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A Survey Could Help Decide How Much Georgia's Year-end Tests Will Count
A survey is open to solicit feedback from Georgia students, parents, teachers and community members on whether year-end test scores should be nixed, kept the same or cut in half during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The survey comes after the state Board of Education took steps last week to reduce by half how much the annual Georgia Milestones tests count toward students’ final grades, from the usual weight of 20% down to 10%.
That was less grade-weight trimming than was pushed by State School Superintendent Richard Woods, who originally recommended the scores count for 0.01% – or as close to zero as state law allows.
The survey asks whether Georgians would support keeping the year-end test’s score weights at 20%, 10% or 0.01%.
Those interested in completing the survey may do so at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/3TWWTMZ.
The survey is open through Nov. 16. It is required before the education board can make final changes to the year-end test scores.
The move to water down the test scores came after the U.S. Department of Education rejected Georgia’s request to scrap the tests entirely this year, saying the tests provide important data used for assessing student and teacher performance.
Woods slammed that decision, arguing the tests this year have become moot, burdensome and costly due to the disparities in learning environments caused by the coronavirus pandemic, which has prompted many schools to continue teaching via out-of-school virtual formats.
“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,” Woods said in a recent statement.
Others have also argued the tests may not cover what students are learning this year due to the challenges many teachers face in holding classes online and, as a result, could unfairly affect students’ grade-point averages and college scholarship opportunities.
But the state board, which must approve the changes, balked at Woods’ proposal last week and voted to cut the grade weights by half rather than knock them down to zero.
Several board members said the tests could still provide useful performance data despite the pandemic’s impacts and that students would not be motivated to take the tests if they did not count for anything.
“I’m not ready to give up on this year,” said Mike Royal, a 10-year board member who runs an insurance and risk-management firm in the Atlanta area.
The board’s decision came despite several local superintendents who urged approval for Wood’s 0.01% grade proposal. Woods said he “strongly” disagreed with the board’s vote.
“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,” Woods said. “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.”
This story comes to GPB through a reporting partnership with Capitol Beat News Service.