State Board of Education seeking Public Comment
The State Board of Education (SBOE) voted to withdraw its recommendation of a 10% course grade weight for Georgia Milestones End-of-Course (EOC) exams in 2020-21, and to post State School Superintendent Richard Woods’ original recommendation of a .01% weight for public comment. Superintendent Woods originally proposed the .01% weight at the SBOE’s October meeting, after Georgia’s request to waive standardized testing requirements for 2020-21 was denied by U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. In a split vote at that meeting, the SBOE voted to reject Superintendent Woods’ recommendation and post a 10% weight for public comment. Following a public-comment period that saw large majorities of Georgians supporting the original .01% proposal, the SBOE voted today to withdraw its 10% recommendation. The .01% recommendation will be posted for public comment for 30 days as legally required. It is important to note that the SBOE’s vote does not need to take place before a student tests for the .01% weight to apply. If the SBOE votes to approve the .01% weight in December, districts may recalculate course grades for students who have already tested. “I appreciate the State Board of Education hearing and responding to the clear will of the people on this issue, and hope that will continue with a vote to approve the .01% recommendation in December,” Superintendent Woods said. “My position on this has not changed: it is logistically, pedagogically, and morally unreasonable to administer high-stakes standardized tests in the middle of a pandemic. If the federal government is going to continue insisting on the administration of these exams, it is incumbent on us at the state level to ensure they are not high-stakes and do not penalize students and teachers for circumstances beyond their control.” In a survey open from October 2 to November 17, Georgians were asked to select their preferred course weight for EOCs in 2020-21: 20% (original weight), 10% (SBOE proposal) or .01% (Superintendent Woods/GaDOE proposal). A total of 93,079 responded, with 86.31% saying the weight should be .01%, 11.35% saying it should be 10%, and 2.34% saying it should be 20%. Another 500 wrote in with a detailed public comment, with many sharing the impact high-stakes testing during a pandemic would have on their students and classrooms. The public comment opportunity on the .01% proposal will be announced by the end of the day on Friday. The board will vote on the updated proposal in December.