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GORDON COUNTY, Ga. - The Georgia Department of Education (GADOE) has released Gordon County School System’s results from the 2020-21 Georgia Milestones Assessment System (GMAS).

The Georgia Milestones are standardized tests administered to students in grades three through twelve and are designed to measure student performance in the areas of English/Language Arts, Mathematics, Social Studies and Science. Students taking the GMAS are placed along four levels of assessment: Beginning Learners, Developing Learners, Proficient Learners and Distinguished Learners.

The Georgia Milestones testing was developed with a “typical educational environment” being provided to each student who would partake in the assessment. Across the state, the COVID-19 pandemic presented many challenges to Georgians; inclusive of accessibility of student instruction and learning disruption, including the associated health risks and conditions experienced by families from COVID-19.

GMAS scores have been released including participation data, as some students were not able to participate in testing due to the pandemic. Guidance previously released by State School Superintendent Richard Woods did not require virtual students to come into schools for the sole purpose of taking the GMAS if they felt uncomfortable doing so due to the pandemic. Of the students enrolled in Gordon County Schools, approximately 94% of elementary and middle school students and 91% of high school students participated in the 2020-21 Georgia Milestones assessments.

“Georgia Milestones was designed to measure instruction during a typical school year, and 2020-21 was anything but,” State School Superintendent Richard Woods said. “Rolling quarantines, rising case counts, and shifting instructional models impacted the educational experience for students throughout the state. Given all this – along with statewide differences in participation – we expected some decreases this year. Georgia educators and students have worked extremely hard and these results do not reflect or diminish their efforts. With educators already working to get students back on track and the vast majority of school districts offering five days a week of in-person instruction this year, I’m confident students will receive the support they need to make up any lost ground.”

While showing some decrease in student performance, many of the scores earned by Gordon County Schools students showed performance greater than the state average. Gordon County Schools elementary school students exceeded the state percentage of developing learner and above in all subjects tested (Math, Science, and English/Language Arts). Middle school scores surpassed the state in mathematics. Seventh and eighth grade students also posted scores topping the state percentage of developing learners in ELA.

“I am so proud of the resilience all of the Gordon County Schools teachers and students have shown while making instructional changes during the course of the Covid-19 Pandemic. In every school, our faculty and staff have done a wonderful job of continuously reinventing ways to provide academic instruction to meet the needs of our students both inside and outside of the classroom. As a system, plans are firmly in place to make sure we are actively adapting to the needs of each student to ensure they achieve independent learning goals,” said Dr. Kimberly Fraker, Gordon County Schools’ Superintendent.

While these test scores provide some information related to a student’s performance, they are not the only way student learning is measured. Gordon County Schools staff utilizes additional measures such as progress monitoring for learning and formative assessment strategies. As new information is introduced to students and learning targets are established, GCS teachers use formative assessments to monitor progress towards mastering pre-established learning targets. As students continue to learn more about a subject, their teacher will continue to observe and track their understanding, utilizing several learning techniques to continue assisting each student to fully grasp the intended content.

Gordon County Schools also focuses on allocating federal, state, and local funds to address potential learning loss by investing in new textbooks and additional instructional resources, supplying each student with school supplies, offering additional instructional support for students, and creating new learning opportunities with the Gateway Virtual Learning Academy. Following the end of the 2020-21 academic year, GCS hosted a summer learning extension program at each school which focused on providing additional instructional time to students who may have needed additional intervention or enrichment activities. The school system has plans to offer this opportunity again during the summer of 2022.

To see the results from the 2020-21 Georgia Milestones Assessments, please visit the Georgia Department of Education website here.