James said in an interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the tests are yet another demand on students who are already burdened by the pandemic. Her own daughter, a senior at a Clayton County high school, helps care for her three younger siblings, all toddlers.
“It’s a lot for students,” James said. “It’s a lot for parents.”
Both state School Superintendent Richard Woods and Gov. Brian Kemp agreed, asking U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to waive the federally-required tests for this school year. She released states from the mandate last spring, but declined to do so again.
The federal government requires that 95% of students take the tests. Parents can opt their children out of them, but many don’t realize it. And in high school, the tests count for 20% of the course grade in four courses: Algebra, U.S. history, biology and American literature and composition.
DeVos’ decision prompted Woods to propose reducing the weight of those tests to near zero. The state school board is expected to ratify Woods’ recommended 0.01% test weight on Monday.
Alfred “Shivy” Brooks, one of the organizers of Tuesday’s rally, said he understands why school districts haven’t publicized that parents can opt-out of testing.
“The schools have to press forward,” said Brooks, a high school teacher in Clayton County. “I can’t blame them. However, it’s putting us in danger.”