On Air Now

Listen Now

Weather

cloudy-day
65°
Mostly Cloudy
H 67° L 46°
  • cloudy-day
    65°
    Current Conditions
    Mostly Cloudy. H 67° L 46°
  • cloudy-day
    67°
    Today
    Mostly Cloudy. H 67° L 46°
  • heavy-rain-day
    55°
    Tomorrow
    Chance of Rain. H 55° L 31°
Listen
Pause
Error

News on-demand

00:00 | 00:00

Listen
Pause
Error

Traffic on-demand

00:00 | 00:00

Listen
Pause
Error

Weather on-demand

00:00 | 00:00

Betsy DeVos approves Georgia’s plan to come up with better tests than Milestones

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has approved Georgia’s plan to pilot alternative assessments to the Milestones tests given to public school students each year. 

DeVos also approved North Carolina’s submission for an alternative test to satisfy the annual testing requirement in the Every Student Succeeds Act.

“I’m pleased that Georgia and North Carolina are rethinking how to assess student achievement in ways that are more relevant and connected to the classroom,” said DeVos in a statement. “This pilot program gives states that are willing to try a new approach an opportunity to assess student achievement without sacrificing rigor or skirting accountability. I look forward to seeing the impact this study will have on student outcomes.” 

The Georgia Board of Education sought a waiver from federal testing requirements in response to complaints from parents and educators about the use of a single high-stakes test on a single day to measure what kids were learning and how well schools were teaching. 

Districts banded together to develop alternative tests for the federal “innovative assessment” pilot program. Under the pilot, students in these districts will take the homegrown tests rather than the Milestones

While Georgia submitted three alternative testing approaches proposed by local districts to the federal education agency, DeVos approved only two of them, the Georgia Map Partnership and a Putnam County-led consortium that will employ a test developed by a company called Navvy Education. 

The Georgia MAP Assessment Partnership entails Marietta, Dalton and Trion city schools and the Clayton, Floyd, Jackson, Jasper, Polk, Gilmer and Haralson county school systems. The Putnam County Consortium includes Calhoun City and the Dougherty, Evans, Fayette, Floyd, Liberty, McIntosh, Oglethorpe and Pike county school systems.

The feds did not approve a testing alternative developed by Cobb County called Cobb Metrics, saying it failed to meet several requirements of the innovative assessment pilot program.

“I am proud that Georgia continues to be a national leader in pursuing flexibility for our schools and students,” state School Superintendent Richard Woods said today. “A maximum of seven states will be selected to participate in this demonstration authority, so Georgia is in a distinguished group. For the benefit of our students, we must all continue to rethink assessment in the state of Georgia. I will keep pursuing a change in state law to get state testing requirements in line with the federal minimum, along with a more realistic use of test scores for accountability purposes.”

Georgia’s pilot program was part of Senate Bill 362, a 2018 law enabling school districts to experiment with alternative tests. The law also requires the state Department of Education to eventually select from among the alternatives a system that the rest of Georgia’s 180 school districts could use in place of the Milestones.

The pilots will use tests that give teachers real-time insights throughout the year on how students are performing, as opposed to the Milestones where testing and scores come too late to inform instruction. 

These more frequent and smaller tests – closer to quizzes than end-of-the-year blockbuster exams – will help teachers see where students may be losing ground or lagging. And the more frequent testing will remove the spring panic that many students and schools felt over the annual Milestones.

Before the participating districts can stop giving the Milestones to their students, they’ll have to satisfy the state that their alternative tests are comparable and provide reliable insights into student performance. 

As GaDOE explains: 

Each approved consortia must demonstrate comparability between their innovative assessment system and Georgia Milestones before being approved by GaDOE to implement their assessment system in lieu of Georgia Milestones. Additionally, ED is requiring that the Putnam Consortium’s assessment model produce a measure for the literacy (Lexile) indicator of CCRPI before being implemented.

The consortia will have the opportunity to present their comparability evidence to the newly formed innovative assessment technical advisory committee as early as this fall. Once comparability has been established, GaDOE will work with the participating districts to amend their state flexibility contracts accordingly. That is the vehicle through which districts will be approved to use the innovative assessment system in lieu of Georgia Milestones.

Here is the official statement from the U.S. Department of Education:

The Innovative Assessment Demonstration Authority (IADA) program is designed to encourage local involvement in the development of the next generation of assessments. As part of the program, states can pilot new and innovative assessments on a small scale, avoid double-testing students on both pilot and statewide exams, and develop strategies for implementing such innovative assessments statewide over time. 

