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Milestones testing scores released
Forsyth County fares well, state improves

FORSYTH COUNTY -- Scores for the second administration of the state’s most recent standardized testing were released this week, and Forsyth County, once again, remained above most of the state.

The Georgia Milestones Assessment System, which was first administered in the 2014-15 school year, is a comprehensive program across grades 3-12 that serves as the statewide accountability system. Tests include open-ended questions that officials have said better gauge students’ content mastery.

“We are excited about our results on the 2016 Milestones and congratulate our students and teachers for earning the top scores for the state in English language arts grade 5, five grades in math and four grades in social students,” Forsyth County Schools Superintendent Jeff Bearden said. “The majority of the other scores were either second in the state or within the top five in the state, including those for high school Milestones End of Course results.”

Bearden said a goal of the school system is to graduate students who are college and career ready and that assessments like Milestones “provide us relevant data for our school improvement plans.”

High school grades

In high school, students take 9th grade literature and composition, American literature and composition, coordinate algebra, analytic geometry, algebra I, geometry, biology, physical science, U.S. history and/or economics End of Course assessments.

As a system, Forsyth County high schoolers scored a higher passing rate on 9th grade literature and composition than any other subject, with 94.2 percent of students who tested passing.

Students who took the economics/business/free enterprise assessment earned the highest mean score in the system (583).

Mean scores on algebra I, American literature and composition, biology and economics/business/free enterprise were among the top five in Georgia.

The district’s mean score of 555.7 on algebra I was the second highest in the state.

Elementary and middle school grades

In grades 3-8, students take English language arts, mathematics, science and social studies End of Grade tests.

Elementary and middle school test-takers in Forsyth County scored best on mathematics, with seventh-graders throughout the system earning the highest mean score of 574.6.

The highest passing rate in elementary or middle school was in grade 8 math.

According to Jennifer Caracciolo, spokeswoman for the school system, fifth graders scored the highest in the state on English language arts, and grades 3, 4, 5, 7, and 8 scored the highest in Georgia in math, as did grades 4-7 in social studies.

While scores for the first administration of Milestones were, however predicted, lower than the CRCT system it replaced, state officials have said the reason was students were being asked to clear a higher standard and that the scoring rubrics were not comparable.

“While increases in most areas were seen, the results do highlight the need to focus on early grades, especially in the areas of literacy and numeracy,” State School Superintendent Richard Woods said. “The policies of my administration will continue to emphasize a strong knowledge of foundational skills and concepts so students are reading on grade level by third grade and being proficient in numeracy by fifth grade.”

Students are scored along four achievement levels: beginning, developing, proficient and distinguished learners — developing, proficient and distinguished are considered passing.

The percent of students achieving the proficient learner level and above increased for 23 of the 32 tests statewide, with the highest gains seen in grade 5 science, grade 7 mathematics, science and social students, grade 8 English language arts, mathematics and social students, American literature, analytic geometry, biology, physical science, U.S. history and economics, according to the Georgia Department of Education.