Georgia drops CRCT, EOCT for new testing system

A new, tougher test is coming to Georgia schools and will replace the Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests and End of Course Tests, commonly called the CRCTs and EOCTs.

The Georgia Department of Education on Wednesday announced a new testing system, called the Georgia Milestones Assessment System, which will arrive during the upcoming school year. In late May, the DOE awarded a five-year, $107.58 million contract to CTB/McGraw-Hill to develop the new system.

The new testing system will include open-ended questions to better gauge students’ content mastery, officials said. With some exceptions for special education students with specific testing accomodations, Georgia Milestones will be administered entirely online by the fifth year of implementation, compared to 35 percent online administration of the EOCT in 2013-2014.

DOE officials said the test will be aligned to the Common Core Georgia Performance Standards and will require more from students than the CRCT and EOCT it replaces, in order to better prepare students for college and career and to provide a more realistic picture of academic progress.

State School Superintendent John Barge touted the new system as being consistent from third grade through high school, which is different than the previous series of individual tests.

Education officials also warned that the new test may mean initially lower scores than the previous years’ CRCT or EOCT scores. That is to be expected and should bring Georgia’s tests in line with other indicators of how our students are performing, Barge said.

“We need to know that students are being prepared, not at a minimum-competency level but with rigorous, relevant education, to enter college, the workforce or the military at a level that makes them competitive with students from other states,” Barge said.

According to the most recent CRCT results available, released in June 2013, students in Gwinnett County Public Schools as well as Buford City Schools outperformed 2013 state averages as well as improved on some of their own 2012 scores.

In July, Georgia pulled out of the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Career, which originally was a consortium of 22 states. The states were working together to develop assessments aligned with Common Core.

The state dropped out of the consortium because officials said the designed tests would cost the state about $29.50 per student or $27 million annually.