State releases Milestones results. As predicted, fewer students show proficiency

They’re here — the statewide results of the first round of the Georgia Milestones tests.

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:

Georgia students showed lower levels of proficiency on new state tests designed to raise standards.

Georgia students showed lower levels of proficiency on new state tests designed to raise standards.

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.

School Accountability

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.”

 

 

Reader Comments 0

25 comments
ScienceTeacher671
ScienceTeacher671

Has the state released Lexile ranges for each grade, for each level?

Joad
Joad

And I don't see a mention of this fact that makes Milestones completely and uteer meaningless:  The Milestones have ABSOLUTELY no impact on the student whatsoever, and they know it, so they couldn't care less.  The old EOCTs were the final exams, and impacted their grades,even though they were scaled so that you could pass by getting less than half of the questions correct.  Now the milestones count for nothing.

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

@Joad I believe they count for something to the TEACHERS.

BCW1
BCW1

I am glad the DOE is sending out media releases because this will be a huge paradigm shift!! When schools have been used to being in the 90th percentile and all of a sudden you are in the 50th percentile...huge change. But what you have to remember it that you cannot compare the CRCT to the EOG now. You don't go from a high performing school to a low performing school overnight.

Lee_CPA2
Lee_CPA2

A two-fer this week.  SAT scores announced.  Ga Milestones scores announced.  The Spin Masters are on overtime this week trying to explain away the results.

liberal4life
liberal4life

Has anyone examined whether or not the final version of the tests are aligned with the standards and grade-levels? If so, what was the result? If not, why not?

Mandella88
Mandella88

Hmmmmmm....


If the Ga DOE will consider the 2015 CCRPI as a "hold harmless" year, how will the Governor use three consecutive years of CCRPI data to determine which schools he takes over in the Opportunity School District to dazzle us all with how much better he can serve low income and minority students?


Watch the spin come out the mouths of the OSD supporters (Deal, Cagle, Millar) now....

living-in-outdated-ed
living-in-outdated-ed

No surprise here.  Whenever you raise the bar, you usually start with a lower baseline.   Now the challenge will be whether our schools can raise proficiency to levels we can all be proud of, and indicate our children will be prepared for college and career. 

ScienceTeacher671
ScienceTeacher671

I agree with AnotherTeacher that we have no idea what sorts of questions are being asked on these tests or how to prepare our students.  A practice test would be nice.  Also, those of us on block schedule will be halfway through this term (which counts!) before we find out how our students last year did, and which areas they excelled at or bombed.


Also, it sounds as though there is still an "honesty gap."  If "Developing Learners" are only partially proficient and will need support to succeed at the next level, is it fair to say that they are grade-level proficient and should be promoted?  Either they are proficient at grade level or they aren't....and "partially proficient" sounds as if they aren't.

gapeach101
gapeach101

"honesty gap"

I've never heard the term, but I like it. Very descriptive.

Anotherteacher
Anotherteacher

A few thoughts...


1) The old tests (CRCT and EOCT) were RIDICULOUSLY curved.  I know -- I teach a course (high school Economics) that has an EOCT.  The state would provide us with data about the number of questions missed by our students on the test and what grade to give them -- the grade to count as their final exam score. I don't know if I'm at liberty to speak about what the exact numbers associated with that curve were, but believe me when I say that it was really bad -- students who were not particularly strong in Economics would end up with very respectable final exam scores.  The old test was a joke.  But even with those old, pathetic standards, 18.8% of students didn't pass the Economics EOCT in the spring of 2014, according to data available on the GADOE website.  I'm glad they are raising the score required to be considered proficient, because it will be a more honest measurement. It will more clearly demonstrate what has always been true -- there are tons of students in Georgia who know very little about the subjects that they are supposedly studying.


2) The state DOE has done an entirely inadequate job of giving teachers the materials they need to prepare students for the test.  When a new test is rolled out, you would think that teachers might be given practice exams or full-length example tests, so that they would know what kinds of questions and topics will be assessed and on which areas they should focus instruction.  But the state has not released any practice exams.  None.  They did belatedly release some "study guides" part-way through the year last year, but no practice exams from the contractor who is actually writing the GA Milestones questions. If the state DOE wants to see better scores, then they should give teachers a better idea about what topics and standards their students will be tested on.


