State proposes replacing high school writing exam
Georgia’s current writing exam for high schoolers may soon be history.
State education department officials unveiled a proposal Wednesday to phase out the exam in favor of annual writing assessments that will be given to students every year beginning in third grade.
Having another high school writing exam along with the assessment would be redundant, said board member Kenneth Mason, explaining the rationale for phasing out the current exam.
The new writing test would begin in the 2015-16 school year as part of the state’s Georgia Milestones initiative. The plan was discussed during the state board of education’s rules committee meeting Wednesday.
The Milestones initiative was created to raise education standards for Georgia students.
“This would be in alignment with what are standards are,” Mason said in an interview.
In addition to the writing test, students were required to pass the Georgia High School Graduation Tests (GHSGT) in language arts, math, science and social studies. State officials felt those tests failed to adequately assess student proficiency in those areas. The state removed the requirements for students to take the tests in all content areas, except writing, beginning the phase out with students who were freshmen in the 2011-12 school year.
Students will begin taking Georgia Milestones exams in language arts, math, science and social studies starting in the upcoming school year. The exams will replace the Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests and the state’s End Of Course Tests.
The increased expectations for student learning reflected in Georgia Milestones may initially mean lower scores than the CRCT and End Of Course Tests, state officials warn.
Melissa Fincher, director of testing for the state, hopes Georgia Milestones would allow more time for classroom instruction. Fincher said the department will have a 30-day period for public comments on the writing test phase-out beginning after the July state board meeting. The board will likely vote on the proposal in August.
By Eric Stirgus
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution