Aug. 2—Whitfield County Schools high school students improved by "leaps and bounds" on the 2022 Georgia Milestones compared with the previous year, and "math looks strong across the board" among all grades, according to Michelle Caldwell, director of assessment, accountability and research for Whitfield County Schools.
"Math stuck with (students through) the COVID-19 pandemic; they didn't lose that" skill, Caldwell said. And after a couple of years where it was challenging to simply keep high school students in school due to the pandemic, they "should be commended" for this year's results, especially in U.S. history, where 44% of Whitfield County Schools students were proficient learners or better, 75% were considered developing learners or better, and 9% were considered distinguished learners or better — all better percentages than the state numbers.
"We look more at where we are in relation to the state" than comparing with surrounding school systems, because state averages offer more diversity, Caldwell said. However, it's also important to remember Milestones data represent "a snapshot, and there are faces behind the numbers."
Whitfield County Schools also bettered state results in third-grade reading, sixth-grade math, seventh-grade reading and eighth-grade math and science, she said.
"We celebrate sixth-grade math, for sure, and third-grade reading held their own."
While 64% of the state's third-graders were reading at or above grade level, 69% of Whitfield County Schools' third-graders were reading at or above grade level.
For sixth-grade math, 76% of Whitfield County Schools students were developing learners or better, while 33% were proficient learners or better. Those figures for the state were 67% and 31%, respectively.
There were areas that warrant further examination because they weren't satisfactory, particularly in grades four and six, Caldwell said: "We're looking into those."
In sixth-grade reading, for example, only 52% of Whitfield County Schools students were at or above grade-level, compared to 55% for the state, with 48% of Whitfield County Schools sixth-graders reading below grade level, compared to 45% for the state.
Gym floor refinishing and painting is complete at Coahulla Creek, Northwest Whitfield and Southeast Whitfield high schools, and the "very large painting job" at Cedar Ridge Elementary School is substantially complete, said Mark Gibson, chief operations officer. At Cohutta Elementary School, the roof is complete, but work is still being done on coping the roof edges, and there isn't a date on the shipping of heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) units.
It's a similar tale at Northwest, where the administration area roofing is complete, "along with VRF (mini-split) AC units and restrooms," but there is no current shipment date for roofing materials and HVAC units, Gibson said.
"Supply chain issues are hampering us the most, not necessarily labor (shortages), but no facility is without air conditioning or anything of that nature," and additional construction work at schools like Northwest will be done during breaks or next summer so as not to interrupt instruction.
Also during Monday's county school board meeting, several agriculture- and entrepreneurship-minded Northwest Whitfield High School students received $5,000 college scholarships from the James and Geneva Causby Trammel endowment.
Jonathan Carriveau is "starting his own landscaping company," Mayra Aleyda Paez is involved with "construction-based studies," Grant Bates is "going into poultry science," Ellie Williams is pursuing "sports psychology" between horses and their riders, and Elizabeth Roark is already certified in equine massage therapy and is plying her trade across the state, said Janet Robbins, an agriculture teacher and FFA adviser at Northwest. In Georgia, "one in five jobs are agricultural."
Last year was the first year Northwest students — all members of the class of 2021 — received these scholarships, Robbins said. Abby Adams is now studying agriculture communications at the University of Georgia, Alexus Carlock enrolled at Chattanooga State Community College in hopes of becoming a veterinary technician, Julia Kelly Ralston (Auburn University) wants to teach agriculture to youth, Isaac Phillips selected Georgia Northwestern Technical College to be a diesel mechanic and Reese McCoy is studying forestry at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College.