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GaDOE: Admit the Milestones were a disaster this year and start over


Given the new acknowledgement of grading delays by the state Department of Education and the growing doubts of Georgia’s frontline educators about the End of Course scores they are seeing, Georgia ought to treat the 2016 Milestones testing as pilot and learn from it.

High-stakes consequences – student grades, teacher evaluation, school ratings -- should not be attached to a test that had such a flawed execution. There were problems in the online administration of the Milestones in elementary, middle and high schools that turned test taking into a nightmare for some students. Now, there are delays in grading the high school tests.

For example, about 3,000 Gwinnett County middle and high school students will not know their final grades in some courses until at least next week because of delays getting results, according to the AJC. 

These delays could mean some 2016 Georgia high school graduates are still waiting to learn if they are HOPE qualified. The state cannot mandate its tests count for 20 percent of a high school student’s final grade and then flub both the administration of that test and the grading to the degree students are getting "incompletes" on report cards because EOC scores are not back. Schools are closed; teachers are out for the summer. Now, districts are going to have to summon staff back from summer break to deal with these late-arriving Milestones EOC scores.

That is unacceptable. Georgie embraced online testing to expedite the testing process and make it easier for teachers, students and parents. The opposite has occurred. The state Department of Education needs an emergency session with district superintendents; this is not a minor failure. I am now hearing from parents upset they have not seen their children’s scores or, if they have seen them, can’t understand them.

Here is the note from state school chief Richard Woods:

Superintendents,

It appears scores for the End of Course Georgia Milestones will be delayed up to one week, and many school districts will not receive End of Course results in time for teachers to finalize all grades prior to the end of post-planning. Because of that, there will be a delay in students and parents receiving final course grades.

Like schools and parents, we are greatly disappointed, as we planned and worked with our testing contractor to deliver a two-week turnaround. That obviously did not happen for many districts, so we will be conducting a thorough review as soon as possible to address these issues and streamline the process.

We understand this unfortunate incident has impacted many – including students, parents, teachers, schools and districts – and we apologize for the burden this has placed on you and them.

I hope you have a great Memorial Day Weekend.

Sincerely,

Richard Woods

State School Superintendent

 


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About the Author

Maureen Downey has written editorials and opinion pieces about local, state and federal education policy since the 1990s.