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Students set high marks on new Milestones
Shearouse Randy 2
Superintendent of Schools Randy Sherarouse

Effingham County students’ scores on the new Milestones tests were welcomed gladly by school system officials.

The Milestones tests have replaced the Criterion Referenced Competency Tests, or CRCTs, and Effingham students equaled or exceeded the state’s results in all testing categories in each grade except for one.

“We performed higher than the state at every level,” said Wendy Porter, testing coordinator for the school system. “We are at least 10 percentage points in every level except for one. Our students did wonderful.”

Effingham middle school students scored higher than the state in every content area in every grade level and for high school end of course exams, Effingham students scored higher than the state in every content area.

“It was a more difficult test,” said Superintendent Randy Shearouse of the Milestones. “Teachers are still getting used to the new testing measure. We were concerned. We know our teachers had worked hard. We knew we had prepared for the Milestones. Traditionally, the first time you take something, there is a drop in scores. It’s nice to see that when you compare us to the rest of the state, we are performing well.”

The CRCT assessed students as either does not meet standards, meets and exceeds. Under the Milestones, students are judged as beginning, developing, proficient and distinguished learners. Beginning learners need substantial academic support to be prepared for the next grade level or course and do not demonstrate the needed knowledge or skills in their current grade level.

“Effingham County in every situation has fewer students in beginning and more students in developing, proficient and distinguished,” Porter said.

Developing learners show partial proficiency and require additional academic support to succeed at the next grade level or course.

“Our teachers are going to have to give them a little bit more detailed work,” Porter said. “They are going to have to work with them. They are going to need that focused remediation.”

Proficient learners have a solid understanding of all the knowledge and skills taught over the years, Porter added. Distinguished learners have advanced proficiency of the knowledge and skills at their grade level and are well prepared for the next grade or course. They also are prepared for college or career readiness.

“We would love for all of our kids to be in the distinguished learner categories,” Porter said. “It is a little different from what exceeds used to be. They are showing a very strong readiness. They are prepared. They are ready to move on.”

Milestones assessments begin in third grade and continue to 12th grade. For the high school end-of-course tests, Effingham students scored higher than the state in every content area, finishing in the top 10 in six areas and in the top 17 percent in all areas. Students in grades third through eighth take end-of-grade assessments, and high schoolers take end-of-course tests.

Along with the CRCT, the Milestones replaces the state high school end-of-course tests and the Georgia Writing Assessment.

Effingham third grade students were in the top 14 percent in the state in English/language arts, the top 17 percent for math, the top 16 percent in science and the top 11 percent in social studies.

“We see that trend across the board,” Porter said. “In fact, we were in the top 20 percent in all areas in third through eighth grades except three, and in those we were in the top 28 percent.”

Porter said she has shared the Milestones results as she visited schools in the system and talked with parents.

“They have had just good things to say about our teachers in the schools,” she said. “This is the work that our teachers have done and our students have done in the last year.”