State to consider hiring more people to grade Milestones exams

State education officials said Thursday they will explore ways to improve this year’s flawed administration of the Georgia Milestones student exams, including hiring more people to grade the tests.

Melissa Fincher, who is in charge of testing and assessment for the state education department, discussed the idea in an interview after giving school board members an update on the Milestones assessments. This year's problems have included thousands of students being unable to finish taking exams due to technological glitches and delays in grading exams. About 80 school districts — nearly half statewide — did not receive all of their results on time.

Fincher said more graders may speed up getting results back to students. She did not have an estimate of how many additional graders the department would need.

The Georgia Milestones is an annual state assessment of student performance, starting with third graders, in English, math, science and social studies.

Board members defended staffers who worked on the exams, but conceded everyone must do better.

“We have asked your group to do an amazingly difficult task …We will get it right,” said school board chairman Mike Royal.

Officials noted that about 70 percent of the Milestones tests were taken online, well above the state’s 30 percent goal.