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Associate professor works to refine school assessments for students

Kathryn Kao

February 5, 2018

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By the time schools receive the results of standardized tests, students may already be falling too far behind to get back on track.

Laine Bradshaw, an associate professor in the department of educational psychology, was recently mentioned in an article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution for her work on a pilot program that will help refine school assessments for Putnam County School District.

For eight years, Putnam has been developing a set of formative assessments that give teachers timely checks on whether their students are on track. This, along with the state standardized tests, help guide teachers and hold schools accountable. But combined, these assessments have led to concerns about excessive testing.

As a result, Putnam and three other school districts are eager to use their quizzes in place of the Georgia Milestones, a massive end-of-year exam, with the help of Bradshaw, who will work with the districts to refine assessments and investigate the validity of standardized test results.

The Milestones are given in several subjects in third grade through high school, but for the pilot program that started this fall, Putnam is using the alternative tests for only math and reading through eighth grade.

“Each Milestones exam tests students’ understanding of all the ‘standards,’ or learning goals, for a particular class, but the quizzes break them down, tackling one standard or a few at a time,” said Bradshaw. “There are about eight questions per standard, which is more than with the Milestones, but fewer with each sitting.”

According to the article, if these quizzes are allowed to replace the Milestones, it could mean fewer questions overall for students and more useful information for teachers. Current legislation requires state education officials to determine whether pilot-program quizzes are comparable to the Milestones and identify strategies to make them available statewide.

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