New Georgia school test scores: good news and bad

The latest results on Georgia’s state standardized tests show slight gains in two key areas, English for younger students and math for those about to enter high school.

The percentage of third grade students scoring proficient or better on their English Language Arts exam last spring rose 0.9 percentage points.


It’s a key metric because students are expected to master reading by third grade, so they can use that basic skill to learn all the other material that will come at them the rest of their academic careers.

There is similar thinking behind the need to master math by eighth grade. The difficult calculations start in high school, and without a solid foundation, students will struggle.

The percentage of eight graders who earned at least a proficient score on the math test rose 0.1 percentage points.

That’s where the good news ends.

Despite the increases, just over a third of students have mastered those subjects by those crucial mileposts in their lives.

The Georgia Department of Education divides test performance into four tiers. The best performers are “distinguished,” followed by “proficient.” They are considered ready for the next grade.

“Developing” and “beginning” learners haven’t mastered what they need to know and will need help for future success. The beginners are in the worst spot, requiring “substantial” support.

Thirty seven percent of third graders in spring of 2018 were proficient or distinguished in English, which means 63 percent were not.

And in math, 34.5 percent of eighth graders had mastered the subject, leaving 65.5 percent who will need help in high school just to get by.

State school Superintendent Richard Woods said the gradual improvements in English in math were seen in most subject areas. He attributed it to a new focus on “well-rounded” and “holistic” schooling. “Some of the areas we’ve focused heavily on, like fine arts and career education, aren’t directly tested on Georgia Milestones, but they have an enormous effect,” he said.

Newsroom Data Specialist Jennifer Peebles contributed to this article.

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