Testing glitches mean Milestones will not count for retention

A bill in the Georgia Legislature eases the process of opting out of state tests. It also encourages policies that allow student to choose to take tests with pencil and paper rather than on computers.

(Note to readers: If you are willing to share your view of the state school board decision today, please email AJC education reporter Ty Tagami at Ty.Tagami@ajc.com. Thanks)

Also, just posted a great teacher essay on the Milestones mess. Click here.

Many of you complained computer problems undermined the second year of the Georgia Milestones in your school systems, putting the scores in doubt for students coping with stalled tests and frozen screens.

The state agrees.

Today, the Georgia Department of Education won state Board of Education approval to waive promotion, placement, and retention requirements tied to the End of Grade tests in grades 3, 5 and 8.

(A refresher on testing lingo: It’s now End of Grade or EOG for the Milestones in elementary and middle, and End of Course or EOC for the Milestones in high school.)

As my AJC colleague Ty Tagami reported today out of the state board meeting:

There were some schools that had intermittent issues, said Melissa Fincher, director of testing for the Georgia Department of Education. Results were transmitted, but some kids may not have performed at their best because of the disruption, she said, so it wasn’t fair to them to use the scores.

She said 7 percent of test “sessions” had been affected as of Friday. Each student in grades three through eight has nine sessions. Close to half the nearly 1 million students in that age group took online exams this year, the largest in state history.

The school board voted to void the results for use in decisions about promoting students to the next grade.

Of course, few kids actually are retained in Georgia. (See the state policy on the appeals process.)

However, there seems to be stress around the question as I heard from a therapist who said, “I have been inundated with anxious young people and their parents about the Milestone’s effect this year on retention.”

At this point, the results of the End of Course tests in high school will still account for 20 percent of  student grades as there have been fewer reports of glitches. (Fewer testers are going online at the same time with the high school tests.)

The state DOE is also asking to delay using Milestone scores to rate teachers, but that has to be approved by the multi-agency Educator Effectiveness Committee, an advisory group created to improve teacher quality.

In its statement DOE said:

During this year’s administration of the Georgia Milestones EOG tests, some local school districts reported technology-related interruptions of online testing. While some of these events were short-term and quickly resolved, with minimal impact on student experiences, others required more extensive technical support. The GaDOE believes that further analysis of the possible impacts of these interruptions is warranted prior to the release of student scores, given the stakes involved for students.

“I am committed to a responsible approach to accountability that ensures public trust in the process,” State School Superintendent Richard Woods said. “Given the technology issues experienced by some students during the online administration of the Georgia Milestones EOGs, we believe it is best to proceed with caution when it comes to basing promotion, placement and retention on the outcome of the tests. While many districts tested online without a major incident, in the interests of our students, we asked the State Board of Education for a waiver of the promotion, placement and retention portion of the rule.”

State law requires that students in grade three earn an At/Above Grade Level designation in reading to be promoted to fourth grade. In grades five and eight, state law requires that students earn an At/Above Grade Level designation in reading, as well as score in the Developing Learner achievement level or above in mathematics to be promoted to the next grade. These are the promotion, placement, and retention requirements being waived for the 2016 EOG administration. Some local school systems have additional promotion criteria, and this waiver will not preclude school districts from applying local policies and protocols for promotion and retention decisions for individual students.

Pending the approval of the Educator Effectiveness Committee, student growth will be held harmless for the Teacher Keys Effectiveness System (TKES)/Leader Keys Effectiveness System (LKES) this year, and will not count next year with the revised evaluation system. The Teacher Assessment on Performance Standards (TAPS) component of the TKES and the Leader Assessment on Performance Standards (LAPS) component of the LKES will continue to be the sole measure used to determine the performance rating of teachers of record and leaders reported by employing school systems and charter schools to the GaPSC for certification purposes.

 

 

 

Reader Comments 0

22 comments
Frustrated in GA
Frustrated in GA

So what does all this mean for the retesting required of students who fail? Should we be spending additional money to retest for something that won't count? Our county is retesting the last three days of school. The poor kiddos will need to be retaking the Milestones test their last few days of school! If that isn't cruel and unusual punishment for you, I don't know what is!

William1952
William1952

What is your honest opinion about the state's ditching the milestones test results? Pick one:

1. The state superintendent of schools didn't know ________________ (fill in the blank).

2. The state board of education didn't know any tests were given.

3. The state superintendent of schools knew, but couldn't get back to his office from Oklocknee High School in time to flip a coin on whether to keep results or not.

4. The state board of education didn't finish their milk and cookies in time to approve.

5. None of the answers below.

Remember, honest opinion.

bu22
bu22

I looked up the samples on the test.  For 8th grade reading, one of the examples they gave was to read two essays on GMOs and then write an essay supporting one or the other viewpoint.  One teacher (who wasn't that long out of college) said it looked like college level reading.  I just wonder how much they have really vetted these "Georgia grown" tests.

bu22
bu22

They'll still have to address the elephant at some point.  Based on last year roughly 40% of APS and DeKalb students failed on the math and reading portion.  If you consider the number who failed one but not the other, maybe 50% should be retained under these rules?  Its not logistically possible.

Angela Hickman
Angela Hickman

My Decatur kids took the test on paper. What's up with that?

Mack68
Mack68

Districts have spent SO much money preparing for an administering these tests.

If the state was going to dictate that these tests to be taken online, then the *state* should have ponied up for the internet connectivity and the necessary computers. Instead, the local districts plowed scarce resources into computers, infrastructure upgrades, etc. at the expense of enough teachers, curricular materials, etc.

