2018 #GaMilestones Results Are Blossoming! Gains on All End-of-Grade Subjects Take Root

APS Trims the Gap with State in Elementary and Middle Grades

It’s the end of summer and APS is still blooming! 2018 Milestones Results show our roots are stronger and we are still growing. As our summer season transitions into fall, it seems like it was just yesterday when we were celebrating our 2018 graduating class at our commencement ceremonies back in May. Now, it’s the end of July, signaling the end of our Power Up summer enrichment program, the launch of our 4th Annual Back to School Bash, and our Districtwide preparation for Day One on August 1.

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It’s data harvesting time and out first “milestone” (no pun intended) is the release of the 2018 Georgia Milestones results! The Georgia Department of Education (GaDOE) released those results earlier this morning.

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The long and short of it is that our students’ performance on End-of-Grade (EOG) Assessments is encouraging and that really matters because long-term progress can’t be achieved without building the foundation at the elementary and middle school levels. We’re proud of this progress, however, as our End-of-Course (EOC) results show, there is still a lot of work ahead for us in ensuring that all of our students are prepared to succeed in and beyond high school.

Here are my key takeaways on the 2018 Georgia Milestones:

–APS achieved its highest gains to-date in the percentage of students who scored proficient and above across all subjects on the 2018 EOG Assessments.

–In addition, compared to the State, we made progress in narrowing the performance gap in all four EOG subjects, and we achieved year-over-year gains in the percentage of students scoring proficient and above on 18 of 24 (or 75%) EOG and End-of-Course (EOC) assessments (compared to gains in just over half, 52%, in the previous year).

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–At the school-level, 64 of our schools saw gains overall in the percentage of students scoring proficient and above. All 17 of the District’s Turnaround schools receiving targeted or partnership support  – that is, those schools among the lowest performing – have improved since the implementation of the initiative two years ago.

I’m proud of the hard work of our APS school community, especially our teachers and school leaders who have embraced our mission and worked hard to improve our performance on Milestones.It speaks to our continued movement forward on our Journey of Transformation.

 Elementary School End-of-Grade Level Results (Grades 3-5)

I’m excited to share that at the elementary school level, APS has achieved its highest proficiency rates since the tests were implemented by the State in 2015. The biggest year-over-year increases were in social studies (+3.6) and math (+3.4). See Figure 1 below.

Figure 1: APS Milestones End-of-Grade Results: Elementary Grades, Proficient and Above

Figure 1

Middle School End-of-Grade Level Results (Grades 6-8)

At the middle school level, the District also achieved its highest proficiency rates since the tests were implemented by the State in 2015. The biggest year-over-year increases were in science (+4.5) and social studies (+3.4).  See Figure 2 below.

Figure 2: APS Milestones End-of-Grade Results: Middle Grades, Proficient and Above

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Turnaround Schools

Seventeen of the District’s lowest performing schools receive resources for implementing academic and nonacademic supports that can include additional reading and math specialists, high-impact tutoring, and additional wraparound supports designed to improve academic performance. In addition to District-run schools, as part of the Turnaround strategy, APS has launched four Partnership schools to date; their daily operations and instructional programs are currently overseen by the nonprofit organizations Purpose Built and Kindezi.

When the Turnaround Strategy was fully implemented in 2016, the majority of our students at the 17 schools were performing at the beginning learner level. Over the two years of this initiative, all targeted and partnership schools (17 of 17) have seen a decrease in the percentage of students performing at this lowest level. Six of these schools saw a double-digit decrease!

Table 1 shows the change in the percentage of beginning learners using spring 2016 (the year prior to implementation) as the baseline. School year 2017-18 was the first year of partnerships for Gideons ES, Price MS, and Slater ES.

Table 1: APS Milestones End-of-Grade Results:  Turnaround Schools, Beginning Learners in All Subject Areas and Change

Turnaround
Intervention
School Beginning Learners
2016
Beginning Learners
2017
Beginning Learners
2018
Change
(2016 to 2018)
Targeted Supports Barack and Michelle Obama Academy 68.4% 56.6% 52.6% -15.8
Boyd 74.3% 65.7% 57.9% -16.3
F.L. Stanton 59.8% 60.0% 50.7% -9.1
Fain 72.0% 73.6% 68.6% -3.4
Finch 63.2% 62.1% 56.8% -6.4
Hollis Innovation Academy (K-6) 69.8% 62.2% 56.2% -13.6
Kimberly 59.2% 53.1% 51.2% -8.0
Perkerson 57.1% 62.5% 53.1% -4.1
Scott 60.3% 53.8% 53.1% -7.2
Towns 64.4% 50.5% 53.1% -11.3
Tuskegee Airmen Global Academy 52.8% 50.0% 45.3% -7.6
Usher-Collier Heights 51.6% 47.3% 46.7% -4.9
Woodson Park Academy 60.4% 63.5% 57.4% -3.0
Partnership Model Gideons 64.7% 59.3% 53.2% -11.5
Price 63.6% 70.3% 63.5% -0.1
Slater 57.5% 50.9% 53.7% -3.9
Thomasville Heights 77.5% 66.6% 67.0% -10.5

End-of-Course Assessments

When it comes to our EOC assessments, the picture is not so rosy. On the eight EOC assessments tested in 2018, U.S. History shows the highest gain when compared to 2017 with a 2.5 percentage point increase in students scoring proficient and above. Algebra I (+1.8) and Biology (+1.7) also showed gains. Compared to the previous year’s results, the District saw a decline in proficiency in five of the eight EOC assessments. Geometry saw the largest decline (-2.5).  The 2018 data show that we must continue to focus on our high school performance.

