More students failed Georgia’s new standardized tests to measure public school achievement, and officials say that’s a good thing.
“These results show a lower level of student proficiency than Georgians are used to seeing, but that does not mean Georgia students know less or that teachers are not doing a great job,” state schools Superintendent Richard Woods said as the tests were being introduced. “It means they’ve been asked to clear a higher bar.”
The old Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests (CRCTs) and high school End of Course Tests (EOCTs) “set some of the lowest expectations for student proficiency in the nation,” said Woods, who took office in January 2015.
Here are five things to know about the new Milestones exams:
1. These new standardized tests are pegged to Georgia’s new academic standards, which were guided by the Common Core, a national consensus of what each child should learn in each grade level.
2. Previously, younger students took the Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests, and high school students took the End of Course Tests.
3. The Georgia Milestones are harder than those retired tests in that the bar for passing — the testers call it “proficiency” — has been raised. A proportionately larger group of students is expected to fail this test. Failure triggers mandatory discussions between schools and parents about repeating a grade.
4. The results are broken into four categories: “beginning,” which means not proficient (these are the students subject to being held back), and “developing,” “proficient” and “distinguished.”
5. The scores between the old and new tests can’t be compared for several technical reasons, but national comparisons are possible because samples of questions from national tests are embedded.