Today, University of Pennsylvania student Clare Lombardo discusses the new Georgia Milestones tests, which replace the CRCT and the End of Course Test. She put some of the reader questions on the new tests to the state Department of Education.
A Decatur resident, Lombardo is a rising sophomore with aspirations in journalism and an interest in education who is contributing blog entries this summer. You can read her most recent column here.
By Clare Lombardo
Last week, the Georgia Department of Education released statewide results for the End–of–Course Testsadministered to high school students this spring. Most of the results weren’t surprising, but some were still discouraging. Only 40% of students met or exceeded the standard for Coordinate Algebra. Just 35% did so in Analytic Geometry.
This time next year, discussion won’t be about EOCT results, but about the new testing system, Georgia Milestones. Milestones will replace the Criterion–Referenced Competency Tests (CRCT) for students in grades 3 through 8 and the EOCT for high school students in the upcoming school year.
The Department of Education announced Milestones last month after pulling out of PARCC, the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers.
PARCC administers Common Core–aligned assessments for 14 states and Washington D.C., but Georgia pulled out of this consortium, deeming PARCC tests too expensive. The Department of Education instead awarded a contract to CTB/McGraw Hill, a test publishing company, to develop Milestones.
This summer, many bloggers and readers have expressed reservations about the new testing system. We’ve heard from Fulton County leaders including Superintendent Robert Avossa concerning his system’s high school math instruction and future tests.
Avossa wrote, “Students being taught using a traditional approach, such as those in Fulton, should not be assessed using an integrated approach End of Course Test. Yet, that is exactly what the Georgia Department of Education intends to do.”
According to the Department of Education, however, no student has been or will be assessed with a test that doesn’t align with the course that he or she took.
DOE spokesperson Matt Cardoza said, “The math issue is a course issue, not a testing issue.”
Some counties, like Fulton, wish to return to traditional math. The state Board of Education plans on reviewing the standards, and, “if the organization of the standards changes as result of the review, the assessments will follow.”
Many readers have also commented with concerns over the speed of the process — it seems pretty ambitious to test students with Milestones beginning in December. Some of you have also asked about the new open-ended questions on the Milestones tests, which didn’t appear on CRCT or EOCT tests in the past. According to Cardoza, these questions will be on math and language arts exams, and are divided into both “constructed-response” and “extended-response”— short answer questions and others that call for more lengthy responses.
Georgia teachers will be involved throughout the rubric development process, examining student examples of each rubric score. The scoring process of these open-ended questions mirrors the process used on Advanced Placement exams.
Each open-ended question will be judged independently by two scorers, and sent to a third for adjudication if the first two don’t grant the student’s work the same score. This scoring process does take longer than the traditional scoring of multiple-choice questions on past tests. This is why DOE is encouraging districts to administer tests online, which expedites scores.
According to Cardoza, “there are many logistics to finalize,” especially since the Milestones will serve as final exams for Georgia high school students.