It’s “testing season” for the state’s public school students. The majority of them will take the Georgia Milestones assessment online this year.
Technology glitches disrupted online tests in recent years. However, state officials say there haven’t been any major problems so far this spring.
“By and large, this year, this spring’s online administration has gone really well across the state,” said Allison Timberlake, deputy superintendent for assessment and accountability at the Georgia Department of Education. “We’ve had no major statewide issues. There have been some small, localized issues in some areas, usually due to connectivity or bandwidth issues, but our administration team and our vendor’s customer support team have been working with them straight away to get them resolved quickly.”
In 2015 and 2016, some schools had so many technical problems that educators didn’t use test scores to decide whether students should be promoted. Last year, a statewide server outage delayed testing for some districts. The state first administered Georgia Milestones at the end of the 2014-15 school year.
Timberlake says 88 percent of Georgia students will take the assessment online this spring. Next year, all students will take online versions of the test. Timberlake says districts have been working to make sure they have the capacity to administer the test that way.
“It’s definitely taken a shift in philosophy, just how we approach testing,” she said. “The model’s different. You don’t sit all students down in the building at the same time with paper and pencils and say, ‘Ok, go!’”
Timberlake says schools have adjusted in different ways. Some rotate children through classroom PCs or computer labs. Others use Chromebooks to administer the test.
It’s unclear how long the state will use Georgia Milestones as an end-of-the-year assessment. Lawmakers passed legislation this year that allows the state to create a pilot program that would test students several times throughout the year, instead of issuing one high-stakes test at the end of the year.
Georgia’s testing window ends at the beginning of June.