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Scores lower on more rigorous Georgia Milestones tests
Hall, Gainesville students Milestones results about average
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Full results of the Georgia Milestones are in, and scores across the board are lower than those of previous assessments.

That said, the Hall County and Gainesville City school districts showed most students performing about average.

The Milestones assessment is markedly different and more difficult than the previous Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests, according to school officials.

“The new test is more difficult,” said Eloise Barron, Hall County assistant superintendent for teaching and learning. “Students are expected to be able to know, understand and do things they weren’t before, to learn deeper knowledge. That translates to a more difficult test.”

Sarah Bell, Gainesville chief academic officer, agreed.

“You will note our numbers are lower,” Bell said. “This is not because our students know less, but because the test is different. It is a more rigorous assessment, but we feel our students will rise to the new expectations of achievement.”

Most Hall and Gainesville students are considered “developing learners,” one of four categorical rankings under the Milestones, or better.

Developing learners show “partial proficiency” based on the state standards, and they need some additional support to succeed at the next grade level. The two levels above that include proficient learners and distinguished learners.

The level below developing learners is beginning learners, students who need substantial support before they’d be ready for the next grade level.

In Hall, students performed most poorly in analytic geometry, with 67.6 percent of students ranked as developing learners or better. They scored highest in ninth-grade and American literature, with more than 79 percent of students ranked developing learners in both subjects.

In Gainesville, only 10 percent of students scored as developing learners or better in physical science. Gainesville students also scored highest in ninth-grade literature, with 75.5 percent scoring developing learner or better.

Beginning this school year, the Milestones end-of-course tests will be used to determine if a high school student can progress to the next grade level and will count as 20 percent of the final grade in a particular subject.

Passing scores vary by grade level and subject. For many, passing scores will fall in the “proficient learner” category.

Gainesville school board member Sammy Smith called the Milestones a “change of tone,” but said the district would “take the results and move forward.”

Kevin Bales, Hall director of middle and secondary education, echoed Smith’s sentiments.

“Big picture, we feel like we’re fine,” Bales said. “That doesn’t mean these scores are where we want them to be. I think across the state today, people are saying, ‘Man, these numbers are low.’ But overall, we’re just fine.”

See full results of Georgia Milestones here.

Hall County Schools

Students third through eighth grades considered developing learner and better

English/language arts: 74.9 percent

Math: 77.6 percent

Science: 68.9 percent

Social studies: 72.8 percent


High school students considered developing learner and better

Ninth-grade literature: 79.4

American literature: 79.6

Analytic geometry: 67.6

Biology: 68.2

Coordinate algebra: 78.4

Economics: 74.1

Physical science: 72.4

U.S. history: 78.1


Gainesville City Schools

Students third through eighth grades considered developing learner and better

English-language arts: 58.8

Math: 71.1

Science: 57.6

Social studies: 67


High school students considered developing learner and better

Ninth-grade literature: 75.5

American literature: 62.3

Analytic geometry: 56.7

Biology: 61.6

Coordinate algebra: 56.5

Economics: 55.7

Physical science: 10

U.S. history: 61.8