By Barbara Augsdorfer, Editor for the Effingham Herald
Last February, Greg Manior, Guyton Elementary School’s principal, expressed optimism that his staff and students were on the right track to do well on the Georgia Milestones Assessment System (GMAS) tests that were coming later in the spring.
Little did he know how well the third graders would do in literacy. The young readers’ scores in 2023 improved more than 16.2 points from 2022. The jump in the score was enough for the students to receive special recognition.
State Superintendent of Schools Richard Woods was at Guyton Elementary Sept. 21 to present the banner to the fourth graders (last year’s third graders).
“Out of the 2,300 schools throughout Georgia, less than 200 earned these banners,” Woods told the students. Do the math. Guyton Elementary’s fourth graders are among the top 8% in the state in literacy – and the only school in Effingham County to earn this distinction.
“We're big on phonics. Our teachers did a fantastic job and it shows,” Manior said.
At first, Manior didn’t believe news about the state recognition.
“(Getting the recognition) is a good feeling. I thought it was a prank at first, because I got a call just saying that you've been awarded something for literacy from third grade going into fourth grade,” Manior added. “So after that I just checked the numbers again and we did do a lot. We were very proud. It’s just it's a great honor for us.”
Manior, of course, gave credit to his teaching staff, whom he says works really hard every day for the students.
“Our teachers have done a good job with continuing the growth mindset. We talk about it in data teams all the time about how we're going to grow our kids to the next level,” Manior said. “We're just trying to produce kids that are can read at a high level and then go to middle school and high school with those same expectations.”
He also credited the parents for being involved and helping their kids with homework.
“Learning loss” has been tossed around since the COVID shutdowns of 2020 and into 2021. These students were in kindergarten in 2020, just when the foundation of letters and sounds and learning to read were being laid.
“The learning loss is going to continue to be with us, but it's not an excuse,” said Woods. “We looked at it last year when we look at milestones. That was actually our first true picture of what we saw where our kids were. We actually did pretty good in the K-5 area. So I'm excited about that. Something to build on foundationally.”
Are you smarter than a third-grader? Check out this practice item for third grade from the Georgia Department of Education.