On Thursday, September 3, 2015, the Georgia Department of Education (GADOE) released the long-awaited test scores for the new Georgia Milestones test. This test is the first criterion-referenced test aligned to Georgia’s Common Core standards, paradoxically named the Georgia Standards of Excellence. Teachers have been slowly implementing Common Core-based curriculum for at least 3 years, but last year was the first full year of implementation.
The Georgia Milestones assessment stirred negative emotions for many Georgia parents and students, resulting in test refusals throughout the state. Parents were appalled to discover that 50% of each teacher’s yearly evaluation was to be based on these test scores. It seemed, at best, unfair that so much of a teacher’s yearly performance hung on the results of a single test. Adding insult to injury, the Georgia Milestone assessment’s written answers were graded by temporary workers who were hired by Kelly Services, a national temporary agency contracted by CTB/McGraw-Hill. (http://www.kellyservices.us/us/ctb-mcgraw-hill-home/#.VepjNhzD9ev). This agency advertised for test scorers nationwide on their own site, in newspapers, and on Craigslist. To meet the bare minimum criteria to grade this assessment, applicants needed only to hold a bachelor’s degree in any discipline (i.e. a teaching degree was NOT a requirement).
Georgia’s teachers worked diligently for months to ensure their students were ready for an assessment no one had ever seen, an assessment that would determine half of their evaluation. Having temporary workers who had zero teaching or education expertise grade these tests is how the dedication and diligence on the part of these teachers was rewarded. It’s appalling. Teachers are worth more than this. As parents and as a community, we owe it to our teachers to recognize the time and energy they put into their classrooms every single day and to recognize the effort they put into earning degree in education. Allowing the Georgia Milestones to be graded by temporary workers is a slap in the face to our teacher’s efforts as well as to the trust parents grant the schools and the GADOE. Fellow parents and community members, this must not be condoned with silence or with pats on the back.
Teachers are the backbone of our future, our children. By continuing to ignore how corporations such as McGrawHill, Pearson, and the Georgia Board of Education devalue this most important part of our community, we devalue our own children and efforts to prepare them for the future. While parents and other education supporters should rally to contact the state’s legislators and to vote out those who support this tentacle of Common Core, it is not enough. Parents must refuse to provide any additional fodder and instead rally with each other and for our teachers and children. Why should we continue to support those who continually sweep our teachers aside in favor of money and data? Parents must refuse the Georgia Milestones tests not just on behalf of our children, but on behalf of the teachers who sacrifice so much for our children. Let’s let our refusals be a testament to the trust and respect our teachers have earned with their diligence and their sacrifice.
Stacey Gyorgyi, Grayson
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