GaDOE: Admit the Milestones were a disaster this year and start over

The state school chief acknowledges serious problems in getting test scores back to high schools, meaning kid are not getting final grades yet.

Given the new acknowledgement of grading delays by the state Department of Education and the growing doubts of Georgia’s frontline educators about the End of Course scores they are seeing, Georgia ought to treat the 2016 Milestones testing as pilot and learn from it.

High-stakes consequences – student grades, teacher evaluation, school ratings — should not be attached to a test that had such a flawed execution. There were problems in the online administration of the Milestones in elementary, middle and high schools that turned test taking into a nightmare for some students. Now, there are delays in grading the high school tests.

For example, about 3,000 Gwinnett County middle and high school students will not know their final grades in some courses until at least next week because of delays getting results, according to the AJC. 

These delays could mean some 2016 Georgia high school graduates are still waiting to learn if they are HOPE qualified. The state cannot mandate its tests count for 20 percent of a high school student’s final grade and then flub both the administration of that test and the grading to the degree students are getting “incompletes” on report cards because EOC scores are not back. Schools are closed; teachers are out for the summer. Now, districts are going to have to summon staff back from summer break to deal with these late-arriving Milestones EOC scores.

That is unacceptable. Georgie embraced online testing to expedite the testing process and make it easier for teachers, students and parents. The opposite has occurred. The state Department of Education needs an emergency session with district superintendents; this is not a minor failure. I am now hearing from parents upset they have not seen their children’s scores or, if they have seen them, can’t understand them.

Here is the note from state school chief Richard Woods:

Superintendents,

It appears scores for the End of Course Georgia Milestones will be delayed up to one week, and many school districts will not receive End of Course results in time for teachers to finalize all grades prior to the end of post-planning. Because of that, there will be a delay in students and parents receiving final course grades.

Like schools and parents, we are greatly disappointed, as we planned and worked with our testing contractor to deliver a two-week turnaround. That obviously did not happen for many districts, so we will be conducting a thorough review as soon as possible to address these issues and streamline the process.

We understand this unfortunate incident has impacted many – including students, parents, teachers, schools and districts – and we apologize for the burden this has placed on you and them.

I hope you have a great Memorial Day Weekend.

Sincerely,

Richard Woods
State School Superintendent

 

Reader Comments 0

48 comments
Common Sense Committee
Common Sense Committee

My favorite part of this article is Mr. Wood's opening line and how it begins with "it appears..."

How is it possible to get these scores back so late when decisions need to be made about class schedules and whether a student gets promoted to the next grade or not?

Who should be blamed for this?

dsw2contributor
dsw2contributor

Maureen,


Richard Wood's note begins "Milestones will be delayed up to one week".  I think if you were to go back and find what the GaDOE promised to districts at the beginning of the school year, it will clear that the results have been delayed for more than a week.


Also, it would be great if you could get some local school leaders to explain just how much work the Milestone debacle is causing them.  How are districts staffing their summer schools if they don't yet know how many children need to attend?


On a different note, the tv stations have all reported on the group of Georgia students who were stranded in China while on a field trip.  They were from the Elite Scholars Academy.  Back in January, that charter school announced it would be closing for good this summer.  Is that still the plan?  It would be a shame to see them close since they're the 8th best high school in the state, according to the Washington Post.

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

You know, I've been thinking about this and maybe it is an up-to- date case of the "sins of the fathers being visited on the children."  What does that mean?  Only that so many of our students' parents have voted in these legislators and other "leaders" in state government that have made the decisions that brought about this fiasco.  Now the kids are paying for it.

BG927
BG927

As far as the EOCs go, there are many students in high schools on 4x4 block schedules who took their tests in the fall, and had them count. I'm not sure tossing them for the spring takers would be very fair.

I had several students who were failing and ended up with a passing grade after their EOC was added - I'm sure they want their scores to stay exactly the same!

