CORRECTION: CCPS corrected several figures from first press release

by Robin Kemp

The Clayton County Public Schools have released the End of Grade (EOG) and End of Course (EOC) data for Georgia Milestones testing and COVID-19 had a major impact on student learning.

Last school year, CCPS offered “maximum flexibility” so students wouldn’t have to come into the building for testing and were “offered broad opportunities to opt out of taking part in the GMAS process, producing, in many instances, insufficient participation for a report of student performance,” according to a press release issued Monday afternoon.

Because only a fraction of enrolled students took the tests, CCPS points out that the data is incomplete. However, based on those students who did take the Georgia Milestones Assessment System (GMAS) tests, only a small fraction of those were rated as proficient in various subject areas.

The job now, official say, is to get the kids back up to speed.

“It goes without saying that our work in educating our students has been and continues to be altered greatly by the COVID coronavirus and its variants,” said CCPS Superintendent Dr. Morcease Beasley. “However, in the face of this challenge, we have focused on providing our students with the instruction necessary to ensure success beyond our classrooms. While the data reported here are not as complete as in the past, it tells us that we have work to do as we are committed to such initiatives as Advanced Learning for All, Clayton READS, Extending Learning Beyond the Classroom and Social Emotional Learning, which are having a positive impact.”

Beasley praised CCPS’ scholars for sticking with their studies through the difficulties of virtual learning last year: “We are proud of the many students who elected to take the GMAS while displaying their continued dedication to academic excellence and a commitment to high performance.”

Here’s how many students actually took the tests in 2020:

English Language Arts

  • Grade 3: Of the 3,726 students enrolled, 30% or 1,118 took the ELA test.
  • Grade 4: Of the 3,863 students enrolled, 30% or 1,159 took the ELA test.
  • Grade 5: Of the 4,048 students enrolled, 27% or 1.093 took the ELA test.
  • Grade 6: Of the 4,055 students enrolled, 20% or 811 took the ELA test.
  • Grade 7: Of the 4,473 students enrolled, 15% or 671 took the ELA test.
  • Grade 8: Of the 4,306 students enrolled, 15% or 646 took the ELA test.

Mathematics

  • Grade 3: Of the 3,760 students enrolled., 29% or 1,101 took the math test.
  • Grade 4: Of the 3,924 students enrolled, 29% or 1,138 took the math test,
  • Grade 5: Of the 3,988 students enrolled, 27% or 1,077 took the math test.
  • Grade 6: Of the 4,012 students enrolled, 17% or 682 took the math test.
  • Grade 7: of the 4,286 students enrolled, 15% or 643 took the math test.
  • Grade 8: Of the 4,221 students enrolled, 14% or 591 took the math test.

Science

  • Grade 5: Of the 4,023 students enrolled, 26% or 1,046 took the science test.
  • Grade 8: Of the 3,147 students enrolled, 17% or 535 took the science test.

Social Studies

  • Grade 8: Of the 4,286 students enrolled, 14% or 600 took the social studies test.

By comparison, 99% of elementary school students, 98% of middle school students, and 94% of high school student had taken the GMAS tests during the 2018-2019 school year.

End of Course Testing

The GMAS End of Course testing showed higher participation, but only about half of Clayton County’s enrolled students took part:

American Literature and Composition

Of the 3,456 students enrolled, 55% or 1,906 took the American Literature and Composition Spring EOC test.

Algebra I

Of the 4,784 students enrolled, 37% or 1,771 took the Algebra I Spring EOC test.

Biology

Of the 5,007 students enrolled, 54% or 2,704 took the Biology Spring EOC test.

U.S. History

Of the 3,358 students enrolled, 48% or 1,612 took the U.S. History Spring EOC test.

Physical Science

Of the 1,085 students enrolled, 14% or 152 took the Physical Science Spring EOC test.

How well did they do?

The overwhelming majority of the students who did take the test showed low proficiency in all subjects tested.

2020-2021 Spring End of Grade GMAS

These are the percentages of students who scored Proficient Learner or above:

  • Grade 3: English Language Arts 13.9%, Math 8%
  • Grade 4: English Language Arts 16.4%, Math 12.7%
  • Grade 5: English Language Arts 18.2%, Math 6.6%, Science 8.5%
  • Grade 6: English Language Arts 27.3%, Math 10.3%
  • Grade 7: English Language Arts 26.4%, Math 18.8%
  • Grade 8: English Language Arts 20.1%, Math 7.8%, Science 9.3%, Social Studies 9.8%

2020-2021 End of Course GMAS

These are the percentages of students who scored Proficient Learner or above:

  • American Literature and Composition: 17.5% (1,906 students tested)
  • Algebra I: 9.2% (1,771 students tested)
  • Biology: 16.2% (2,704 students tested)
  • U.S. History: 14.7% (1,612 students tested)
  • Physical Science: 24.3% (24.3 students tested)

What does this mean?

Any test score is a snapshot of where a student is at a particular moment in time. Low mastery scores don’t doom a student to failure. They indicate where a student’s strengths and weaknesses are. That information is what teachers and parents can use to help a student work on the areas where they need to improve.

According to CCPS, “The data from the 2020-2021 school year confirm that the pandemic disrupted the learning of our students district-wide. Given the low participation, and that this is a one-point-in-time measure of mastery, we use this data cautiously as part of our data trend studies over time. It is our focus to use our internal district assessments that allow us to monitor student learning and growth through the school year.”

What now?

CCPS says this information can help students get back on track. Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment Dr. Ebony Lee said the focus is on six distinct areas:

All hands on deck

“Every day, our students should be expected and required to read something, write something, and solve something. These are indispensable skills for school and for life beyond the K-12 classroom,” Beasley stressed.

Just because the bell rings doesn’t mean learning stops, Beasley explained.

“It is critical that we have support and collaboration within the community to reinforce efforts in making sure students are spending a portion of after-school time on Monday through Thursday studying, doing homework when assigned, reading books, writing in journals, practicing math problems and growing their vocabulary by learning and using new words,” he said.

Beasley is calling on parents and guardians to “challenge” students by holding them to “high expectations,” as well as considering “challenging course offerings such as honors courses and dual enrollment.”

For Clayton County’s students to get back on track, Beasley said, everyone must commit to the mission.

“Everyone – students, families, teachers and administrators – must understand and accept that continued, sustained improvement must be our expectation,” he said. “It is essential to our mission of our continued work to establish a culture of high performance in Clayton County and to closing the gap with MRESA and statewide student EOC and EOG performance.”

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