In keeping with Senate Bill 367, which was signed into law in July, Georgia has eliminated half of the Georgia Milestones End-of-Course tests required of high school students.
State School Superintendent Richard Woods and the State Board of Education jointly adopted a resolution on Aug. 27 identifying the Georgia Milestones EOCs that will be eliminated. They include:
• Geometry/Analytic Geometry
• Ninth Grade Literature and Composition
• Physical Science
Georgia has now seen the largest reduction in standardized testing in state history, from 32 state-required assessments in 2015 to 19 beginning this school year.
SB 367, which was championed by Woods and Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, also removed the fifth grade social studies Georgia Milestones assessment – reducing Georgia elementary school testing to the federal minimum.
High school students will continue to take Georgia Milestones EOCs in Algebra I/Coordinate Algebra, American Literature and Composition, Biology and U.S. History. Middle and high school testing are now closely in line with the federal minimum. The only state tests not required by federal law are eighth grade social studies and high school U.S. History.
“Throughout my time as state school superintendent, I have expressed deep and persistent concerns about the number and weight of high-stakes tests in Georgia,” Woods said. “While there is certainly still work to do, Georgia’s state testing requirements are now in line with the federal minimum, significantly decreasing the testing burden in Georgia’s public schools.”
“Reducing the number of high-stakes tests allows space for a greater focus on teaching, learning and remediation – exactly where the focus should be for Georgia’s students and teachers,” Woods added.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Georgia Department of Education requested a waiver of 2020-21 federal standardized testing requirements on July 13. The U.S. Department of Education has not responded to GaDOE’s individual waiver request but sent a letter last week to all chief state school officers, saying they “should not anticipate such waivers being granted” for the 2020-21 school year.
Woods released a response expressing his disappointment with this decision and committing Georgia to a path that follows federal law but removes the high-stakes power of the test to the greatest degree possible. In the coming days, Woods will announce a list of actions and recommendations moving forward.
“To our districts, families, educators and students: don’t worry about the tests,” Woods said. “Given the unique environment we are in, they are neither valid nor reliable measures of academic progress or achievement. I repeat: do not worry about the tests. Worry about meeting the students and teachers where they are. Worry about a safe and supportive restart. Worry about the well-being of your students and teachers. Worry about doing what’s right.”