Georgia tries again to waive standardized testing for 2021

The Gist: After being rejected for standardized testing waivers by the Trump administration, Georgia is trying again with the Biden administration.

Georgia Schools Superintendent Richard Woods and Brian Kemp submitted a request for a waiver of standardized testing and accountability requirements to the U.S. Department of Education on Thursday.

The Quote: “Proponents of high-stakes testing and heavy-handed accountability point to the need to identify student learning loss. Learning loss is a real and pressing concern, and a long-term challenge we will need to aggressively tackle as a state and nation,” Woods said. “Contrary to the rhetoric that learning loss is not being addressed, 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.”

The Numbers: According to the Georgia Department of Education, 96% of Georgians who submitted feedback on the waiver proposal support a waiver on standardized testing during the pandemic.

The Background: Once the coronavirus pandemic struck, the question of whether or not it was fair to test students who were learning virtually was raised nationwide.

Georgia requested a waiver from the federal government to avoid end-of-year testing for the 2020-21 school year. In September, U.S. Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos rejected the request

Next, Woods proposed lowering the weight of the tests from 20% of a student’s final grade to just 0.01% of the final grade. The state school board balked, proposing a reduction to 10%

After a 30-day public comment period that proved Woods had the support of teachers and students, the board voted to water the tests down to Woods’ proposed 0.01% weight.

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