Today Governor Brian P. Kemp and State School Superintendent Richard Woods of the Georgia Department of Education issued the following joint statement:
"Since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, we have urged common sense regarding compliance in Georgia's public schools, and a focus before anything else on the health, safety, and well-being of students, families, and school staff.
"On March 16, Georgia became one of the first states in the nation to suspend standardized testing requirements in the wake of the COVID-19 school closures, and later received approval from the U.S. Department of Education for the cancelation of all remaining standardized tests in the 2019-2020 school year.
"Given the ongoing challenges posed by the pandemic and the resulting state budget reductions, it would be counterproductive to continue with high-stakes testing for the 2020-2021 school year. In anticipation of a return to in-person instruction this fall, we believe schools' focus should be on remediation, growth, and the safety of students. Every dollar spent on high-stakes testing would be a dollar taken away from the classroom.
"Georgia will submit a waiver to the U.S. Department of Education for the suspension of the 2020-21 Georgia Milestones assessment and CCRPI school and district rating. To our knowledge, Georgia is the first state in the nation to make this announcement for the upcoming school year. Additionally, effective immediately, the Georgia Department of Education is suspending the teacher evaluation (TKES) summative rating for 2020-21.
"These efforts are in line with our longstanding shared belief that assessment has a place and a purpose in education, but the current high-stakes testing regime is excessive. Though the legislative session was shortened due to COVID-19, we are continuing to pursue Senate Bill 367, which aims to get Georgia's state testing requirements in line with the federal minimum and maximize time for instruction.
"We are hopeful the federal government will recognize that the upcoming school year will not be 'business as usual' and will accept our request for a standardized testing waiver."
A dozen readers sent me a plea going around social media to oppose the contract for 2020-21 Milestones testing that was on the state Board of Education agenda this week. Those readers said the money for the tests could be better spent elsewhere in education, and it didn’t make sense to give the exams next year in the midst of this chaos.
I asked DOE spokeswoman Meghan Frick about the contract earlier this week, given that it wasn’t clear yet if Georgia would even give the Milestones next spring. She explained: