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Georgia Milestones ‘Lunch and Learn’ forum educates DOD parents

By Verda L. Parker | Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany | January 29, 2016

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In order to address concerns about the State’s evolving requirements in testing of the area’s school-aged children, base officials sponsored a ‘Lunch and Learn,’ Jan. 28, at Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany’s Town and Country Restaurant and Ballroom.

The purpose of the forum was to educate parents of school-aged children in grades 3-12, who will be taking the Georgia Milestones Assessment System tests in April.

Latreesa Perryman, school liaison officer, MCLB Albany, welcomed active-duty service members, their spouses as well as the installation’s civilian personnel to the event on behalf of Col. James C. Carroll III, commanding officer, MCLB Albany.

Anthony Eitel, director, Assessment and Accountability, Georgia Department of Education, facilitated the forum, reminded and updated attendees on the assessment’s 2015 “hold harmless” shift to the 2016 full-throttle requirements.

Eitel reviewed some of the background history about the new assessment standards for testing students, which replaced the Criterion Referenced Competency Test last year.

“We’ve tried, throughout last year and into this year, to get out as much as possible and spread the information about the relatively new assessment system for the State,” Eitel said.

“Of course, this has been in the news, if you’ve followed the news on education, and I suspect this audience does quite a bit,” he asserted. “We’ve been everywhere from the conversations about common core on through testing – a big part of that conversation.

“We don’t hide from it at the agency,” he continued. “We’re at a state where everything has been high profiled in positive ways and, quite frankly, in negative ways. I’ve been in core groups over what we do. It’s an area that is a very important topic; in the end, I try to remind all audiences that this is about kids.

“The assessment system really exists for one purpose,”Eitel explained. “That’s to provide kids and their parents—and their teachers—the information they need to get students to where we all want them to be. Not, we hope, as something that (looms) over the school as a cloud or something oppressive.

“That’s where those policy uses come into play,” he pointed out. “Leadership at local levels and state levels have to work really hard to make sure that they calibrate things very carefully.”

Eitel gave an overview of the new testing system, the “radical changes,” the conceptual structure of the program, how it differs from the previous CRCT and navigated through a list of online resources designed for parents as well as students to gain additional understanding while making the required transition.

Petty Officer 1st Class Antresha Holmes, leading petty officer, Naval Branch Health Clinic Albany, discussed her reasons for attending the day’s event and her biggest takeaway.

“I just moved here from Hawaii,” Holmes said. “My daughter was in school there. Transitioning here to Georgia, with new testing, I want to be able to understand what she’s being taught.

“I want to be able to emphasize that a little more on her level to help her in doing her homework and trying to study for different tests that are coming up,” Holmes continued. “I want to help explain to her exactly why these tests are being taken so that she can hopefully perform better and excel in a manner that is expected by the school system as well as (meet my own expectations).

“I honestly like what’s being taught and how they’re teaching the students,” she said. “There are some things that I don’t agree with, but there are certain things they have included that weren’t afforded to me when I was in school that I do appreciate – like having the formulas on the math tests. We didn’t have that.

“I think the website could be helpful,” Holmes pointed out. “Just from the different samples that he showed us; there’s so much information -- like the parent portals, the study guides and everything else. As he said, the study guides are not put there for you to teach your child how to pass the test; they’re put there to help take out some of the anxiety and make them more comfortable with taking the test.”

Parents should know, the test is a comprehensive assessment that measures how well students have learned the knowledge and skills outlined in the state-adopted content standards in language arts, mathematics, science and social studies.

For more information, a listing of the DOE’s major assessments and the Georgia Milestones, visit the website: www.testing.gadoe.org.
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