Georgia Milestones scores reveal pandemic impact on local learning

Monday, July 25th 2022, 8:37 PM EDT

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WFXG) - A report card just came out, and it's for Georgia's school systems. The Georgia Milestones test scores have been made public.

According to the Georgia Department of Education, the new scores will set a baseline for district and school performance. In return, GaDOE plans to use the scores to determine where to support due to learning loss from the coronavirus pandemic. 

Overall, the GaDOE says the results indicate improvement on the 2021-2022 Georgia Milestones assessments.

“From offering expanded summer and afterschool programs to the efforts of dedicated Academic Recovery Specialists, the state, districts, and local schools have been laser-focused on addressing the impact of lost learning opportunities. These results show those efforts are paying off and students’ academic achievement has returned to the upward trajectory it was on prior to COVID-19.” said Richard Woods, State School Superintendent. 

Georgia students in grades three through eight are tested in End of Grade (EOG) tests. Student learning is assessed through four levels: beginning learners, developing learners, proficient learners and distinguished learners. These scores offer more insight into how the pandemic impact learning.

Over the past three years, students had different learning experiences. Last time we saw a traditional school year was 2019, before COVID-19. Statewide, percentage of students reading below grade levels increased during the pandemic and proficient learners also decreased during the pandemic. That’s also the case for Richmond and Columbia Counties. Both counties, though, have seen improvement since then. However, state officials caution that 2020-2021 results may not offer a complete picture for each district due to reduced test participation and pandemic-related impacts on student learning environments.

In 2019, 46% of Richmond County third graders were below reading level. The number jumped in 2021 to 59.3%. But, there has been some improvement. This year, 56.5% of third graders are below reading level. 

“We are already laser focused on taking action in our classrooms to advance student learning. Over the last year, we have invested in new textbooks, technology access and support resources to help our children succeed. With the support and partnership of our families and community, we will see our students achieve at higher levels.” said Kenneth Bradshaw, RCSS Superintendent. 

Board of Education member Shawnda Griffin asks parents to give the superintendent a chance to make this happen.

"It's his vision we are supporting and pushing. He even acknowledges, listen, to be the second from the last in graduation rates is not acceptable and we are working towards pushing that, but it's going to take all of us." said Griffin.

In Columbia County, most students read at or above grade level.

"At the elementary level, while we have not received the overall calculations for 2022, we are proud to say that we have made progress in achievement over last year and as typical, we far exceed the state average. In middle school, high performance continues with math scores across all grade levels.  But there is always room for improvement, even in these areas where we performed well. Overall, we are very pleased with our scores. Our teachers, instructional specialists, and leaders will spend the next few months combing through the data to develop specific strategies for improvement in all content areas." said a representative from the Columbia County School District.

Meantime, Griffin says Richmond County is also on the upward momentum.

"We're not expecting this to be 100% changed in a year's time, but what we are expecting is every year for there to be improvement."

Copyright 2022 WFXG. All rights reserved.