With Milestones scores arriving tomorrow, districts have to decide retain, retest or refrain

The state Department of Education released scores today from the 2016 Georgia Milestones tests.

Faced with reports of technology glitches in online testing, the state Board of Education last week waived the requirement that Georgia Milestones scores influence promotion and retention decisions in third, fifth and eighth grade.

That waiver does not mean elementary and middle school students who failed a Milestones test — parents are supposed to learn Thursday or Friday how their child fared — won’t have to retake it. Their children could retest over the next two weeks, depending on the policy of local districts. The state school board left the retesting question in the hands of the districts.

(High schools did not experience the same level of technical glitches, and, at this point, End of Course tests will still count for 20 percent of a student’s final grade. Those scores began reaching districts today.)

There’s strong motivation for districts to retest low-scoring students. While the Milestones may not count for retention, the scores could still count for next year’s College and Career Ready Performance Index, a complicated state Department of Education rating system that relies heavily on test performance.

“It is simply too early for us to make any determination about any impact on the CCRPI.  As we communicated to districts, we have sought this pause in End of Grade test scores to allow time to conduct additional analyses to detect any potential impact resulting from the interruptions for the students who experienced them,” said DOE spokesman Matt Cardoza.

Some systems experienced no computer issues with the Milestones. So, while Cobb Schools will not use the Milestones for retention, the district will retest students Tuesday through Friday.

Clarke County chose not to retest students due to the computer problems. While Clarke had fewer snafus last month than last year, it still had students who lost connectivity during testing and had to wait 15 minutes or more to reconnect. In 2014-15, Clarke tested 99 percent of its students online. This year, it tested 84 percent.

While the DOE blamed most computer meltdowns on local capacity, technology directors around the state cite a design flaw with the Testing Site Manager backlog — when students lost connectivity during testing, the system required 15 minutes or more to store completed answers. (You can find in-depth discussion of testing problems by school IT directors here. And you can see here that such problems are not unique to Georgia. ) Because students in a single classroom lost connectivity at various times, testing schedules were disrupted.

“Losing connectivity is not an overwhelming issue if a student can log back in and connect in two or three minutes,” said Tim Jarboe, Clarke County Schools Director of Assessment and Accountability. “But when you have one child taking 15 minutes and another taking maybe a half an hour, then you have a group of kids sitting there getting nervous.”

“We are not using the scores for retention and we are not conducting retests,” said Jarboe. “Because CCRPI is a public accountability document and directly uses Milestones scores, there are political implications in that decision as the state counts the highest performing scores for CCRPI calculations. But, in talking to our superintendent and principals, we all felt very strongly what’s right by students is to not do retests. If we don’t know whether the technical issues have been fixed, we just feel it is the right thing. We had a lot of students experiencing interruptions this year during testing. Why make these students go through that again? Or have that stress of worrying — despite whatever happens with CCRPI.”

Jarboe said Clarke County Schools expects to receive test scores tomorrow from the DOE and will send them home to parents explaining “that while the scores will not be used for promotion and retention, we want them to have this information”

Some districts may still consider End of Grade scores in retention decisions, despite the state waiver. The Macon Telegraph reports: “In Bibb County, however, test results won’t completely be thrown out as a factor for whether students move on to the next grade. Superintendent Curtis Jones said that more than 71 percent of the county’s tests were done online and no glitches were reported…district educators and administrators will still consider test results when decisions are made on promotion, even if the state rule is relaxed.”

This patchwork quilt of retention/retesting would seem to undermine Georgia’s quest for common standards and practices around state testing. DOE disagrees.

“The standards are common: all students learn them in the classroom. Like many things, local control allows for decision-making at the local level. We set the minimum requirements bar, and districts can set a higher bar if they want,” said Cardoza.

“This year’s online administration was a significant improvement over last year’s and the number of interrupted sessions is significantly fewer. Nonetheless, in an abundance of caution we sought the waiver for promotion and retention from the State Board of Education,” said Cardoza. “We will produce a CCRPI for the 2015-2016 school year.  Just as we did for the 2014-2015 CCRPI, we will use what we learn from the analyses to make informed decisions about CCRPI calculations stemming from this year’s administration.”

Last year, DOE analyzed testing data to see how many students were undermined by technical problems. (DOE can track testing interruptions.) In Clarke County, the tally was 6 percent of math test takers. As a result, those students’ scores were not factored into the district’s CCRPI grade.

“We thought that was very fair,” said Jarboe. “The state said it would do the same thing this year. DOE has been very responsive to me when I have called with issues and problems. Sometimes, the problems have not been fixed as fast as I wanted, but they have been responsive. Unfortunately, it doesn’t help when kids are sitting there who can’t get into tests.”

