Atlanta Public Schools cites low participation on Milestones tests

Atlanta Public Schools urged parents to use caution when reviewing results from last spring’s state tests.

The Georgia Department of Education this week released scores from the Georgia Milestones taken during the 2020-2021 school year. Participation rates lagged across the state because of pandemic disruptions and online learning. Students were not penalized for opting out of the exams.

In Atlanta, where about 60% of students were still learning virtually by the end of the year, many students did not take the test.

The district reported that 34% of APS students in third through eighth grade took the Milestones. Of those, 36% scored at proficient or above levels in English language arts and 28% did so in math.

At the high school level, fewer than one in five APS students took the end-of-course exams.

APS and other education officials cautioned parents to avoid comparing the results to previous years.

“These tests were meant to measure a typical learning environment, and the number of test takers this past spring was drastically lower than in a typical year,” said a message posted on Superintendent Lisa Herring’s official blog. “The most important point I’ve gleaned from this data is that in-person instruction is directly tied to student achievement. That’s why we are hopeful about preserving in-person instruction by following stringent health and safety protocols, and encouraging vaccination.”