When Georgia students take the writing portion of the Georgia Milestones later this year, they’ll be scored on a scale that was partially developed by a Westover Comprehensive High School Literature teacher.
Deadra Jones, who teaches 9th and 10th Grade Literature, was among a handful of teachers picked from across the state to participate in a rangefinding session with the Georgia Department of Education.
Rangefinding is when some of the state’s best educators sift through real writing responses from students who took the previous year’s Milestones assessment to establish baseline grading patterns that are then used to help the official graders measure submissions for the next administration of the test.
Jones said she was honored to have been picked to serve alongside some of the state’s best educators.
“I was very humbled to have been selected to participate in that kind of experience,” Jones said. “For me, it put a lot more responsibility on my shoulders because if I’m there representing Dougherty County and, really, the whole of Southwest Georgia, I want to accurately bring some of the issues that impact us to the table.”
Jones said that having an opportunity to see writing responses from students all over the state reinforced what she says is being taught in Dougherty County and that, even though the responses had been stripped of personal student information like names and schools, that she could tell which ones were from our area.
“We actually read the test responses from students and went through them as a group and scored them,” Jones said. “One thing became increasingly apparent...we’re doing it right in Dougherty County.”
Jones said she could see components of writing that are being taught in DCSS High Schools being used in the responses including various writing strategies including the proper citing of textual evidence.
But, after having scored responses from all over the state, Jones said that she did come away with some areas that students appear to consistently be struggling with.
“Some of the same issues came up repeatedly as we were scoring the papers,” Jones said. “Students across the board struggled with some aspects of writing like being able to explain citations from the text…some students struggled with understanding the questions themselves which led to inaccurate responses.”
Jones said the experience afforded her a learning opportunity that she’ll now bring back with her and share with her fellow teachers at Westover.
“Fundamentally, our students have the ability to be great writers, we just have to focus on a few key areas while continuing to motivate them and build their confidence so that they live up to that potential,” Jones said.