Monday September 21st, 2020 5:35AM

Georgia school chief: 'Don't worry' if feds force testing

By Associated Press

ATLANTA (AP) Georgia's students are likely to have to take state standardized tests this spring, even though state schools Superintendent Richard Woods and Gov. Brian Kemp don't want them to, citing the continuing disruption of the coronavirus pandemic.

It's less clear, though, if the tests will fill their traditional role of being used to grade schools and evaluate teachers, with Woods pledging action in coming weeks to ``take the high-stakes power of the tests away`` part of his continuing attack on the testing and accountability system that fellow Republicans who preceded him helped create.

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, in a letter to state school leaders, all but rejected requests by Georgia and others who sought a second year of relief from federal testing mandates. Tests were waived for all 50 states after the pandemic shuttered schools last spring.

``It is now our expectation that states will, in the interest of students, administer summative assessments during the 2020-2021 school year, consistent with the requirements of the law and following the guidance of local health officials,'' DeVos wrote. ``As a result, you should not anticipate such waivers being granted again,'' underlining not.

Woods, an elected Republican, released a lengthy statement, saying DeVos' decision ``is disappointing, shows a complete disconnect with the realities of the classroom, and will be a detriment to public education.''

He said Georgia will administer testing as required by law if the federal government mandates it, but struck a defiant tone, telling parents and teachers: ``Don't worry about the tests. Given the unique environment we are in, they are neither valid nor reliable measures of academic progress or achievement.''

Woods said he would take action ``to take the high-stakes power of the tests away.'' Right now, the tests are a key ingredient in a numerical performance index that is used to assign grades to schools and are also used to evaluate teachers.

DeVos could choose to let Georgia change its accountability system, as it is approved separately from the tests themselves. However, most of Georgia's system is enshrined in state law, meaning Woods would need legislative approval to scrap it.

The federal government requires testing in math and English/language arts in grades 3-8, as well as for high school students to take at least one test in math, science and English/language arts. Georgia further requires a test in U.S. history in high school and an eighth-grade test in Georgia history.

Following a new law this year, the state Board of Education last month dropped high school tests in economics, geometry, physical science and ninth grade literature and composition, plus a fifth-grade social studies test.

Some teacher groups decried DeVos' move, saying they support Woods' stance.

``We will continue to work to ensure that like Superintendent Woods, other policy makers will understand that `A child is more than a test score,'`` said Lisa Morgan, president of the Georgia Association of Educators, the state affiliate of the National Education Association.

But some advocates have called for testing to continue, saying that it's important to have a yardstick of performance.

``Parents deserve it, teachers could use it,'' said Michael O'Sullivan of GeorgiaCAN, an education advocacy group that supports accountability. ``We all need to know where kids are.'' 

  • Associated Categories: Homepage, Local/State News, Politics
  • Associated Tags: Georgia Department of Education , Richard Woods, standardized testing, Betsy DeVos, testing waivers
© Copyright 2020
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Georgia school chief: 'Don't worry' if feds force testing
Georgia's students are likely to have to take state standardized tests this spring, even though state schools Superintendent Richard Woods and Gov. Brian Kemp don't want them to, citing the continuing disruption of the coronavirus pandemic.
6:49AM ( 39 minutes ago )
Flowery Branch City Council members still unsure about private sub-subdivision
A request to rezone a portion of Flowery Branch’s largest residential neighborhood once again came under question and close scrutiny by the Flowery Branch City Council during its work session Thursday evening.
12:05AM ( 7 hours ago )
Loeffler to Hall County residents: “I am your voice”
United States Senator Kelly Loeffler of Georgia visited Gainesville Thursday, where she assured residents that she is their “voice” in Congress.
12:00AM ( 7 hours ago )
Local/State News
Kemp names former trooper as new emergency management chief
Gov. Brian Kemp is naming a Department of Public Safety officer as the next director of the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency
3:11PM ( 2 days ago )
Judge orders Georgia to extend deadline for absentee ballots
A federal judge has ordered Georgia to extend its deadline for accepting mail-in ballots for November’s general election from the close of polls on Election Day until three days later
8:50PM ( 3 days ago )
Hall concedes Senate District 50 race to Hatchett
Stacy Hall has conceded the State Senate District 50 race to Cornelia attorney Bo Hatchett.
7:52PM ( 3 days ago )
Georgia leaders won't try to delay start of in-person school
Georgia state leaders will not ask local schools to delay face-to-face instruction until after Labor Day.
By Associated Press
12:30PM ( 1 month ago )
UPDATE: New policy requires fewer tests for some Georgia students
Georgia students taking certain advanced classes in high school will take fewer state tests under a new state policy.
By Associated Press
11:59PM ( 9 months ago )
Georgia high school graduation rate sets new record
State officials say 82% of Georgia seniors graduated on time from high school in 2018-2019, the highest share on record.
By Associated Press
12:15PM ( 11 months ago )
Hall, Gainesville seniors outpace state graduation rate for 2018
Both Gainesville City and Hall County schools outpaced the state of Georgia in graduation rates for 2018.
4:30PM ( 1 year ago )
Students make gains on latest Georgia Milestones Assessments
Student scores for the 2017 administration of the Georgia Milestones Assessment System show increases in many subject areas, including several increases in English Language Arts and mathematics at the elementary, middle and high school levels.
By AccessWDUN staff
1:45PM ( 3 years ago )