North Carolina’s new innovative assessment will rely on the use of a customized, end-of-year assessment (called a “route”) for each student, developed in response to a student’s performance on two formative assessments taken during the school year. Each route represents a cluster of test questions designed to measure a student’s achievement accurately and efficiently.

To participate in the pilot, states must apply and demonstrate how their innovative assessments are developed in collaboration with local stakeholders, aligned to challenging state academic standards and accessible to all students through use of principles of universal design for learning, among other requirements.

Georgia and North Carolina join two other pilot states, Louisiana and New Hampshire, which were granted flexibility as part of the IADA in 2018.

Read More

News

  • An 11-year-old Idaho girl who accompanied her grandfather to a legislative hearing on gun laws Monday did so armed with a loaded AR-15 assault rifle. Bailey Nielsen carried the weapon slung over her shoulder. According to The Associated Press, she remained silent as her grandfather, Charles Nielsen, addressed the legislative committee before him. “Bailey is carrying a loaded AR-15,” Nielsen said, according to the AP. “People live in fear, terrified of that which they do not understand. She’s been shooting since she was 5 years old. She got her first deer with this weapon at 9. She carries it responsibly. She knows how not to put her finger on the trigger. We live in fear in a society that is fed fear on a daily basis.” The AP reported that lawmakers had no reaction to the loaded weapon and asked Nielsen no questions when he was done speaking. The hearing the Nielsens attended dealt with a proposed law that would allow out-of-state visitors who have legal concealed handguns to carry them within city limits in Idaho. A law that was implemented last summer allows Idaho residents 18 and older to carry a concealed handgun within city limits without a permit or training. The proposed legislation would extend that right to all legal U.S. residents and U.S. military members. “When they come to Idaho, they should be able to carry concealed, because they carry responsibly,” Nielsen told the panel, according to the AP. “They’re law-abiding citizens. It’s the criminal we have to worry about.” Republican state Rep. Christy Zito, who proposed the bill, argued that the law would make clear the state gun laws and allow people to better defend themselves if necessary. She cited having to pull a weapon of her own when two men approached her vehicle with her daughter sitting inside. “I stand here before you today as a mother and grandmother who has had to use a firearm to defend their child,” Zito said, the AP reported. “Even though I didn't have to pull the trigger, just the fact that they could see it, and they knew that I had it, was the determining factor.” Bailey Nielsen’s appearance before the committee, which was captured in a photograph showing the AR-15 slung over her shoulder, caused outrage among gun safety advocates. The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence spoke out on social media. “This is the kind of extremism we are up against. The AR-15 was loaded,” the Facebook post read. Followers of the organization chimed in. One woman pointed out that an AR-15 is not a hunting weapon. “(I) grew up in a family of hunters in northern Minnesota,” the woman wrote. “No self-respecting hunter uses this. These weapons were created for the destruction of people, nature and property. In other words, war.” “If this is legal, God help Idaho,” a man wrote. “I’ll never go there.” Another commenter wrote that a federal age limit needs to be set for carrying a weapon. Not all who saw the image were against the girl being allowed to carry the rifle. “I’d rather have her around if something ever happened than any of you professional victims,” one man wrote. On Twitter, one man responded to a news story about the Nielsens by saying guns in public used to be the norm. “Years ago, there were far more guns and far less shootings,” the man tweeted. “Guns are not the problem. Progressive indoctrination is the problem.” Others on social media wondered how the girl was able to get a loaded assault rifle into the building. One woman wrote that she was not allowed to attend a city council meeting without turning over her pocket knife as she passed through a metal detector. Multiple people wrote about how they weren’t allowed to take cellphones into court. The AP reported that it is not unusual to see weapons in the Idaho Statehouse, where some lawmakers carry concealed weapons of their own. Handguns and the occasional long gun also make appearances when gun legislation is on the table. The bill being debated Monday was ultimately sent on to the House for review, the news agency said.
