Coronavirus, Education

Georgia School Chief: ‘Don’t Worry’ If Feds Force Testing

State Superintendent Richard Woods, along with the governor, had asked the U.S. Department of Education in June to grant Georgia a suspension of all standardized testing in public schools for a second year.
State Superintendent Richard Woods, along with the governor, had asked the U.S. Department of Education in June to grant Georgia a suspension of all standardized testing in public schools for a second year.
Credit ALISON GUILLORY / WABE
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Georgia’s state school superintendent urged parents not to worry Thursday after the federal government said it plans to require standardized testing for students this school year despite disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

State Superintendent Richard Woods and Gov. Brian Kemp had asked the U.S. Department of Education in June to grant Georgia a suspension of all standardized testing in public schools for a second year. Such waivers were granted for all 50 states after the pandemic shuttered schools during the previous school year. And several states, like Georgia, had sought them again for 2020-21.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos all but rejected those requests in a letter to state school chiefs Thursday.

“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.”

Woods, a Republican, said in a statement that Georgia will administer testing as required by law if the federal government mandates it.

But Woods 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.” He said more details would come soon.

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.

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