Picture credit - Elected State School Superintendent, Richard Woods

More than two years after the new passage of the federal education law, Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), very few states are taking advantage of the new testing flexibility provisions in the law to reduce testing.

The new law, which replaced No Child Left Behind, allows states to take new measures to evaluate learning. Since Georgia’s education plan was granted for approval by the feds earlier this year, the state is looking to allow school districts the choice on types of testing and ways to reduce duplicative tests.

A nationwide backlash over standardized testing drove the debate about the testing flexibilities in ESSA. In a bid to reduce overall testing time, the new law also encourages states to audit their bevy of tests and eliminate unnecessary ones.

Georiga’s elected State School Superintendent, Richard Woods,  who is a constitutional officer, has few powers within the Georgia Department of Education, but one of the few powers they have is to defend and work closely with the federal government on implementing education policy in Georiga.

The following is a press release sent out on Friday from the Georgia Department of Education:

Georgia received approval from the U.S. Department of Education (USED) April 12 to reduce testing and avoid duplication for students taking advanced courses in middle school.

Increasing numbers of Georgia students take high school English Language Arts, math, and science courses in middle school – without a waiver, most of those students would be required to take both the middle school End of Grade (EOG) and high school End of Course (EOC) tests. The waiver approved by USED today allows those students to take the End of Course test only.

“This waiver provides both continued flexibility and a further reduction of testing here in Georgia,” State School Superintendent Richard Woods said. “We continue to seek every possible opportunity to reduce and avoid duplicative testing and reserve that time for teaching and learning. This also ensures that these students are being assessed by the test that aligns with the instruction they received.”

Under its previous Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) waiver, Georgia received flexibility from the U.S. Department of Education to avoid double-testing for math and science. Today’s waiver continues that flexibility under the new Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and expands it to English Language Arts.

This flexibility will take effect immediately and apply to the spring 2018 Georgia Milestones assessment window.

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Jeremy Spencer
Jeremy Spencer grew up in rural South Georgia and has served as a healthcare provider, high school science teacher, school administrator, and state education official. Jeremy is currently the market and content manager for All on Georgia-Camden and Glynn Counties. Jeremy’s focus is local news, statewide education issues, and statewide political commentary for the All on Georgia News Network. Jeremy has served as an education policy analyst for local legislators and state education leaders as well as a campaign strategist for local and statewide political campaigns. Jeremy holds degrees in science and education from the University of Georgia, Piedmont College, and Valdosta State University. He and his wife have lived in Camden County for 17 years, and they have two teenage children. Jeremy and his family live in St. Marys, GA and attend the Harbor Worship Center in Kingsland.

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