  • Two people were arrested in an Alabama motel room after police discovered drugs and cash, including more than 8 pounds of marijuana, authorities said. Shane Antoine Tillman and Jennifer Gomez, both from California, were arrested by police at a Holiday Inn Express in Decatur, AL.com reported. Tillman was charged with trafficking in cannabis and unlawful possession of a controlled substance, according to an arrest report. He was taken to the Morgan County Jail and was being held in lieu of $6,000 bail, according to court records. Gomez was charged with trafficking in cannabis and was being held in lieu of a $5,000 bond at the Morgan County Jail. Decatur Police officers responded to a call reporting persons trespassing in a room at the motel, AL.com reported. According to police, authorities found 8.5 pounds of marijuana, prescription medications and a large amount of money in the room, AL.com reported.
  • A South Carolina family is grieving after a 7-year-old girl died while having her tonsils removed last week. Paisley Elizabeth Grace Cogsdill died Friday at a Greenwood hospital, WHNS reported. Paisley’s parents told the television station the girl’s heart stopped one minute into the tonsillectomy. The girl’s parents, Austin Cogsdill and Jasmine Cogsdill, said Paisley, a second-grader at Clinton Elementary School, was healthy and had shown no signs of medical issues, WHNS reported. “You don’t understand why these things happen but we know it was God’s plan and that’s the only thing that can get us through, cause we know it was God,” Paisley’s grandmother, Mary Beth Truelock, told the television station. An obituary posted online by Gray Funeral Home in Clinton described Paisley as “a gifted and talented student and a straight-A second-grader.' “Her full of ‘Joy’ attitude could be seen in everything she did, from playing T-ball and softball to performing hip-hop dance routines and gymnastics programs with her friends,” the obituary said. Autopsy results are expected sometime Tuesday, WHNS reported. A GoFundMe account was established to help pay for funeral expenses. The $30,000 goal was exceeded by Tuesday afternoon.
  • After watching a mother and her wheelchair-bound daughter tumble bloodied to the ground, Hamilton school bus driver Bob Thacker knew he had to do something to help. Thacker, a decade-long veteran of the city schools, dashed out of his bus to help mother Tonya Uhl and her special needs daughter Katelynn to right themselves and tend to their injuries. “She (Katelynn) was all bloody so I said, ‘I got to do something,’” Thacker said of the accident last month. The solution would be a wheelchair ramp, but Thacker said the Uhl family couldn’t get any local agencies to pay for and install it. “So I decided to build it myself,” he said, adding the ramp he created out of sturdy wood is detachable, portable and can be used on other stairs should the Uhls move from their Pleasant Avenue home. Uhl, whose seventh-grade daughter attends Garfield Middle School, said of Thacker, “he doesn’t know how much he did for us.” “It’s really appreciated. He went the extra mile to help us out like nobody else has before,” said Uhl. Becky Goosey, director of transportation for the city schools, praised Thacker for going far beyond his bus driving duties after witnessing how difficult it was for Uhl to push and pull Katelyn in her wheelchair up the steps of their home. “The student fell out of her wheelchair and had a significant injury to her mouth, and the parent had trouble getting up after she fell,” said Goosey. Joni Copas, spokeswoman for Hamilton Schools, said, “Bob is just one great example of our staff members going above and beyond the call of duty. “He saw a need and wanted to help Katelyn and her mother. He witnessed the daily struggle they had getting in and out of the house, so he took it upon himself and his own expense and built a ramp for them.” Thacker also arranged for another city resident to donate an electric, motorized wheelchair to Katelynn so she can more easily move about the neighborhood and school. “Sometimes, you just got to help people,” he said.
  • An Alabama man is charged with murder and other related charges after he allegedly opened fire on his ex-wife and her new boyfriend Monday evening following a Mardi Gras parade, killing the man and critically wounding his former wife. Anthony Orr, 49, also faces charges of attempted murder and discharging a firearm into an occupied vehicle, according to Mobile County Jail records. >> Related story: Man fatally struck by Mardi Gras float Mobile Police Chief Lawrence Battiste said officers were called around 6 p.m. to the scene downtown, where they found the man dead and the woman injured. The city is currently celebrating Mardi Gras, which originated in Mobile, and was in the middle of the biggest party the community sees each year. The gunfire erupted less than an hour before the Infant Mystics parade was set to roll, AL.com reported. The victims were shot a couple of blocks from where the day’s previous parade had ended. “We are currently looking for a black male by the name of Anthony Orr, who is the suspect in this shooting,” Battiste told reporters at the crime scene Monday night, according to video from Fox 10 in Mobile. “We believe that this shooting is domestic-related. He chose to deal with the domestic situation here at Mardi Gras.” Orr had threatened his ex-wife, who was riding on a float, from the parade route as the festivities were underway, Battiste said. The chief asked anyone in the public who knew Orr or spotted him to call police. “Don’t