Opting Out of the Georgia Milestones Tests

Last year was the first year for the new state standardized test, the Georgia Milestones.  On Tuesday DeKalb elementary and middle school students will begin 3 weeks of Georgia Milestones testing.
Requirements for graduation and grade promotions were waived last year, and SB 355 passed this year allows students to opt out of state mandated assessments for serious health issues.
Related Posts
2016 Legislative Session (MAR 2016) – Legislative changes to state mandated testing
  Georgia Milestones FAQ (NOV 2015)
  2015 Graduation Rates (NOV 2015) – social promotion and the elimination of the Georgia High School Graduation Test
  Student Promotion – Whose Decision Is It? (SEPT 2014) – Students in grades three, five and eight won’t have to perform at grade level
Knox Phillips is the Director of Research, Assessments, and Grants at the DeKalb County School District who gave us his thoughts on the value of using  Tax Dollars to Pay for AP Exams.  Knox Phillips answers some questions about Georgia Milestones testing.
Question: Can parents opt out of Milestones testing?

Knox Phillips

Knox Phillips: The State of Georgia’s legislation does not permit opt-outs from state mandated assessments (Georgia Law O.C.G.A. §20‐2‐281)
Question: Will the school, district or student be penalized for opting out?
Knox Phillips: Yes. The refusal to participate will impact overall school achievement and CCRPI scores.
Specifically, SBOE Rule 160‐4‐2‐.11, contains the following language that applies when students do not test in a state‐designated promotion/retention grade:
(3)(c) 6. ‘A student’s failure to take the state‐adopted assessment in grades 3, 5, and 8 in reading and/or mathematics on any of the designated testing date(s) or an alternative assessment instrument that is appropriate for the student’s grade level as provided for by the State Board of Education and the local board of education shall result in the student being retained. The option of the parent or guardian or teacher(s) to appeal the decision to retain the student shall follow the procedure set forth in this rule.’
(3)(c) 8. ‘The decision of the placement committee may be appealed only as provided for by the local board of education.’
Designated high school courses require that the Georgia Milestones End of Course (EOC) measures serve as the final exam and that they comprise a defined portion of a student’s final course grade. Specifically, SBOE Rule 160‐4‐2‐.13 states that:
(2)(d). ‘The Georgia Milestones EOC shall be used as the final exam in the courses assessed by a Georgia Mile-stones EOC. Georgia Milestones EOC reports shall provide students, parents, and educators with individual scores on each EOC taken; student scores must be recorded on, in, or with the individual student report card.
(2)(e). ‘For students who entered ninth grade for the first time before July 1, 2011, the numeric score on the Georgia Milestones EOC shall count for 15% of the student’s final numeric grade in the course assessed by the Georgia Milestones EOC.
(2)(f). ‘For students who entered ninth grade for the first time after July 1, 2011, the numeric score on the Georgia Milestones EOC shall count for 20% of the student’s final numeric grade in the course assessed by the Georgia Milestones EOC.
In the absence of the EOC score, the school will lack this portion of the final course grade and would be compelled to calculate that course grade without this required component. Simply put, this would result in a course grade that would not reflect the true achievement of the student.
In addition to the direct impact upon students as noted above, districts and schools receive no credit towards their annual accountability measures when a student does not participate in state testing. This can, in turn, negatively impact both the perception and standing of districts and schools with a broader potential impact upon entire communities. The lack of a test score specifically impacts the required participation rate that schools and districts must meet, along with preventing a complete and accurate picture of the academic performance and quality of instructional programs.
Question: Will the Milestones be required for graduation?
Knox Phillips: Milestones will affect graduation because the End-of-Course assessment for high school students makes up 20% of the final grade in the respective course, which could affect a student’s passing score for required high school courses that are needed for conferral of high school completion and graduation.
Question: Will students in 3rd 5th and 8th grades need to perform at grade level to be promoted?
Knox Phillips: Yes. 3rd, 5th, and 8th grade students must score proficiently on the Reading and Vocabulary components of the ELA End-of-Grade assessment to be considered for promotion. In addition, 5th and 8th grade students must also score at either the Developing Learner, Proficient Learner, or Distinguished Learner achievement level to in mathematics to be promoted to the next grade level (i.e., Levels 2, 3, 4).
Question: If students in 3rd, 5th, or 8th grade opt out, can you use other data points for promotion?
Knox Phillips: Yes. Students in these grade levels will be recommended for retest and summer school due to the lack of available Milestones data. Local schools will begin their local promotion/retention appeals hearings in the month of July. Other data points will be considered by the local school promotion/retention committees and students of parents who refused participation in the Milestones will have to participate in a complementary assessment to measure the skills readiness and provide additional insight into the student’s readiness for the next grade level.
Question: What should parents do if they would like to opt out?
Knox Phillips: According to guidance provided by the State of Georgia and the Georgia Department of Education, Parents who wish to advocate for a change in testing requirements may be encouraged to contact their federal legislators and to work within the legislative process. As stated earlier, both state and federal laws currently require the annual assessment of all students enrolled in public schools in identified grades and courses and neither law nor policy currently allow for a parent to opt a student out of this requirement for any reason.
Parents in DeKalb can express their concerns to local school principals who, in turn, will forward their concerns to the district director for research, assessment, and grants for an official response and guidance to the parent and school principal on the process and next steps.

