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Rome, Floyd schools see Milestones gains in ELA, math

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For the most part, the scores of Rome and Floyd County students reflected increases in the English language arts and mathematics portions of the Georgia Milestones tests, matching up with statewide trends, according to data released by the Georgia Department of Education on Thursday.

However, a subject both school systems’ students struggled with was social studies, which only fifth-graders and eighth-graders were tested on this year, a change from 2016. The percentage of the systems’ students scoring as a Developing Learner and above fell under the state average in this subject for both grade levels. Students in Rome City Schools and Floyd County Schools also didn’t meet or exceed the state average under this analysis for high school U.S. history.

The four categories of the ratings are beginning learners, scoring below 475; developing learners, scoring from 475 to 524; proficient learners, scoring from 525 to 554; and distinguished learners from 555 to 610. Click here for a link to state results.

John Parker, FCS executive director of academics, said struggles in social studies is representative of a statewide trend.

“Is every data point fantastic, absolutely not,” he said, adding that the system has hired a subject area coordinator to help coordinate social studies curriculum across the board.

The mean scores, which signify half of the students scored above that mark and half scored below, in these areas of increase in ELA and math predominately land the systems’ in the Developing Learners category, which is the second in a four-tier rating. The GDOE ratings guide defines students in this category as having incomplete proficiency in the grade-level knowledge and skills, and needing additional academic assistance for success in the next grade or course.

Twenty-three of the systems’ 26 mean scores each are in the Developing Learners category; one Floyd County score and two Rome scores were not available. Floyd County had a Beginning Learner rating for its score in the high school analytic geometry test.

But, out of all the tests across third grade to 12th grade, high school geometry saw the highest rating achieved for both school systems, with Floyd County’s mean score — the 2016 score wasn’t available — reflecting a Distinguished Learner rating, the highest, and Rome’s mean score equating to a Proficient Learner rating.

RCS Superintendent Lou Byars said some subject areas saw growth and others did not, but the benefit moving forward is that the system has the test results in hand so they can move forward in enhancing school improvement plans before the school year starts July 28.

John Jackson, FCS superintendent, said he was heartened to see the scores trending in the right direction, and hopes the further rollout of the interactive workshop model, which engages students by giving them tasks where they must apply their knowledge, will better prepare students.

Students in the third, fourth and sixth grades from both school systems had their mean scores come in higher in the ELA test as compared to last year. Additionally, Floyd County had mean scores increase in ninth grade literature and composition and the high school course American literature and composition. Rome also had mean scores increase in the eighth grade ELA test and ninth grade literature and composition.

Both systems’ third-graders and sixth-graders achieved higher mean scores than last year’s students. Floyd County also had higher mean scores in the fourth grade and seventh grade math assessments, as well as the high school algebra test. Rome additionally had higher mean scores in the tests on high school geometry and coordinate algebra.

The performance of both systems’ third-graders matched up with statewide increases in ELA and math.

Parker said the performance of the third-graders is a “really good sign” as they have had consistent curriculum for their entire school career.

This year’s test was rough on fifth-graders and eighth-graders who were tested on four subjects — ELA, math, science and social studies. The percentage of Rome and Floyd County fifth-graders who scored as a Developing Learner and above was under the state average in all four subjects, and eighth-graders in both systems fell short in three of four subjects.

The schools took the tests online this year — a push by GDOE — something Byars said teachers and students were more acquainted in their second year of going “full-force online.” Further integrating students in the second grade and under with Chromebooks — part of the system’s one-to-one initiative — will help students in the future when they take the Milestones, which shouldn’t be a test on how well kids can use a computer, Byars said.