Ga. kids’ test scores remain below pre-pandemic levels

Published: Jul. 22, 2022 at 1:40 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. - Test scores for Georgia students have recovered some from their pandemic plunge, but they remain significantly below pre-pandemic levels.

The Georgia Department of Education released the annual Milestones test results for 2022 on Friday.

Here’s how our local schools are responding as they continue working through the information.

The numbers paint a picture of where Georgia students are. It’s a raising question about whether students can fully recover and how long that might take.

Students in grades 3-8, as well as high schoolers take the tests. State education officials view results positively, saying “academic recovery is underway.”

Normally, test results would be used to assign A-to-F letter grades to schools. That won’t happen for a third year in a row.

Georgia can’t reliably compute some figures because of pandemic disruptions.

Georgia Department of Education calls them the first scores post-pandemic for schools, a roadmap to the future of education.

“We’ll consider this our baseline and so we’ll measure our accomplishments from these scores for the next years to come,” says Superintendent of Columbia County Schools, Michele Sherman.

She says the pandemic impacted scores, especially in the early grades.

“We do notice that in our younger grades, I think, probably the last couple of years we saw more of an impact there, where some of those critical foundational skills we’re used to getting really hard maybe some of those absences impacted that,” says Sherman.

Overall, at the state level, they knew they’d see some growth from last year.

Allison Timberlake, Deputy Superintendent for Assessment & Accountability at the Georgia Department of Education, said: “We expected to see gains this year as they returned to more of a normal learning environment. However, we know they were still being impacted.”

Impacted by COVID protocols and more is why Columbia County only uses past year’s scores as a guide.

Sherman said: “We’re cautioned from the state not to compare. Of course, we look at our pre-pandemic data to see how far off the mark we are and we’re not too terribly far from where we were then.”

Moving forward Columbia County is rolling out a new curriculum called “ACE” this year with hopes for easier learning and higher scores.

“It’ll give parents, teachers, and students a very user-friendly format to know exactly what teach, a student’s going to know exactly what they need to learn, and parents will be able to look at them and know exactly what to do to support learning,” Sherman says.

In Richmond County

Richmond County saw its number increase over last year, which was expected since 2021 scores were low. These new results though are down from 2019.

Following guidance from the federal and state education regulatory agencies, the Richmond County School System will use the Georgia Milestones data as a new baseline to indicate student learning needs and achievement.

“We are already laser-focused on taking action in our classrooms to advance student learning,” said Superintendent Dr. Kenneth Bradshaw. “Over the last year, we have invested in new textbooks, technology access and support resources to help our children succeed. With the support and partnership of our families and community, we will see our students achieve at higher levels.”

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