Gwinnett continues to outpace state in Milestones tests

As in previous years, more Gwinnett County public school students scored in the top categories of the Georgia Milestones exams than state averages, according to data released today.

More than half of its students scored “proficient learner or above” on most elementary and middle school grade levels, the results show. Gwinnett students performed better, though, on some grade levels last year, such as in fifth-grade math.

The Milestones are administered starting in third grade. They measure students' mastery of state educational standards in subjects such as English, math and science.

The scores determine whether students fall into one of four categories, from non-proficient to complete mastery, and they count for one-fifth of a high school student's course grade.

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Gwinnett officials said they were pleased that the school system continues to do better each year, but they are focusing on moving those in the beginning and developing categories into the proficient and distinguished learner categories.

Jonathan Patterson, Gwinnett’s associate superintendent for Curriculum and Instructional Support, and his team will review these results to determine how the district can support schools in moving students to higher levels of achievement.

“We’re fortunate to have the support of the entire community in reaching student achievement,” said Patterson. “We plan to focus on how to help individuals achieve with the help of parents, teachers and administrators.”

Although all subjects are important, students who don’t master reading by third grade will likely struggle in later years, when they will need to be able to read well in order to learn other subjects.

In grades 3-7, the percentage of Gwinnett students scoring in the “Beginning” category remained consistent or improved. 3rd grade scores increased with 47 percent scoring proficient and distinguished compared to 43 percent from the previous year. The state percentage in the proficient and distinguished categories increased 1 percentage point to 37 percent.

In addition to English in third grade, mastery of math by eighth grade is considered essential since it’s a foundation for the more complex concepts in high school.

Gwinnett saw an increase in the percentage of 8th graders scoring at the proficient and distinguished levels, moving from 23 percent to 26 percent. The state remained consistent with 34 percent scoring at these higher levels. (It should be noted that the majority of Gwinnett students now take the Algebra EOC in place of the 8th grade Math EOG, and those results are not included in this calculation.)

Newsroom Data Specialists Jacquelyn Elias and Jennifer Peebles contributed to this article.