Georgia is one of the first four states to be approved to participate in the Innovative Assessment Demonstration Authority (IADA) under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Districts participating in the state’s pilot are free of federal requirements that the same summative assessments be administered in math and English Language Arts (ELA) in grades 3-8 and that all students in the state, with some exceptions[i], participate in the same statewide assessment.
Georgia’s IADA pilot is motivated by two main goals: to reduce student testing time and to implement an assessment system that educators can use to inform instruction throughout the school year. However, rather than selecting a single innovative assessment which will be scaled over the course of the pilot, the Georgia Department of Education (GaDOE) decided to leverage existing innovation throughout the state with a competition-like process. After a thorough vetting, three districts/LEA consortiums were selected to participate in IADA, two of which were approved by the US Department of Education.
Over the course of the five year pilot, GaDOE, along with the State Board of Education (SBOE) will serve as project managers for the pilot, overseeing implementation, providing technical assistance, and working to integrate the assessments into the state’s larger accountability system. In the final year of the pilot, GaDOE will contract with an external vendor who will evaluate each system, with a particular focus on alignment to the state’s academic standards and comparability with the current assessment system, Georgia Milestones. Based on the results of these evaluations, GaDOE and SBOE can select one of the innovative assessments to scale statewide or decide to continue using Georgia Milestones. If the state selects one of the innovative assessments, GaDOE will apply for a two-year extension of IADA in order to scale the chosen assessment statewide.
Opportunities. Georgia’s unique approach to IADA has some potential advantages:
- It allows GaDOE to harness existing innovation and select the assessment system that works best across the state, rather than going all in on a single system;
- Both assessments provide educators with actionable data throughout the year through interim reports that are directly related to what students are already learning in the classroom; and
- Georgia MAP’s inclusion of above and below grade level test items could allow teachers to better address student learning gaps.
Risks. However, there are also a few inherent risks:
- Districts that have invested heavily in adopting one system may be resistant and/or lack capacity to adopt another system if theirs is not selected to be scaled statewide;
- Navvy’s unique scoring system will create extra hurdles for GaDOE if they attempt to integrate it into their existing accountability system and establish comparability with Georgia Milestones;
- By allowing students to reassess, Navvy could be reducing reliability as reassessments could measure increased student familiarity with the assessment rather than academic growth; and
- While Georgia MAP’s non-grade level items may improve instructional decisions it may limit the assessment system’s overall validity.
Read our full analysis of Georgia’s pilot here.
[i] ESSA allows an alternate assessment for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities. The law and accompanying regulations cap the use of alternate assessments at 1% of all students statewide although a number of states have applied for and received waivers of the 1% cap.