It didn't work, but I bet lots of ed tech and IT companies made out like bandits.


bu22
bu22

So AJC is having technology problems too?  Hope you aren't using the same people who set things up at some of these schools!

Another comment
Another comment

Spring storms and the big tree canopy issue was never given a thought in late April and Early May. Those of us who live in the beautiful old growth tree areas of Fulton and Atlanta, probably with those in Dekalb have had trees along with their power and Internet going down for the last couple of weeks. Ours was off from 3 AM until 11:00 AM this morning. Many of the schools are located within the residential areas.

tyger
tyger

so how much did all this cost the taxpayer?

redweather
redweather

"I heard from a therapist who said, 'I have been inundated with anxious young people and their parents about the Milestone’s effect this year on retention.'” 

Well, that kind of puts things in perspective. I wonder at what age children are seeing therapists about test score anxiety. I thought that was what moms and dads are for. Silly me.

Ross Hickman
Ross Hickman

So the milestone is too inaccurate to assess students, but student scores are accurate enough to assess teachers? Is the state doing anything to fix this?

MiddleMan1995
MiddleMan1995

So, last year Milestones didn't count for TEM/LEM or student retention and placement, but it was reliable enough of a measure to create a CCRPI score for an entire school.  That logic is very flawed.  It appears we go down that same road again.  We can't make decisions about individuals based on the assessments, but we can make broad decisions about the quality of schools based on the same tests.  Anyone see inconsistent logic there?  Would love to see comment from both GOSA and GaDOE on this point in a piece by AJC.  


You have schools and districts (APS) tearing up the way they do business, closing schools, and bringing in charter providers based on the scores of a test that we have already acknolwedged shouldn't be used for high stakes decisions because they are questionable or flawed.  


To add salt to that wound, GOSA creates the OSD danger list based on three years of CCRPI scores below an arbitrary number of 60, even though the GaDOE articulates that you can't compare scores from 2014 CCRPI to 2015 CCRPI because the measures and weights changes so dramatically.  


No wonder teachers and adminstrators are leaving in droves.  Its not about bucking accountability and being held responsible for student learning, its about the facts that are already acknowledged that the tools currently available to do so are inadequate, yet we keep on doing it.  



Jenna Milam Baird
Jenna Milam Baird

Yeah. WHO is this "committee" that our tax dollars pay? Secondly, HOW could these obviously invalid scores even be considered to be used towards teacher's evals??? They. ARE. Invalid. Have we lost all sanity??

Jenna Milam Baird
Jenna Milam Baird

"discrete activities that are part of the larger reform plan..." mmmmhhhhhmmmm. Deal appointed??

Jennifer Schmidt
Jennifer Schmidt

Maureen you need to press harder. Who the heck is this "Education Effectiveness Committee" Cardoza speaks of. Let me guess...appointed by Deal?? We need to know who these people are and hold them accountable. Ya know since they're so hell bent on accountability and all. Can you please find out? This is the first I've ever heard of this committee...teachers too.

AJC  Get Schooled
AJC Get Schooled

I posted about the committee on my blog a few days ago. It was created as a result of our Race to the Top grant.

AJC  Get Schooled
AJC Get Schooled

Here is the information from the RTT application: The area of Great Teachers and Leaders will be co-led by the Office of Education Support and Improvement within GaDOE (OESI) and by GOSA. Since this area comprises multiple plans and activities which fall appropriately into the responsibilities of various State agencies and other partners, there will also be a standing cross-functional committee—the Educator Effectiveness Committee (EEC)—to facilitate coordination and communication across agencies and partners. The EEC will be comprised of the leaders of the various agencies/divisions responsible for carrying out discrete activities that are part of the larger reform plan. See Appendix A25: Oversight Structure for Educator Effectiveness. For example, OESI will lead the development and validation of evaluation instruments for teachers and principals; GOSA will manage the vendor who will develop the State’s Value-Added Model, and lead the creating and testing of new quantitative instruments (such as surveys); the Georgia Professional Standards Commission (PSC) will implement proposed policy changes relative to certification requirements and improvements in educator preparation programs and will continue to monitor these areas; the University System of Georgia (USG) will lead the effort to enhance educator preparation programs; and GOSA will monitor and evaluate all LEA pilots and programs related to educator effectiveness. An LEA Critical Feedback group (comprised of participating LEA superintendents or designees) will provide consultation and assistance for work related to developing, designing, and testing the new teacher and leader evaluation system within participating LEAs. A Technical Advisory committee (TAC)—a panel of measurement experts—will provide guidance and expertise on measurements of teacher effectiveness. https://www2.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop/phase2-applications/georgia.pdf Edit

Jennifer Schmidt
Jennifer Schmidt

AJC Get Schooled this is great and all but we need names. Looks like GOSA, which is Deal's pet. Who (specifically) is on this committee? Do you know? Does anyone?

AJC  Get Schooled
AJC Get Schooled

Jennifer Schmidt Top folks go, so that would be Martha Ann Todd for GOSA and Kelly C. Henson for the PSC.

NikoleA
NikoleA

If it doesn't count for students, it also shouldn't be used for a teacher's TEM score.

dcdcdc
dcdcdc

@NikoleA And there you have the real goal of this "it shouldn't impact the "little children" (aww) push.  Can't have the value teachers are delivering actually be objectively quantified.  Nope...need to be able to keep paying the mediocre (or worse) teachers the same as the awesome ones.


Yeah...I'm sure that'll help us retain our best teachers.....