GEORGIA (WTXL) — On Monday, the State Board of Education voted unanimously to approve State School Superintendent Richard Woods' recommendation of a .01 percent course grade weight for Georgia Milestones End-of-Course exams for the 2020-21 school year.
Given the impact of the pandemic and the clear need for students and teachers to have the flexibility to focus on learning and remediation, rather than end-of-year, high-stakes tests, the Georgia Department of Education applied for a waiver of federal standardized testing requirements for the 2020-21 school year.
When that waiver was denied by U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, Superintendent Woods made a series of recommendations to reduce the high-stakes impact of the test, including the .01 percent recommendation for high-school EOCs, waiving the summative TKES evaluation for teachers, and removing Georgia Milestones EOGs from consideration in promotion/retention decisions.
In November, the Georgia SBE voted to withdraw its recommendation of a 10 percent course grade weight for Georgia EOC exams in 2020-21, and to post State School Superintendent Richard Woods’ original recommendation of a .01 percent weight for public comment. During regularly scheduled academic years, the EOC tests have weight of 20 percent.
Monday's vote means students' course grades will not be negatively impacted by their score on the Georgia Milestones EOC.
For exams already administered this fall, school districts may recalculate course grades with the .01 percent weight.
“I wish to thank the State Board of Education for their unanimous support of this proposal," Superintendent Woods said. “I firmly believe this is the right thing for kids – we must ensure students and teachers are not penalized for circumstances beyond their control."
The .01percent recommendation was supported by large majorities of Georgians in public comment: in a survey with 93,079 responses, 86.31 percent said the weight should be .01 percent, 11.35 percent said it should be 10 percent, and 2.34 percent said it should be 20 percent.
“I continue to believe, and we continue to see indicators, that Georgia's commitment to compassion over compliance from the onset of this pandemic has been the right path to take," Superintendent Woods said. “As I've said since the beginning, who we are will be measured not by a test score, but by how we meet this moment, which is why we plan to resubmit our request for federal testing and accountability waivers to the U.S. Department of Education."
In South Carolina, a similar 20 percent requirement was waived and the National Center for Education Statistics decided to suspend NAEP testing, known as the Nation's Report Card for the 2020-21 school year.