harbor him. Please notify us,” Battiste said. Orr was taken into custody around 10 p.m., Fox 10 reported. Court records obtained by the news station show Orr was arrested Feb 18, just six days before the shooting, on domestic violence charges. The documents indicate the victim, Orr’s ex-wife, told police he had beat her, kicking her in the face, in October 2018. Orr was released on bail three days before the double shooting, AL.com reported. “This is a prime example of, potentially, where somebody may not should have had access to bail because of the offense he committed,” Battiste said. “Once a person has identified themselves as a shooter, it’s kind of hard to get them to stop.” Anthony Orr is escorted to jail by police officers in the video below, courtesy of WKRG in Mobile.  Alabama legislators are seeking to pass a constitutional amendment denying bail to suspects accused of violent Class A felonies. The bill, which the Montgomery Advertiser reported was approved last week by the state House Judiciary Committee, is named after Aniah Blanchard, a 19-year-old college student who was abducted from an Auburn convenience store and killed in October. At the time of Blanchard’s abduction, the man accused of the crime, Ibraheem Yazeed, was free on $295,000 bond, the Advertiser reported. Yazeed, 29, had been charged with attempted murder, kidnapping, robbery and drug charges in a January 2019 attack on two men at a Montgomery hotel. He now faces the death penalty in Blanchard’s abduction and shooting death. “We really believe the constitutional amendment will speak to this type of issues that we’re dealing with tonight,” Battiste said. “We shouldn’t be dealing with something like this if this guy had a history that indicated he should have been denied bail.” Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson said Monday night that there were people who knew prior to the shooting that Orr had threatened his ex-wife and her new boyfriend. “There was enough information to be conveyed that this was an actual, valid threat. He was intending to carry out this threat,” Stimpson said. Battiste and James Barber, the city’s public safety director, told Fox 10 that Orr had threatened the victims Sunday night and Monday afternoon. He also actively tried to gain access to weapons throughout the day Monday, Barber said. “There are other people that knew there was a threat to kill the deceased, so it would have been very helpful if somebody had reached out to us. And maybe somebody had, but we haven’t been able to confirm that,” Stimpson said. “If you know that somebody has been threatened with their life and you know there’s a history of violence, you’ve got to tell us if you expect us to do something about it.” Police officials and the mayor tried to assuage paradegoers’ fear as the city prepared for Fat Tuesday, the final and biggest day of Mardi Gras season. “If anything, because of this situation, there is a heightened awareness on our part that we can’t let our guard down coming into the last day of Mardi Gras,” Stimpson said. “That’s when things can happen that you don’t expect to happen. But we have got everything that we have out there trying to make sure that everybody is safe.” >> Related story: Woman run over by Mardi Gras float dies The mayor urged the public to pray for the victims and their families. “How does your heart not break for those who have been shot?” he said. Court records obtained by AL.com show Orr’s divorce was finalized in September. In the woman’s March 2019 filing, she alleged he had been verbally, emotionally and physically abusive. The woman had obtained a protection from abuse order the year before, the news site reported. Orr pleaded guilty in August 2019 to resisting arrest, a charge that stemmed from a March incident in which his ex-wife called the Mobile County Sheriff’s Office to report he was breaking into her home. Deputies found him near the home, and when he refused to follow their commands, they stunned him with a Taser. “As we were helping Anthony Orr to his feet he made the statement he always wondered what a taser felt like and wondered if it really worked,” a deputy wrote in an arrest report, according to AL.com. “(Orr) stated that he is a believer now.”
  • A great white shark fitted last summer with a satellite tag has surprised researchers by showing up in the Gulf of Mexico and swimming past the mouth of the Mississippi River. The shark, a female named Unama’ki, has traveled 3,120 miles in 103 days, beginning in Nova Scotia, the Sun Herald reported. The 2,076-pound, 15-foot, 5-inch shark has been tracked by OCEARCH, a marine research group, according to WXXV. The shark has been lingering off the Louisiana coast and is heading toward Texas, according to the Sun Herald. “Is this a whole new piece to the white shark puzzle?” OCEARCH tweeted Monday. Earlier this month, Unama’ki was pinged about 100 miles from the Florida coast, Northwest Florida Daily News reported. In October, she was pinged off the coast of North Carolina near the Outer Banks, according to WVEC. Unama’ki was last pinged on satellite tracking at 7:12 a.m. Sunday, off Louisiana’s Marsh Island, according to OCEARCH. “She’s a shark on the move!” OCEARCH tweeted.