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Despite pushback, all public school students must take Georgia milestone tests

Published: Apr. 16, 2021 at 6:29 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - High stakes testing in schools is raising concerns during the pandemic. Despite pushback from the state, parents, and teachers, all public-school students must take the Georgia milestone tests.

We know scores this year won’t count for any more than 0.01 percent of a student’s grade. The scores also won’t be used to assess the district on college and career readiness.

But it’s a tough subject to grade, how to gauge student learning while being fair to the changes kids had to face during the pandemic.

The state’s answer was to lower the stakes.

“It was designed for the students so there would not be any major repercussions for not taking the test,” Dr. Larina Thomas, assessment coordinator with the Richmond County School System, said.

This year’s Georgia milestone tests will hardly count against a student’s grade and failing the test won’t prevent them from advancing to the next grade level.

So, the point is just to help the district know where students are.

“If we are able to get our students in to assess, we can at least know where we’re going next year,” Thomas said.

But many Georgia parents like Kimberly Patteson struggle to see the value in putting their kids through the unnecessary stress of standardized testing this year.

“As soon as kids hear EOC testing, which is end of course testing, or milestone they all -- well, not all students, but some students, they start getting stressed out,” she explained.

But that’s exactly what school leaders say they hope to avoid with these changes.

“If they feel that anxiousness coming on, we’re just going to ask them to take deep breaths, think positive, know that they’re going to do well regardless of what the outcome may look like. They’re going to do well,” Thomas said.

The Richmond County School System says they’ll personally compile test data to evaluate student performance, but because the stakes are so low, it’s up to parents this year whether students take the tests.

If they do, they advise students to get a good night’s sleep and eat a good breakfast beforehand, just like any other test.

For Richmond County students, these tests will start next week.

Students in grades 3-5 will test from April 19-30.

Students in grades 6-8 will test from April 19 to May 6.

Students in grades 9-12 will test from April 21-27.

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