U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and the U.S. Department of Education (US ED) have approved Georgia’s participation in its Innovative Assessment Demonstration Authority (IADA), State School Superintendent Richard Woods announced today.

Georgia was approved to implement two of the innovative assessment models described in the state’s application – the Georgia MAP Partnership and the Putnam County Consortium. While there is an opportunity for a third model (Cobb Metrics) to provide additional information, it will not be implemented at this time.

“I’m pleased that Georgia and North Carolina are rethinking how to assess student achievement in ways that are more relevant and connected to the classroom,” said DeVos in a statement. “This pilot program gives states that are willing to try a new approach an opportunity to assess student achievement without sacrificing rigor or skirting accountability. I look forward to seeing the impact this study will have on student outcomes.” 

Through the IADA, Georgia has been granted flexibility to pilot the two approved innovative assessments – Georgia MAP and the Putnam consortium’s Navvy – through the 2023-24 school year. At that time, the state will determine whether either of the assessments should be administered statewide. Georgia is required to determine which one assessment it will administer to all students by the end of its participation in the IADA.

The Georgia Board of Education sought a waiver from federal testing requirements in response to complaints from parents and educators about the use of a single high-stakes test on a single day to measure what kids were learning and how well schools were teaching. 

School districts across the state teamed up to create alternative tests for the federal innovative assessment pilot program. Under the pilot, students in these districts will take localized tests rather than the state’s Milestones assessment.

The Georgia MAP Assessment Partnership includes Marietta, Dalton, and Trion city schools and the Clayton, Floyd, Jackson, Jasper, Polk, Gilmer, and Haralson county school systems. The Putnam County Consortium includes Calhoun City and the Dougherty, Evans, Fayette, Floyd, Liberty, McIntosh, Oglethorpe and Pike county school systems. 

“This waiver to utilize pilot projects allows Georgia to pursue greater flexibility in the classroom, reduce high-stakes testing, and focus on a more student-centric approach to learning,” Governor Brian Kemp said. “I applaud the efforts of federal, state, and local educational leaders who worked together to develop this innovative idea for the benefit of Georgia families, students, and teachers.”

“I am proud that Georgia continues to be a national leader in pursuing flexibility for our schools and students,” State School Superintendent Richard Woods said. “A maximum of seven states will be selected to participate in this demonstration authority, so Georgia is in a distinguished group. For the benefit of our students, we must all continue to rethink assessment in the state of Georgia. I will keep pursuing a change in state law to get state testing requirements in line with the federal minimum, along with a more realistic use of test scores for accountability purposes.”

The pilots will use more frequent and smaller tests that offer teachers real-time insights on student performance throughout the year. The current Milestones assessment runs on a days-long testing schedule and delivers scores too late to inform instruction. 

US ED is requiring the Georgia MAP Partnership and the Putnam County Consortium to establish comparability with Georgia Milestones before the administration of either pilot assessment. Both districts will present comparability evidence to Georgia’s new Innovative Assessment Technical Advisory Committee (TAC), as early as this fall. US ED is also requiring that the Putnam County Consortium provide information on how it will produce literacy data.

US ED requires that districts continue to administer Georgia Milestones for any grade, content area, or course assessed by Georgia Milestones for which an innovative assessment system does not have a corresponding assessment. Districts will also need to continue to administer Georgia Milestones to the extent necessary to continue performing the annual comparability analyses required by US ED.

Georgia applied for the Innovative Assessment Demonstration Authority in December 2018 in order to seek the maximum flexibility available under federal law for its assessment program, as laid out in Georgia’s ESSA plan.