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Superintendent outlines new areas of focus

Parents of school-age children might want to be aware of a number of changes coming to schools systems across the state this year. Coweta Superintendent Steve Barker said among those are the new Ga. Milestones Assessment tests designed to measure a student’s academic growth in a given subject area.

Barker recently outlined a number of areas of focus for the school system, including local initiatives and several major state and federal requirements.

Among the major state and federal-required items being implemented are:

The new Ga. Milestones Assessment tests will replace the Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests (CRCT) administered in five subjects in grades 3-8 and End-of-Course Tests (EOCT) administered in a number of subjects at the high school level. The new standardized exams will be administered for the first time in 2014-2015 and will measure student growth through:

·inclusion of a writing component at every grade level and course within the English/Language Arts assessment;

·inclusion of items in English/Language Arts and mathematics, in addition to selected-response items;

·inclusion of items in every grade and content area to complement the criterion-referenced information and to provide a national comparison;

·transition to online administration of the exams over time, with online administration considered the primary mode of administration and paper-pencil back-up until transition is completed; and

·an addition of technology-enhanced items beginning in 2016-2017.

Barker said the school system will work throughout the year to provide teachers with tools to prepare students for the new exams.

Another change this year is with Student Learning Objectives (SLO) , also known as Student Growth Assessments (SGAs). These tests are being administered to students by teachers in classes that are not tested on the statewide standardized Milestone Assessment.

SGA pre-tests are at the beginning of the course and a post test at the end of the course. The tests were developed by teacher committees and approved by the state. The purpose of this process is to track growth of students and inform teachers and administrators of instructional effectiveness. The performance of students on these tests and on state standardized tests will be reflected as Student Growth Percentiles (SGP) and will eventually become part of teacher evaluations. Preparation of the test materials have taken considerable time and planning, Barker said.

“There remains much work to be done at the state and local level for implementation of this requirement,” said Barker, adding that many state-level details regarding the SGAs remain uncertain.
A third change deals with the Teacher and Leader Keys Evaluation System (TKES/LKES).

“This year teachers and educational leaders will be evaluated using the new state evaluation systems, TKES and LKES, which were piloted by the Coweta school system last year,” Barker said. “This system includes a self-assessment by the educator, pre-conference goal setting, pre-evaluation conferences, multiple observations, mid-year conferences and final conferences.”

Student performance on the Ga. Milestones Assessment or Student Learning Objectives assessments will also be used in this evaluation system, as will survey information and observations.

“Administrators and teachers are working through the intense schedule of observations and meetings,” said Barker.

Barker noted that state officials have indicated that the demands of the new system will likely change after the first year of implementation.

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