Ga. educators look toward new testing style when students return

Published: Jul. 1, 2020 at 6:21 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Meeting the needs of students often started with school food drive-ins, with districts trying to serve children who would have otherwise gone hungry without mobile sites.

“The well-being and safety of students during that time. We really felt like that’s where their focus needed to be,” said Matt Jones, chief of staff of the Georgia Department of Education.

Feeding new ideas on education, the state says, should remain the focus. And it’s starting with assessments, moving away from a system that’s been in place for decades.

“The biggest criticism around these tests, it’s one day, and it’s one snapshot of performance. And it’s really given, again, at the end of the school year,” Jones said. “That’s really too late for teachers to use that information to support their students.”

“We just think the testing needs to be non-stakes instead of this ‘high stakes end of the year’ assessment,” Jones added.

It’s called formative testing, and our local school districts will likely see it replace standardized exams not just this upcoming year, but even beyond.

The Georgia Department of Education said it would be optional for our local districts and it won’t factor into final grades, school funding, and bonuses, or a teacher’s performance review by the board.

“They’re essentially like check-ups that teachers can give to their students when they feel like that time is right,” Jones said.

Jones explains it’s for information gathering purposes only. So that in real-time, the school can offer additional learning support to children who need it.

Data reveals that poor test scores correlate to poorer communities that have less access to resources. With the pandemic simply magnifying these education inequities, Jones argues, it’s a chance for the state to lean on reform.

“So we really feel strongly on the continuation of focusing on the things that matter and not having to dice on quite frankly, during the circumstance, the thing that doesn’t matter—the high stakes test,” Jones said.

We did hear from Richmond and Columbia County, and they said they would use the formative testing style if Georgia gets its waiver approved.

The state says this new option would be administered online, free for districts if approved.

Copyright 2020 WRDW/WAGT. All rights reserved.

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