level by third grade.
Dr. Brian Shumate, Superintendent of TCSS, said, “I would like to thank and congratulate the Troup County staff for their focus on literacy in the 18-19 school year. These increases are a result of the focused efforts on literacy at all grades.”
English Language Arts GMAS Assesment
Features of the ELA portion of the GMAS assess students through open-ended questions that require a constructed response and a writing component at every grade level. Several individual TCSS elementary schools realized an increase in over 15 percent on the ELA portion of the assessment.
There were several notable areas where TCSS staff successfully increased proficient and distinguished performance. GaDOE refers to these combined levels as Proficient Learner designation. For example:
- Five TCSS elementary schools increased the percentage of students achieving the Proficient Learner designation by 15 percentage points or more for third graders in ELA.
- Four TCSS elementary schools outperformed the state in achieving the Proficient Learner designation for fourth grade ELA students.
- Eight TCSS elementary schools increased the percentage of fifth grade students in ELA earning the Proficient Learner designation.
- All TCSS middle schools increased the percentage of students in grades six and eight earning the Proficient Learner designations.
- All TCSS high schools increased the percentage of students earning the Proficient Learner designation by 14 percent or more in 9th grade Literature and Composition.
While the school system is celebrating system-wide increases, there are many areas of concern as the scores are still lagging behind the state.
Shumate continued, “The district made progress this past year, but we still have much work ahead of us. In the coming year we will focus on instructional coherence across the board to increase literacy, especially in the early grades.”
“This will include curriculum that is aligned to the Georgia Standards of Excellence as well as a consistent focus on best practices in instructional strategies. In addition, a focus on regular assessments, just-in-time use of performance data, and use of focused interventions is also necessary. This will take a collective effort from all of our leaders, teachers, and support staff to show even more progress in the coming year,” said Shumate.
State School Superintendent Richard Woods said, “This is a testament to the hard work of an increasing focus on educating the whole child and providing a genuinely well-rounded education. While these gains are worth celebrating, we cannot be all about the test – our job is to prepare students for life. I continue to support a reduction of state assessment requirements to the federal minimum, and more realistic and reasonable accountability requirements.”
The goal of the TCSS is to meet the individual needs of all students. Parents received individual student scores early in the summer. They are also located online via the Parent Portal in Infinite Campus.
About Georgia Milestones
Students began taking Georgia Milestones assessments in 2014-15. The testing system is one comprehensive program across grades 3-12, which includes open-ended and technology-enhanced questions to better gauge students’ content mastery. The assessment was administered 100% online for the first time in the 2018-19 school year (with the exception of students who require a paper/pencil test as an accommodation).
Georgia Milestones assesses student learning along four levels of achievement:
Beginning Learners do not yet demonstrate proficiency in the knowledge and skills necessary at this grade level/course of learning, as specified in Georgia’s content standards. The students need substantial academic support to be prepared for the next grade level or course and to be on track for college and career readiness.
Developing Learners demonstrate partial proficiency in the knowledge and skills necessary at this grade level/course of learning, as specified by Georgia’s content standards. The students need additional academic support to ensure success in the next grade level or course and to be on track for college and career readiness.
Proficient Learners demonstrate proficiency in the knowledge and skills necessary at this grade level/course of learning, as specified in Georgia’s content standards. The students are prepared for the next grade level or course and are on track for college and career readiness.
Distinguished Learners demonstrate advanced proficiency in the knowledge and skills necessary at this grade level/course of learning, as specified in Georgia’s content standards. The students are well prepared for the next grade level or course and are well prepared for college and career readiness.
About Troup County School System
Troup County School System is an accredited educational system with 11,999 students in grades K-12. The TCSS does offer a free Pre-K program at each elementary school. The system is comprised of eleven elementary schools, three middle schools, three high schools, one college and career academy, and one alternative learning center. Students within the school system are taught a rigorous and relevant curriculum that help them make college and career choices beyond graduation so they can succeed in life. The system 2018 graduation rate rose 6.2 percentage points to 84.1 percent. To learn more about Troup County School System, visit troup.org and the Troup County School System Facebook page.