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Statewide test raises concerns
by James Swift
jswift@neighbornewspapers.com
August 20, 2014 01:31 PM | 3098 views | 0 0 comments | 59 59 recommendations | email to a friend | print
North Fulton educators and parents alike are expressing concerns about statewide changes heading into the 2014-15 school year.

“There’s a new test that’s coming, the Georgia Milestones,” said Northwestern Middle and Crabapple Crossing Elementary mom Kay Hutchinson. “And we don’t know what that’s going to look like.”

Fulton County Board of Education President Linda Schultz said she and the state’s instructors are both awaiting more information on the Georgia Milestones Assessment System, which replaces both Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests and End of Course Tests.

“Teachers begin the year, and they really don’t know what the end expectation is,” she said. “If you have a lot of standards that you’re teaching during the school year, as a teacher I want to know which ones are the most important and which ones I can expect my students to be tested on.”

Alpharetta Elementary Principal Adam Maroney considered the Milestones a big “unknown” at the semester’s start. “We have some information about it, but not a lot of information,” he said. “I think teachers are concerned about that … they just want to get a feel of what the assessment is going to be like.”

Schultz said many teachers are also concerned about new evaluations.

“The new growth measures that are in place will be used to help feed into the evaluation process,” she said. “What I feel like I don’t have a good handle on, nor do I suspect teachers have a good handle on, are the details.”

District 2 School Board Member Katie Reeves said evaluations are an issue “everybody” is struggling with.

“I think it’s a change in the way we do things, and any time there’s a change,” she said, “it takes a couple of years to iron out the kinks.”

Speaking with teachers and administrators, Reeves said math curricula was a particular concern. She said Fulton has recently asked the state to allow the county to return to a “traditional” math option.

“I am really hopeful that the state of Georgia and whoever the new state school superintendent is will allow for school districts to return to traditional math, with an appropriate assessment,” Reeves said.

Diane Jacobi, a parent of students at Centennial High and Haynes Bridge Middle, said complaints about math curriculum changes are common.

“The group that’s in high school now had been the guinea pigs from the state level,” she said, “switching from Quality Core Curriculum into Georgia Performance Standards into Common Core GPS.”

The federal Smarts Snacks in Schools standards, which limit the types of “competing” foods that can be sold within schools, has also drawn heavy criticism.

“Our band is looking at over a five-figure loss in revenue from not being able to sell Chick-Fil-A biscuits,” Jacobi said. “That’s significant when we’re talking about trips and equipment.”

While teachers, parents and administrators are stressing over new requirements and regulations, Maroney said the concerns of students are a bit more mundane.

“They’re just worried about their friends,” he said, “and who their teacher is.”

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