Can Georgia parents challenge a Milestones test score?

Several parents have asked whether there’s any way to contest a score on a Georgia Milestones exam — a test created and graded by the state. Neither teachers nor parents can see how a student answered the questions. They only see the score.

This issue is coming up because Georgia parents are now getting their high school student’s report card and discovering a Milestones test caused a grade to drop from an A to a B or a B to a C — which can be a critical slip in the pursuit of a HOPE Scholarship or admission to a top college.

State end-of-course tests count for 20 percent of a high school student’s grade in the 10 courses for which there are Georgia Milestones. Since last year was a practice run, Milestones scores did not influence final grades; this year they do.

Some parents are not happy. A metro Atlanta mother said Milestones testing was a mess at her daughters’ high school. She doesn’t understand why the scores still count against her children since problems in elementary and middle school testing prompted the state to waive the use of Milestones in retention decisions.

“Why was it OK not to count the scores in elementary and middle school but to count the test as 20 percent of high school grades? The teachers don’t even know what is on the test and, therefore, it is really a mystery,” said the mom.

I covered the legislative discussion around the 20 percent rule and understand the logic of the General Assembly; it wanted high school students to take these tests seriously.  I never heard much discussion of how parents could challenge the test results.

The state Department of Education says districts can request a rescoring of a test but there is a cost if the score is unchanged as a result.  (The form can be found on page 168 of this GaDOE manual.)

How does a parent initiate the process if they want a score reviewed? And what is the cost?

The cost depends on various factors, said DOE spokesman Matt Cardoza. “There’s not just a specific amount we can give you. The details are best taken care of at the school level. The bottom line on that, as with many things, is that they need to contact their child’s school. The school will walk them through that process.”

First, here is a note from a parent:

I would love to see an article that explains what, if any, process is available for a student to contest or dispute a Milestones test result?

As the parent of a high school student where that 20 percent can make or break a grade (or HOPE or Zell Scholarships), I am very interested in learning what the Georgia Department of Education has to say about this. Human beings are grading a portion of these tests that are not scored by a computer and we all know that everyone makes mistakes.

Every school year, my child has to monitor grades online and there are usually mistakes made that a teacher is happy to correct when my child shows the teacher the previously graded work that was incorrectly entered. Mistakes will inevitably be made with the Milestones testing as well. Particularly when for-profit companies are hiring temporary employees to grade and give out bonuses for faster work.

With a single test that accounts for 20 percent of a grade it is inconceivable to me that there would not be a process for disputing it. If there is no process available, then it simply should not count for that great a percentage of a student’s grade.

Thanks for any light you can shed on this issue

And here is the DOE response: 

Yes – there is a process for districts to requests rescores – has been for many years.  Districts are aware of the process and can communicate to parents.

There is a potential charge – if the rescore yields the same scores, then there is a charge.  If the rescore yields a different score, there is no charge.

It’s important to understand that because of the stakes involved with the EOC, we have two independent reads.  In other words, two readers score each student’s response independently (they do not know if the item has been previously scored or what score was given; thus it is called a blind read).  If there is a discrepancy, it is adjudicated with a third read by the team leader for the item.  This process helps us monitor scoring and identify scorers who may drift from applying the rubric accurately.  If such an identification is made, the student responses scored by the reader are reset and rescored.  The reader is removed from scoring.

Readers are not given bonuses for “faster reading.”  {In an earlier blog, a parent who applied for a job scoring tests said she was told in the interview that workers would be evaluated based on quantity.} We have confirmed this is not true.  They do earn a small bonus for attendance each day during scoring, but this is not tied to reading rates.

 

Reader Comments 0

50 comments
gapeach101
gapeach101

"“There’s not just a specific amount we can give you. The details are best taken care of at the school level."

The State decides willy nilly what to charge the schools?  There must be a price list, and it should be available to all.

