BOE presents 2019 Milestones results

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ELLIJAY, Ga. – Georgia Milestones Assesment System (GMAS) scores were released this month after the state embargo was lifted at the end of July.

Presented to the board, these scores show results from the 2018-19 school year as well as recent years for comparisons. While grades 3-8 separate scores into Math, ELA, Reading, Science, and Social Studies, High School scores are presented as End Of Course test results.

Chief Academic Officer Lottie Mitchell presented these results to the board in August noting the trends the county has seen in the last five years in levels 2-4, whereas Milestones scores are ranked by levels (level 1 – Beginner / Level 2 – Developing / Level 3 – Proficient / Level 4 – Distinguished). Mitchell also told the board that while the schools did retest this year, they are going to participate in retesting in the 2019-20 school year. In 3rd Grade, they can retest in Language Arts. In 5th Grade and 8th Grade, they can retest in Reading and Math.

In Math, Grades 3-8, Mitchell highlighted the 2019 scores which saw seven of the eight groups scoring above the State’s average. While Mountain View’s 4th Grade did decrease, they are still above the average as well. Only Clear Creek Middle School’s 7th Grade group was below average in Math, but they only missed the average by one percent.

“We are very pleased in Math,” said Mitchell as she pointed out the county’s relation to the state.

In ELA (English Language Arts), Mitchell noted that while the county did generally perform close to the state’s average in most of the groups when comparing levels 2-4, the chart on the right shows four groups above average when looking only at the percentage of those who score at Level 3 – Proficient and Level 4 – Distinguished.

Mitchell addressed the charts differences saying, “We are moving more of our developing up to our proficient.”

In Reading and Vocabulary, Mitchell said, “For the past few years, we have not had anyone. When we first applied for the L4GA Grant, we didn’t have anyone who was above the state average… This year Clear Creek 7th Grade was above the average. We are showing improvement. Sometimes we have a little dip, but we are overall showing improvement.”

With six of the eight groups showing high scores than five years ago, Mitchell said they are happy for the improvements. While administration is excited for the math scores, much of their concern and focus have been on improving these scores. She noted several initiatives to achieve that goal such as a new phonics program, increasing student time in tech and balanced literacy, increases in training and guided reading, and reading rewards programs that have already shown success in GMS and CCMS among other initiatives.

Additionally, she credited the success that CCMS has seen to a new program, WIN, that alligns students in groups according to their MAP scores to allow those of similar skill levels to improve together.

In Science and Social Studies, Mitchell noted that in recent years, only 5th and 8th Grades take these tests. Both grades beat the state average in Science and 8th Grade beat it in Social Studies. While 5th Grade did not score above average in Social Studies, they did scores just below, by one percent, similar to Clear Creek’s 7th Math group. This did, however, show a dip in scores compared to last year.

 

In High School End of Course Tests, only two groups beat the state average. However, Mitchell instead pointed to the growth the county has seen in the last five years. From 2015 to 2019, 9th Grade Lit percentages have gone up 33.1 percent, from 52.99 to 85.88 percent.  U.S. History percentages have gone up 36.58 percent, from 36.96 to 73.54percent. Economics percentages have gone up 35.49 percent, from 48.99 to 84.48 percent. In the past year alone, Physical Science scores went up 13.97 percent, from 70.72 to 84.69 percent.

Addressing the dip in Math scores, Mitchell pointed back to the higher math scores in lower grades saying, “We are sending students up to the high school with a stronger foundation and proficiency to do the rigorous math such as Algebra I and Geometry.”

Additonally, Principal Carla Foley is also arranging schedules to provide additional support in the fall for 9th grade lit and Algebra I to give the a year to master the content rather than one semester.

Mitchell said the Milestones scores not only showcase the successes of Gilmer County, but they are allowing answers and responses like these to address the issue areas in order to spread the success to all areas of the schools.

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Gilmer Schools earn 100 on Health Scores

Bobcat's Corner, News

ELLIJAY, Ga. – Walk into a restaurant and check the health scores, chances are, you won’t see a lot of 100’s. Sure, you will, hopefully, see a lot of high 90’s scores, but not that elusive 100.

This week, however, the Gilmer County School’s Nutrition Services not only managed to score a 100 in the latest health inspection, but they found that score in every school within the system.