This isn't in support of the DOE and the Milestone mess; I just want to remind people that it wasn't bad for everyone. I had no technical issues and my scores were back in a couple days (honestly, I was shocked). However, my test was only multiple choice. Maybe this is an indicator that the grading period for the constructed response questions was way too optimistic. Maybe EOCs need to be multiple choice only. As far as the gateway year EOG tests go, either make them multiple choice or bring back true summer school (not the ridiculous "Maymester" tutoring that some schools attempt) for those that don't pass.

Another comment
Another comment

Let's not forget all of the politicians opt out. They all have their children and grandchildren in private or Christian schools.

dekalbteacher
dekalbteacher

I don't see how the state and school districts are going to handle this.

As invalid as these scores may be, those students and parents who have already seen scores and increased grade averages aren't going to be pleased if those grades now change for the worse. Similarly, those students and parents who see their children's grades drop because of these questionable scores aren't going to be satisfied that this lower grade is accurate.


My guess is that, as is always the case in Georgia's public schools, we teachers will be cleaning up this mess in the fall.


I'd love to see a journalist apply the TKES evaluation of us teachers to school administrators and DOE officials!

Michael McIntyre
Michael McIntyre

So, we're back to square one: To benefit the student as well as encourage teacher performance, what do we measure and how do we measure it? Because, I'm sorry, the old days of "just allow the teachers to close the door and let them teach" are not coming back.

jezel
jezel

What would happen to the class room teachers....should they be the reason for the delay ?

Daryl Smith O'Hare
Daryl Smith O'Hare

I wonder how much more we have spent on Milestones than PARCC at this point because money has gone out for ZERO return. I say vote out your current Legislators. I specifically took Sen. John Albers to task on this one two years ago, so I hold him accountable. Most of our Republican reps and senators were so convinced GA needed to forge its own path. Time to start a real educational plan!!

Tim_Parker
Tim_Parker

This iteration of the EOC should be truly "Hold Harmless" for students and educators. There are so many threats to the validity and reliability of this test that I cannot fathom how Georgia would use it measure student, teacher, or school performance. At minimum, adjustments need to be made statistically to curve the grade for all students.

Nancy Pund
Nancy Pund

Imagine a world where teaching professionals were entrusted with designing tests to find out what their students had learned and then using the results to inform them on what they still needed to teach. No testing company, no government machine, just teaching and learning.

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

Some will say it is because teachers began giving unearned grades.  I would posit that teachers have been pushed  for years for many reasons to "ease up" on grading to "make everyone's life easier" i.e. happy parents, students moving on, principals not having to support their teachers' grading policies.

Lois Berger Schiavone
Lois Berger Schiavone

Standardized tests scores prove nothing. Individual scores IN THE CLASSROOM provide a more viable indication of students' achievements and learning. Sad to think how the federal, state and local governments have managed to undermine our schools and our children's education since the 1970s. It's a travesty to rely on ineffective testing to determine student advancement and teacher's salaries. Teaching to the test will NEVER create academic success or a generation of educated children. It will, however, train monkeys to pull the lever for a morsel of food. End of same rant I've been seething through clinched teeth for the last 25-30 years.

Sunny Williams
Sunny Williams

And, think about all of the money being spent for the second year in a row without scores that "count."

EastAtlanta
EastAtlanta

How much money did this latest disaster cost the taxpayers? Why are you afraid to jet us choose our schools?

AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

We need one piece of information to make sense of CCRPI, testing, as well as other government machinations.


Who will hire the former Governor/his friends/family after his term ends? Copart, a testing company, a charter school company, students first?



Michael McIntyre
Michael McIntyre

The schools that stayed with PARCC or Smarter Balanced, how are they doing?

Phyl Campbell
Phyl Campbell

I just moved to GA from a PARCC state. It was awful. We opted out of PARCC. My 13 year old says Oconee County handled testing MUCH better than where we came from. Given online discussions with other parents, I'm inclined to agree.