Also, if the College Board can erroneous score exams, why not the St  of Ga?

class80olddog
class80olddog

I just had a great laugh- seems a transgender boy joined the girls track team and won several medals and the girls on the team are upset! Hahahahahaha!

class80olddog
class80olddog

Hey, Maureen, are you going to do a piece about the APS principal who got promoted after she assigned grades that students had not earned and the whistleblower who refused is now out of a job? Perhaps you can ask the great Ms. Carstarphen about that? Business as usual at APS, I reckon. Glad that the OSD amendment is going to pass. This will make sure it does.

Jen Cole
Jen Cole

There's no way in the world GADOE will allow DRC to admit a scoring error---they may have an algorithm built in to allow a certain number of random corrections to make it look as though they are willing to do right, but they will not correct a challenge if it's outside of that pre-determined rule. They need low scores to move towards privatization, why would they risk awarding a higher score, let alone admit a mistake? Confirming the possibility of scoring errors just opens a huge can of worms. And since the label on that can says "parents matter" it's sealed forever. Money matters. Relationships w politicians awarding private education contracts matter. Parents and students are beyond irrelevant. We need college admissions officers pressuring these same politicians; telling them GA students are NOT career or college ready and therefore GA will not attract employers. That in turn costs the politicians money and perks because they can't curry favors w giant Corp execs. The only way to get the lawmakers' attention is to dangle a bigger carrot, they act on self-interest.

class80olddog
class80olddog

If we gave true tests and graded them appropriately, we would probably have a graduation rate of about 30%

class80olddog
class80olddog

As I have mentioned in the past, this conversion to standardized testing has come about, in large part, due to teachers giving grades that were not deserved. (Yes, wascatlady, I know, the teachers were forced to do this by unethical administrators). Speaking of that, how about APS promoting the cheating principal to HR and the whistleblower is out of a job? Thanks, Meria, looks like business as usual at APS. I will be so glad to see Deals OSD!

class80olddog
class80olddog

Sort of like those German soldiers in WWII - they had to do the dirty work or else. That defense didn't fly, if I remember.

class80olddog
class80olddog

Quit talking like that or you will be labeled a "C"!

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

@class80olddog Thanks for anticipating my knee-jerk response.  But I don't totally put it on administrators.   I think they have been unduly pushed by state- and national-level forces that even extend into society; i.e., little league trophies for everyone, court decisions that seem to require equal outcomes instead of equal opportunity, lawsuits by parents about little junior's lost chances to be a world-famous surgeon or ball-player.

class80olddog
class80olddog

Conservative (or "R" if you prefer). Saying you don't like everyone getting a trophy? I must ask you to surrender your PC badge!

class80olddog
class80olddog

Did not even think that! Never would cross my mind! Sorry!

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

I would not be so concerned about the validity of these tests except that we saw how messed up the CRCT (another Georgia invention) was.  In addition to ever-changing cut scores, teachers were not allowed to look over the test.  HOWEVER, some of us did, as we had to READ the test to certain students.  Then, it was clear the state employed little efforts at making the test reliable and valid.


I was one who was chosen, year after year, to read to students with that accommodation.  And, year after year, there were problems with questions--either they had 2 correct answers, or no correct answers, or the same question was asked more than once.  "Fortunately", however, virtually NEVER was any student retained based on CRCT or much of anything else!  It seems incongruous that we would now base ANYThING on a Georgia-made-up test!


Our legislators, who are not teachers, display a great deal of faith in tests Georgia makes up on its own.  The DOE keeps the contents secret for a reason.

irishmafia1457
irishmafia1457

Would love for you to do an investigative article about this. 

http://educationnext.org/fraud-in-the-lunchroom/       Widespread fraud cost those that actually pay income tax hundreds of millions a year. Check around and see how easy it is to get your child free lunch ..and breakfast   ..

class80olddog
class80olddog

You can't reward them and then tell them not to do it...

