Common Core tests v. 2.0 arrive in Fayette

Two familiar mainstay tests used by Georgia schools are about to pass into history. The Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests (CRCT) and the End of Course Tests (EOCT) will be replaced next school year with the Georgia Milestones Assessment System, also aligned to the Common Core Georgia Performance Standards.

Ga. Dept. of Education spokesman Matt Cardoza said school systems across the state will implement the new Georgia Milestones testing system during the 2014-2015 academic year. The new system will replace both the CRCT and EOCT.

“Georgia Milestones will be aligned to the Common Core Georgia Performance Standards (CCGPS) and will require more from students than the CRCT and EOCT it replaces, in order to better prepare students for college and career and to provide a more realistic picture of academic progress,” Cardoza said. “A major benefit of the new system is that it is one consistent testing program across grades 3-12, whereas previously students took a series of individual tests.”

State School Superintendent John Barge cautioned that the increased expectations for student learning reflected in Georgia Milestones may mean initially lower scores than the previous years’ CRCT or EOCT scores. That is to be expected and should bring Georgia’s tests in line with other indicators of how our students are performing, he 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,” Dr. Barge said.

Fayette County Superintendent Jody Barrow agreed, noting the expectation that Georgia Milestones will be more rigorous and that some schools statewide may see a significant decline in pass rates. As for Fayette schools, Barrow said, “Compared to the rest, I think we’ll continue to see Fayette in the top 10-20 percentile range. I think as we get more in-tune with the target we’ll be able to hit it.”

Cardoza said the new testing system will include open-ended questions to better gauge students’ content mastery. With some exceptions for special education students with specific testing accommodations, Georgia Milestones will be administered entirely online by the fifth year of implementation, compared to 35 percent online administration of the EOCT in 2013-2014.

The state on May 28 awarded a five-year, $107.8 million contract to CTB/McGraw-Hill to develop the new testing system, Cardoza said.