APS on its Georgia Milestones scores: Still a lot of work to be done

Atlanta is the first metro system to issue a statement on the performance of its students on the inaugural round of the new Georgia Milestones Tests. District and school scores were released today at 1 p.m. by the state Department of Education.

The results are broken into four categories: “beginning, ” which means not proficient (these are the students subject to being held back), and “developing, ” proficient” and “distinguished.”

In the state results released in September, only 10 percent of students who took a language arts or science course at any grade level finished in the top category of distinguished learners. In math, 60 percent of all Georgia students scored as beginning or developing learners.

One observation after seeing the APS scores: Charter schools — with smaller classes and intense focus – are improving Atlanta middle and high school performance. Smaller high school settings also seem to be helping.

Here is the APS statement:

From APS:

The Georgia Department of Education released results today of the
2014-2015 Georgia Milestones End-of-Grade (EOG) and End-of-Course (EOC) Assessments for Atlanta Public Schools.

Nearly two-thirds (63.9 percent) of students in grades 3-8 scored at Developing, Proficient or Distinguished Learner levels on the EOG Milestones for Mathematics.

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APS’ highest EOC score was in Ninth Grade Literature and Composition, with 70.5 percent of the students scoring at or above the Developing level. The results for American Literature and Composition were similar with 69.3 percent at or above the Developing level. The percentage of students achieving at or above the Developing level for United States History, Coordinate Algebra, Analytic Geometry, and Economics/Business ranged from 54.6 percent to 60.9 percent.

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In the 2014-2015 school year, the GaDOE completed a transition to new tests in grades 3-8 and eight end-of-course exams. The tests are based on the new Georgia Standards of Excellence and reveal a new level of rigor and increased expectations for Georgia students. The new assessments are also more in line with national standards.

As expected, achievement levels on the Georgia Milestones are lower than the results for the Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests (CRCT) and End-of-Course Test (EOCT) that were administered across Georgia prior to 2015. Earlier this year, GaDOE announced that these first-year Milestones results will not impact teacher evaluations or the promotion and retention of students.

Unlike the CRCT and EOCT, the Georgia Milestones Assessments measure student performance using four levels: Beginning Learner, Developing Learner, Proficient Learner, and Distinguished Learner.  Each level provides information based on student mastery of content standards. According to State Schools Superintendent Richard Woods, students performing at the Developing Learner level “can proceed to the next grade level or course but will need additional academic support to be successful.”

The performance gap between the state and APS ranges from 5.5 percentage points in Ninth Grade Literature and Composition to 29.8 percentage points in Physical Science. APS continues to analyze its performance gaps to inform how to improve student learning.

“Our students are now asked to clear a higher bar as opposed to the previous assessments,” said Superintendent Meria J. Carstarphen. “It is clear from the results that there is still much work to be done. These are more rigorous and demanding standards. We will continue to support our teachers and invest in their development which is critical to delivering quality instruction and graduating students who are ready for college and career.”

APS 2014-2015 Georgia Milestones highlights:
•12 elementary schools had at least 80 percent of students perform at or above the Developing Learner level averaged across all subjects. These schools are Morris Brandon (95 percent), Warren T. Jackson (95 percent), Mary Lin (95 percent), Morningside (95 percent), Springdale Park (93 percent), Atlanta Neighborhood Charter (90 percent), Sarah Smith (89 percent), Atlanta Classical Academy (88 percent), Charles R. Drew Charter (85 percent), E. Rivers (85 percent), The Kindezi School Westlake (84 percent) and West Manor (82 percent).

•Seven middle schools had at least 80 percent of students perform at or above the Developing Learner level averaged across all subjects. They are Kindezi School Westlake (86 percent), Atlanta Classical Academy (84 percent), Inman (84 percent), KIPP STRIVE Academy (83 percent), Charles R. Drew Charter (81 percent), Atlanta Neighborhood Charter (80 percent) and KIPP WAYS Academy (80 percent).

•Five high schools had at least 80 percent of students perform at or above the Developing Learner level in Ninth Grade Literature and Composition. They are Carver Early College (98 percent), Charles R. Drew Charter (96 percent), North Atlanta (88 percent), Grady (86 percent) and Coretta Scott King Young Women’s Leadership Academy (82 percent).

•Four high schools had at least 70 percent of students perform at or above the Developing Learner level in Coordinate Algebra. They are Carver Early College (96 percent), Charles R. Drew Charter (73 percent), KIPP Atlanta Collegiate (72 percent) and North Atlanta (70 percent).

