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Posted: July 24, 2016 10:45 a.m.

NCSS requests changes to testing

As we get ready to begin another school year, there is an air of excitement. But quickly that excitement can turn to anxiety when it comes to testing.

Newton County School System (NCSS) is taking steps to change the way testing is administered in our schools.

On Tuesday night, Superintendent Samantha Fuhrey made a recommendation to the Newton County Board of Education to request flexibility from the State Board of Education with regard to the Georgia Milestones in grades 3-8.

“We do not want our students in grades 3-8 to participate in the spring 2017 administration of the Georgia Milestones," she said. "Instead, we have proposed the use of Iowa Assessments to pre-test in August and post-test in May.”

The request to the State Board of Education was mailed July 20, citing the recent Senate Bill 364 as justification for the request.

According to the Georgia General Assembly, SB 364 is “a bill to be entitled an Act to amend Article 6 of Chapter 2 of Title 20 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, relating to the "Quality Basic Education Act," so as to revise provisions relating to annual teacher, principal, and assistant principal evaluations; to revise provisions relating to student assessment; to provide for related matters; to repeal conflicting laws; and for other purposes.”

“It is my hope that our model will qualify,” said Fuhrey.

According to Fuhrey, this means that teachers will have "real-time, valid, reliable data" that they can rely on to make educational plans for each student.

"Having the information early in the year allows teachers to identify strengths and weaknesses and build plans throughout the instructional year to fill gaps and provide enrichment education for those who excel," she said. "As a post measure, the results will enable teachers to know right away how much students have grown educationally over the course of the academic year. Additionally, in grades 6-8, data is generated that will provide early predictions of performance on high-stakes assessments like the SAT and ACT thereby providing teachers, students, and parents ample time to intervene to strengthen students’ skills.”

At the Board of Education work session on Aug. 9, Dr. Allison Jordan, Director of Testing, Research, and Evaluation for NCSS, and the representatives of the test developer group from the University of Iowa will be presenting the local implementation plan.

“We are very excited about this possibility as we believe that our model will ultimately better serve our students,” said Fuhrey. “We want teachers and families to understand that we are attempting to move to a distinctly different model ---contingent on State DOE approval. But the Iowa testing will begin in August---irrespective of the State’s approval.”

The community is invited to the Aug. 9 meeting to listen to the proposed plan and provide input.

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