TEST­ING OVER­HAUL

State an­nounces new test­ing sys­tem to re­place CRCT

The Covington News - - FRONT PAGE - KAYLA ROBINS krobins@cov­news.com

What stu­dents, par­ents and teach­ers have been do­ing to pre­pare for and take tests un­til now may not cut it next year, and the New­ton County Schools ad­min­is­tra­tion is do­ing its best to pre­pare for a more rig­or­ous year.

The Ge­or­gia Depart­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion (GADOE) an­nounced ear­lier in June the im­ple­men­ta­tion of a new test­ing sys­tem, the Ge­or­gia Mile­stones As­sess­ment Sys­tem (Ge­or­gia Mile­stones), dur­ing the 20142015 aca­demic year to re­place both the CRCT and EOCT tests.

Ge­or­gia Mile­stones will be aligned to the Com­mon Core Ge­or­gia Per­for­mance Stan­dards (CCGPS) and will re­quire more from stu­dents than the CRCT and EOCT tests it re­places af­ter 14 and 11 years, re­spec­tively. Ac­cord­ing to a GADOE press re­lease, Ge­or­gia Mile­stones will bet­ter pre­pare stu­dents for col­lege and ca­reers and to pro­vide a more real­is­tic pic­ture of aca­demic progress.

A ma­jor ben­e­fit to the new test­ing sys­tem is that it is con­sis­tent across grades three- 12, whereas un­til now stu­dents took a se­ries of in­di­vid­ual tests, the press re­lease said.

“We need to know that stu­dents are be­ing pre­pared, not at a min­i­mum-com­pe­tency level but with rig­or­ous, rel­e­vant ed­u­ca­tion, to en­ter col­lege, the work­force or the mil­i­tary at a level that makes them com­pet­i­tive with stu­dents from other states,” said State School Su­per­in­ten­dent John Barge.

The State of Ge­or­gia awarded a bid to CTB/McGraw-Hill on Wed­nes­day, May 28 to de­velop the new sys­tem dur­ing a five-year $107.8 mil­lion con­tract, ac­cord­ing to the GADOE web­site and the Ge­or­gia Pro­cure­ment Registry.

In­creased ex­pec­ta­tions for stu­dent learn­ing re­flected in Ge­or­gia Mile­stones may mean ini­tially lower scores than the pre­vi­ous years’ CRCT and EOCT scores. That is ex­pected and should bring Ge­or­gia’s tests in line with other in­di­ca­tors of how our stu­dents are per­form­ing, Barge said.

Not a new CRCT

While ini­tial scores are ex­pected to be lower across the board — more in line with last year’s co­or­di­nate al­ge­bra and an­a­lytic ge­om­e­try tests, which will be new tests but will re­flect the same rigor — New­ton County School Sys­tem (NCSS) ad­min­is­tra­tion said can­not be com­pared be­cause “it’s a com­pletely dif­fer­ent as­sess­ment.”

It’s no longer good enough just to fill in a mul­ti­ple choice bub­ble, said NCSS Su­per­in­ten­dent Samantha Fuhrey. Stu­dents will now have to jus­tify why they think an an­swer on a test is cor­rect through a writ­ten re­sponse.

Ge­or­gia Mile­stones as­sesses stu­dents in English and math with three forms of ques­tions: - Selected re­sponse: mul­ti­ple choice - Con­structed re­sponse: writ­ten re­sponse to a ques­tion with ev­i­dence from the ques­tion cited in rea­son­ing - Ex­tended re­sponse: writ­ten, long-form re­sponse to a ques­tion or prob­lem NCSS is go­ing be­yond state re­quire­ments of ap­ply­ing these as­sess­ment forms to English and math by mak­ing all ma­jor as­sess­ments more rig­or­ous, in­clud­ing so­cial stud­ies and sci­ence, ac­cord­ing to Shannon Buff, di­rec­tor of sec­ondary cur­ricu­lum at NCSS.

The new sys­tem also does away with writ­ing as­sess­ments for grades three, five and eight and re­quires such tests for ev­ery grade through the ex­tended re­sponses.

Stu­dents in grades three through eight will take End of Grade (EOG) tests, and high school stu­dents will take End of Course (EOC) tests. High school ju­niors will still take the Ge­or­gia High School Writ­ing Test, which will still be a di­ploma re­quire­ment, Buff said.

“We are not truly as­sess­ing at the na­tional level like we should be,” said Al­li­son Jordan, di­rec­tor of test­ing, re­search and eval­u­a­tion at NCSS, of both New­ton County schools and schools statewide.

The cur­rent scor­ing sys­tem of “does not meet,” “meets” and “ex­ceeds” scores will be thrown out, as well as any com­par­i­son to the CRCT and EOCT tests. New “readi­ness in­di­ca­tors” will re­quire dif­fer­ent stan­dards to reach the same score, ac­cord­ing to the Su­per­in­ten­dent’s Month in Re­view from May.

“That’s a par­a­digm shift for us as well as for par­ents,” Jordan said. “It’s con­cern­ing to think about what this test will look like.”

Stu­dents no longer can em­ploy a “plug-and-chug” tech­nique and have a sta­tis­ti­cal op­por­tu­nity to guess the cor­rect an­swer, Jordan said. It re­quires a higher level of think­ing, one which stu­dents have not been re­quired to do so far.

“A change for ev­ery­one”

NCSS ad­min­is­tra­tion must not only ed­u­cate stu­dents on these changes. Par­ents also have to be pro­vided re­sources so they, in turn, can help their chil­dren keep up with these el­e­vated stan­dards.

“It’s a change for ev­ery­one in­volved,” said Craig Lock­hart, NCSS deputy su­per­in­ten­dent of schools. “This is a process. It’s go­ing to take some time. It’s a state goal to pro­duce a glob­ally com­pet­i­tive work­force. The process of get­ting to that level has been long and in­volved.”

He said it is the school district’s re­spon­si­bil­ity to re­spond to any change that comes from the state, even if fre­quent changes may dis­rupt a con­tin­u­ous learn­ing flow.

Su­per­in­ten­dent Fuhrey said stu­dents and par­ents should ex- pect a dip in scores with any­thing new but that the strug­gle is where they can learn the most.

“A dif­fer­ent and more rig­or­ous class­room should be ex­pected,” Fuhrey said.

In school, teach­ers will stress re­search-based in­struc­tional strate­gies, fill­ing in back­ground knowl­edge, tech­nol­ogy in­te­gra­tion and lev­er­ag­ing as­sess­ment prepa­ra­tion at a higher ve­loc­ity, Fuhrey said.

Test­ing, Re­search and Eval­u­a­tion Di­rec­tor Jordan said al­though it may seem like the district is teach­ing to the test, “it needs to be teach­ing for learn­ing.”

Sec­ondary Cur­ricu­lum Di­rec­tor Buff said through these mon­u­men­tal changes and higher stan­dards, teach­ers and ad­min­is­tra­tors have been work­ing through the sum­mer to be ready by Au­gust.

“When there is a change, they roll with it and do what we ask of them,” Buff said. “While it’s frus­trat­ing, they do so much. They’re work­ing now to get ready and adapt.”

Still have ques­tions?

If you have ques­tions about the new test­ing sys­tem, at­tend the next ed­u­ca­tion sum­mit on Au­gust 23, where NCSS Su­per­in­ten­dent Samantha Fuhrey and other school district ad­min­is­tra­tion will dis­cuss the new sys­tem.

Cour­tesy of Metro Cre­ative Con­nec­tion

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