Georgia Milestones: A guide to understanding test scores

After a year of complex, contested and, at times, confusing testing, the scores from the first year of Georgia Milestones will be released Monday.

The state Department of Education wants the public to know Milestones are not comparable to previous state testing, including the replaced Criterion Referenced Competency Tests, or the CRCT.

But what will the results mean?

Hall County Superintendent Will Schofield said he understands any parents who are confused or overwhelmed by the scores.

“I think they’ll have a lot of company throughout the state, as we have reshuffled everything,” Schofield said.

To understand the school, district and student results, there are four categories to learn. The state is calling these “achievement levels.”

  • Beginning learners: According to the state, “beginning learners” do not show proficiency, based on grade-level standards, and need substantial support to be ready for the next grade level.
  • Developing learners: These students show “partial proficiency” based on the state standards, and they need some additional support to succeed at the next grade level.
  • Proficient learners: As the title implies, these students show proficiency in the tested content and are ready for the next grade level.
  • Distinguished learners: Those who showed “advanced proficiency” and are also ready for the next grade level.

Each achievement level is based on standards at a certain grade level. So a third-grader is not necessarily a “beginning learner,” nor is a 12th-grader always a “distinguished learner,” just because of their ages.

District- and school-level scores will be released Monday, and in the days that follow, parents and students will receive individual student reports.

Schofield said he has a general idea of how his schools performed.

“As a bit of a preview, I can say we’re not at all surprised that our schools full of poverty youngsters who don’t speak the English language really took a beating on this test,” Schofield said. “By the time we’ve had those kids a few years and they get into middle school, their scores look pretty decent again compared to the rest of the state.”

While school- and district-level reports will show how many students are “proficient learners” or above, individual student results will include a bit more.

Gainesville City Schools have prepared a letter to go home with these reports, according to Superintendent Wanda Creel.

“Those reports for students are very extensive,” Creel said at a November school board meeting. “Our letter is trying to help our parents understand a very complex issue.”

Those students who chose not to take the test last year will receive paperwork that indicates “present, test not attempted,” and scores for the school, district and state.

Student reports will share achievement levels, national percentile ranking per subject, and the English-language arts results will provide a Lexile measure.

The Lexile Framework is used nationally to measure children’s reading levels. The Milestones will provide the child’s Lexile score and some suggested reading material based on the score.

For every subject, students will also receive a “scale score” alongside the achievement level. Unlike the CRCT, the scale may vary by student and subject.

But, students will also receive a “grade conversion score” or a score on a scale of 1-100, just like an average classroom test score.

Beginning this school year, the Milestones will be used to determine if a child can progress to the next grade level, and the grade conversion scores will count as 20 percent of the final subject grade.

The purpose, school officials say, is to raise the number of Georgia students who are proficient in all subjects and to aid those who are not.

“Our previous assessment, the CRCT, set some of the lowest expectations for student proficiency in the nation, and that cannot continue,” said state Superintendent Richard Woods. “Georgia Milestones sets higher standards for our students and evens the playing field with the rest of the nation — and that’s essential if our students are going to succeed in college and their chosen careers, both of which are nationally competitive arenas. We will continue to increase our supports for both students and teachers to ensure this test is more meaningful for all involved.”

Georgia Milestones: A guide to understanding test scores

9-year-old burn survivor succeeds in classroom

Gracie Lowell Turpin reads, writes and, according to her big brother Tyler, loves music and recess.

No matter that Gracie, 9, lost most of her fingers and a leg in a house fire when she was 2 years old.

“She’s very proud of herself,” said Gracie’s mother, Darlene Miller. “She’s behind grade level, but she’s doing great. At the beginning, after the house fire, her head had a deep hole and they had to regranulate it. I’ve seen some children who this got to their mind. But Gracie, she is just so blessed.”

Miller’s family has come a long way since that day in 2008, when Miller, Gracie’s grandfather, Tyler and Gracie were trapped in their burning home. Tyler survived after Miller threw him out a window to a waiting neighbor below.

Since then, Gracie, a fourth-grader at Centennial Arts Academy, has developed well. She struggled to recognize letters of the alphabet as a kindergartner, but now she’s a strong reader and writer, grasping a pen between her two hands to drag it easily across the paper.

“Something happened from kindergarten to first grade. Like that,” Miller said, snapping her fingers, “she started getting it.”

When Gracie started at the school, it was initially hesitant to assign her a full-time paraprofessional. Parapros are a valuable commodity in a school system, but Miller said she was insistent Gracie have that help.

“Even something like if she dropped a pencil,” Miller said. “She shouldn’t have to ask a classmate to pick it up for her. The mama duck in me worries about that.”

Miller and Gracie work with Centennial on an individualized education plan for Gracie. The school uses this plan to monitor how Gracie is progressing academically and to ensure she has the support she needs in the classroom.

According to her aunt Tracy Turpin, Gracie is a normal fourth-grader, who thinks school is “boring” and loves recess.