Reader Comments 0

33 comments
CJae_EAV
CJae_EAV

Additionally, when you begin to compare individual APS school results with comparably sized schools in other metro districts you begin to see that some traditional public schools with high student populations are able to perform at a level equal to public start-up charters within APS who tend to have lower overall student populations and classes. A point which may blundt perception of the success of the Charter School model of governance over the Traditional Public School model. Furthermore, there are generally noticable demarcations in virtually all of the metro counties that suggest a statistically significant contrast between the performance of schools in areas with predominately minority populations and a high % of Title I students vs those that don't fit that profile.

CJae_EAV
CJae_EAV

I would definately agree with @eulb, this APS press release was definately a spin job. By purposefully chosing the Developing Learners catagory as the cut-line, it artifically gives the inflates percentages used as measurement of success.  A closer of examination of the results using Proficient or higher as the cut line provides a much different perspective. For instance, using Profcient as your cut line drops the success % noted for North Atlanta in Algebra from 70% down to approximately 32%.  Definately not as glowing a metric to trumpet when the cut line is aligned with manifest proficiency in this subject area. 

With the exception of the Charters Schools noted (KIPP &  Drew) there is little correlation between the achievement noted at each level (meaning the Elementary sucess doesnt seem to directly feed into Middle and subsequently HS success), instead the achievement noted seems doesnt seem to reflect any sustained upward trend.

eulb
eulb

APS' press release looks like it was massaged by spin doctors. The final column in those charts lumps together everyone who scored at or above the Developing Learner stage.  That makes it look as though all those students demonstrated sufficient mastery of the course material. But that's completely wrong.  According to the GA DOE, "Developing Learners" did not demonstrate adequate mastery of the course content.  They  "need additional academic support to ensure success in the next grade level or course ...." http://www.gadoe.org/Curriculum-Instruction-and-Assessment/Assessment/Pages/Georgia-Milestones-ALD.aspx 

Only Proficient and Distinguished Learners are considered prepared to move up without remediation.  By my calculations, less than 1/3 of all APS students performed at that level. 

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@eulb 

There always has been, and will always be, a wide range of student achievement within each grade level.  That is because each student will have a different set of impacting circumstances, including his/her variant ability levels.  This is no surprise to those who are in education.  The labeling of various permutations of achievement per grade levels will vary over the decades, but the educational/instructional phenomenon remains the same regarding a wide range of functioning levels of students within each grade level demarcation. 


The more the public is aware of this fact, the more thoroughly, and with greater depth and insight, citizens will understand k -12 instructional phenomena.  The essential way to improve public school results in elementary through secondary schools is to address precisely the instructional levels whereby each student will be able to absorb instructional skills and concepts at his/her correct placement, and optimal pacing, to achieve 90% mastery on the curriculum continuum in all subject areas, k - 12.

(Hopefully, in the future, educational/instructional delivery to individual students will become as sophisticated as medical delivery is presently to individual patients.)

class80olddog
class80olddog

You don't deliver medical treatment to thirty patients at one time

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@class80olddog 

Of course, you do not.  However, there are instructional ways to better address the instructional variances to which I was referring than are being practiced presently, without undue stress or additional work for teachers.  Instructional delivery knowledge (including placement precision, large and small group instructional techniques) is essential to address these variances with effectiveness, however.  I spent 25 years in instructional leadership teaching other teachers how to accomplish that, with ease.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@readcritic

I worked with students in the classroom for 35 years. My intent is to help improve public education not self-aggrandizement. 

As a former Instructional Lead Teacher of a continuous progress school, grades 1 - 7, and as a former high school Reading Department Chair, training 100 teachers while also serving 500 students in our high school Reading Center while I taught 150 students each quarter as an advanced reading teacher, I have learned what works instructionally for all students, not to mention what I had learned through my graduate training to become a certified Reading Specialist in the state of Georgia, after I had earned my M.Ed. in 1973.

Atllchick99
Atllchick99

My grandson journey began in APS public schools Kindergarten. Third grade he started DeKalb Charter/Theme School as an average student not wanting to read or do homework. 4th grade turned into night's and days of the twilight zone. Class sizes of 28. Now 5th grade new school APS Charter school 6-8 kids in room. It's like a miracle reading and doing homework Thank You Kindesi O4W

class80olddog
class80olddog

"Nearly two-thirds (63.9 percent) of students in grades 3-8 scored at Developing, Proficient or Distinguished Learner levels on the EOG Milestones for Mathematics."

