GA Milestones test scores make record increase; state becomes one of four states to soon try alternative assessments


SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Georgia students showed strong improvement on the spring 2019 Georgia Milestones tests, according to the Georgia Department of Education.

Scores increased or stayed the same on 25 of 26 assessments, which is the strongest gains recorded in the five years the assessment has been given. In 2018, only 22 of 26 assessments had increasing or steady scores. The percentage of students reading on or above grade level also increased or stayed the same in every tested grade.

The largest increases were in ninth grade literature, sixth grade English language arts, third grade math and third grade English language arts. The largest increase in reading levels were in third, seventh and ninth grades.

“A strong K-12 education system is essential to keeping Georgia the best state in the nation to live, work, and raise a family,” Governor Brian Kemp said. “These strong results show impressive improvements in Georgia’s public schools, and I commend the educators and students of our state for their hard work.”

Georgia Milestones were introduced to public schools during the 2014-2015 school year and given 100% online in the 2018-2019 school year.

These results come in the same month that U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos approved Georgia’s plan to try alternative testing to the Milestones tests.

Despite strong improvements in test scores across the board, not all parents and teachers are on board, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports. Complaints about the Milestones tests say that high-stakes tests given on a single day do not accurately measure what kids are learning and how well schools are teaching.

Georgia submitted three alternative testing plans to the federal education agency as part of the federal Innovative Assessment Program. The program is included in a 2018 law that will require the Ga. Department of Education to eventually choose a new testing system for all school districts.

Two of the proposed plans were approved. Evans, Liberty and McIntosh Counties are among the multiple districts to try out the Putnam County Consortium plan. The new tests will be shorter and given more frequently.

Before any decisions are made on keeping or getting rid of Milestones tests, school districts have to prove to the state that the alternate plans are accurate and reliable.

State School Superintendent Richard Woods praised this year’s impressive Milestones test scores, but said he wants to make sure the state is doing more than preparing students to be good test takers.

“This is a testament to the hard work of Georgia’s teachers and students, and an increasing focus on educating the whole child and providing a genuinely well-rounded education,” Woods said. “While these gains are worth celebrating, we cannot be all about the test. Our job is to prepare students for life. I continue to support a reduction of state assessment requirements to the federal minimum, and more realistic and reasonable accountability requirements.”

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