Georgia Milestones tests
Gainesville City School System
• Third, fifth and eighth grades: April 30-May 4
• Fourth, sixth and seventh grades: May 7-9
• High school: April 23-June 1
Hall County Schools
• High school: April 24-May 4
• Third through eighth grades: May 1-11
All public school students in third grade and above take the Georgia Milestones tests.
For students in grades third through eighth, that means they take End of Grade tests in English/language arts and mathematics. In grades fifth and eighth, students are also tested on standards in science and social studies.
Shea Ray, director of data and assessment for the Gainesville City School System, said students in grades third, fifth and eighth must pass the reading portion of the English/language arts test and students in grades fifth and eighth are required to pass the math test.
If they do not pass, they are given a retest.
Failure to pass portions of the test would cause the student to be considered for retention, according to Kevin Bales, assistant superintendent for teaching and learning in Hall County Schools.
“Remediation and transition plans are provided in those cases,” Bales said. “In our district, we strive to work with our parents to determine those small number of students who may benefit from retention.”
At the high school level, students take End of Course tests in 10 different subjects.
Bales added that End of Course tests at the high school level account for 20 percent of the grade for that course, “so they definitely can impact a student’s graduation.”
“The tests are aligned with curriculum standards, so parent involvement and awareness with regard to his or her child’s progress in each tested subject is crucial to supporting students,” Bales said. “Both our district and the state have resources to support students who are struggling, but it’s much more difficult when students are months behind as opposed to being days behind.”
Ray said the Milestones tests help determine whether a student is promoted.
The Gainesville district also uses the Lights retention scale.
“It’s a series of questions that a teacher has to fill out on a student when considering promotion/retention because we know that grades or achievement on that one test is not the only thing that we need to take into consideration,” Ray said.
She added the Gainesville schools have other tests that allow them to see where students are struggling and respond by changing instruction.
Ray offered advice for parents helping their children prepare for tests.
“I think the most important thing is they maintain a positive attitude towards the test,” she said. “The main purpose of any of our tests is so we can better know how to support their child, whether it is to provide support because they’re struggling or whether it’s to encourage them to accelerate and grow more, so it is important they stay positive about the test and stay in touch with their child’s teacher if there are issues. Every classroom is standards-based and the Milestones assesses the standards.”
Lakeview Academy, a private school in Gainesville, does not do the Milestones test, according to school spokeswoman Sondra Berry.
The school does administer the Education Records Bureau’s Writing Assessment Program for fourth, sixth, eighth, 10th and 11th grades, which tests their ability to understand and process information, with more focus on critical thinking as they advance.
The school uses the Educational Records Bureau’s Comprehensive Testing Program IV for students in grades third through eighth.
Berry said this test provides information about how students compare to other students in the nation and other independent schools.