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District Milestones Scores Showcase Positive Gains

A Carrollton City Schools focused literacy initiative that has been in place for the past several years now continues to be credited for the exceptional progress made on English/Language Arts proficiency on the Georgia Milestones Assessment System (GMAS), the state’s standardized measurement of student progress in grades 3 through 8.

But Dr. Anna Clifton, assistant superintendent of Teaching and Learning, noted the results for 2021 just released this week are especially noteworthy when considering the COVID-19 pandemic’s wide-ranging impact on all facets of life, including education. Even with these challenges, Clifton said positive outcomes were achieved.

Carrollton Junior High School seventh grade students made the most gains in the “proficient” category, measuring grade-level performance, and  the “distinguished,” or above-average category. Combined, these two categories posted a 28 percent increase while the beginning level improved even more at 30 percent. These numbers also place CJHS above the state average in the “proficient and above” category in both reading and ELA. Other grades also fared well. In reading above grade level, third grade posted an 18 percent increase and fourth grade a 16 percent increase. Overall, in ELA, all six grades outperformed the state in proficient and above.

Clifton acknowledged that the state cancellation of Milestones testing in the spring of 2020, plus the hybrid at-home/in-person learning scenario last school year added hurdles to performance.

“Even though we saw some learning opportunity loss compared to the 2019 results, we saw several instances in which kids still met or exceeded those outcomes,” she said. “That’s a direct reflection of our teachers working hard to support our kids while also balancing our mitigation efforts. Our school community’s trust in allowing us to move forward with in-person instruction also contributed greatly.”

Clifton said this year’s math results also were impressive. This time, Carrollton Upper Elementary School fourth graders rose to the top, with grade level performance improving by 50 percent and students who advanced to the distinguished category increased by 180 percent. CJHS eighth graders also posted a 50 percent improvement in distinguished category growth. Seventh grade posted a 9 percent improvement of moving students from the lowest achievement scale and fifth grade improved  grade-level performance by 5 percent. Eighth graders who took the End-of-Course Algebra I test outperformed the state in the developing and above categories by 14 percent and in proficient and above by 31 percent.

There were also a few bright spots in science. Fifth graders outperformed the state in developing and above by 12 percent and proficient and above by 15 percent. Eighth graders outperformed the state in the developing category and above by 15 percent on the EOC physical science test and CHS outperformed the state by 8 percent in proficient and above on the EOC biology test.

Clifton said the district’s focus on aligning the efforts of all teachers and support staff K-12 have  greatly enhanced student learning.

“Bringing students from grade expectations to an advanced performance is a strong indicator that our teachers continue to challenge students to take them to a higher level,” said Clifton.

Dr. Mark Albertus, superintendent, said Carrollton City Schools’ performance can be directly linked to the belief that students learn better in a classroom setting when compared to virtual options.

“We were determined to hold in-person learning last year, although it required a lot of effort and planning,” he said. “The Milestones results proved our reasoning was not in vain. There is not another option in place that can replace the effectiveness of a quality teacher in the classroom.”

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