3) The 2014-15 EOC scores should be considered with a huge dose of skepticism, because many students knew in advance that the tests would not affect their grades.  In the past, EOCT tests counted as a student's final exam grade -- 15% - 20%, depending upon the year.  This year's EOC results will also count -- a mandated 20% of the student's overall average.  But because last year was the first year of the GA Milestones test (and, IMO, because the state DOE knew it had done an inadequate job releasing training materials and practice questions to teachers), the state told us in advance that last year's EOC scores would not be used when calculating a student's course grade.  Instead, after taking the state-standardized test, students were required to take an additional final exam written by the local teacher(s).  Many students, of course, tried their best on both tests, including the GA Milestones exam.  But many other students, after discovering that the state-mandated test wouldn't affect their grades anyway, did not spend much time preparing for a test that was, from their perspective, entirely meaningless.  The data is impossible to disentangle -- how are we supposed to know which students are legitimately ignorant vs. the students who simply Christmas-treed the test because they knew it didn't affect their GPA?  The data from this year's test should be much more trustworthy: students will try harder because they'll know that it counts.

Moderate_line
Moderate_line

Finland one of the top educational systems in world. Note Korea uses some of the same principal and guess what it is at or near the top.


Finnish children don't start school until they are 7.

The children are not measured at all for the first six years of their education.
There is only one mandatory standardized test in Finland, taken when children are 16.
All children, clever or not, are taught in the same classrooms.
Finland spends around 30 percent less per student than the United States.
30 percent of children receive extra help during their first nine years of school.

66 percent of students go to college.93 percent of Finns graduate from high school. 17.5 percent higher than the US.
Elementary school students get 75 minutes of recess a day in Finnish versus an average of 27 minutes in the US.
Teachers only spend 4 hours a day in the classroom, and take 2 hours a week for "professional development".

Finland has the same amount of teachers as New York City, but far fewer students.

The national curriculum is only broad guidelines.The average starting salary for a Finnish teacher was $29,000 in 2008.However, high school teachers with 15 years of experience make 102 percent of what other college graduates make. In the US, this figure is 62%.There is no merit pay for teachers


http://www.businessinsider.com/finland-education-school-2011-12#



L_D
L_D

@Moderate_line from:http://www.borgenmagazine.com/lack-of-poverty-in-finland/

"There is not much to discuss when it comes to poverty in Finland. Finland has the second lowest relative poverty rate for children in the world at 5.3 percent, according to UNICEF."

Standardized testing consistently shows children living in poverty have lower academic achievement than their peers.


Check out this piece on how US schools with low poverty rates compare perform on PISA exams: http://simplystatistics.org/2013/08/23/stratifying-pisa-scores-by-poverty-rates-suggests-imitating-finland-is-not-necessarily-the-way-to-go-for-us-schools/

DH706
DH706

@Moderate_line However, other factors come into play...  In Finland, 80% of children are born to mothers over 25 years old.  And mostly to married couples.  The rate of poverty in Finland is some of the lowest in the world with only 5.5% living below the poverty level.  The enriched home life of these preschoolers means they are able to learn in and out of the classroom.  Four hours of formal instruction and 2-3 hours of homework overseen by parents who care, goes a long way.

Belinda51
Belinda51

Watch that pesky achievement gap get wider and wider.

PJ25
PJ25

If the kids aren't proficient then hold them back.  If they aren't being held back, both the teachers and the admins need to be held accountable.  A kid can either perform at his/her grade level or they can't. 

jarvis1975
jarvis1975

@Outer Marker Why? What do I care when they drop out? A 17-year-old 10th Grade drop out or a 17-year-old 5th Grade drop out...makes no difference to me.

Studies show repeating the grade does little to help their achievement levels. As long as they don't earn a diploma they don't deserve in the end, I don't care what Grade they are in.