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Forsyth makes mark on Georgia Milestones

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Detailed scores can be found at

FORSYTH COUNTY — Preliminary district- and school-level scores were released Monday for the first administration of Georgia’s new comprehensive testing system, and initial analysis put Forsyth County ahead of the pack in most grades and subjects.

The Georgia Milestones Assessment System has come with its share of controversy among those who want to move public schools away from standardized testing and Common Core standards, but state officials said this new system has raised the bar.

“Our previous assessment, the CRCT, set some of the lowest expectations for student proficiency in the nation, and that cannot continue,” said State School Superintendent Richard Woods.

Milestones is pitched as a consistent program across third-12thgrades, rather than a series of individual tests. It includes open-ended questions to better gauge content mastery and, with some exceptions for special education students, will be taken entirely online by its fifth year.

“For too long we’ve been telling students they were on track to be successful in college or ready for a career when they graduated high school, yet in many cases they were not,” said Dana Rickman, policy and research director for the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education and a member of the standard-setting review committee.

Raising the bar for Milestones means it became harder to earn a passing score. However, that benchmark for a passing score is more in line with national standards, officials have said.

That also means scores were predicted to be lower because of the higher standards. Though Forsyth officials are still sifting through the volume of information released by the state, local students seemed to have done quite well.

“Once again, our students have scored far above the state average across the board,” said School Superintendent Jeff Bearden. “In some cases, we have double or close to triple the performance at the distinguished — highest performance — level.”


How students are scored


Milestones assesses student learning along four performance levels, while the CRCT had three. That’s a change intended to “focus away from just test scores, instead capturing the progression of students’ learning.”

* Beginning learners do not demonstrate the knowledge and skills needed at their current grade level/course and need substantial academic support to ensure success in the next level and to be on track for college and career readiness

* Developing learners demonstrate partial proficiency in the knowledge and skills necessary at their current grade level/course and need some additional academic support

* Proficient learners demonstrate the knowledge and skills necessary at their current grade level/course, are prepared for the next level and are on track for college and career readiness

* Distinguished learners demonstrate advanced proficiency in their current grade level/course, are well prepared for the next level and are on track for college and career readiness

Developing learners and above are considered passing scores.

To be considered for promotion, students in third, fifth and eighth grades must pass the English language arts test. Students will also receive a Lexile score based on their reading skill.

Students in fifth and eighth grades must also pass their mathematics test.

However, the promotion and retention policy — and teacher evaluations — will not apply to this first year of testing, as scores were used as a baseline.

Next year, they will count toward promotion and retention and will account for 20 percent of the student’s final grade.


Third-eighth grades systemwide


Students in third-eighth grades took four End of Grade (EOG) tests under Milestones — English language arts, mathematics, science and social studies.

Forsyth County students earned the highest mean scale score in the state on math for every grade level.

Fourth and sixth grades also earned the highest mean scale score in the state on English language arts, while sixth and seventh grades did the same in social studies.

Percentages of developing learners and above across all subjects and grades were marked mostly in the 90s, with four in the 80s.

The highest passing rate in the county on an EOG was at 95.4 percent in fourth-grade math.

Fourth grade scored the highest passing rate (91.1 percent) in the state in English language arts.

Sixth grade did so in English language arts (90.9 percent) and social studies (93.6 percent).

Forsyth’s seventh grade passed more students than any other system in the state for English language arts (91.1 percent), science (88.1 percent) and social studies (93.5 percent).


Ninth-12th grades systemwide


High school students took End of Course (EOC) assessments — ninth grade literature, American literature and composition, analytic geometry, biology, coordinate algebra, economics/business/free enterprise, physical science and U.S. history.

The best passing rate in the county was in ninth-grade literature (92.3 percent), whose mean score of 540.92 was also the highest of any county system in Georgia, of the 12 metro Regional Educational Service Agency systems and of the 24 systems that tested more than 1,000 students in the subject.

Forsyth students taking American literature and composition (534.15), biology (554.31), coordinate algebra (549.9), economics (555.81) and U.S. history (540.6) earned the highest mean scale score of any system that tested more than 1,000 students.

Coordinate algebra test-takers scored the highest scaled mean in the state.

The highest mean scale score in the county was in economics.


What the scores mean


A scale score of 475 signals a developing learner or passing score.

To incorporate a Milestones assessment into a student’s final subject grade, a beginning learner will have scored between 0 and 67 percent; a developing learner will have earned a 68-79 percent; a proficient learner between 80 and 91 percent; and a distinguished learner a 92-100 percent.

“We recognize the Milestones are a more rigorous assessment and look forward to our teachers and leadership teams using the data to drive instruction and make sure that our students are getting the resources and support they need to be successful,” Bearden said.

According to Forsyth County Schools, individual scores are posted in the district’s Parent Portal and will be sent home the week of Nov. 30-Dec. 4.

Parents with questions about their students’ Milestones score report can contact their school or attend any of the following informational sessions at 6:30 p.m.:

* Jan. 7 at Otwell Middle

* Jan. 12 at Piney Grove Middle

* Jan. 19 at North Forsyth Middle