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Georgia identifies tests to be eliminated in response to SB 367, aligning state testing requirements to the federal minimum

From:  Georgia Department of Education

September 10, 2020 – In keeping with Senate Bill 367, which was signed into law in July, Georgia has eliminated half of the Georgia Milestones End-of-Course tests required of high school students.

State School Superintendent Richard Woods and the State Board of Education jointly adopted a resolution on August 27 identifying the Georgia Milestones EOCs that will be eliminated: Geometry/Analytic Geometry, Ninth Grade Literature and Composition, Physical Science, and Economics.

Georgia has now seen the largest reduction in standardized testing in state history, going from 32 state-required assessments in 2015 to 19 beginning this school year. SB 367, which was championed by Governor Kemp and Superintendent Woods, also removed the fifth-grade social studies Georgia Milestones assessment, reducing Georgia elementary-school testing to the federal minimum.

High school students will continue to take Georgia Milestones EOCs in Algebra I/Coordinate Algebra, American Literature and Composition, Biology, and U.S. History. Middle and high school testing are now closely in line with the federal minimum; the only state tests not required by federal law are eighth-grade social studies and high-school U.S. History.

“Throughout my time as State School Superintendent, I have expressed deep and persistent concerns about the number and weight of high-stakes tests in Georgia,” Superintendent Woods said. “While there is certainly still work to do, Georgia’s state testing requirements are now in line with the federal minimum, significantly decreasing the testing burden in Georgia’s public schools. Reducing the number of high-stakes tests allows space for a greater focus on teaching, learning, and remediation – exactly where the focus should be for Georgia’s students and teachers.”

Getting Georgia’s testing requirements in line with the federal minimum, as accomplished by SB 367, was one of GaDOE’s top legislative priorities for 2020.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Georgia Department of Education requested a waiver of 2020-21 federal standardized testing requirements on July 13, 2020. The U.S. Department of Education has not responded to GaDOE’s individual waiver request but sent a letter last week to all Chief State School Officers, saying they “should not anticipate such waivers being granted” for the 2020-21 school year.

Superintendent Woods released a response expressing his disappointment with this decision and committing Georgia to a path that follows federal law but removes the high-stakes power of the test to the greatest degree possible. In the coming days, Superintendent Woods will announce a list of actions and recommendations moving forward.

“To our districts, families, educators, and students: don’t worry about the tests,” Superintendent Woods said. “Given the unique environment we are in, they are neither valid nor reliable measures of academic progress or achievement. I repeat: do not worry about the tests. Worry about meeting the students and teachers where they are. Worry about a safe and supportive restart. Worry about the well-being of your students and teachers. Worry about doing what’s right.”