Donalyn Harris Vaughn
Donalyn Harris Vaughn

One question that needs to be asked is, if your child has an A in a course then fails the state end of course test, is it the test that is at fault or perhaps is your child's course not as rigorous as you thought? It's something I have complained about concerning the Hope since my first child went through school. Kids in districts with high grading standards (73 is a D not a C) and rigorous coursework are at a disadvantage for getting HOPE compared to kids who go to schools where grades are not as difficult to achieve. There are systems that a 70 is a C and a 60 is a D, but others where a 69 is an F. Yes, a kid coming from a school that isn't all that rigorous might see their grade drop on the Milestones, but my guess is that school probably has low SAT scores too. I am a middle school teacher and we did experience some mild glitches at our school during testing, but my daughter (who is in high school) experienced none, and said the EOCs were easy, and her grades reflected it with A/Bs on all the tests she took, and she's an A/B (mostly B) student. The entire point of these statewide tests is to ensure accountability across the districts and classrooms. Instead of demanding the results be thrown out, if my child failed the EOC, I would be asking, "What is that teacher teaching?"

Lexie Kennedy Clutter
Lexie Kennedy Clutter

Of course- it has to be that the teacher isn't teaching the correct things. It always comes back on that poor classroom teacher. Well, I'll tell you what- I taught those standards over and over and over again. My kids and I worked like dogs ALL year and I can tell you that their scores in some cases did not match their grade. And yes- in my district a 69 is an F. My course is plenty rigorous.

Another comment
Another comment

My oldest Child took several AP classes at a Minority Majority High School. In each class she was always one of only two - three students to obtain an A in the AP class. Yet she never scored higher than a 3, and on at least 2 she only scored a 2. I reviewed for every single quiz with her and the final with her by doing flash cards. She knew the content. She had always scored above the 90 the percentile on the IOWA tests. SInce her AP test scores were not going to get her college credit, I had her sign up for dual enrollment. It helped get her into a better environment for senior year as well. She was still allowed to do her High School Activities ( earned two sport letters that year and went to Prom etc. ) . She earned 5 full college credits at college as a Dual Enrollment student..

I believe she was taught the lesson of her life by taking Dual enrollment she encountered a Math Professor who graded hard and didn't allow ways to earn bonus points on tests or assignments so she ended up with a 79 a C.Her first and Last one ever. She got B's on 3 of the other classes and 1 A. Now when they went back to high school got the boost like IB/AP. It was the year following when she took the Dual Enrollment ( now move on when ready ) that the State started mandateing that the UGA system schools count Dual enrollment the same as IB/AP, also now you get the .5 boost for HOPE.

My daughter is going into senior year of a five year Stem program never having received lower than a B+ in college ( in Chemestry and lab those type classes) her overall GPA is just under 3.8. She has maintained her HOPE and will have it for the entire 127 hrs.

I often wonder what was the deal with those AP test scores? DId she have poor teachers at a less than stellar school. Where the A's a result of a lot of bonus point opportunity ( which I know she took advantage of). STandardized tests that other than the teacher produces are a crap shot. Last year! I have heard the AP US History had a bunch of stuff on the conversative movement in the 1980's, most History teachers never covered other than Reagan win the election.

teachermom4
teachermom4

State law requires that below a 70% is a failing grade. How districts arrange 70-100 is up to them. I grew up in the Northeast with a 93-100 being an A, 85-92 a B, 76-84 a C, and 70-75 a D. The grading in GA seems very generous to me. :)


As a 5th grade teacher I can tell you that my 3 students who failed my class also failed Milestones. I do realize that grade inflation exists and it isn't always something the individual teacher can control. I have been lucky to work in places where I can justify the grades I assign and be left alone about it.

WWTJD
WWTJD

Seems to me the legislature needs to stop meddling in local governance of education.  They need to walk the walk... not just talk the talk...


Astropig
Astropig

@WWTJD


You want them to stop "meddling"? Stop taking the money that they appropriate for public education.Problem solved.

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

@Astropig @WWTJD Since WE PAY the money, why should we quit taking it?  As so many are fond of saying, IT IS OUR MONEY.

Astropig
Astropig

@Wascatlady @Astropig @WWTJD


I saw in one of the few surviving newspapers the other day that there will be an "election" in November of this year.They were vague on the details,but it seems that the entire Georgia house of representatives and one third of the state senate are being held accountable for their job performance of the last two years.I would suggest that you nominate a few candidates that will do what you would have them do and "elect" them.


