FORSYTH COUNTY — Results on Georgia Milestones, the state’s standardized assessment system, will not affect whether students in third, fifth and eighth grades can graduate to the next grade this year.
During the recent administration of the Milestones End of Grade tests in elementary and middle schools, some school districts throughout Georgia reported technology-related interruptions of online testing, according to the state Department of Education.
The interruptions led the state school board to waive promotion, placement and retention requirements tied to the 2016 administration of the tests.
“I am committed to a responsible approach to accountability that ensures public trust in the process,” said State School Superintendent Richard Woods.
“Given the technology issues experienced by some students during the online administration of the Georgia Milestones EOGs, we believe it is best to proceed with caution when it comes to basing promotion, placement and retention on the outcome of the tests.”
State law requires that students in third grade earn at or above their grade level in reading to be promoted to fourth grade.
In fifth and eighth grades, state law requires students earn at or above their grade level in reading and in the “developing learner” achievement level or above in mathematics to be promoted to sixth and ninth grades.
Those are the requirements being waived for this school year.
Matt Cardoza, a spokesman for the state education department, said in a statement that some local school systems have additional promotion criteria and this waiver “will not preclude school districts from applying local policies and protocols for promotion and retention decisions for individual students.”
Student growth, which is determined by scores on statewide standardized testing, will also not affect this year’s teacher and leader evaluations.
Jennifer Caracciolo, spokeswoman for the local school system, said all students will still receive scores from their Milestones testing.
“Parents will be contacted when test results are posted in ParentPortal, and paper copies will be available at schools when they are received later this summer,” she said.
This administration of Milestones was the second since being adopted to replace the Criterion Referenced-Competency Tests and End of Course Test assessments. Milestones are eventually supposed to be administered entirely online, except for some special education students.
“Forsyth County Schools had a successful online testing experience,” Caracciolo said. “Any interruptions were short term and quickly resolved without requiring extensive technical support as other school districts reported.”
She said since EOG test scores will not determine grade placement for third-, fifth- and eighth-graders regardless of whether they took the test on paper or online, the school district will use “a body of evidence to determine grade placement for students who require a placement meeting.”
It will do so also for “those who do not meet minimum requirements in English language arts — third, fifth and eighth grades — or math — fifth and eighth grades — and/or for students of parents that refused the assessment.”
Caracciolo said for more information, parents of Forsyth County students may email firstname.lastname@example.org.