Previously, I wrote about the false sense of accomplishment that was generated by the CRCTs. With the recent release of the Georgia Milestones results, it’s evident that there was a significant issue with the rigor of the earlier tests.
Even the state DOE agrees that the CRCTs were basically fluff. Last year, the Deputy Superintendent of Assessment and Accountability stated: “As we know, and as has been published widely, Georgia has the lowest achievement expectations in the country.”
To address this gap between the state’s tests and the proficiency reported by NAEP, the state decided to go with a Common Core aligned, multi-state test administered by an independent party. There were basically two choices: the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) and the Smarter Balanced Consortium. Georgia chose to go with PARCC, and things were on track.
However, Common Core is a controversial thing in Georgia, and the state soon decided to ditch that approach, citing cost as the primary reason. Instead, they contracted with McGraw Hill to develop a Georgia specific test using some of the same type of open-ended questions that the PARCC exam uses. And so the Georgia Milestones were born.
And now we’ve gone through the initial round of testing. The results are in, and it’s not pretty. Before we can compare the results, we need to know that the CRCT broke out the scores into three self-explanatory categories:
- Did Not Meet the Standard
- Meets the Standard
- Exceeds the Standard
Georgia Milestones uses four categories:
- Beginning Learner
- Developing Learner
- Proficient Learner
- Distinguished Learner
Beginning Learners do not yet demonstrate proficiency. Developing Learners demonstrate partial proficiency and need additional support to be successful in the next grade level. Proficient Learners are prepared for the next grade level and are on track.
Taking a composite of the end of course tests for six courses (9th Grade Literature, American Literature, Biology, Physical Science, US History, and Economics) across all DeKalb High Schools that graduated more than 50 students in a year, we see the following results from 2013 to 2015:
The percentage of students who met or exceeded standards in 2013 and 2014 (the green and yellow lines) bounced around a bit, but all schools had more students deemed proficient then not. But then again, we’ve since learned “proficiency” didn’t necessarily mean what we thought it meant.
Looking at the 2015 data, the percentage of students who meet or exceed the “Developing Learner” criterion (the blue line) is noticeably less then the percentage who met or exceeded the 2013 and 2014 criteria for the CRCT End of Course tests.
The percentage of students who actually meet or exceed the “Proficient Learner” criterion (the red line) is significantly less. Given the report linked above that compared our state exams to the national ones, my guess is the red line is accurate.
And that should make all of us stop and think.
Because if that red line is accurate, then there are only five high schools in DeKalb County in which more than half the students are at or above grade level.
If that line is accurate, then over half the high schools in DeKalb County have fewer than 25% of their students on grade level.
They say the first step to solving a problem is to admit that you have one. I think the results of the Georgia Milestones make it clear that we have one.
We have two ways to go from here. We can either work hard, focus on the students and bring their performance up. It won’t be easy. It won’t be quick. Or we can repeat history, take the easy way out, and bring the standard down.
For our children’s sake, I pray we make the right choice.