The procedure for which student will advance to the next grade or be held back a year was changed and simplified this year due to the pioneer year of state assessments.
In the past, school districts’ promotion and retention policies were tied to the state assessment, said Beth Kieffer, director of assessment for Forsyth County Schools. That used to be the CRCT.
Third-graders used to have to pass reading, while fifth- and eighth-graders were assessed based on math, to be promoted to the next grade level.
If they failed the first time, they were allotted a retest. If the student also failed the retest, a committee would decide whether to place him or her in the next grade or keep the student in the same grade for a following year.
But the new state assessments, Georgia Milestones Assessment System, that will replace CRCT for elementary and middle school and EOCT for high school are so new that they will take longer to grade.
These scores will eventually be tied to promotion and retention, Kieffer said, but because they won’t come in until fall 2015, they cannot be applied in time.
Each school system must devise a procedure for promoting or retaining a student in place of this temporarily irrelevant state policy.
“It’s so much more simple,” Kieffer said. “It’s what we would do anyway for any student.”
The new procedure essentially looks at all data from all tests and achievement, not just one end of course test, she said.
The district must inform parents by February if there is a concern for the student’s potential to move on to the next grade.
Students in kindergarten through eighth grades will be assessed based on classroom evidence, work samples, report cards and test data, she said.
High school students just have to pass the course. Before, the EOCT — which will be replaced by Georgia Milestones’ end of course test — counted as 20 percent of the final grade for each class. That will be waived, Kieffer said.
But only in regards to moving onto the next grade or graduating. Once scores are released they will be added to students’ transcripts, so they will still be seen. They just can’t be held back because of a failing score on that test this year.
“They say it doesn’t count, which is partially true because the 20 percent doesn’t county. But college will see it in their record,” Kieffer said.
In the same regards, Georgia Milestones will not affect teacher evaluations, yet.
A quick Milestones recap
When the state Department of Education announced the new testing system in June to be implemented for the 2014-15 academic year, officials said it would be more rigorous than the CRCT and EOCT tests, which had been in place for 14 and 11 years, respectively.
A benefit to the Georgia Milestones, the DOE said, would be that the tests are consistent throughout all grades, instead of a series of individual tests that are broken into pre-high school and high school.
State School Superintendent John Barge has said increased expectations for student achievement reflected in the new assessments may mean initially lower scores than previous years’ state tests, but that they cannot be compared to those previous years because the tests are completely different.