The state released results of the 2017 Georgia Milestones tests, and Cobb County saw about half its third, fifth and eighth graders on average scoring at proficient or advanced levels. (AJC File.)

Cobb scores generally ahead of state averages on Milestones tests

Cobb County scores on the Georgia Milestones tests released today show mild ups and downs in pivotal elementary and middle school grades, but generally align with the district’s 2016 performance and outpace the state averages.

About half of students in grades 3, 5 and 8 passed the exam and are considered prepared for the challenges of the next grade; the other half posted failing scores and require academic support to succeed. The scores suggest a downward trend in math performance as students move from elementary through middle school.

The scores on the standardized state exams break down results into four basic learning levels. The lowest is beginning learners, who don’t demonstrate proficiency at grade level and require substantial academic support to be ready for the next grade level. Developing learners demonstrate partial proficiency but still need additional academic support. Proficient learners demonstrate proficiency in the knowledge and skills necessary, and distinguished learners demonstrate advanced proficiency.

About half of Cobb test takers in grades 3, 5 and 8 achieved proficient or distinguished in math and language arts. In third-grade language arts, 47.4 percent of third-graders scored in the range of proficient or better. Third-graders posted similar performance levels in math; 48.2 percent reached the proficient or distinguished level.

The rates held steady for fifth-graders in language arts, where 50.6 percent earned proficient or higher. In math, 45.6 percent of fifth- graders attained proficient or distinguished.

RELATED: Milestones no longer primary factor for moving up a grade in Cobb

MORE: Five things to know about the new Georgia Milestones tests

In language arts, 53.2 percent of eighth-graders scored proficient or higher. In eighth-grade math, considered an indicator of high school readiness, 42.7 percent of students reached proficient or distinguished. However, the number jumps when the district’s most talented math students taking high school math are included; those 1,659 students did not take the Milestones End of Grade middle school test but took the high school End of Course test, and they raise the pass rate to 53.1 percent.

The scores showed both ups and downs from 2016, although there were no earth shattering changes overall. A shift from 2016: In third-grade language arts, 6.2 percent more students scored developing learner or higher this year, and 3.4 percent more attained proficient or higher.

Overall, the percentage of Cobb students scoring at the developing, proficient and distinguished levels exceeded statewide averages across subjects and grade levels. For example, only 36 percent of third-graders statewide earned proficient or distinguished in language arts, compared to Cobb’s 47.4 percent

The top performing middle schools were Dickerson, Dodgen, Hightower and Lost Mountain.

“These recent Milestones results confirm that our academic performance continues to improve due to the hard work of our students and teachers,” said Superintendent Chris Ragsdale. “As teachers return to school next week, student success will remain the focus for the coming school year.”

The scores matter a bit less to students in Cobb after the school board decided the Milestones tests won’t solely determine whether students advance to the next grade level. Instead, the test results become one of several factors, including teacher commentary and other scores.

While state law requires schools to use Milestones for grade promotion, Cobb waived the provision under its “flexibility” contract with the state.

You can check out critical information about your child’s school such as graduation rates and teacher experience in the Ultimate Atlanta School Guide.

See how other metro Atlanta school districts scored on Milestones:

The first day of class for metro Atlanta schools really has gotten earlier. Cobb County students go back to school July 31. Atlanta's first day is Aug. 1. DeKalb, Fulton and Gwinnett start Aug. 7.

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