Fayette County


New state testing gives Fayette high standards to hit

The first batch of results from new Georgia Milestones testing is in from the state’s Department of Education, and the Board of Education is starting to digest what it says for Fayette’s schools. While Fayette has always performed well against the rest of the state, the change in requirements will allow a better measurement against the rest of the country.
The new system was created in part because previous state standards were considered far too lax. In fact, Georgia ranked dead last in nearly every category, meaning it was much easier than in other states for students to move on to the next grade.
“We had (as a state) the lowest cut scores in the country,” said Kris Floyd, adding that, previously, Georgia did not even meet basic proficiency with national standards. “We were telling children they were proficient where they would not be proficient in any other state.”
The stricter standards might change the numbers parents are seeing, but that does not mean they should be alarmed. Fayette’s schools are still performing well above the state’s averages through the early testing.
“There is going to be a great difference in our ‘proficient’ rate. We’re used to 98 or 99 percent, everybody passing, everybody doing great. That has changed,” said Floyd. “It doesn’t mean our children are doing worse. It doesn’t mean our teachers are not doing a good job. It just means we’ve raised the bar.”
Georgia Milestones breaks students into four achievement levels: beginning learners, developing learners, proficient learners, and distinguished learners.
Beginning learners need substantial academic support to be prepared for the next grade level. Developing learners need additional support, but the range is wide, some closer to beginner and some nearly proficient. Proficient learners are prepared for the next grade level and are on course for college and career readiness. Distinguished learners are both well prepared for the next grade and for college and career readiness.
“I think the good news is, when we look at these national assessments, we are obviously much, much more in line with what other states are scoring,” said superintendent Dr. Joseph Barrow. “I think that, as we begin to get our heads wrapped around the (new testing), you’ll begin to see Georgia move up.”

By Christopher Dunn

Managing Editor Christopher Dunn has been with the Fayette County News since 2011, in addition to running Fayette Victory magazine. He is a graduate of Fayette County schools, as well as a graduate of Georgia State University with a degree in journalism. Follow him on twitter @fayettesports.