So that means that 36.1 % should be retained (but won't be)

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@class80olddog 

There is a third option, better and more effective than both retention and social promotion.  It is called continuous progress to mastery learning.  Study it, please.

AnotherMom
AnotherMom

Maureen - Any word on the upcoming tests for this school year?  Will they count as part of the students grades this year?  Will the results be reported in a more timely manner?  Thanks.

MaureenDowney
MaureenDowney moderator

@AnotherMom DOE says districts will get the 2016 results back -- students will take the tests in April -- in two weeks. So, schools will have results while students are still in school. 

And the 2016 scores will count for student grades and teacher evaluations. Low scores could lead to retention discussions, although, as posters have noted, few kids are ever held back in Georgia as it is a complex process that involves parent input.

bu22
bu22

@MaureenDowney @AnotherMom I asked someone with the school how those tests would count and they didn't even know.  Really typical flying by the seat of your pants management of educational changes by the state.

gapeach101
gapeach101

Why do charter schools get to have smaller classes when "traditional public schools" do not?

gapeach101
gapeach101

@class80olddog

Please, charter schools send kids back to their zone schools.  And that happens a whole lot more than students  getting expelled.

class80olddog
class80olddog

They put more money into classroom and less into admin

sneakpeakintoeducation
sneakpeakintoeducation

@gapeach101 @class80olddog


Yes, gapeach, they do. And they get to keep the allotment for the students they send back or counsel out after the October seat count. The traditional public schools have to educate the child with no resources. 

CJae_EAV
CJae_EAV

@gapeach101 @class80olddog - But just to be fair the limit to enrollment is generally a reflection of the specific geographic footprint its proposing to serve combined with other limiting factors (such as size of its facility and fiscal capability outside of base per pupil funding recieved from the district, the latter of which is well below what the district schools enjoy). Nothing stops any school district from constructing its school footprint based on simularly styled limiting factors, although its generally not down.  In fact most districts chose to consolidate their school footprint to purposefully create larger schools to save on onverall capital costs.

CJae_EAV
CJae_EAV

@sneakpeakintoeducation - can you evidence this claim as this is the first I've every heard of this.  My direct experience is explictedly the opposite of your claim.

CJae_EAV
CJae_EAV

@class80olddog - A wildly accepted belief that is not necessarily a true statement for every charter school as compared to the traditional schools on average in the district where they reside. Some do, but then again some dont spend any more on the classroom than the district average

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

"One observation after seeing the APS scores: Charter schools — with smaller classes and intense focus – are improving Atlanta middle and high school performance. Smaller high school settings also seem to be helping."


Yes, it is quite striking that the students who attend those charter schools and the higher SES schools did well.  Surprising?  No. Most of those kids' parents are either well to do (and likely well educated and goal oriented) or think that education is important and have made the effort to get their kids into those schools.


Lower income parents who make an effort to get their children into charter schools do have some things in common with higher SES parents--the initiative to have their children be in position to make the most of opportunities, and the more effort they have had to expend (application, lottery, uniforms, transportation), the more likely their children are to do well. 


Congratulations to the schools whose students did well!


CSpinks
CSpinks

Why was the relatively cheap, thoroughly vetted Iowa Test of Basic Skills(ITBS) not retained as our state's most commonly employed, nationally-normed standardized academic achievement test?


Had the ITBS been retained, how many millions of taxpayer dollars could have been saved? How much more accurate a picture of our kids' academic skills could been obtained?

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

@CSpinks They wanted something that matched up against the Georgia standards.  ITBS matches up to commonly accepted standards, but not to Georgia's.

class80olddog
class80olddog

ITBS would show how badly our students measure up to other states. Good schools DID use the ITBS

gapeach101
gapeach101

@class80olddog

Back in the day, APS also administered ITBS tests.  Which systems have used the ITBS recently?  

Something else I've wondered, can a parent pay for their children to take the test somewhere other than the school environment?

AVJ
AVJ

@gapeach101 Yes.  I believe you can sign up to be your own test administrator and give the test to your child at home (or wherever); it is scored and sent back to you.  I think there may be a requirement that whoever is administering it have a college degree. (I may be getting mixed up with the Stanford.  Additionally, you can search the internet to see if there is anyone in your local area who is already set up as a test administrator.