Each of these inspections came within the last two-and-a-half months for Gilmer Schools as Ellijay Primary was inspected on January 11, Ellijay Elementary was inspected on January 17, Mountain View Elementary on February 11, Clear Creek Middle on February 18, Gilmer Middle on February 28, and, finally, Gilmer High inspected on March 8.
While this is not the first time the Gilmer Schools have ever made this accomplishment, it is no less a feat according to Gilmer County Schools Nutrition Director Linda Waters, who said, “I am extremely proud of all of our school nutrition staff for achieving perfect health inspection scores.  It is a difficult challenge, but they work hard daily to maintain the highest food safety standards.”
The staff she praised for their dedication includes 37 employees spread over all six schools. The school systems employ nutrition managers who determine cleaning schedules, ensure proper food and storage temperatures are recorded, and that employees follow all HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point) standards. Waters notes that these managers are all ServSafe certified.
ServSafe is a program run by the National Restaurant Association. According to their website:
As the premier provider of educational resources, materials, and programs to help attract and develop a strong industry workforce, ServSafe has been the restaurant industry’s leading association since 1919 and, together with the National Restaurant Association Education Foundation, our goal is to lead America’s restaurant industry into a new era of prosperity, prominence, & participation, enhancing the quality of life for all we serve.
Gilmer County Schools Superintendent Dr. Shanna Downs also praised the efforts of Waters and the nutrition staff saying, “We are so proud of the cleanliness and food quality of our schools cafeterias.”
It’s not all focused on the scores, however, as Waters has been reporting increases to student participation in breakfasts in the schools as well as a more positive response to the menu from students since the start of the 2018-19 school year.

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Solar Eclipse Closes Gilmer Schools

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Gilmer Schools close for the coming Solar Eclipse.

ELLIJAY, GA – Following a trend that seems to be crossing most of North Georgia, Gilmer County Schools have reported that they will close on Monday, August 21, 2017.

In a release from Superintendent Dr. Shanna Wilkes, safety concerns were partial reasoning for the cancellation as the peak of the event is set to occur just before the normal parent pick-up times for Ellijay Primary and Clear Creek Middle school causing darker conditions in the high traffic area and time. Another concern of the School System is the congestion on roads as North Georgia could expect hundreds of thousands of visitors and travelers.

Some counties, such as Georgia’s Towns County, are expecting 30,000 to 50,000 visitors alone. Venues are also selling out quickly for the even. Brasstown Bald has already sold all 450 tickets it made available for viewing.

The increased traffic of those who may be traveling to Gilmer or even through Gilmer could increase congestion making a later release unfeasible for the school system.

Dr. Wilkes also reports that the schools are siezing the opportunity for education as they will be spending class time lecturing about the solar event, safety, and proper care during the eclipse including a pair of “pair of NASA approved viewing glasses as they depart school on Friday afternoon prior to the eclipse.”

See the full release below and find a link for more information of the Eclipse and North Georgia’s place in the “totality.”

 

Due to safety concerns, Gilmer County Schools will close all schools on August 21, 2017 for students and 190-day (or less) personnel.

This date coincides with the first total solar eclipse to occur across the entire continental United States in 99 years. A solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes directly in front of the sun, and casts its shadow on the Earth below. The event will begin at approximately 1:00pm with the sky becoming darker until approximately 2:36pm when the eclipse reaches “totality” just to our north and the sky begins to lighten again. Gilmer County falls in a region expected to experience a 99% eclipse.

The darkest time of this event is occurring just minutes before we would normally begin parent pick-up for Ellijay Primary and Clear Creek Middle school. This means students would be moving about in crowded loading areas and parking lots in much darker than normal conditions. According to EMA officials, large crowds are expected on our roadways as viewers attempt to make their way to and from the total eclipse area just to our north where several festivals are planned to celebrate the event. Delaying parent pick-up would cause remaining parent pick-up times and school dismissals to be late thus placing student drivers, buses, and parents in greater congestion.

To capitalize on this incredible learning opportunity, our schools will be educating our students on the science of this event. Safety will be emphasized, including the dangers of looking at the sun at any time, even during the apex of the eclipse without the use of special safety glasses or other approved means; doing so is likely to result in permanent eye damage. Each student will receive a pair of NASA approved viewing glasses as they depart school on Friday afternoon prior to the eclipse.

The safety of our students is always our number one priority. By closing the schools we ensure the safety of our precious students, as well as the many GCCSS employees. I hope that you and your children are able to spend quality time together experiencing this once-in-a-lifetime event in an enjoyable and safe manner at home. Please visit https://eclipse2017.nasa.gov/ to learn more about the solar eclipse safety.

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