School system: Milestone test scores improving, but still below pre-pandemic levels | Local News

MOULTRIE, Ga. — The Colquitt County School District recently received the results of the Georgia Department of Education Milestones tests that students took last year. School officials say they have yet to reach “pre-pandemic” scores.

According to the Georgia Department of Education, Georgia Milestones is a summative assessment program. The test provides students with essential information about their success and preparation for the next year or course.

“Without using numbers, we have growth but not our pre-pandemic numbers, and that’s statewide,” said Dr. Marni Kirkland, assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction at CCSD. .

SDCC Superintendent Ben Wiggins added, “That is the state trend. Very few districts in the state have returned to where they were before the pandemic. »

Wiggins explained the reasons for the scores.

“There are reasons for this. [including] the school was closed for a quarter of the year, the following year with all the quarantine and the absences, not only of the pupils, [but also] faculty and staff had to take time off whether they were exposed or their children were exposed or sick,” Wiggins said.

He said there was an improvement at the district and state level from 2021 to 2022.

He added, “I think that’s a great indicator, although we had two pretty big increases last year that impacted our statewide attendance. I think that’s a good sign for schools across the state and nation, it’s this improvement from 2021 to 2022.”

Milestone year-end assessments were administered to students in grades three through eight.

In reading, 43.3% of third graders performed below grade level, while 56.7% of third graders exceeded or met the grade level reading requirement.

The third graders who were tested for the 2021-22 school year were first graders when the school was closed for COVID-19, according to Kirkland.

The fifth graders who were tested were third graders at the time of the shutdown, while the eighth graders tested were in the sixth grade at the time of the shutdown.

Students start reading in first grade, but they don’t start reading fully until third grade, she said.

Kirkland said fifth-grade students improved their science and math scores.

“They had a tough 36 months, but they won,” Kirkland said. “It’s quite significant. The fifth-grade group and the eighth-grade group had the basics of reading, so they bounce back quickly, which is good and positive for us.

Eighth graders tested improved in math, science and social studies.

Kirkland said the school hosted Camp Impossible over the summer break to help “fill the void” caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Over 400 students have been recommended for the program. Half of those recommended have signed up to attend the camp. Approximately 130 to 150 kindergarten, kindergarten and first grade students participated.

Students attended three reading sessions, one math session and two STEM sessions over four weeks in June.

“The goal this year was to not have that summer slide,” Kirkland said. “We didn’t want to take that risk.”

A summer slip occurs when students return to school after summer vacation with a slight loss of some knowledge they acquired the previous school year.

At the end of the camp, the students took an NWEA MAP growth test. The MAP growth test measures a student’s performance in math, reading, language use, and science from kindergarten through 12th grade.

“We use it locally to make sure the kids are growing up,” she said.

Although the goal was to maintain stable scores, the students who participated in the camp actually improved.

Overall, students achieved a four-point gain in English and Language Arts on MAP Growth and a two-point gain in Math in the June session.

CCDS also hosted a summer high school at Williams Middle School and CA Gray Middle School. Ninth graders worked on credit recovery while sixth through eighth graders worked on skills to improve.

Kirkland said the secondary summer school is important in helping students transition from elementary to middle school.

“Every time we bring them to school to get to know the place and the teachers better, the results will be better, that’s why these summer schools are important,” she said.

The CCDS plans to host the camp again next summer.

Hobby explained that CCSD’s three main priorities are: academic excellence, customer service and school safety.

“We really want families, students and our teachers to understand that academic rigor and excellence are important,” Hobby said.

Kirkland added that the school district also adopted a new English/language arts curriculum for this school year due to a need for early literacy.

“The program was chosen to ensure that we fill those gaps,” she said, “but also to continue to meet state expectations.”

Schools will select a new curriculum for math this year and later for science and social studies.

“Our teachers have asked for specific training not only in science subjects, but also in investigative science like experiments and how to do all those elements of what a scientific process is,” she said. declared.

Colquitt County High School saw an improvement in attendance and grades in Advanced Placement courses. Between last year and this year, another 100 tests were administered.

Kirkland said 5% of students improved their test passing scores.

“It is significant. At COVID, it was crazy because the kids couldn’t come for the tests. We are approaching pre-pandemic participation in the AP program,” she said.

Wiggins said, “We want to have a strong AP program to match our strong dual enrollment program and get great partnerships with a number of our colleges locally. Students and parents have a great opportunity to take advantage of dual enrollment.

Jeremy S. McLain