Milestones testing redundant, unnecessary


Atlanta Public Schools Testing Department

Milestone testing at Midtown comes second to AP tests and Finals, so why are students even taking them?

Editorial Board

Every year, students must complete a Georgia milestone assessment for some core classes. Students are tested on the subjects, English language arts, mathematics, science and social studies. These tests are described as a “standardized comprehensive summative assessment program… designed to send consistent signals about students’ “preparedness for the next level,” per the Georgia Department of Education. However, these assessments place a burden on high school students.

Starting April 24 and spanning the whole week, Milestones are scheduled at the busiest time for many students, especially those taking honors and Advanced Placement (AP) classes. Unlike Milestones, AP exam scores allow you to receive college credit, an important score to reduce entry level college classes and money spent on them. These exams often need hours of studying and reviewing, and this time is reduced when additional tests are required. Additionally, allocating class time to Milestones reduces review time with AP teachers and peers, in addition to last minute teaching of information in the AP curriculum, necessary for receiving a passing grade.  

Also, in the case of AP students who have to additionally take the Milestones, the actual content on the Milestones has little to do with the content they had been learning the entire year in their AP courses. So as well as missing class time to take the test, of which could have been used for review as aforementioned, some class time that students have before the test is then allocated for Milestones material catchup. 

All classes also have to take final exams given by the teachers, which often make up a larger percentage of students’ grades than normal tests. These tests directly relate to what students have learned in class this year, unlike Milestones, and are a culmination of all the learning and work they have done in class.

Three test grades for one class is redundant and causes nothing but stress. Taking multiple hour long tests burns students out, resulting in lower test grades and less time to study for each. Not only that, but because a lot of students already put a lot of pressure on the outcomes of their AP and final exams and now they have yet another test to worry about, students are in a tough situation of how they will prioritize studying and for which test. 

Especially for juniors, who already have the daunting task of applying for colleges next fall, are working to achieve their ideal score in ACT and/or SAT tests and end-of-the-year exams, the mounting stress is rapidly imploding on students’ mental health. 

A major complaint made from most students about the Milestones is the effect they have on grades. It is worth 20 percent of your final grade, disproportionate to the work you put into the test. Students have worked hard all semester to receive good grades in their classes, yet a test taken once, on one day, is worth a fifth of your total grade. 

While the need to compare students on an equal playing field, and measure the preparedness for moving on to the next grade level, an additional test that takes multiple hours is not the best option. Milestones have negative consequences on students’ scores for the other important test, including finals and AP exams, and causes stress for a majority of students, resulting in underachievement on all.