ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) -- The controversy over standardized testing is causing tension between federal and local educators who say now is not the time to judge schools or students through tests.
Georgia's education leaders were first to formally request testing waivers from the U.S. Education Department for the Georgia Milestones assessments. Given the uncertainty of school instruction during the pandemic, education leaders hoped waivers would curb accountability assessments that could impact school report card rankings.
This week, U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos sent schools a letter saying her department does not plan to issue standardized testing waivers this year, like she did at the end of last year. She says many parents want standardized tests, but some local school leaders are calling her decision disappointing.
“I think some testing is important if it’s measuring how kids are doing and setting goals for where they need to be, but right now in the middle of all this I’m not sure how you can test the kid and say this is where the kid is,” said John Martin, a Fulton County Parent and District 10 Director of the Georgia PTA.
Fulton County Superintendent Dr. Mike Looney tweeted “shame on the USED [U.S. Education Department]” and thanked Governor Brian Kemp and State Schools Superintendent Richard Woods for trying to advocate for waivers. Woods wrote a lengthy letter admonishing DeVos' stance on waivers during the pandemic, He stated it “shows a complete disconnect with the realities of the classroom, and will be a detriment to public education.”
DeVos mentions that the USED is open to discussion about the accountability determinations.
Woods wrote that he's hoping that the state be given a waiver on the accountability portions.
“Right now, they need to forget about the testing, let the teachers do the best they can do,” Martin told CBS46. “Get to where they need to be, figure out how much we’ve lost, and try to make up the gains in the shortest time as possible.”
There is not a clear picture on how the tests will be administered with so many different instruction models taking place across different school districts.