Georgia’s governor and the state school superintendent plan to ask for federal permission to suspend all state standardized testing in public schools for a second year.
Gov. Brian Kemp and State Superintendent Richard Woods said in a joint statement Thursday that the tests would be “counterproductive” given disruptions to the upcoming 2020-2021 school year from COVID-19. They also said they would rather the state spend the money it would pay for tests on helping students in other ways.
“In anticipation of a return to in-person instruction this fall, we believe schools’ focus should be on remediation, growth, and the safety of students,” the two elected Republicans said. “Every dollar spent on high-stakes testing would be a dollar taken away from the classroom.”
Georgia and most other states nationwide canceled standardized testing this spring after in-person classes were suspended in March.
Kemp and Woods said they also want to suspend the numerical grading system of schools and school districts that underlies the A-to-F grades issued by the governor’s office. The U.S. Department of Education would have to approve both the suspension of tests and the suspension of the grading system.
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.
The state says it’s also suspending its teacher evaluation system for the school year that begins in August.
Budget documents show Georgia saved $10 million by not administering its tests, called Georgia Milestones.
Georgia lawmakers are currently considering a proposal backed by Kemp and Woods to permanently cut four standardized tests in Georgia’s high schools and one in middle schools. All those tests are above the minimum required by the federal government. Right now, those eight high school tests account for 20% of a student’s grade in those high school courses.
“These efforts are in line with our longstanding shared belief that assessment has a place and a purpose in education, but the current high-stakes testing regime is excessive,” the two said in the joint statement.