ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) -- Georgia schools superintendent Richard Woods announced several actions being taken to lessen the impact of required academic testing on students during the pandemic.
His announcement comes three weeks after the U.S. Department of Education announced schools would not be allowed to waive high-stakes testing, such as the Georgia Milestones End of Course which makes up 20 percent of a student's grade, despite school districts struggling to acclimate to virtual and hybrid learning environments.
“I remain disappointed and disheartened by the federal directive to administer high-stakes tests in a pandemic,” Superintendent Woods said. “Georgia will abide by federal law, but we are not going to layer additional stress and burden onto our students and teachers during this time. In this environment, these tests are not valid or reliable measures of academic progress or achievement, and we are taking all possible steps at the state level to reduce their high-stakes impact.”
As a result, the Georgia Department of Education is addressing the impact of high-stakes testing during the 2020-21 school year by:
▪ Recommending lowering the 20% EOC course grade weight. At the October 1 State Board of Education meeting, Superintendent Woods will recommend that the current EOC 20% course grade weight be lowered to 0.01% (essentially zero – the weight cannot be zero due to state law) for the 2020-21 school year.
▪ Waiving promotion/retention consequences tied to Georgia Milestones. Effective immediately, it is the official directive of the Georgia Department of Education that school districts with flexibility contracts (Charter System or Strategic Waiver School System) use input from teachers and parents, placement committees, class performance, and formative tools to determine the need to promote or retain their students at the end of the 2020-21 school year. Student promotion/retention decisions should not be based on 2020-21 performance on the Georgia Milestones tests.
▪ Providing flexible options for administering the 2020 winter End-of-Course assessments. Districts are given the flexibility to assess students during the winter mid-month or spring administration windows, as needed, to ensure a more appropriate amount of instructional time is available prior to the administration of the EOC. Districts can also request extending their local testing window later in the school day to include afternoon and evening testing sessions and/or utilize a compressed testing schedule due to the updated Georgia Milestones test design, which includes a significant decrease in student testing time.