District and school level results will be released in October.
As expected, the statewide results across k-12 show a drop in students performing at the level deemed necessary to succeed in the next grade or college and career.
In language arts and science, no grade or course has more than 10 percent of students scoring in the top category of distinguished learner. In math and science, the vast majority of Georgia students – more than 60 percent across all courses and grades -- are either beginning or developing learners.
The AJC's Ty Tagami reports:
A smaller proportion of students scored “proficient” or better on the first edition of the Georgia Milestones tests than on the mandatory tests they replaced. The Milestones, keyed to the national Common Core standards, were given for the first time last spring, and statewide averages released this morning show a smaller percentage of students passed than those who came before them did on the old Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests and high school End of Course Tests.
And here is what DOE has to say:
State scores from the 2014-15 administration of the Georgia Milestones Assessment System (Georgia Milestones in grades 3-8 and Georgia Milestones EOCs in grades 9-12) were released today. These preliminary scores reflect the first administration of Georgia’s new comprehensive testing system.
“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 – it means they’ve been asked to clear a higher bar,” State School Superintendent Richard Woods said.
“Our previous assessment, the CRCT, set some of the lowest expectations for student proficiency in the nation, and that cannot continue. Georgia Milestones sets higher standards for our students and evens the playing field with the rest of the nation – and that’s essential if our students are going to succeed in college and their chosen careers, both of which are nationally competitive arenas. We will continue to increase our supports for both students and teachers to ensure this test is more meaningful for all involved.”
“For too long we’ve been telling students they were on track to be successful in college or ready for a career when they graduated high school, yet in many cases they were not,” said Dr. Dana Rickman, Policy and Research Director for the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education, and a member of the standard-setting review committee. “This is a necessary step to improving education for kids in Georgia. It provides an honest assessment of where we are as a state and where we need to focus our attention to ensure all students are successful.”
Georgia Milestones assesses student learning along four levels of performance, compared to three, as was the case for the CRCT. These designations aim to shift the focus away from just test scores, instead capturing the progression of students’ learning:
Beginning Learners do not yet demonstrate proficiency in the knowledge and skills necessary at this grade level/course of learning, as specified in Georgia’s content standards. The students need substantial academic support to be prepared for the next grade level or course and to be on track for college and career readiness.
Developing Learners demonstrate partial proficiency in the knowledge and skills necessary at this grade level/course of learning, as specified by Georgia’s content standards. The students need additional academic support to ensure success in the next grade level or course and to be on track for college and career readiness.
Proficient Learners demonstrate proficiency in the knowledge and skills necessary at this grade level/course of learning, as specified in Georgia’s content standards. The students are prepared for the next grade level or course and are on track for college and career readiness.
Distinguished Learners demonstrate advanced proficiency in the knowledge and skills necessary at this grade level/course of learning, as specified in Georgia’s content standards. The students are well prepared for the next grade level or course and are well prepared for college and career readiness.
Additional performance levels help teachers better pinpoint where their kids are and give students more opportunities to succeed.
Students took the CRCT for the last time during the 2013-14 school year, and began taking Georgia Milestones assessments in 2014-15. The new testing system is one consistent program across grades 3-12, rather than a series of individual tests. It includes open-ended questions to better gauge students’ content mastery and, with some exceptions for special education students with specific testing accommodations, will be administered entirely online by the fifth year of implementation.
The higher bar for student proficiency set by Georgia Milestones is aimed at better preparing students for college and career and providing a more realistic picture of academic progress. During the administration of the CRCT, Georgia had some of the lowest expectations for student achievement in the nation – an “honesty gap” between students’ performance on state assessments and their performance on other measures of student achievement. Georgia Milestones aims to narrow that gap and send a consistent signal about student achievement both within the Georgia system (across grades and courses) and with external measures (such as NAEP, PSAT, SAT, and ACT).
“Over 300 educators from across the state participated in the standard-setting process, including faculty from both the university and technical college systems,” said Dr. Melissa Fincher, Deputy Superintendent for Assessment and Accountability. “These teacher-led deliberations closely considered the expectations set forth in our content standards. Teachers made a resounding recommendation to raise our state’s expectations for student learning.”
Georgia Milestones scores and CRCT scores are not directly comparable. Georgia Milestones and the CRCT are two different tests, with different expectations set for student achievement. Because the expectations set by the Georgia Milestones system are higher, it was expected that the percentage of students considered proficient would initially be lower.
In addition to multiple choice, Georgia Milestones includes constructed response and extended response items which require students to generate, rather than select, responses. The system also assesses writing at each grade level/course, streamlining the testing system and reducing the number of tests students take.
Georgia’s school accountability system, the College and Career Ready Performance Index (CCRPI), currently uses CRCT and EOCT results for all areas. Georgia Milestones results will now be used to calculate school and district CCRPI scores, but the 2015 CCRPI is a hold harmless year since this was the first year Georgia Milestones was administered. The GaDOE is exploring the option of schools earning points for Developing Learners, Proficient Learners, Distinguished Learners.
Promotion and Retention (The promotion and retention policy will not apply to the 2014-2015 scores.)
In order to be considered eligible for promotion, students in grades 3, 5, and 8 must demonstrate they can read and comprehend grade-level material. Students’ performance on the reading component of the ELA test will determine whether the student is reading below grade level or on/above grade level. Students will also receive a Lexile score based on their reading skill. Students in grades 5 and 8 must demonstrate grade-level skills in mathematics to be eligible for promotion. Students who achieve the Developing Learner level or above have mastered basic grade-level mathematic concepts and skills.
“I wish to personally commend the teachers, superintendents and other educators who set the expectations for the Milestones test,” Superintendent Woods said. “They have sent a clear message that their children, not test scores, will come first. The height of expectations set by our educators has given public education in Georgia a more accurate view of where our students are academically and laid a path to where we need to go. We will continue to review testing within our state and provide our teachers and school systems the support they need to ensure student success. Our teachers have displayed a strong message of ownership and responsibility, and it is our job to remove the barriers that might hinder them in this bold step.”