“She likes reading, social studies, recess, but her favorite is music,” said Tyler, who’s in fifth grade at Centennial. He loves science and gym, and he’s looking forward to dissecting a frog when he gets to middle school.

Miller said she’s immensely proud of both her children. Just last week, Gracie started wearing a prosthesis for her leg. She’s already faster than her teachers.

Miller said Gracie’s biggest strength is her spirit.

“She never complains,” Miller said. “Sometimes, when I’m around other adults whining or complaining, I have very little sympathy, because of my daughter. Her spirit is amazing, and she doesn’t let anything get her down.”

9-year-old burn survivor succeeds in classroom

Fire heavily damages Gainesville house

A house at 650 Tommy Aaron Drive in Gainesville was heavily damaged by fire about midnight Sunday “and will probably be considered a total loss,” fire department spokesman Keith Smith said.

When firefighters arrived, they found half of the 3,000-square-foot home ablaze, with fire through the roof, Smith said.

Crews were on the scene for 3 ½ hours.

One person was inside the house when the fire started. He was awakened by a smoke detector and was able to evacuate the house without injury, Smith said.

Preliminary findings show the fire may have started around the fireplace inside the wall, he said.

Fire heavily damages Gainesville house

Erazo: Ecuador debe ser intenso ante Venezuela con “los pies sobre la tierra”

El defensa ecuatoriano Frickson Erazo aseguró hoy que su selección debe hacer un partido intenso ante Venezuela, el próximo martes en Puerto Ordaz, pero con “los pies sobre la tierra” y sin confiarse del histórico liderato alcanzado en las eliminatorias suramericanas al Mundial de Brasil 2018.

Erazo: Ecuador debe ser intenso ante Venezuela con “los pies sobre la tierra”

Muriel, Cardona y Lorenzo alertan sobre peligro de Argentina pese a las bajas

El delantero Luis Fernando Muriel, el creativo Edwin Cardona y Néstor Lorenzo, ayudante del entrenador de Colombia, José Pekerman, alertaron hoy sobre la jerarquía de la selección Argentina, pese a las numerosas bajas que sufren, y pidieron cuidado para enfrentarla este martes.

Muriel, Cardona y Lorenzo alertan sobre peligro de Argentina pese a las bajas

El ‘Conejo’ Arce y cinco jugadores más, bajas para el partido en Asunción

El delantero Juan Carlos ‘Conejo’ Arce y cinco jugadores más de la selección boliviana se perderá por sanción el partido contra Paraguay en la cuarta jornada de las eliminatorias sudamericanas del Mundial de Rusia 2018 que se jugará este martes en Asunción.

El ‘Conejo’ Arce y cinco jugadores más, bajas para el partido en Asunción

Radiation therapy now available at Braselton hospital

Jenny Pakdaman has enough on her mind without having to deal with the stress of long drives to and from radiation treatment.

Diagnosed with cancer in June, the Buford resident went through several rounds of chemotherapy and began radiation therapies at Northeast Georgia Medical Center in Gainesville. The people there were great, she said, but driving every day to Gainesville and back — well, that was another story.

Now that Northeast Georgia Medical Center’s Braselton location offers radiation therapy, she said, “the drive is a whole lot easier.”

The radiation oncology office at Northeast Georgia Medical Center’s Medical Plaza 1 opened its doors Nov. 9, following an open house and ribbon-cutting ceremony earlier in the week.

Jayme Carrico, executive director of oncology services, said the addition of radiation therapy services “culminates our vision of providing comprehensive care to our patients.”

Added Carrico: “We’re thankful for the opportunity to help our patients battle cancer without the added stress of traffic and long-distance traveling.”

Pakdaman, too, is thankful for that.

“It takes me maybe 20 minutes to get there now, and we start (radiation therapy) as soon as I walk in the door,” Pakdaman said. “Within an hour, I’m back home.”

Dr. Malay Rao, a radiation oncologist with Northeast Georgia Physicians Group, said “our goal is to minimize or remove not only the cancer, but also as much of the stress as we can. That includes making treatment options as convenient as possible, especially for many of our patients who travel daily for care.”

Located at 1515 River Place, Braselton, the office has three patient rooms and a procedure room as well as separate waiting rooms for men and women. There are also dressing rooms with lockers.

Anthony Williamson, president of Northeast Georgia Medical Center Braselton, said the addition of radiation therapy services expands care options for the medical facility.

“We want to be able to provide the services our cancer patients need,” Williamson said. “We have a comprehensive team to treat this disease.”

Added Williamson: “We have been establishing the vision, and we are now seeing it all come together. Patients can get state-of-the-art treatment here in Braselton. The key takeaway is the access that is being provided, and now patients don’t have to travel long distances.”

In addition to Braselton, Northeast Georgia Medical Center offers radiation therapy services in Gainesville and Toccoa. For more information visit

Radiation therapy now available at Braselton hospital