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

How unacceptable does it have to be in order to get something done?  Year after year, when it was the CRCT, results would not ge back in a timely manner, and year after year all we heard were excuses and promises that it would be better "next year."  As long as testing contracts are doled out to political supporters, and designed by novices with little training in actual design, we will continue to have these problems.


What about the company we hired?  You know, the one who,after all the screwups last year, is "giving" Georgia all this in-kind (free?) help to make up for the screwups?  What will be offered this year?  More "help?"


It is time for the state DOE to get its act together.  Actually DECADES past time!

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

@eulb @Wascatlady And what do TN and GA have in common (other than wanting to use water from the Tennessee River)?

chaunda
chaunda

It's the same company of friends who will be given management of failing schools, if voters don't vote NO to changing the Georgia State Constitution .

sast1
sast1

I couldn't agree more. Almost everything about this year's Milestones administration and ensuing results has been disastrous. I am not confident that the results we have received accurately reflect the performance of our students.

Star Climate ratings are the next debacle to be publicized! There is absolutely no congruency between and among CCRPI results, students' achievement data, and Star Climate ratings. Again, high performing schools have 2 or 3 Stars----even schools identified by the Governor's Office of Student Achievement (GOSA) as "Gold" with regard to greatest gains have Star Climate ratings that do not correspond to this recognition; it is ludicrous. It is time to stop all of this. Our teachers are leaving the profession in droves, our leaders are frustrated, and most importantly, students and parents are not informed. For the record, the GaDOE has sent out a survey for district and school leaders to complete by June 10th. The survey seeks to gather input relative to, yet again, changes that may need to be made to the CCRPI in response to the reauthorization of ESEA...now the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Does anyone recognize that the CCRPI hasn't been the same since its inception in 2012? It's a moving target. And, again, we can expect changes to be in line with ESSA. As a state, we should expect better for our children, and our communities should expect that our state leaders are working to accurately represent the performance of our children---the jury is still out.

Becky Riches Giardina
Becky Riches Giardina

I teach Georgia Studies. We have 12 history standards with 2-5 elements under each, 2 geography standards with 3 or 4 elements each, 6 government standards with 3-5 elements each, and 5 economic standards. Counting all of the elements, that's roughly 70-75 elements. Now, each of those elements can have several people, places, events, or concepts that the students are supposed to know. I have no idea which ones were on the test. I have no idea if a student who struggled in history missed questions on colonization, the Civil War, the New South Era, the Civil Rights Movement, or modern Georgia. I also have no idea how to interpret the results. According to the key I received, one of my students who was a distinguished learner needed his learning to be monitored in all 4 areas of Georgia Studies. How can you be a distinguished learner and need monitoring? Distinguished learners score roughly 93% or higher. It doesn't make any sense.

Dana Cain Farr
Dana Cain Farr

Not to mention the 50+ people or people groups we study. If they need to remediate history, it is difficult to decipher what needs remediating. I usually give benchmarks to diagnose this, but we don't know what will come up on the test. Georgia Studies standards are an inch deep and a mile wide.

teachermom4
teachermom4

Fifth grade social studies is the same way. Some of the geography standards don't even mesh with the history standards, so there is no way to teach them in context. You have no idea if they will even be asked about them on the test. The curriculum is huge, and regardless of what anyone says about the new standards being "more rigorous", it boils down to factoid recognition. It's like teaching kids to make it through a Jeopardy tournament.

Andrea Conaway
Andrea Conaway

Until they can get the test together , the administration and execution the scores should not count for students or teachers. I have no confidence in the process let alone the competence of the scoring. WE are still waiting for schools at our high school. Ridiculous. If I assessed my students in this manner, failed to return their test, failed to give quality feedback my evaluation would reflect the issues. I would be called on the carpet. Accountability is a two-way street.

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

Actually, I think it is more like Little 5 Points, with accountability required of students, their families, teachers, supervisors at local and state levels, and the Legislature and Governor.

