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See a breakdown of the Spring 2018 Georgia Milestone Assessments at the end of the article.

Dade County, Georgia, third-graders improved on math and reading by more than 10 percentage points this year, according to new data.

The Spring 2018 Georgia Milestone Assessments, released Friday by the Georgia Department of Education, show that about 48 percent of the county school system's third-grade students were proficient or better on an end-of-the-grade English language arts test. That is 11 percentage points higher than the state average. It's also 11 percentage points higher than the county's third-graders scored last year.

On the math assessment, meanwhile, 56.7 percent of the county's third-grade students were proficient or better. That is 8 percentage points higher than the state average and 11 percentage points higher than the county's third-graders scored in 2017.

That was also the highest proficiency rate of third-graders in any of Northwest Georgia's 11 school districts.

Dade County Superintendent Jan Harris credited the large bump in this category to teachers' increased focus on intervention. The system began using formative assessment software programs two years ago, an intentional effort to pinpoint where their students were weakest as soon as possible.

In the county's four elementary schools, students now use iReady, a computer program for math and reading. The program quizzes students and spits data back to teachers, showing them where students are specifically weak. Harris said this allows the staff to react quickly, focusing on areas where students must grow.

"We can intervene where students have gaps in their knowledge," she said. "They can remediate for those particular standards. We're very proud that our students did well in those particular areas."

The county's ninth-grade students, meanwhile, saw significant improvement on the English language arts assessment. Fifty-three percent scored proficient or above on the tests. That was about equal to the state average (52 percent), but it was also about 9 percentage points better than ninth-graders last year.

"We've got a good team in place," Harris said. "And we're just trying to get better every day. That's our goal."

According to a release from the Georgia Department of Education, scores on the assessments increased across the state in most subject areas. The biggest bumps came in third-grade math, as well as high school biology, physical science and economics.

The percentage of students considered proficient or better remained stable or got better in 22 of 26 assessments. This is slightly better than 2017, when performance on 18 of 26 assessments remained stable or improved.

"We're beginning to see the impact of our efforts to expand opportunities for students — not focusing solely on the tested areas but genuinely providing a well-rounded education," State School Superintendent Richard Woods said in a news release Friday.

Third grade

Compared to other districts in Northwest Georgia, Chickamauga City Schools excelled on third-grade assessments.

Across the state, 37 percent of students were proficient or better on the third-grade English language arts assessment. Of 11 districts in Northwest Georgia, five were above the average: Chickamauga, Dade County, Trion City Schools, Calhoun City Schools and Catoosa County.

Of those, Chickamauga scored the highest, with 56 percent of students testing at proficient or better. While better than everybody else in the area, it was a slight drop for Chickamauga, where 58 percent of students were at or better than proficient last year.

Chattooga County Schools scored the lowest on the assessment, with 28.8 percent of students testing at proficient or better.

In addition to Dade County, two other districts saw significant growth on the English test. In Calhoun, 43 percent of students were at least proficient, an 18 percent bump over last year. In Dalton, 34 percent of students were at least proficient, a 10 percent increase.

On the math assessment, five districts scored higher than the state average. Dade County scored the highest, with its 56.7 percent of students at least proficient. Dalton scored the worst, with 37.4 percent of students proficient.

The biggest growers, other than Dade County? In Murray County, 47.4 percent of students were at least proficient, an improvement of 14 percentage points over last year. In Chickamauga, meanwhile, 52.7 percent of students were at least proficient, a 13 percentage point improvement.

Eighth grade

Trion led the way in eighth-grade English language arts and math assessments.

On the English assessment, only three districts scored higher than the state average. Trion was the best, with 68 percent of students testing at or above proficient. Dade County was the worst on this particular assessment, with only 29.6 percent of students testing at least at proficient.

Trion's scores marked a 7.6 percentage point bump compared to last year. Chattooga County, meanwhile, experienced an 8.9 percentage point increase.

On the math assessment, seven of the region's 11 districts scored higher than the state average. Again, Trion scored the best, with an 80 percent rate of proficient or better. Dalton scored the worst, with 32 percent of students proficient or better.

Trion saw a huge boost in its math assessments, compared to 2017 data: a 24.4 percentage point increase. Chattooga County schools also saw a big increase by about 18 percentage points.

Ninth grade

Three districts scored at or above the state average on the ninth-grade Algebra 1 assessment: Chickamauga, Trion and Gordon County. Chickamauga scored the best, with 51.3 percent of students at or above proficient. Dade County performed the worst on this assessment, with only 15.3 percent at or above proficient.

Walker County students improved by 9 percentage points on the test, and Chattooga County students improved by 8.4 percentage points.

On the English assessment, four districts tested above the state average: Chickamauga, Trion, Catoosa County and Dade County. Chickamauga performed the best, with 80 percent of students scoring at or above proficient. Calhoun scored the worst, with only 29.5 percent of students scoring proficient.

In this area, Chattooga County students improved the most. About 49 percent of students scored at or above proficient this year. Last year, about 34 percent did.

Contact staff writer Tyler Jett at 423-757-6476 or tjett@timesfreepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @LetsJett.

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