Now, that's going to be a bit difficult,admittedly. It seems that Georgians are still resentful of a century and a half of Democrat (mis)rule and haven't gotten to the point yet that they will throw the R's out of office.It would appear that Republicans are closer in philosophy to average Georgians on matters of education than Democrats at this time.That will (it bears repeating) make your job a wee bit more diufficult.

class80olddog
class80olddog

I say the same thing about Federal money but they keep threatening to withhold it based on bathroom and locker room access

Another comment
Another comment

Most elections in Georgia at the local level have already been decided at the local level in the Primaries. I had two choices in my district for the State House the Good old boy announted pick or a women who was opposing the annointment. BOth were R's, both made clear their kids go to $25k plus private schools. I voted for the women. As did 58% of my district.

AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

How about section tests, chapter tests, unit tests, and final tests, that are contained in a well structured curriculum that is able to be thoroughly taught in the allotted  class length?


class80olddog
class80olddog

As long as the teachers don't administer the tests and grade them, fine. There were problems with that (APS).

elementary-pal
elementary-pal

@class80olddog  You do realize that the teachers who follow the rules don't make the news, right?  Your sweeping generalizations about teachers, administration, and education as a whole, detract from anything constructive you might say. 

class80olddog
class80olddog

I have NEVER said that all teachers cheat! Unfortunately the few who do spoil it for all.

Susan Blount Campbell
Susan Blount Campbell

Hey, that business about charging for rescoring is a win-win for the GADOE when they say there's no change to the score! They get to get money for it AND maintain that the score is valid! Woohoo! Except that it's a racket! I know of one student who had an entire section scored blank. He and the teacher KNEW that he had completed it. She requested a rescore and it came back with no change.

Astropig
Astropig

No,no,no emphatically NO! Just because the paper hates testing,we'd be crazy to open up this can of worms.This is pure,bare knuckle politics and we may as well just forget taking any meaningful information from this testing regime if we go down this road.There is simply not a single testing system ever devised that will be glitch-free right out of the box.There will be growing pains,there will be setbacks and dead ends.But as a taxpayer,I don't want to see scores continually challenged and the money spent to satisfy an anti-testing bias that serves no useful purpose other than to undermine the very notion of holding schools accountable for the results of their efforts.

AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

@Astropig


Do you think the current tests are:

Valid?

Reliable?

Aid instruction?

Give other information?


CSpinks
CSpinks

@AvgGeorgian @Astropig When will info about the validity, reliability and other technical characteristics of the GMAS's tests be made public?

Astropig
Astropig

@Wascatlady @AvgGeorgian @Astropig


Just curious, how do you figure that out? And when you do, do you discriminate against them? Do you hold it against them because they picked the "wrong" parents in the delivery room?

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

@Astropig @Wascatlady @AvgGeorgian Kids with the higher scores are usually those of higher SES families. They also generally have parents that are more educated (which frequently leads to higher SES). That has been recounted here many times as we discussed SAT results and other test results.


It was a sarcastic rejoinder by me of what the scores tell you from AvgGeorgian, above.


I am puzzled as to why you think they (or anyone) should be discriminated against?

Astropig
Astropig

@Wascatlady @Astropig @AvgGeorgian


I kind of had the impression that you had a chip on your shoulder that some kids were born smart or born to smart parents that would accept nothing less than their full potential.If it was sarcasm,I withdraw my remarks.


As for discrimination,I discriminate against lazy,apathetic people all the time (of all races and creeds,btw),but that's about it.

Jennifer Schmidt
Jennifer Schmidt

I would say that Cardoza's response is unbelievable but it simply is believable. The level these people will stoop too on the backs of our children.

cyadra
cyadra

So in other words...screw you parents, you are all too dumb to vote out the legislature that put this into place, so you get what you deserve.

MaureenDowney
MaureenDowney moderator

EduKtor, Back to our games and our ever-changing aliases? 

AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

@trifecta_ @AvgGeorgian @MaureenDowney


I have seen no evidence that the tests are reliable or valid. Have you? There are many sites that explain reliability and validity if you care to refresh your memory. I will wait.