Phone: (770) 787-1330 Fax: (770) 784-2950 Email: info@newton.k12.ga.us

News

November 16, 2015

The Georgia Department of Education (GaDOE) has released Newton County School System’s (NCSS) results from the 2014-15 administration of the Georgia Milestones Assessment System (Georgia Milestones in grades 3-8 and Georgia Milestones EOCs in grades 9-12). While scores were lower than what parents and the community have come to expect on the state’s previous test—the Criterion Referenced Competency Tests (CRCT)—the results were not a surprise to district officials.

“It is important to remember that the Georgia Milestones scores and the previous year’s CRCT scores are not comparable,” said Dr. Allison Jordan, NCSS Director of Testing, Research, and Evaluation. “The Georgia Milestones and the CRCT are two very different tests, with different expectations set for student achievement. Because the expectations set by the Georgia Milestones system are higher, it was expected that the percentage of students considered proficient would initially be lower.”

NCSS students took the CRCT for the last time during the 2013-14 school year, and began taking Georgia Milestones assessments in 2014-15. The new testing system is one consistent program across grades 3-12, rather than a series of individual tests. It includes open-ended questions to better gauge students’ content mastery and, with some exceptions for special education students with specific testing accommodations, will be administered entirely online by the fifth year of implementation.

The higher bar for student proficiency set by Georgia Milestones is aimed at better preparing students for college and career and providing a more realistic picture of academic progress. During the administration of the CRCT, Georgia had some of the lowest expectations for student achievement in the nation – a gap between students’ performance on state assessments and their performance on other measures of student achievement. Georgia Milestones aims to narrow that gap and send a consistent signal about student achievement both within the Georgia system (across grades and courses) and with external measures (such as NAEP, PSAT, SAT, and ACT).

The new Georgia Milestones assesses student learning along four levels of performance, compared to three, as was the case for the CRCT. These designations aim to shift the focus away from just test scores, instead capturing the progression of students’ learning:

  • Beginning Learners do not yet demonstrate proficiency in the knowledge and skills necessary at this grade level/course of learning, as specified in Georgia’s content standards. The students need substantial academic support to be prepared for the next grade level or course and to be on track for college and career readiness.
  •         Developing Learners demonstrate partial proficiency in the knowledge and skills necessary at this grade level/course of learning, as specified by Georgia’s content standards. The students need additional academic support to ensure success in the next grade level or course and to be on track for college and career readiness.
  •         Proficient Learners demonstrate proficiency in the knowledge and skills necessary at this grade level/course of learning, as specified in Georgia’s content standards. The students are prepared for the next grade level or course and are on track for college and career readiness.

  •         Distinguished Learners demonstrate advanced proficiency in the knowledge and skills necessary at this grade level/course of learning, as specified in Georgia’s content standards. The students are well prepared for the next grade level or course and are well prepared for college and career readiness.

Additional performance levels help teachers better pinpoint where kids are and give students more opportunities to succeed.

In addition to multiple choice, Georgia Milestones includes constructed response and extended response items which require students to generate, rather than select, responses. The system also assesses writing at each grade level/course, streamlining the testing system and reducing the number of tests students take.

NCSS 2014-2015 Georgia Milestones Results

Key to Read Data Charts and Tables:

1 = Beginning Learners
2 = Developing Learners
3 = Proficient Learners
4 = Distinguished Learners

“The new Milestones results cannot be compared to previous CRCT or EOCT results and there is not a ‘pass-fail’ with regard to students’ performance,” said NCSS Superintendent Samantha Fuhrey. “Instead, the new system captures information about students’ learning on a continuum. Our goal is to move students along the continuum in such a way that they are proficient or distinguished learners before the end of the school year. It is unfortunate that we are just receiving data from last year’s assessments; we are almost halfway through the school year.   It is my hope that we’ll receive the Spring 2016 data much earlier so that we can make any needed changes prior to the start of the 2016-2017 school year. Our teachers and leaders have worked diligently to prepare our students for this new assessment, but more work and focus is needed. We are studying the details of the data in an effort to make any needed adjustments in curricula and instructional practices. 

Fuhrey added, “It is important that parents and teachers work closely as the expectations of the Georgia Milestones are much more rigorous than those of the former assessments.  In addition, students and parents should keep in mind that the spring Milestones for students in grades 3, 5 and 8 will be used for promotion and retention, and in high school, End-of-Course assessments will be calculated as 20% of the final grade for the course.”

Now that the Georgia Milestones results are available, the state’s school accountability system, the College and Career Ready Performance Index (CCRPI), will now begin using those results to calculate school and district CCRPI scores. The 2015 CCRPI; however, is a hold harmless year since this was the first year Georgia Milestones was administered. According to state officials, the GaDOE is exploring the option of schools earning points for Developing Learners, Proficient Learners, and Distinguished Learners.

In relation to student promotion, going forward, students in grades 3, 5, and 8 must demonstrate they can read and comprehend grade-level material in order to promote to the next grade level. Students’ performance on the reading component of the ELA test will determine whether the student is reading below grade level or on/above grade level.  Students will also receive a Lexile score based on their reading skill.  Students in grades 5 and 8 must also demonstrate grade-level skills in mathematics to be eligible for promotion.  Students who achieve the Developing Learner level or above have mastered basic grade-level mathematic concepts and skills.

For more information on Newton County School System’s 2014-2015 Georgia Milestones Results, contact Dr. Allison Jordan, NCSS Director of Testing, Research, and Evaluation, at jordan.allison@newton.k12.ga.us.

***