This story was been updated April 9 with a comment from the Georgia Association of Educators.
Georgia’s schoolchildren will get a break from standardized testing for the rest of the academic year because of the COVID-19 outbreak.
And their schools will be not graded based on their performance, as measured by the state’s College and Career Ready Performance Index – a first since the reporting system first started in 2012. The index is a key factor when determining which schools are eligible to become a turnaround school, which receives additional support and oversight from the state.
The state Department of Education made the announcement Tuesday after recently receiving formal federal approval to waive the tests. Temporarily shelving testing had been in the works since last month.
“It became clear as the COVID-19 pandemic progressed that there was no realistic path to offering state assessments this year – and, frankly, that testing is not what students, parents, and educators should be focused on at this time,” Superintendent Richard Woods said in a statement.
“Georgia’s public-school community will continue to focus on keeping students safe and providing opportunities for learning and growth as we weather this storm together,” he said.
It was welcome news to local officials who are unexpectedly having to move months of learning online. Gov. Brian Kemp has ordered public schools to close for the rest of the school year in hopes of slowing the spread of the novel coronavirus in Georgia.
“GAE feels that moving away from the drill and test routine is a good thing,” said Charlotte Booker, president of the Georgia Association of Educators. “While the situation isn’t ideal for our members getting them back to what they love to do, which is teach, is a good thing.”
Justin Pauly, spokesman for the Georgia School Board Association, said local boards of education would work with the state in the coming year to address any future impacts.
“Districts have welcomed this flexibility because they are focused on meeting the immediate needs of their students,” Pauly said.
As of Tuesday, more than 9,100 people tested positive for COVID-19 in Georgia. Nearly 350 people had died.