Early County Schools Prepare for Dramatic Changes to State Testing

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Beginning with the coming school year, end-of-year testing in Georgia will be drastically different from recent years.

The CRCT exam and EOCT exams are being replaced by an integrated program called Georgia Milestones.

Grades 3 through 12 will come under a program aligned with Common Core Georgia Performance Standards and Georgia Performance Standards.

Under the Georgia Milestones program, students in grades 3 through 8 will be tested in language arts, math, science and social studies. Students will have to answer open-ended questions on the new assessment, not multiple choice alone.

"The danger in multiple choice is that the kids don't have to think, says Early County Superintendent Dr. Bronwyn Ragan-Martin. "They can look at the choices and they don't think outside the box. 'I don't have to figure it out, I can pick and choose.' Here, they're going to have to say, 'Where can I get my answer' and then explain."

High school students will take End of Course Tests in ninth grade literature and composition, American literature and economics. The End of Course Tests will serve as the final exam for high school students and will make up 20 percent of their final grade.

Teachers say they have a lot of catching up to do before making lesson plans based on the new system.

"Since we really don't know what the test is going look like, I think we're all a little apprehensive about what's coming and what our students will be required to do," says Nan Stewart, a language arts teacher at Early County Elementary School.

Administrators believe the shift from CRCT to Milestones may come with some growing pains, but that the rigorous testing is necessary in keeping Georgia students competitive with their counterparts from other states.

"I'm hopeful that my kids will become better thinkers, says Matthew Cullifer, principle at Early County Elementary School. "My concern is that we're raising a generation of test takers. I want them to take what they're learning and question it and be able to apply it."