The Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests (CRCT’s) have been officially culled from the state of Georgia, and a new era has begun. The new tests that the students will be taking in the state of Georgia will now all fall under one umbrella. They will all be called, Georgia Milestones Assessment System or Georgia Milestones for short. Below I will outline information about the new tests that I have aggregated and synthesized to make it more accessible.
What are the Georgia Milestones Assessments?
The Georgia Milestones Assessment System (GMAS), also known as the Georgia Milestones, will replace the CRCT’s, End of Course Tests (EOCT’s) and the Writing Assessment (WA). The Georgia Milestones will be aligned to the Georgia Common Core Standards; therefore, what the students are expected to know will not change from the 2013-2014 standards. According to the Georgia DOE, “..reading, language arts, and writing will be combined in a single measure to align to the standards.”
What differentiates the Georgia Milestones Assessment from the CRCT’s?
Well, the CRCT’s were a series of multiple choice questions. And the students did not have to do much thinking to “come up with an answer.” However, with the Georgia Milestones students will be presented with three question types, and some of the questions will require students to formulate their own responses –structured responses. The Georgia Milestones Assessments report card will also provide more information- the reporting will include norm-referenced performance indication. That means that students, parents and teachers will know how students rank when compared to other students nationally. Therefore, there may be questions presented to students that are not aligned to the Georgia Standards, but will most likely be at their expected developmental levels. However, only the questions aligned to the Georgia Common Core Standards will contribute to proficiency designations.
The Georgia Department of Education states, regarding norm-referenced questions :
“Some norm-referenced items may not align to Georgia’s content standards. Only aligned NRT items will contribute to proficiency designations.”
What grade levels will be taking the Georgia Milestones End of Course Tests?
The Georgia Milestones assessments will be given to students in Grades 3-12. Students in grades 3-8 will be administered the End of Grade (EOG) in language arts, mathematics, science, social studies, while high school students will be administered the End of Course (EOC) tests which include 9th Grade Literature & Composition, American Literature & Composition, Coordinate Algebra, Analytic Geometry, Physical Science, Biology, US History, and Economics.
What will the content tests be like?
English Language Arts
Students will be required to use “close analytic reading to construct meaning, make inferences, draw conclusions, compare and contrast ideas, themes, etc., as well as synthesize ideas and concepts across multiple texts will require students to develop informative/explanatory responses or narratives, produce opinions/arguments – citing evidence from text(s) and using standard language conventions, etc.”
Students will be required to demonstrate conceptual understanding, procedural skills and fluency, problem solving, modeling, and mathematical reasoning.
Students will be required to use “understanding of the core concepts, ideas, and practices of science to explain scientific phenomena – with content and Characteristics of Science/Nature of Science standards serving as co-requisites.
Will require understanding of the past and its influence on the present and future – including the interconnectedness of history, culture, geography, economics, and governments/civics.
What will the questions be like?
There are three main types of reponses that will be available to students:
These question types are what we refer to as multiple choice questions. All content areas will have multiple choice questions, while in language arts students will provide evidence-based selected response.
Students will be required to generate their own answers based on the individual questions, showing their work, in the content areas of math and ELA .
Will require students to supply detailed and elaborate responses to justify their reasoning. They allow for multiple correct answers and/or varying methods of arriving at the correct answer. Writing prompts or performance tasks are examples of extended-response items. Content areas of Math and ELA will involve such question types.
Will practice questions be available?
Yes. The Georgia DOE will provide a practice environment for students; however, this online environment is not available as yet.
When will the tests be administered?
The testing window for the 2014-2015 school year will be unchanged.
Who will be making the tests?
The tests will remain in the trusted hands of McGraw-Hill, under the umbrella of CTB. The Georgia Department of Education awarded CTB/McGraw Hill $107.8 million to administer the tests over a 5 year period beginning in the 2014-2015 school year.
Do you know how McGraw-Hill won the bid?
The Following information was posted by the state:
“The Georgia Department of Education (GaDOE) seeks a highly-qualified offerer to provide services and products for a new customized, comprehensive, and cohesive (i.e., articulated) Georgia Student Assessment Program, beginning in the 2014-2015 school year. A paramount objective of this new program will be to signal students’ preparedness for the next educational level (grade or course), ultimately culminating in a clear indication of students preparedness for post-graduation endeavors, be it college or career. Additionally, the program must provide high-quality measurement of student achievement of the state-mandated content standards, provide teachers with actionable information to directly inform remediation and enrichment efforts, and assist school systems in identifying strengths and shortcomings of educational programs in order to inform priorities and planning.”
What will this mean for students who are accustomed to taking multiple choice questions?
I think that most teachers were already teaching this way, requiring students to give their own responses and explanations. However, this time they will be required by the State to show their thinking and their work. Therefore, it will require more effort on the part of the students to demonstrate proficiency. According to the Georgia Department of Education head, Dr. Barge, when addressing possible grade implications:
“The increased expectations for student learning reflected in Georgia Milestones may mean initially lower scores than the previous years’ CRCT or EOCT scores. That is to be expected and should bring Georgia’s tests in line with other indicators of how our students are performing.”
What is CTB/McGraw Hill Saying about this?
As a part of the contractual agreement between Georgia and CTB, they have promised to allow 30% of the students to be able to take the tests online by year one (2014-2015 school year), and by the 5th year mark (2019) the tests will be administered entirely online.
How will Georgia Milestones play with “pay for performance”?
The state is hoping for the standards to “support and inform educator effectiveness initiatives”
Unanswered Questions about the Georgia Milestone assessments:
1: The Georgia Department of Education states that the Georgia Milestone Assessments will “allow for detection of the progress made by each student over the course of the academic year.”
My concern is that the Milestones will only be administered once-at the end of the school year. How will growth be adequately measured if the assessments are only given at the end of the school year. Research clearly shows that, on average, students regress during the long summer break.
2. How will the Georgia Milestones be used to determine educator effectiveness?
3. What will the turn-around time be for taking and scoring the tests?
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