Governor announces plans to reduce testing in Georgia

ATLANTA — Gov. Brian Kemp announced legislation Tuesday to cut back on the number of tests children have to take.

Kemp joined other lawmakers, both Republicans and Democrats, and introduced a bill that would eliminate five of the currently required, high-stakes tests. It would also shorten the required Georgia Milestone test so teachers would have more time to teach rather than test.

The bill also moves the testing window to the end of the year to give teachers more time for instruction.

Kemp said 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.”

Kemp said less testing will make for more educated kids.

“It will increase valuable instruction time for students, remove unnecessary burdens for educators and give parents better peace of mind about their children’s education,” Kemp said.

Democratic lawmaker Dewey McClain agreed. He said he’s worried teachers have had to teach to the test rather than giving kids a good education.

“We shouldn’t be trying to make sure we are teaching to the test, but that our children are obtaining something and retaining things,” McClain said. “We can’t be the No. 1 place to do business if our children are not educated.”

Channel 2′s Richard Elliot was at Dunbar Elementary school southwest Atlanta, where he talked to parents and students about the proposal.

9-year-old Jakyria Hill was just getting out of school when Elliot caught up with her and her mother. Hill said she likes the tests.

“When you take that test, you’ve just got to be focused,” Hill said. “You’ve got to be focused on your career and ready to graduate."

Elliot talked to the Georgia Association of Educators spokesman Joe Fleming, who said teachers have been waiting for this for a long time.

“We currently have almost twice as many high-stakes testing as the federal government requires,” Fleming said. “And our teachers tell us it’s taking away from instruction time and the classroom. It’s become a real stress issue with a lot of students."