Summer Means Fun in the Sun, Relaxation and Georgia Milestones

APS achieves its highest rates of proficiency on assessments since implementation in 2015; posts year-over-year gains in percentage of students scoring proficient and above on 21 of 24 End-of-Grade and End-of-Course assessments

It’s summer … which means the sun is out, school is out, and for the fifth year running, Georgia Milestones results are out!

So while our beautiful students and their families enjoy much-deserved time away from our schools, a team of our data experts have been gathering and crunching numbers for the past few weeks so we can assess our progress on the APS Journey of Transformation.

Given how hard I know our students, teachers and staff have worked over the past year, it’s a welcome relief from the grind (and from this heat!) to get great news from the results of the 2019 Georgia Milestones, which were released by the Georgia Department of Education today. You see, APS has achieved its highest-ever rates of proficiency on these tests since the state first implemented them in 2015!

Here’s more great news:

Figure 1: Percentage of APS Milestones Assessments with Year-Over-Year Growth
  • APS achieved year-over-year gains in the percentage of students scoring proficient and above on 21 of 24 (88%) End-of-Grade and End-of-Course assessments. The district saw gains on 75% of tests in 2018 and 52% in 2017. See Figure 1.
  • 80% of APS schools achieved increases in the percentage of students scoring proficient and above on End-of-Grade assessments.
  • 76% of APS schools achieved increases in the percentage of grade 9-12 students scoring proficient and above on End-of-Course assessments.
  • All 17 APS schools that received targeted or partnership support as part of the initial cohort of the APS Turnaround Strategy have improved their Milestones proficiency rates since 2016.

That is something to celebrate, and I am so proud of all of our students and teachers who worked hard all year to improve student achievement. We are building and improving each year, so I truly believe we are seeing significant, sustainable progress on this key assessment tool.

Let’s delve further into these results.

For the EOG tests, the district-wide percentage of students scoring proficient and above increased in all subjects compared to 2018. The largest year-over-year increases were in Science (+3.9 percentage points) and ELA (+3.3 percentage points). See Figure 2.

Figure 2: APS Milestones EOG Results Grades 3-8, Proficient and Above

By grade, the largest increases were 6th grade ELA (+6.6 percentage points), 3rd grade Math (+6.5 percentage points) and 8th grade ELA (+5.5 percentage points). Fifth grade Social Studies and 6th and 8th grade Math had slight decreases in 2019 proficiency levels compared to 2018 as shown on Table 1.

Table 1: APS 2019 Georgia Milestones End-of-Grade Results by Grade

In 2019, APS also achieved year-on-year gains in the percentage of students scoring proficient and above on all eight EOC tests. The largest year-over-year increases were in Physical Science (+9.7 percentage points), Algebra I (+8.6 percentage points), and Ninth Grade Literature & Composition (+7.9 percentage points). See Figure 3.

Figure 3: APS 2019 Georgia Milestones End-of-Course Results, Proficient and Above

Our Turnaround Strategy, launched in 2016 with a focus on the lowest-performing schools, has also seen achievement. Since the Turnaround Strategy was fully implemented, the initial cohort of 17 targeted and partnership schools have all achieved increases in the percentage of students scoring proficient and above on the Georgia Milestones. Three schools have achieved double-digit increases when comparing the 2019 results to spring 2016. See Table 2.

Table 2: Turnaround Schools, Georgia Milestones EOG Results, All Subjects / Grades, Proficient and Above* (*These 17 schools represent the initial cohort of targeted & partnership schools. The strategy has evolved since 2016 to include some additional schools and the phase-out of supports for some schools on this list.)

Here are some other highlights of note:

  • Ten schools had at least 50 percent of students perform at or above proficient when averaged across all subjects in elementary grades. These schools are Morningside (81.0%), W. T. Jackson (80.4%), Springdale Park (80.3%), Mary Lin (78.6%), Morris Brandon (77.2%), Drew Charter (K-5) (71.0%), Atlanta Classical Academy (K-5) (64.5%), Sarah Smith (64.5%), Atlanta Neighborhood Charter (K-5) (64.0%) and E. Rivers (54.2%).
  • Five schools had at least 50 percent of students perform at or above proficient when averaged across all subjects in middle school grades. They are Inman (65.7%), Drew Charter JR/SR (57.2%), Sutton (57.0%), Atlanta Classical Academy (6-8) (54.2%) and Atlanta Neighborhood Charter (6-8) (53.7%).
  • Four schools had at least 50 percent of students perform at or above proficient when averaged across all subjects in grades 9-12. They are Atlanta Classical Academy (64.6%), Grady (61.4%), Drew Charter JR/SR (55.9%) and North Atlanta (55.0%).
  • The six 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 2018 are KIPP WAYS Primary (K-4) (+13.1), KIPP Vision Academy (5-8) (+12.8), Coretta Scott King Young Women’s Leadership Academy (6-8) (+12.0), Hutchinson Elementary (+11.3), Bolton Academy (+8.7) and M. Agnes Jones (+8.7).
  • 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 2018 are Atlanta Classical Academy (+14.3), Maynard H. Jackson (+7.2), Coretta Scott King Young Women’s Leadership (+6.3), North Atlanta (+5.9) and South Atlanta (+4.7).
  • All 17 APS schools serving students in grades 9-12 achieved increases from 2018 to 2019 in the percentage of students scoring proficient and above on the Ninth Grade Literature & Composition EOC test.

While we have a lot to celebrate, there is still much work to be done. For example, the District reports lower rates of proficiency than the state in all subjects on EOG and EOC tests. APS, however, narrowed the gap on EOG tests for both Science and Social Studies but remained relatively flat in ELA and Math. For EOC tests, the District narrowed the gap for six of eight assessments. See Tables 3 and 4.

Table 3: Milestones EOG Change in State Proficiency Gap, 2018 to 2019
Table 4: Milestones EOC Change in State Proficiency Gap, 2018 to 2019

For more information and analysis on all APS’ Georgia Milestones scores, click here for our EOG brief, here for our EOC brief and here for the APS Insights data blog.To view detailed reports for the state and every public school district in Georgia, visit the GaDOE Georgia Milestones page.

I want to thank all of our principals, teachers and staff for doing the hard work all year long to prepare our students for these tests. I also want to recognize Deputy Superintendent David Jernigan; Assistant Superintendent for Teaching and Learning Dr. Olivine Roberts; our Student Services Division, which is now headed by Dr. Katika D. Lovett; our Associate Superintendents, including Dr. Danielle Battle, Yolonda Brown, Dr. Emily Massey, Dr. Dan Sims and Tommy Usher, who work with our principals on a daily basis. I also appreciate Chief Accountability and Information Officer Bill Caritj, and Executive Director of our Data Information Group Michael LaMont and his team for providing us with a full analysis of these results and for helping us keep these results in perspective as we look holistically at all the academic experiences of our students.

And I want to thank the Atlanta Board of Education, led by Chair Jason Esteves and Vice Chair Eshe’ Collins, for approvals of budgets, turnaround strategies and other initiatives that contribute to the work every day.

While we have seen improvement, all of us in Atlanta Public Schools pledge to stay the course and remain focused on the academic success of every child. It’s going to take that kind of steadfast commitment to put our students first in everything we do and equip them with the skills they need to graduate ready for college and career.

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