Standardized testing provides neither fair nor helpful evaluation feedback. It requires the ability to answer superficial questions quickly, which prioritizes rote memorization and knee-jerk thinking rather than deep or creative thinking.
Instead of holding schools accountable for being places where students learn how to think and and analyze the world around them, standardized testing rewards schools where students are taught to take tests. Georgia’s annual tests, the Georgia Milestones, are also completely unhelpful to the students that take them because they’re given too late in the year for teachers to re-teach any missed material.
As part of the Obama-era Every Student Succeeds Act, states can apply for the opportunity to pilot “innovative” standardized testing alternatives. To the surprise of many, Ga Superintendent Richard Woods applied for this opportunity in September.
According to a GA DOE press release, Superintendent Woods sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, expressing Georgia’s intent to apply to the U.S. Department of Education’s innovative assessment pilot. The program allows states to pilot innovative assessments in a few school districts with the intent to scale the assessment statewide in the future.
So far, DeVos and the Trump administration haven’t mentioned whether or not they plan to continue ESSA and the innovative testing pilot program, which would allow up to seven states to pilot their own innovative standardized testing. But Woods applied on September 18.
Deal, a supporter of the testing juggernaut, is hoping to increase the weight of standardized testing on the state report card for schools, the College and Career Ready Performance Index, or CCRPI. Deal also shot down a plan that would’ve empowered parents to opt-out of testing and prevented school districts from bullying students into testing.
Woods however says the public wants less testing: “We heard loud and clear from Georgians that they want a broader measurement of school quality than just high-stakes testing,” he said.
While an alternative to state-mandated standardized testing would be more than welcome, only time will tell if it will be possible under DeVos and Deal.