“Electronic, online testing is an innovation that our district fully supports as an assessment method. Testing is more efficient, students are engaged at higher levels and technology-enhanced items can better measure a student’s ability to problem-solve. However, innovation usually comes with growing pains in its implementation, and that is certainly true in this case,” said Jarboe.

“Therefore, it is unfortunate that state legislation and the State Board of Education have made Milestones testing a high-stakes event for students and teachers,” he said. “The difficulties with its implementation have resulted in frustration and anxiety for students and teachers, which has diminished much of the innovative value of the online platform.”

 

 

 

Reader Comments 0

24 comments
kdbugalpha
kdbugalpha

Last year 30-33% of students in the top North Fulton schools scored below the proficient level on the American Lit Milestone. These students are from the same schools that score very high on the SAT. My son got back his 2016 Milestone scores for Lit that were considerably below his other 2 Milestones.  I assume he must have scored on the developing level even though on the SAT he scores as College Ready and average for college bound.He will make a high B instead of a low A in lit because of this test which was not graded by high school teachers.


Students know how to study for ACT and SAT; they know what they measure. Students really did not know how to study for these Milestones; unlike the SAT/ACTs there are not a lot of practice tests. My son scored lower on all his Milestones than on his finals for fall semester. However, the biggest gap was for the Lit.


Possibly these students are proficient in these subjects, but the testing and the curriculum were not a match. Decide on a minimum SAT or ACT score for Math or Reading that can substitute for these tests, and let students submit those scores instead in future years or use the in school PSAT tests for 9th and 11th testing for Math and Lit.

Reba Smith3253
Reba Smith3253

I want to know who is grading the 11th grade essays?  Since English teachers are not doing it -- These Juniors use their grades for college acceptance.  What stranger is responsible for 20% of their grade?

advocateforchange
advocateforchange

Some EOC Milestone Test did arrive at the high schools on Thursday. 


There were issues of course regarding accommodations again.  Some students continued to have issues with the read aloud program.   It is extremely important that proctors of accommodations are trained in these areas.  This training is innocently not a priority, which causes issues for the students who need the field leveled the most. 

AnotherMom
AnotherMom

@Maureen - Have you heard of anyone receiving scores yet?  Nothing up on GA DOE website...  

Rebekah Watson Bouldin
Rebekah Watson Bouldin

If the tests don't count, why do some students have to retake them? And what if my child doesn't have 2 weeks of school left? Is the retesting statewide, or this in the Atlanta area? My son gets out of school next week.

cyadra
cyadra

Testing is more efficient, students are engaged at higher levels and technology-enhanced items can better measure a student’s ability to problem-solve."


This is a lie, flat out lie. I administered the paper and pencil read aloud portion of the GMAS EOC to some of my students, and I can tell you that they were the EXACT same questions as what was found on the electronic computer version. 

Jessica Conroy
Jessica Conroy

You Are able to opt out. There is an opt out Ga Facebook page for anyone needing advocacy. People are really seeing the light more and more about the validity of these test

Jessica Whitehead
Jessica Whitehead

I wonder if it will be all scores or just the anchor grade failures. Ive only been testing coordinator for three years. First year, this is what they did. Last year it was waived so it didn't matter. Guess ill find out tomorrow!

AJC  Get Schooled
AJC Get Schooled

The scores are supposed to "start" coming tomorrow you may be right that tomorrow will be 3, 5 and 8.

elementary-pal
elementary-pal

That would be too logical!  The only scores we have as of 4:53 on Friday afternoon are for 4th grade students, and only for about 1/3 of the students. 

MizAnn Joyland
MizAnn Joyland

Nichelle Marshall, Nellie Jackson, Wanda Peterson, Dorron D-Zell Zellars, Monique Hobbs, Kim Bryant omg. Smh.

Mandy Doyle Carroll
Mandy Doyle Carroll

What in the world is wrong with these people?! What are we doing to our children ?

AJC  Get Schooled
AJC Get Schooled

According to an email to districts from DOE, Milestones results should be sent Thursday, May 12. Today, high schools began getting their results.

Jeessy Medina
Jeessy Medina

When do you think parents will have access to the scores? Slds?

AJC  Get Schooled
AJC Get Schooled

Systems that are retesting next week -- several have restests starting Tuesday on their calendars -- will have to notify parents by Monday.

Hollie Abernathy
Hollie Abernathy

If my kids are told to re-test then I'm going to laugh in their face as the tests are said to not count anymore.

Legong
Legong

Let's agree there's a faction out there who will never cease their opposition to testing, or their over-dramatization of it as "high-stakes."