Woods requested a waiver from federal resting requirements for the 2020-2021 school year, but U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos indicated a few weeks ago she opposed any more test relief. She sent a strong letter to the Council of Chief State School Officers saying that, while she exempted states from testing mandates in the spring, she did not intend to do so this year.
In her letter, DeVos said, “Make no mistake. If we fail to assess students, it will have a lasting effect for years to come. Not only will vulnerable students fall behind, but we will be abandoning the important, bipartisan reforms of the past two decades at a critical moment.”
Unhappy with the secretary’s stance, Woods said last month. “Georgia will abide by federal law, but we are not going to layer additional stress and burden onto our students and teachers during this time. In this environment, these tests are not valid or reliable measures of academic progress or achievement, and we are taking all possible steps at the state level to reduce their high-stakes impact.”
The state board apparently did not agree with going as far as Woods wanted to blunt that impact.
The Georgia Department of Education released this statement:
In a split vote today (8-4 with some members not present), the State Board of Education voted to reject State School Superintendent Richard Woods' recommendation that the EOC 20% course grade weight be lowered to 0.01% for the 2020-2021 school year.
The State Board has proposed a 10% course weight for the 2020-21 school year; this proposal will be posted for public comment and that information will be shared as soon as it is available.
“Similar to the federal directive to administer standardized tests in the middle of a pandemic, insisting on high-stakes consequences for those tests is unreasonable and insensitive to the realities of the classroom,” said Woods. "I am confident our high-school students whose GPAs and scholarships are riding on this decision would agree that a 10% weight is still high-stakes. I encourage all Georgians, whether they agree or disagree with my view, to provide their feedback through the public-comment process and let their voice be heard.”