First there were problems taking the Milestones. Now, the problem is getting the scores.

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

The Georgia Department of Education ought to include a bottle of aspirin with every packet of Milestones instructions sent to district testing coordinators next year. Because testing turned into a giant headache this year, and the pain isn’t over yet.

The online administration of the Milestones worked well in some districts but badly in others, most notably Fulton where iPads crashed, children cried and teachers consoled. As a result of the reports of multiple disruptions and computer glitches, the state Board of Education gave districts the option to waive the scores in decisions about retaining students.

But the problems didn’t end with the administration of Milestones; DOE has not gotten scores back in time to some districts that planned to retest students who did poorly — despite pledges online testing would expedite results.

DOE failed to return scores for more than 900 students in Newton County schools, forcing the cancellation of retests. “It is very disappointing that we are unable to retest, particularly since we elected to test online in grades three, five, and eight, in the first place, to receive results quicker and retest before school ended,” said Allison Jordan, Newton’s director of testing, research, and evaluation, in a statement to parents.

Cobb also cancelled retests, telling parents, “…we remain convinced that students deserve and can benefit from a second opportunity. Despite the benefits of retesting, we cannot keep our schools, children, or families in limbo any longer.”

Nor are scores back yet for some End of Course tests, which count for at least 20 percent of a high school student’s grade. Tonight, I asked for a show of hands on AJC Get Schooled Facebook from teachers in districts still awaiting scores. The list included Laurens, Forsyth, Houston, Decatur, Clayton, Lincoln, Paulding, Cobb, Polk, Henry and DeKalb.

Knox Phillips, director of DeKalb’s Office of Research, Assessments and Grants, said DOE promised him all scores will be back by Tuesday. “The state has apologized profusely,” said Phillips, who expects counselors to assume the task of entering grades since Friday is the last day for teachers. “We expected to have scores turned around within a week with online testing. For me, the biggest problem is the undue anxiety for students — the longer we have to wait to get scores back, the longer the child has to wait to get a finalized transcript.”

Some parents whose kids encountered testing challenges maintain the EOC scores should be invalidated, especially since that 20 percent could mean a C instead of a B for a student. Among the problems reported by parents: Districts required students to use the online calculators embedded in tests – per the testing instructions — even though some were faulty and lacked proper functionality (graphing, for instance). Other districts permitted students to pull out their personal calculators.

“My son would have much rather used the calculator he was familiar with and had been using all year,” said one mom. “When I let him know other counties were able to use their own, he was flabbergasted. That is simply not fair. These kids are working their tails off to get into college and they keep getting thrown roadblocks. Enough is enough. Quit experimenting with our kids future!”

These still-to-come EOC grades potentially could lower student GPAs. As one teacher told me,  “We have students graduating tonight for whom we still don’t have American Lit scores. We also have a few students who could theoretically lose HOPE during the summer because of the Milestones test score dropping their class grade down.”

The Legislature has long insisted teachers are the ones resistant to testing, that parents want to know where their children stand. Here’s where parents don’t want their children to stand — in line waiting for tests to load or scores to arrive.

Reader Comments 0

32 comments
gapeach101
gapeach101

Oops, Bill Gates says "just kidding"  Bad idea.  Maybe now he will get out of the "education business"

kdbugalpha
kdbugalpha

I think at max the high school scores should count at 15%. My son has two 89s in classes due to these unvalidated Milestone classes; if the scores had only counted 15% instead of 20%, he would have kept his As. Last year when the scores did not count, my son earned a 73 grade in his 10th grade math, yet he was ranked at the 95%ile per national norms on that same Milestone test. How can students who perform better on tests than 95% on a nationally normed group be developing learners? I thought the purpose of these tests were to see how GA students compared to other students in the nation. Last year for many top north Fulton schools 25-40% of 11th graders scored at the developing learner level meaning they would need significant support to be college ready in a year. Yet these same schools had SAT mean scores several hundred points above national averages-which is right-SAT or Milestone?


There should be two purposes to these tests-show how students compare to other students nationally and if they are below grade level, give specific areas of weakness to address, especially for 11th graders. The Milestones fail on both-the scores dont correlate to other national tests covering similar material and they dont give enough info to help teachers and students. Since my son earned a developing learner 77 grade on his 11th grade American lit, I asked his teacher if there were any comments on the test results so he could work on weaknesses this summer. She told me all it said was to remediate reading and vocabulary and monitor writing and language. However the Milestone gave him a Lexile grade of 1290 which she said was right in the middle of the range for 12th grade Reading. The same test  on one hand says he needs to remediate reading while saying his reading is midrange for the next grade level. WTF. It is unfair the students will make lower grades in classes for a test that is not proven to correlate to its results. My son and many of his classmates at his north Fulton school who scored in developing learner category scored 50 points or more above the College Ready score on the Critical Reading on their SAT. Why is this unvalidated test saying they need remediation and lowering their GPAs. Chuck the test. Allow parents to bring in PSAT, SAT, or ACT scores that show their 11th graders are college ready and at least give the students an 80 or 85. Same with Math tests-those tests show students are college ready, replace their low Milestone grade with at least a midrange Proficient grade.


At least most seniors only had to take Economics which was a single semester credit which would have minimal effect on their GPAs. Many 9th graders had 3 Milestones and juniors had at least 2. The state should allow schools to adjust the 2nd semester grades on this Milestone next fall since it was such a fiasco. It is probably too late in the year to fix but these scores should not stand. No student should be at risk of missing the 3.0 for Hope or the 3.7 for Zell Miller for an unvetted test when there are already so many national known tests that could be used. ACT has Reading, Math, and Science. The new SAT has Reading and Math but also has some measures derived for Science and Social Studies. These tests have accessible study programs; Khan Academy for SAT is free. Students were assigned USATESTPrep review diagnostics and quizzes at my son's school to prepare for the Milestones, but USATESTPREP was not making the tests. There were only about 20 practices questions for each test that GA DOE developed. The concepts to be tested might have been defined but how teachers, USATESTPREP, the actual test makers and the actual test scorers interpreted those concepts could vary greatly, and the results may be a poor correlation of students' knowledge of those concepts

elementary-pal
elementary-pal

@kdbugalpha  I don't disagree with a lot of what you have said, except, the Milestones Tests are criterion referenced. Criterion referenced tests are designed to test mastery of content (not that this one does that), not national norm rankings.  Any %ile scores you have are only based on Ga. students with the exception of Lexile levels. 


Jjs41716
Jjs41716

That is not correct. The new tests have criterion referenced questions AND questions to measure the students for the national percentile rank. This is new to the GMAS.

Keren Kravig
Keren Kravig

My son's scores are all 'missing' and he is tripping out that he may have to retest or go to summer school.

Mary Ingram Finney
Mary Ingram Finney

Refuse the detests & summer school. The tests scores are INVALID. #refuse

Moreofthesame
Moreofthesame

At this point the scores should not be mandated by the state

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

Perhaps the good ol' boy GA DOE should be dissolved.  I'm beginning to think the systems could screw up just as well by themselves, and we could redirect the money directly into helping the students!

Cordelia Ann Sheppard Riley
Cordelia Ann Sheppard Riley

Clayton County schools are closed and no one picked up the phone this morning. How are parents to know what they should work on with their children during the summer of we have no scores.

Cordelia Ann Sheppard Riley
Cordelia Ann Sheppard Riley

I could go to homeschooling groups and buy stuff and spiral teach. If I had the scores, at least then, I could have a target area to work on such as math, reading, or writing.

eulb
eulb

If you truly want an objective measurement that shows your child's strengths and weaknesses, don't ask for Milestones scores.  Pay a consultant to administer the ITBS test to your child.  (That's how homeschoolers do it.) Results come back pretty fast.  Then use those scores to figure out what your child needs to bone up on over the summer.   And, next fall,  you can show those ITBS scores to your child's teachers.  The teachers I know tend to welcome valid information about a student's strengths and weaknesses.  The Milestones test is a mess. But ITBS scores are actually helpful.   

Laura Bailey Roesch
Laura Bailey Roesch

This isn't helpful I know, but even if you had the scores you probably wouldn't accurately know what to work on.

Jennifer Henley
Jennifer Henley

I think scores aren't back from the state except for the actual numbers. The results breakdown from last school year weren't even distributed until last fall 2015. My daughter (5th grade) brought home a sheet with the scores for reading and math only, and they were handwritten. I'm not even sure the ones for the other grades had been returned yet. Also, Clayton is probably entering the summer hours schedule, usually they are closed on Fridays in the summer.

Mary Ingram Finney
Mary Ingram Finney

The tests are worthless. How about refuse them & any summer school?

Annette Laing
Annette Laing

The Milestones are another story in the long sad history of education "reform". Technocrats have assumed it's a simple case of using data to effect change by decree, and have completely ignored the most important factor: humans. As my teenage son put it, no wonder kids drop out. I can only add that the same can be said of teachers, and typically the best teachers are the first to go. Meanwhile, top private school kids enter a magic world in which every advantage and opportunity is theirs. Think about it.

Lori Cranford Whatley
Lori Cranford Whatley

Making mandates that require resources full of errors and no follow through on promises....typical Georgia government. Teachers must demand better of our lawmakers instead of them demanding it from us! If this were teachers not getting items in on time or using faulty assessments we'd be in big trouble and fearing for our jobs!!

Jenna Milam Baird
Jenna Milam Baird

I am SO glad I refused this ridiculousness for my children. Join Opt Out Georgia fb group.

dsw2contributor
dsw2contributor

Whoa, joining a Facebook group -- that'll really change things!

Jenna Milam Baird
Jenna Milam Baird

HOW is the FACT that many students were forced to use the faulty embedded calculator not being addressed?? Even if it happened in one school....one is too many to hold these scores valid. NOT standardized!!!

Lori Cato Clarke
Lori Cato Clarke

I am concerned with the validity of the scores. Students who do not even read on grade level and are low-performing writers outscored kids in the advanced reading class who do read and write above grade level. How does that happen?

Jennifer Schmidt
Jennifer Schmidt

Kay Draper Hutchinson rent-a-rater! \U0001f602 Funny! And not funny!

Jenna Milam Baird
Jenna Milam Baird

Also gave the graders a bonus for 'attendance'. Who has ever received a bonus for showing up to your temp job??

Kay Draper Hutchinson
Kay Draper Hutchinson

Rent-a-Rater Temp Agency hired the folks who scored the tests and gave them bonuses for productivity.

John Palmer
John Palmer

Giving ANY one single grade a weight of 20% is absolutely asinine, even more so when there are so many problems. Teachers aren't reluctant to tests because we are afraid of what they will show, we are reluctant to use them as a singular measure because we know what they CAN'T show. As parents become more aware of these issues, parents will push back more and more.

Jennifer Schmidt
Jennifer Schmidt

And us parents stand with you! Thank you John! Our teachers, children and our future generations are getting royally screwed.