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Although this year’s EOC results are mixed, I am encouraged by the longitudinal data we’re seeing coming out of our high schools. We’ve seen an 18 percentage point increase in graduation rates, a 10 percentage point gain in college enrollment and gains in the six EOC subjects we have administered since the 2015 baseline year. There is still a lot of work ahead for us and we remain committed to that work.

 Here are a number of school highlights from our 2018 Milestones Assessments:

  • Nine schools had at least 50 percent of students perform at or above proficient learner when averaged across all subjects in elementary grades. These schools are W. T. Jackson (83.9%), Mary Lin (80.6%), Morris Brandon (78.9%), Morningside (78.2%), Springdale Park (77.1%), Drew Charter (K-5) (65.1%), Sarah Smith (64.1%), Atlanta Neighborhood Charter (K-5) (59.5%), and Wesley International Academy (K-5) (54.6%).
  • Five schools had at least 50 percent of students perform at or above proficient learner level when averaged across all subjects in middle school grades. They are Inman (65.2%), Atlanta Classical Academy (6-8) (57.9%), Drew Charter JR/SR (53.3%), Sutton (53.3%), and Atlanta Neighborhood Charter (6-8) (50.0%).
  • Four schools had at least 50 percent of tested students score proficient and above in Ninth Grade Literature. They are Atlanta Classical Academy (70.5%), Drew Charter JR/SR (68.0%), Grady (67.0%), and North Atlanta (60.6%).
  • Three schools had at least 50 percent of tested students score proficient and above in Biology. They are Drew Charter JR/SR (72.2%), Grady (61.2%), and North Atlanta (51.6%).
  • The five schools with the largest increases in the percentage of students scoring proficient and above on the EOG assessments when averaged across all grades and subjects compared to 2017 are Hope-Hill (+13.0), Wesley International Academy (K-8) (+11.8), B.E.S.T. Academy (6-12) (+9.8), KIPP STRIVE Primary (K-4) (+7.9), and Drew Charter JR/SR (+7.3).
  • The five schools with the largest increases in the percentage of 9-12th graders scoring proficient and above on the EOC assessments when averaged across all subjects compared to 2017 are Drew Charter JR/SR (+11.8), Carver Tech (+7.7), Grady (+4.5), South Atlanta (+3.3), and Therrell (+1.4).
  • The six Turnaround schools with double digit decreases in beginning learners across all subject areas are Boyd (-16.3), Barack and Michelle Obama Academy (-15.8), Hollis Innovation Academy (-13.6), Gideons (-11.5), Towns (-11.3), Thomasville Heights (-10.5).

Over the last four years, we have worked strategically to address academic challenges across the District. In addition to targeted strategies in the classroom, we have prioritized our resources based on student needs and have aligned school leadership and school culture, wraparound supports, and other programs and initiatives to focus on increasing student achievement in all schools. In addition, APS continues to work to ensure that a larger share of our expenditures go directly to classroom instruction. In fact, from 2014 to 2017, the per-pupil investment in classroom instruction increased by an additional $894.19.

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Keep in mind that GaDOE assesses student learning along four levels of performance: beginning learner, developing learner, proficient learner, and distinguished learner, and that this is the fourth year of administration.

Also, EOG Milestones are administered in grades 3 through 8. ELA and Math exams are given in each of those grades. Beginning in 2016-2017, only grades 5 and 8 take the Science and Social Studies assessments. This is in contrast to previous Milestones administrations in which grades 3 through 8 tested in all four subjects. EOC Milestones are administered to high school students at the end of eight courses designated by the State Board of Education.

We previously reported results using the percentage of students scoring developing and above. This year, in alignment with the state, APS is focusing on the two highest levels of performance: proficient and distinguished.

We will need you to help us till the soil and dig in! With your nourishment and loving care, we can cultivate together students to succeed in and beyond high school.  I remain hopeful for Atlanta Public Schools and am looking forward to more sprouting and flourishing growth from our blossoming students in our cornucopia of data: AP, SAT/ACT, graduation rate, College and Career Ready Performance Index (CCRPI), and college enrollment. These combined with the Milestones results will give us a more complete crop of our student performance last year.

If you hold a seed, and make a wish, and plant it in the ground
Something magical can happen.
And if there is some sun, and some ran, it will begin to sprout.
And if you wait and wait you will see some little buds and some tender leaves.
When summer comes there might be a bee or perhaps a butterfly and they will spread some magic.
But when autumn comes all its leaves will fall and then you will have to wait through all the winter days until spring.
The tree will grow with buds of gold and green.

Birds will come to perch and perhaps to sing.
The tree will soak in the summer sun and dream,
And then when autumn comes again it will lean into the wind.
And if you wait and wait…season by season…and year by year…that tree will grow so large it will hold you.
If you wait some more one day your wish will come true.

If You Hold A Seed by Elly Mackay

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