Georgia lawmakers give final OK to fewer standardized tests

Public school students in Georgia are likely to see fewer state standardized tests in coming years.

The Senate voted 45-0 to agree to changes in Senate Bill 367 on Thursday, sending it to Gov. Brian Kemp for his signature.

Kemp and state Superintendent Richard Woods, both elected Republicans, are pushing for fewer tests.

The measure would cut four of eight exams in high school and one exam in middle school.

Economics would be one of the now-required tests to be dropped in high school, and the state Board of Education would decide the others — possibly geometry, physical science and American literature.

The federal government requires high school students take at least one test in math, science and English/language arts. The current American history test is not required by the federal government, but Georgia would keep it. No courses required for graduation would change.

The bill keeps the requirement that end-of-course exams be factored into a high school student’s final grade. The exams now count for 20%, but the state Board of Education could lower the percentage.

Lawmakers also are keeping the requirement for test questions that can be used to compare Georgia’s students to how students perform in other states. For the first time, lawmakers are mandating that the state Department of Education prepare a report making those comparisons.

The measure would allow the state Department of Education to study how much local districts are testing on their own.

Georgia administered no standardized tests this spring after schools were closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and Woods and Kemp are asking the federal government to release Georgia from federal testing requirements again next year. No tests would mean no ratings of schools and districts and no teacher evaluations.

For younger students, the plan would drop a fifth grade social studies test but would keep an optional eighth grade test in Georgia history. The state would retain math and English/language arts tests that are federally required in grades 3-8.

The measure would require students be tested in the last five weeks of the school year.