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Questions About Refusing Participation in Georgia Milestones Testing

A Message from the Superintendent

Superintendent Charles Wilson

Bulloch County Schools administers the Georgia Milestones Assessment System’s End-of-Grade or End-of-Course tests each April to children in grades three through twelve.

I acknowledge that you may have a wide range of opinions about standardized tests from support to apprehension to objection. For this reason, I want to be open and honest with you about federal and state legislation that governs testing in our district, how we use test data, and your rights as a parent or guardian so that you can decide the best course of action for your child.

  • What Does State & Federal Law Require?
    • Both state and federal law requires public schools to annually assess all enrolled students.
    • In Georgia, the Georgia Milestones Assessments fulfill this mandate for students enrolled in grades 3-8 and high school.  As a public school district, we are obligated to provide all students the assessments mandated by the state of Georgia. (O.C.G.A. 20-2-281). 
    • Accountability and participation waivers granted during the 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 school years due to the COVID-19 global pandemic are no longer in effect.
    • The Georgia Department of Education and Bulloch County Schools do not have authority to waive student assessment requirements mandated by law (O.C.G.A. §20-2-281).
    • Bulloch County Schools is required to offer all students the opportunity to participate in state assessments.
  • Who is tested?
    • Georgia Milestones is administered to the following:
      • English Language Arts and Mathematics in grades three through eight
      • Science in grades five and eight
      • Social Studies in grade eight. 
      • In high school, students taking American Literature, Algebra I, Biology and United States History will take a corresponding Milestones assessment at the completion of the course. Georgia reduced testing to the minimum required by federal law in March, 2020.
  • How are test results used?
    • Schools and teachers use the information gained from these assessments, in addition to ongoing formative and diagnostic assessments, to guide instructional improvement. 
    • Educators use results from Georgia Milestones and other measures of achievement to determine an individual student’s areas of strength and weakness. 
    • Additionally, schools use Georgia Milestones performance as one reliable and valid point of data for student placement in academic programs.  
  • Why do some parents or guardians not want their child to participate in state testing?  
    • For many parents, the desire to refuse participation in state testing stems from disagreement over the accountability associated with the Milestones assessments.  For students, this includes the student retention requirements associated with Milestones End-of-Grade performance in both reading and mathematics in grades 3, 5, and 8 and the required 20 percent final grade weight of the high school Milestones End-of-Course tests.  These requirements are set forth in the Georgia Academic Placement and Promotion Policy found in O.C.G.A. 20-2-283 through 20-2-285. 
  • Are school districts and schools accountable for student participation and performance?
    • For schools and districts, student performance on the Georgia Milestones assessment is a significant component of Georgia's College and Career Performance Index  accountability system, which is a requirement of the federal Every Student Succeeds Act.  Maintaining a student test participation rate of 95 percent or higher is a requirement of this accountability measure for schools and school districts.
  • Does the school district understand the concerns of parents and educators?
    • Concern on the part of parents and educators regarding state and federal accountability pressures is understandable.  However, because the assessments themselves provide valuable information to educators and because failure to participate can lead to negative consequences for your child, we encourage those parents who have concerns about the accountability uses of Georgia Milestones to direct their concerns to their state and federal legislators, rather than refusing student participation in Georgia Milestones testing.
    • This website is an excellent resource for finding the contact information for your legislators.

I respect your right to make educational decisions for your child; however, in the event that you still wish for your student to refuse to participate in Milestones testing, I ask that you carefully read the following:

  • The school district is required by law to offer students every opportunity to participate in the assessment. 
  • If a parent  fails to sign and return Bulloch County Schools' Refusal to Participate in Georgia Milestones Testing Form, for a child, the student will be offered a test. This form is available from the child's school and a printable form is available on this webpage.
  • The parent assumes responsibility for the absence of data and understands that it may affect future educational decisions now known and unknown, such as course placement.
  • Absences to avoid state assessments are considered unexcused absences.
  • Because certified teachers will be proctoring Milestones assessments, your child will not have access to teacher-led or supported alternate assignments during testing periods.  He or she will be placed in an alternate setting, supervised by support staff.  He or she may bring a book to read or work on homework assignments during testing periods.
  • Elementary and middle school students not participating in the Georgia Milestones End-of-Grade assessment in grades 3, 5, and 8 are subject to retention in the same grade level for the upcoming year.  This retention may be appealed by the parent or guardian. More details can be found on the Georgia Department of Education Promotion and Retention Guidance page.
  • High school students failing to complete end-of-course assessments will have a grade of zero factored as 20 percent of the student’s final course grade, as required by Georgia law.
  • Students refusing to participate in Georgia Milestone Assessment System assessments are still required to participate in all classroom assignments and assessments required by Bulloch County Schools or the employees thereof. Failure to complete required assignments and assessments may result in grades of zero or disciplinary action.
  • Schools will follow the Bulloch County Schools Code of Conduct if any behavior issues arise.

Charles G. Wilson, Superintendent
Bulloch County Schools