Professor of English Education, Peter Smagorinsky took on Georgia Milestones, the new comprehensive summative assessment program spanning from third grade through high school in a piece that was featured in the Atlanta Journal Constitution.
The Georgia Milestones Assessment System is the new state-mandated end of course assessment that is administered primarily online while paper and pencil will be reserved for back up and transitioning purposes.
“I don’t really see it as a big deal. Everything is online these days so it makes sense,” said Kevin Lackey, a fourth year from Roswell majoring in business management. “Standardized testing is just something every student has to go through.”
While Georgia Milestones and other standardized tests are seen as necessary to some, Smagorinsky believes standardized testing programs are “comically bizarre” in that their implementation process does not measure student ability accurately and inefficiently expedites students through the school system.
For example, Smagorinsky mentions in his piece with the AJC that EOCT scores are not returned until students have entered the next grade level.
“Standardized tests typically have little to do with complex thinking, take up instructional time that could be dedicated to more compelling teaching and learning, and are used in idiotic ways to measure students and their teachers’ performance. As such, they do far more harm than good in promoting learning” Smagorinsky said.
Smagorinsky is not the only educator who thinks this way. In a study conducted in 2014 by researchers at the National Education Association, nearly half of all teachers, 45 percent, in the United States have considered quitting their job because of standardized testing alone.
While the Georgia Department of Education says the new milestone assessments will provide a barometer of the "quality of educational opportunity,” parents are not convinced. A new campaign, Opt Out Georgia, made up of parents who “opt” their children out of participating in the state's standardized tests, have begun gaining lawmakers’ attention as several incidents occurred in March when standardized testing began in Georgia classrooms.
Emily Ameel, a second year majoring in psychology and women’s studies from Mount Airy, Maryland, thinks the current tradition of standardized testing is a flawed system. She mentioned that students’ educational experiences depend on teachers, but when teachers are forced to teach to a test more learning is lost than gained.
“I remember in my AP Biology class, my teacher wanted to talk about all these other things but we had to stick to this AP Bio curriculum so we could take a test and that is pointless. That’s why I like college because professors have different experiences coming in and it is more interesting [listening to them teach]. It’s more like watching a movie rather than sitting through lecture,” Ameel said.
Speaking strictly of Georgia Milestones, in February Athens-Clarke County Schools said the system failed during the first month.
UPDATED: This article has been updated to correct a previous error which stated that the Georgia opt out movement began this May in response to the CRCT. The movement began in March, and the CRCT was discontinued after the 2013-2014 school year.