Thousands of Georgia students opting out of state exams, but will they pay for it later?

ATLANTA — As kids across the metro wind down a very unique school year, thousands of virtual students have opted out of taking the Georgia state test this year because their parents don’t want them to step inside school buildings.

Many parents brought us questions about how that will affect their kids. Channel 2′s Tyisha Fernandes has been working to get those answers.

The first thing parents need to know is their children will not be punished for opting out of the test this year.

But for parents who have children with special needs, the testing was more critical because it plays more of a role in their education plans.

Randall Slaughter’s kids have grown up in the Henry County school system.

“I’m not so sure that now is the time for standardized tests,” Slaughter said.

He told Fernandes that he can’t imagine having young children during a pandemic who have to take the Georgia state test this year.

He always questioned if the tests were valuable.

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“Not only have standardized tests not been friendly to the African American community over the years, but my question would be, if the kid doesn’t do so well on standardized tests, how would they be penalized?” Slaughter said.

Since many parents across metro Atlanta are asking the same question, Fernandes contacted state, federal and local school officials.

State superintendent Richards Woods said no student will be penalized for opting out of taking the test this year.

“Our educators are capable of, and have been, identifying learning gaps - without subjecting students to the risks and stresses of administering high-stakes, end-of-year tests,” Woods said in a statement.

Fernandes spoke to some parents who have children with special needs. They didn’t want to talk on camera but said they had to send their children into schools to take the test so they wouldn’t miss out on resources their children need next school year.

Other parents like Tenisha Sims said COVID-19 is still a major concern.

“I wouldn’t mind my kids taking the test at school if we weren’t going through something. COVID is killing people,” Sims said.

Many parents asked why can’t virtual students just take the test at home? The state doesn’t allow assessments like that to be taken at home.