Georgia school superintendent announces plans to slash weight of mandated tests to .01%

ATLANTA — Georgia School Superintendent Richard Woods has taken even further action to remove the pressure of high-stakes testing for students.

Woods announced Thursday that during the school board’s October 1 meeting, he would recommend that the weight of the Georgia Milestones End of Course scores be reduced to just.01%. The test scores are currently 20% of a student’s grade.

He also announced that he would recommend scores on the Milestones tests not be used to make promotion and retention decisions at charter schools or schools on a strategic waiver system and that schools be given more flexibility on when to administer tests.

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Woods' announcement comes after the U.S. Department of Education announced that they would not issue new testing waivers for the 2020-2021 school year. Testing requirements were waived in March because of the pandemic.

Last month, Woods blasted U.S. Dept. of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos' decision to reinstate testing requirements.

“I remain disappointed and disheartened by the federal directive to administer high-stakes tests in a pandemic,” Superintendent Woods said. “Georgia will abide by federal law, but we are not going to layer additional stress and burden onto our students and teachers during this time. In this environment, these tests are not valid or reliable measures of academic progress or achievement, and we are taking all possible steps at the state level to reduce their high-stakes impact.”

Before the pandemic began, Gov. Kemp and lawmakers from both parties announced plans to reduce the number of high-stakes tests Georgia students were required to take, arguing that they take precious time away from instruction.

Gov. Brian Kemp said at that time that Georgia tests more than any other state, and that only hurts the children.

“On test days, it’s making students physically sick because they’re worried they will not do well,” Kemp said. “And that is simply unacceptable in our state.”

Woods said he was happy to have Gov. Kemp’s support in his decision to aggressively pursue testing waivers if they are offered again.

“Who we are will be measured not by a test score, but by how we meet this moment,” Woods said.