GA Superintendent seeks to ease standardized testing pressures

Georgia's State Superintendent says he's helping take some of the burden off standardized tests this school year.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Education announced they would not grant federal waivers for standardized tests this year. Georgia was one of the first states to apply for a federal waiver for standardized testing this school year.

"Our learning models right now are just all over the place, and we're trying to get through a pandemic," said Richard Woods, Georgia State Superintendent of Schools.

In a letter from U.S. Secretary of State, Betsy DeVos, it was announced school leaders should not anticipate those waivers being granted again like they were last school year.

"We have different learning models going on throughout the state. These tests, to say they're going to be valid and reliable, it would be very highly questionable," said Woods.

Superintendent Woods announced earlier this week, he's recommending lowering the weight of end of course tests to go from 20% to .01%. Woods is also encouraging districts not to use standardized test scores to keep a student from advancing to the next grade level.

"That means that instead of just having the test burden on there, they'll look at meeting with teachers, retention, promotion committees, and parents making the decisions," said Woods.

Districts will also be given flexibility when students are required to take the tests. That will give teachers more time to teach instead of taking away instructional time to administer tests.

"It's not that we're trying to avoid anything, but it is the reality of the situation," said Woods.

Woods says about 30% of students in the state are learning remotely. He says a standardized test does not accurately represent how students are doing this year.

"I'm very hopeful, at the end of the year, we can say we survived COVID-19, and we can put 2020 behind us and look forward to the 2021-2022 school year," said Woods.

Woods says if there is another opportunity to pursue the testing waivers, he will do so. Woods says he is hoping that is the eventual outcome.

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