Richard Cionci
Richard Cionci

Not for EOC tests, maybe for EOG. However, I received my scores, all I see are a bunch of numbers and some circles on a paper. This tells me nothing. The GADOE states: "Informing parents, educators, and the public about how well students are learning important content is an essential aspect of any educational assessment and accountability system." Ok, in Economics (which I teach) I have 5 major standards, and have 4-6 strands of 3-5 standards per strand. How does an empty circle in Economic Concepts inform me as to which of the 15 standards my students know or don't know from a multiple choice test? Which part of that content in those 15 standards am I getting accurate, reliable and concrete information? If a parent or student asked me WHY they were an emerging learner on Economic Concepts, I couldn't answer them, since I don't know. Yet the state is telling us that we are adequately informing them. That is what needs to be investigated.

Don Allison
Don Allison

The Milestones are designed to do exactly what Deal and his water carriers like Bill Cowsert want them to do-privatize the public schools.

Jessica Heilman Whitehead
Jessica Heilman Whitehead

Opting out or "refusing" affects the school more than you might think. It could definitely affect teacher salaries as our salaries will soon be tied to their scores. And thats not fair. I wish you all could find another way to go about this than by putting our, the administrator's, other students' and the school as a whole's livelihoods at risk. I implore you to find another way to fight this.

Susan Blount Campbell
Susan Blount Campbell

Maureen, did you see this response from the GADOE on the calculator issue? You know this is patently false, right? "The online test forms for the End of Course provide both a Scientific Calculator and a Graphing Tool for the mathematics tests. This is as intended. · The Graphing Tool does not possess ALL of the (many) features that come with a commercial Graphing Calculator. This is as intended. · The characteristics of the online calculators were shared with System Test Coordinators in a variety of training sessions – the first as early as September 2015. · Further, our online calculators have been available for students to access, and become familiar with, through our Experience Online Testing Georgia website, since October 2015 . . . and then later during the Secure Practice Tests that have been available for several weeks. · We also allow for a student to have/use a hand-held calculator in an online test setting should that be their preference. o Local districts do have the discretion to not allow for such use in an online environment – but that would be a local decision. · Our state assessments are designed such that no item requires a calculator. Calculators are tools – and are allowed in some grades and content areas. But, in no case, is a calculator required."

Jenna Milam Baird
Jenna Milam Baird

"Don't blame us if it doesn't work. We only thought up, designed, built, hired a marketing firm, bought a few senators, rented the NEA, got the President to go along with and forced everyone to go along with this failure of a system that cost our taxpayers $108 million. But it's not our fault."

Richard Cionci
Richard Cionci

That is almost as good as these directions: IF COMPLETING SECTION 1 AND SECTION 2 IN ONE DAY, SAY You may now take a 10‐minute break. You may stand and stretch. Please do not talk. Check each computer to be sure the student has exited Section 1. At this time, allow the students to stand and stretch for five minutes. After no more than five minutes, SAY Please sit down and wait quietly as we get ready to move on to Section 2. Or in other words...tell the kids they have a 10 minute break, but only give them 5 minutes.

Susan Blount Campbell
Susan Blount Campbell

No kidding! Everything about this test is a disaster. Just ditch it! I'm afraid they are going to double down next year. Parents, stand up! The teachers cannot fix this. Join Opt Out Georgia and learn how to stand up and say NO MORE. Thank you, Maureen, for being so on top of this. I hope GADOE is reading!

Jenna Milam Baird
Jenna Milam Baird

They were and STILL are. Kids have "graduted" without scores.

Ruth Zackowitz Hartman
Ruth Zackowitz Hartman

My kids wouldn't know. We refused testing for them. You can too. Join Opt Out Georgia to learn more.

Michael McIntyre
Michael McIntyre

He has certainly taken to the bunker on this one -- and by "he" I mean the titular superintendent, not the reeaaalll superintendent behind the curtain.