Standarized testing set to take place amid COVID-19 pandemic

Schools across the country can expect standardized testing to go on this year despite the pandemic. That decision was announced in a letter from U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos.

Georgia State School Superintendent Richard Woods was quick to blast that decision calling it disappointing. Many teachers and parents say students have enough on their plates this year as many adjust to virtual learning.

"To have a high stakes test that almost feels like it has a punitive effect on it, it just really seemed like a slap in the face," said Susan Barber, a teacher at Grady High School.

Barber says finding out testing waivers would not be granted came as a surprise.

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"We were just initially shocked to find out that tests weren't going to be waived," said Barber.

The decision came in a letter from DeVos. She told school officials they should not anticipate waivers being granted again like we saw in spring when the pandemic first hit.

"I share Superintendent Wood's disappointment that we did not receive those waivers," said Scott Sweeney, Chairman of the Georgia Board of Education.

Sweeney says the board unanimously agreed to pursue those waivers given the circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Even if these are tests are administered, what is the validity of these tests going to be?" questioned Sweeney.

DeVos points to bipartisan support for standardized testing. She also says it's one of the best tools to help the federal government understand how students are performing. Teachers like Barber says taking tests takes away from instructional time.

"So now we have to lose instructional days to administer the tests," says Barber.

State Superintendent Richard Woods released a lengthy statement in response to DeVos' decision. Woods says, "It is disappointing, shows a complete disconnect with the realities of the classroom, and will be a detriment to public education."

Sweeney also points to the cost of administering the tests.

"The requirement now that we're going to have to take the tests is going to be a very, very big financial cost statewide," said Sweeney.

Superintendent Woods says he plans to release a list of recommendations to make the tests less high stakes than they normally would be.

DeVos' full letter can be read below: 

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