Important Changes Affecting Georgia Students
Georgia Milestones Assessment System
Beginning the 2014-2015 school year, Georgia will replace the End of Course Tests (EOCTs) and the Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests (CRCTs) with the Georgia Milestones Assessment System. The Georgia Milestones is a new testing system that is aimed at improving the quality of graduates academically, instead of just the quantity of graduates. This new testing system intends to prepare students for college, the military, or the work force and to provide a more realistic evaluation of how students are progressing academically.
The Georgia Milestones Assessment System will also include open-ended questions to better gauge students’ content mastery, instead of simply asking students multiple choice questions that are much simpler to recall, than short answer questions. Instead of taking a series of individual tests, students across grades three 3-12 will take one consistent program, and in five years, this assessment will be taken primarily online. The purpose of this system is to also make students more competitive with students from other states.
Students Required to Choose Career Pathways
The objective of changing all students’ graduation track to a career-based one is to raise their career and college readiness. Experts believe that this student graduation track change will expose students to seriously considering what they want to do in life by being exposed to different career options. This change is hopeful in improving graduation rates and stemming the number of students dropping out by making school more relevant and applicable to what all students need at some point: a career.
High School Changes
This school year, Georgia is instituting Career Pathways. All freshmen entering high school will choose one graduation pathway from 17 Career Clusters. Following a national trend, Georgia wil also require ninth graders to follow a class schedule that is at least, moderately, tailored to that career path. Students will have to complete a four-year graduation plan in order to earn a high school diploma.
HOPE Requirements for Students Graduating After May 1, 2015
In addition to Georgia students completing their career pathway courses, to be eligible for the HOPE Scholarship, they are also going to need to take rigorous college preparation courses as well as Advanced Placement, International, Baccalaureate or dual enrollment college courses. The high school class of 2015 will have to have earned at least two full credits from the state rigorous course list to qualify for HOPE. The class of 2016 will have to complete three rigorous course credits, and the class of 2017 and all graduating classes thereafter in Georgia will have to complete at least four course credits from the rigor list.
Middle School Changes
Students completing the 8th grade will be required to select a specialized track for the duration of their high school career that is categorized by various career options. While in middle school, students will participate in job shadowing and the career explorer post program, and will receive that throughout the year, in addition to elementary school students.
Elementary School Changes
Elementary schools are required to inform and provide career awareness programs to shift student focus toward career preparation and to give students an idea bout the various careers. Starting as early as fifth grade, teachers will start talking to students about potential career options and opportunities.