Myth: Data Returned to Teachers from Milestones Scores will Drive Instruction

The data provided to teachers from the GA Milestones assessment is not enough to drive instruction. The amount of information given to teachers is barely enough to sort children. If the data returned to teachers, who are not permitted to view the tests, is to be worth anything at all, it must be broken down into many domains with smaller categories within each domain. To be the least bit helpful, the GA Milestones results must give teachers a student report much like that of the Iowa Test of Basic Skills (ITBS). The GA Milestones results will not do this.

The information on the reports from the GA Milestones tests is worthless. Considering the cut score (passing score) can and will be manipulated, the data is useless as well. Just like on the CRCT, cut scores on the GA Milestones test will be manipulated. In 2010 the CRCT cut score for ELA, for example, was 50%. A student only had to get 50% of the answers correct to receive a passing score of 800. In 2014 that passing score was reduced to 45%. By moving the passing score every year, what a passing score really means is devalued and worthless. A teacher will never really know what that exact passing threshold is, and this will not allow a teacher to help students. It’s like a moving target.

The GA Milestones tests give a red-yellow-green dot report or achievement scores of 1 through 4. The dots refer to “mastery,” high, moderate or low. The question is what does “mastery” mean? To a teacher, all this information allows is to group students into high, middle, and low groups. It cannot “drive” instruction. Achievement scores work the same way. A “1” on a test means “below basic.” What does “basic” mean? A “2” on the test means “basic.” A “3” indicates proficiency in the subject. Basic and proficient (2 and 3) are pretty far apart. Finally, a “4” means “advanced.” These terms are all so subjective that they tell the teacher nothing. There is no way to do more than group students based on 3 skill levels using this information. Skill level alone cannot drive instruction.

There is no way to use this information to pinpoint strengths and weaknesses. A score of “2” in English Language Arts (ELA) does not explain whether the child needs help in punctuation, grammar, or reading comprehension. It does not tell the teacher if the child has outstanding capitalization skills or scored perfectly on verbs. It only says the student has a “basic” understanding of ELA.

On the parent score sheets, there are 4 additional domains listed in ELA. They are as follows: 1. Reading: Informational, 2. Reading: Literary, 3. Language Conventions and 4. Writing Research. The score sheets give the points possible and points earned, which is helpful. The unknown is what exactly the score means if a child scores low on Language Conventions We don’t know. Math offers 5 domains, but again, if a child scores low in Geometry, what area of Geometry?

The idea that ANY data gained from the GA Milestones test can be useful enough to actually drive, adjust, or alter instruction in any way is ludicrous. It is also insulting to teachers.

Take a look at an ITBS score report expected from McGraw-Hill/CTB, the company responsible for the GA Milestones tests. As a teacher, I love the information I could gather from an ITBS report. The ITBS is based on over 80 years of research. (The GA Milestones test hasn’t even been validated as a good test.) The ITBS is tried and true and measures skills that every child needs and will need for success. It gives teachers and parents a great snapshot of where the child stands in many areas of learning and academic skill.

Iowa-Sample-Test

http://idahoansforlocaleducation.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/sample-score-report-iowa-performance-profile-.pdf

Now look at the scores promised in the CTB contract with the GA DOE.

GSAP

(McGraw-Hill/CTB charts obtained from the 2014 testing contract with the Georgia DOE. Contract was obtained by M. Norris through the Open Records Act of Georgia 50-18-70.)

CTB-2014

(McGraw-Hill/CTB charts obtained from the 2014 testing contract with the Georgia DOE. Contract was obtained by M. Norris through the Open Records Act of Georgia 50-18-70.)

The score reports from the CRCT are not any better than the reports that parents will see from the GA Milestones.


GA-end-grade-2015

GA-end-grade-2015-2
(McGraw-Hill/CTB charts obtained from the 2014 testing contract with the Georgia DOE. Contract was obtained by M. Norris through the Open Records Act of Georgia 50-18-70.)

This is the information is being put in a child’s permanent file.

GA-EOG-2015

To summarize, the idea that the information given to teachers from the GA Milestones tests could direct instruction in any way is a lie. The ONLY thing that can be done is to sort kids into high, middle, and low groups, which is what was done with the CRCT. This “data” is worthless to drive instruction or to provide any valuable information to parents or students, but the GA Milestones does gather key psychometric data that will be shared with HummRRO (https://www.humrro.org/corpsite/), a research firm that will use student data, for further research and sale.

The real question is this: How are the Norm Referenced “TerraNova” (McGraw-Hill’s pre-designed norm-referenced test) scores going to compare to ITBS percentages? How about NAEP scores? With only 20 norm-referenced questions at a depth-of-knowledge (DOK) of 2 (on a 4 point scale), Georgia is setting itself up to look very good compared to other states. It is only the norm-referenced questions that can be used to compare state-to-state.

Research performed by the American Institutes of Research (AIR), the leading psychometric research firm, has already shown that the NEAP tests do not align with Common Core. The research has been removed from the web, but can still be found here: http://web.archive.org/web/20150406043939/http://www.air.org/sites/default/files/downloads/report/NVS_combined__study_1_NAEP_alignment_with_CCSS_0.pdf

Georgians to Stop Common Core has reviewed the myth that data can be used to drive instruction. This is indeed a myth. This information needs to be shared widely with parents who have been told such a bold faced lie. The stress schools put on students and teachers to perform is not worth the amount of information the school will receive. Georgians to Stop Common Core has looked at the truth, and we urge you to refuse the GA Milestones for your child.

*For more information about why psychometric research is not appropriate in education, particularly without parental consent, please view this video by Dr. Gary Thompson (a clinically and educationally trained psychologist, and an expert on common core): https://vimeo.com/110738936.

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