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Making the Grade: GCSS GA Milestones scores improve in 2022-23, with notable improvement in early literacy

August 1, 2023

Greensboro, Ga.— Greene County students continued to show improvement on the 2022-2023 Georgia Milestones assessments, according to the results released by the Georgia Department of Education on July 28.

Average scores increased or held steady at each grade band, compared to the 2021-2022 school year, with strong gains displayed in the critical area of third-grade literacy.

Seventy-two percent of Greene County Primary School third graders are reading on grade level (defined as a Lexile score of 520 or higher on the Milestones), which is six points higher than the state average and substantially higher than the national average, as well as 14 points higher than last year’s GCPS third grade, showing clear success of the school’s Critical Action Plan in this area. This increase reflects a statewide increase in reading scores as Georgia recovers from the COVID-19 Pandemic.

“Third-grade reading levels offer an important indicator of students’ academic trajectories,” said Dr. Chris Houston, GCSS Superintendent. “Research has linked both a failure to read proficiently to increased high school dropout rates and the ability to read proficiently to increased rates of high school graduation, college enrollment, and post-academic career success. I am pleased to see these results of our primary school teachers’ hard work.”

Likewise, GCPS’s third-grade math proficiency scores at 64% are well above the state average of 46% and show the success of the school’s Critical Action Plan in that area as well.

The middle and high school levels saw more modest gains. The high school End-of-Course Tests increased or held steady in American Literature, Biology, and Algebra I, but decreased in U.S. History. The middle school program saw an overall average increase by one percentage point in math and two points in English language arts.

“The task that we have is to take the gains we see in elementary and move those gains forward through strong teachers, engaged students, and supportive parents,” Dr. Houston said. “There is work to be done, but the post-COVID improvement is encouraging.”

The district’s 2023-2028 strategic plan focuses on increasing proficiency in all areas to match the state levels, through a holistic approach of action plans for individual academic subjects and culture and climate areas such as family involvement. The strategies to achieve these goals are centered around getting back to the basics: increasing rigor, consistency of instruction, and student engagement.

“We are focusing on the right things, and the proof of concept is already there in our primary school’s reading and math scores,” Dr. Houston said. “We are viewing 2022 as a new post-COVID baseline, as the state recommends. At all levels, we continue to see increases in student achievement, some of which are modest and others more dramatic, but the overall trend is upward.”