A standardized student experience is critical to ensuring all students have a fair and appropriate opportunity to show what they know and can do. Standardized testing is one source of information on learning and achievement for students, teachers, administrators, schools and school systems in Georgia and other states. Communities rely on their schools' standardized test scores to determine the success of their schools and to compare them to other communities. When tests are properly administered, scored, and interpreted with a high degree of professionalism, all the stakeholders can be guided to make reliable and appropriate decisions.
Standardization differs across assessments within a balanced assessment system, and policies are in place for Georgia's standardized formative and summative assessments to support the appropriate environment for students to demonstrate what they know and can do.
Secure student testing experiences are critical to the integrity of Georgia's assessment program. Detailed procedures are in place regarding the handling of test materials, protection of student information, security of administration environments, and more. See Georgia's
Student Assessment Handbook on the Testing/Assessment website under the For Educator link for further information on the policies in place to provide Georgia student's with secure, equitable experiences with assessments.
Standardized experiences in test administration do not require identical (equal) student experiences, but rather, requires comparable (equitable) student experiences. Accessibility and accommodations features are included in all of Georgia's assessments to ensure all students have access to the assessment content and can demonstrate achievement. Under the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and the Georgia State Board of Education (SBOE) Rule 160-3-1-.07, all students, including students with disabilities (SWD) and English Language Learners (ELs), must participate in the state's academic content standards and mandated assessments. In Georgia, students with disabilities in kindergarten, grades 3-8, and 11 must either participate in the general assessment or the alternate assessment. Accommodation(s) considered by local district IEP/IAP teams must be consistent with those used during classroom instruction and assessment, in keeping with the goal of an equitable student experience consistent with how students receive classroom instruction. See Georgia's Student Assessment Handbook on the Testing/Assessment website under the For Educator's link for more information on Georgia's
accessibility and accommodations procedures in place for each assessment.
Georgia offers a public website where students, parents, and educators are welcome to experience online testing for Georgia. The items on the public demonstration tests are from all grade bands and content areas, and these sample tests are not graded. The primary purpose is to let students experience, firsthand, the functionality of the online testing platform. For more on this resource, visit the site or view the video below.
Accommodations do not reduce learning expectations; they provide access. However, modifications or alterations refer to practices that change, lower, or reduce learning expectations. Modifications can increase the gap between the achievement of students with disabilities and expectations for proficiency at a particular grade level. Consistent use of modifications could adversely affect students throughout their educational career. Examples of modifications include:
- requiring a student to learn less material (e.g., fewer objectives, shorter units or lessons, fewer pages or problems),
- reducing assignments and assessments so a student only needs to complete the easiest problems or items,
- revising assignments or assessments to make them easier (e.g., crossing out half of the response choices on a multiple-choice test so that a student only has to pick from two options instead of four), or
- giving a student hints or clues to correct responses on assignments and tests.
Providing modifications to students during classroom instruction and/or classroom assessments may have the unintended consequence of reducing their opportunity to learn critical content. If students have not had access to critical, assessed content, they may be at risk for not meeting graduation requirements. Providing a student with an unapproved modification during a state-mandated assessment constitutes a test irregularity and may result in an investigation into the school’s or system’s testing practices, as well as an invalidation of the student’s score.
The use of a universally designed approach to assessment development and implementation is critical to promote accessibility for all students. Current technology enables educators to introduce computer-based instruction and assessment accessibility supports that facilitate individualized educational processes. The purpose of these supports is to reduce or eliminate the effects of barriers that prevent students from demonstrating what they know and can do. Accessibility supports provided in the classroom do not reduce expectations for learning. Instead, accessibility supports – administrative procedures, universal tools and accommodations – empower students with a multitude of choices, enabling them to access instructional and assessment content effectively.
These individualized approaches to accessibility also place greater responsibility on educator teams and individuals who make decisions about which specific supports students need and should receive among a variety of accessibility choices. Accessibility supports provided to a student during state assessments must also be provided during classroom instruction, classroom assessments, and district assessments; however, some instructional accessibility supports may not be appropriate for use on certain statewide, standardized assessments. In other cases, accessibility supports provided on statewide, standardized assessments may be slightly different from those provided in the classroom (i.e., digital notetaking on assessment). It is important that educators help students become familiar with the supports provided through the technology platform so that students are not using these tools for the first time on test day.
Formative assessment refers to the formal and informal ways that teachers and students gather and respond to evidence of student learning. Formative assessment is low-stakes and ongoing; no formative assessment in Georgia carries accountability or punitive outcomes. The student experience during formative assessment will vary depending on the type of formative assessment used. For example, Georgia 1st and 2nd grade students using Keenville will experience exciting developmentally-appropriate games with playful characters and immediate feedback and support. Kindergarteners assessed on GKIDS 2.0 progressions will complete one-on-one or whole-class activities integrated into regular classroom instruction, with multiple opportunities to demonstrate progress throughout the year. Students completing a DRC BEACON formative test will experience a familiar computer-based environment with short quiz-style skill checks to provide them and their teachers with immediate feedback on what standards they have mastered and where additional instruction may be needed.
Formative assessment also includes teacher-created tests, quizzes, or activities which provide just-in-time information on student learning, to inform immediate instruction choices. Georgia DOE offers Formative Instructional Practices (FIP), a blended model of professional learning for Georgia educators. This resource assists educators in learning about formative instructional practices and use of these processes to improve teaching and student learning. FIP supports schools in building vision and leadership around using clear learning targets, collecting evidence of student learning, providing effective feedback, and involving student as active owners of their learning.