Liberty County students can expect another big change in the upcoming school year.
The Georgia Department of Education is implementing a new testing system — the Georgia Milestones Assessment System — to complement the Common Core Georgia Performance Standards, which went into effect in the 2013-14 school year.
According to a statewide news release, the Georgia Milestones will “require more from students than both the Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests (CRCT) and the End Of Course Tests (EOCT) it replaces, in order to better prepare students for college and career and to provide a more realistic picture of academic progress.”
Dr. Jennifer Walts, director of evaluation, assessment and accountability at LCSS, said district officials have been aware since Common Core was adopted in 2010 that a new, more rigorous assessment system would accompany it in 2015.
“The planned delay provided school systems an implementation period intended to give teachers, students and parents the opportunity to become acquainted with the new standards,” she said.
Walts explained that under the old testing systems, elementary- and middle-school students took the CRCT, and high-school students took the EOCT. Additionally, third-, fifth-, eighth- and 11th-grade students all took separate writing tests.
Under the new Georgia Milestones system, writing will be incorporated into the English/language arts, math, science and social-studies content areas, and reading will fall under the English/language-arts portion, making for a much more consistent testing program across third through 12th grades.
Walts also said that the new system will offer a more in-depth look at what students have really learned in the classroom by asking more open-ended questions alongside typical multiple-choice questions.
“The new standards and assessment are in line with the kind of thinking and problem-solving needed to be successful in today’s competitive, technology-rich work force,” she 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,” State School Superintendent Dr. John Barge said.
With students and faculty still adjusting to new Common Core requirements and newer testing protocols, Walts said an initial dip in scores “would not be surprising.” However, she remains confident that LCSS students will be performing to standards in short order.
“Liberty County has strong teachers and staff who have been working diligently to prepare for the new testing program,” Walts said.