When it comes to standardized testing, many complain about how much time it takes out of classroom instruction. For many, the value is unclear.
When a testing period can take 1-2 weeks, many complain about its importance to students. Teachers can feel frustrated with the lack of instructional time available during assessments too.
Since school districts and the Department of Education need data to make informed decisions, standardized testing is necessary for schools.
Georgia has recently transitioned to the Georgia Milestones Assessment System (GMAS) which has created a more holistic and motivating assessment for students.
With the introduction of variant questions and the use of the assessment as a summative exam, Georgia can get more accurate data from the students in the public school system.
The Use of Standardized Testing in Schools
The use of standardized tests is not a new concept. In fact, in the United States, standardized testing has been around since the 20th century.
Standardized tests, in their most pure form, are meant to serve as a unit of measurement of a school district’s students’ knowledge.
Using maps like Common Core, standardized tests should provide meaningful data about what’s working (and what’s not).
With the data driven from standardized tests, districts can receive more funding, support, and measure the quality of instruction inside the classroom.
At its most basic form, standardized testing is pure data that serves a purpose.
However, because of the large breadth of variables, standardized testing can sometimes be faulty. Whether a student is tired, having an off day, or just doesn’t care.
Or maybe a student has a difficult time with multiple-choice tests. Maybe a student has test-taking anxiety.
All of these small issues can become gaping holes when standardized tests are the deciding factor if a school should receive more funding.
New Horizons in Georgia
In an effort to create a more functional and approachable test that provided more rigor, Georgia has recently implemented the use of the Georgia Milestones Assessment System (GMAS).
The recent transition from Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests (CRCTs) and End of Course Tests (EOCTs) are meant to provide students with more objective opportunities to demonstrate their learning.
Who Takes the Georgia Milestones Assessment System (GMAS)?
The Georgia Milestones Assessment System (GMAS) is intended for students from 3rd Grade to High School.
Using a unified set of English Language Arts, mathematics, science, and social studies standards, students are required to complete the Georgia Milestones Assessment System (GMAS) for summative learning.
When students first take the assessment in 3rd grade, the test is comprised of a mathematics and English language arts section.
By 5th grade, social studies and science sections are also assessed.
One of the main differences between the Georgia Milestones Assessment System (GMAS) is the structure of the questions to require more complex thinking and skills.
Where other standardized tests may require a basic understanding of concepts to answer the questions, the GMAS expects students to synthesize the material to reach solutions.
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What is the Structure of the GMAS?
In many ways, the GMAS is similar to the structure of college entrance exams like the ACT and SAT. Each section is comprised of open-ended questions and constructed-response items.
The English Language Arts section includes a constructed response writing prompt. The is a large emphasis on maximizing technology use through multiple-choice, drag and drop, fill in the blank, etc.
The GMAS is expected to be completed through their online platform however a traditional paper and pencil test can be administered based on IEP and IAP needs.
How Does the GMAS Directly Affect Students?
The GMAS will serve as the course summative exam for most core classes from 9th grade and beyond.
These summative exams will test students on their understanding of basic and complex concepts covered in courses like 9th Grade Composition, American Lit, Algebra, Geometry, Biology, Physical Science, U.S. History, and Economics.
The scores from the GMAS will serve as 20% of your student’s final grade in the course. This serves as a motivator or “buy-in” for the students to put forth an effort that will accurately capture a student’s understanding of the content.
Why GMAS Matter to Stakeholders
There are many stakeholders in the school district. Most obviously, members of a school board, administrators, and educators are commonly considered stakeholders of a school district.
But, it is also crucial to understand parents and students as stakeholders as well.
The GMAS, of course, provide valuable information to school districts, but students and parents can also glean information that helps understand areas for improvement.
A core objective of the GMAS is indicating if a student is prepared to move into the next grade.
This is especially valuable to high school students who have their sights set on college.
By taking the GMAS seriously, students can analyze the data from the assessment to find areas for improvement.
Students can also identify strengths and ask questions to clarify areas that tripped them up.
Since the GMAS closely resembles the ACT and SAT, any practice on this assessment will help a student to be more successful on higher stake exams in the future.
Finally, parents and school districts can be better informed about the quality of instruction in their community.
To be a well-informed stakeholder in your community, use the GMAS data to determine if the school district is on track with other districts in the state.
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Test Taking Anxiety
As a teen navigating the stress of taking a test can show up in a variety of different ways. From physical symptoms like sweating, vomiting, and fainting to emotional symptoms like fear, stress, anger, and self-doubt. Students trying to navigate these stressors generally perform poorly on standardized tests.
While the GMAS has provided a solution to motivate students to try on the assessment (through making it a percentage of their final grade), it can also become a breeding ground for panic attacks.
Students could shut down when faced with an online standardized test. Just like practicing a sport (or instrument) the best way to improve is by practicing.
When students have a chance to practice, the test doesn’t seem as intimidating.
The ArgoPrep Difference
Does your child struggle with the constraints of timed assessments?
Do they need more practice in constructed responses?
ArgoPrep has done the hard work, so you don’t have to! With numerous practice tests, content areas, and grade levels, you can find exactly what you need.
Don’t let another day pass while your child struggles with anxiety that is commonly associated with high stakes tests.
ArgoPrep’s Award-Winning Online K-8 Math & ELA Program offers practice questions, video lectures, printable worksheets and more to help your child better prepare for the GMAS exam.
Don’t let another assignment pass by with a less-than-stellar grade. Even more importantly, give your student the gift of deeper understanding through learning those difficult-to-grasp concepts.
Because of the value that standardized test data provides to state education departments, it’s safe to assume that they aren’t going to go away anytime soon.
If your child tends to struggle with the stress that accompanies standardized testing, don’t delay in finding them additional support.
Since some of the highest stake assessments (such as the ACT and SAT) are in similar formats to the GMAS, giving your child ample opportunities to practice these tests will be one of the best things you can do to help them succeed.
With the help of ArgoPrep, every student has the opportunity to achieve their highest goals on standardized tests!
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