In a sort of twist, Gilmer Schools are part of an inquiry by the State Department of Education due to unusually high scaling Milestones test scores for 8th Grade Math.
After results had come back with this particular group scoring far better than the state expected them to, a process began to look into Gilmer’s scores to ensure the results were true. Officials from our local administration have already been a part of conference calls, a written report, and written questionnaires to follow up with the results.
While in the past, the focus has been on analyzing erasures to prevent fraud, this year started a new “unusual response pattern analysis.” This analysis relies on percentiles instead of deviations according to the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement. Utilizing an algorithm for school-level analysis, this formula does not look at individual students or smaller groups.
Ultimately, the inquiry so far could be the extent of the investigation, although a possibility of an on-site visit is still possible. Gilmer’s Board of Education will likely not know the final decision until May.
While utilizing Extended Learning Times and focusing on 8th grade as a “gateway year,” Gilmer School’s veteran teachers, according to Director of Assessment Michele Penland, had well prepared in advance for the Milestones tests through several avenues including using Professional Learning Time to work together as they built the curriculum. They used “spiral quizzes” which allowed students to “revisit and practice standards they had already learned” and Extended Learning Times (ELT) to tutor and remediate student areas of deficiency.
Penland reported that due to the common incorporation of numerous tools such as interactive notebooks, test corrections, and consistent collaboration, the schools were able to achieve more with their students and their testing.
While the investigation continues, Superintendent Dr. Shanna Wilkes did not seem worried saying that inquiries into the school because it is achieving and performing so well are welcome.