6 responses to “Opting Out of the Georgia Milestones Tests

  1. 160416-007042Has anyone heard tests are so long cafeteria,a May have time feeding lunch to Kindergarten?

  2. Tests so long may not have time to feed kindergarten

  3. In grades 3-8 you can’t opt out, you can REFUSE the test. My children did not take the Milestones last year. They are not taking them this year. This is Dunwoody, Dekalb County. Check out Facebook page ‘opt out georgia’. Full of information. As far as retention years, 3rd, 5th, 8th grades, they would have to have a retention meeting. Parents would have to attend. Has to be a unanimous decision. They are not going to retain a passing student. It costs more money to retain and it makes the school score look worse with retentions.

  4. Marlon Walker posted this on the AJC online yesterday, “State testing trips over technology troubles
    Georgia Milestones mishaps on End-Of-Grade testing could mean that for the second straight year, most of the relatively new test’s results won’t count.
    State Department of Education spokesman Matt Cardoza said officials will ask the state Board of Education to waive the promotion retention rule, so the test results would not be the deciding factor whether a student advances to the next grade.
    “This action is being sought in the interest of our third-, fifth- and eighth-grade students given the stakes involved for these students in reading (grades 3, 5 and 8) and mathematics (grades 5 and 8) because some may have experienced problems due to technology issues,” he said.
    As the state moves toward having most test-taking online, parents and teachers have complained about connectivity issues — including slow WiFi, students unable to log in, and students losing work after being kicked off the system.
    It’s the second year Georgia students have taken the Milestones tests, which replaced Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests and others. Paper versions are available, and used by some districts. Last year’s results weren’t counted for grade advancement because it was the new test’s first year.
    continue reading >>

  5. I am trying to determine why my child will have to take an additional final. If they’re taking all three 9th grade Milestones seems to me this should be the final. I thought the mstones serves as course final, at least that is what is stated in the mandate. Why would the teacher giving another final?

  6. Stan Jester

    Your teacher will have the best answer. As you may or may not know, the Georgia Milestone End of Course (EOC) makes up 20% of the final grade in the respective high school course. The EOC is based off state curriculum.
    The last day of school is May 26, but the EOCs are May 2 – 10. The teacher might cover additional material the last couple of weeks. The teacher might have gone into more depth somewhere or might want the test done in a different way than was presented in the EOCs.
    That’s a good question that can best be answered by your teacher. What percentage of the final grade will the final make up? What is covered in the final? What is different between the final and the EOC?