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PO Box 843, Zebulon, Georgia 30295. You can donate through PayPal at the link on the bottom of the page. Becky Watts: Phone # 770-468-7583 editor(@)pikecountytimes.com
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State Department of Education Issues Guidance on Milestones Testing and More

ATLANTA - The United States Department of Education issued an update on assessment, accountability, and reporting guidelines for the 2020-2021 school year on February 22, 2021. The notice went out to schools all over the country and included direction on waivers and testing. That entire notice can be read by clicking here.

On February 24, State School Superintendent Richard Woods issued a statement on The US Department of Education’s assessment, accountability, and reporting guidelines for the 2020-2021 school year. He advised that there was good news and bad news in the letter.

The good news is that schools are allowed to request a waiver of the accountability and school identification requirements. The bad news is that The US Department of Education will not waive testing requirements for 2020-2021 and suggested remote administration of standardized testing.

“I completely disagree with this decision, and believe it shows the continued disconnect between Washington, D.C. and the realities of the classroom. At this point, our focus is on ensuring this disheartening decision does not harm the health and safety of any Georgia student,” said Woods.

He pointed out that Georgia has investigated the remote administration of standardized testing and said that it is “not achievable from a logistical, connectivity, or security standpoint.” He went on to say that the state is “unaware of any states that have accomplished remote administration of a secure standardized test on this scale without major issues.”

So how has the state of Georgia dealt with these federal requirements? The State Board of Education has approved Woods’ recommendation that Georgia Milestones will only be 0.01% of the students’ final grades. Accordingly, input from teachers, parents, placement committees, class performance, and formation tools will be used to make student promotions decisions. Teachers will also receive observations but not an end of year, scored evaluation.

“With these changes in place to remove student and teacher consequences, the federal removal of the 95% participation requirement, and the clear direction of USED that students should not be brought into school buildings for the purpose of taking a test, I have communicated to Georgia school districts that they should not require virtual students to come into the building solely for the purpose of taking Georgia Milestones, and should ensure that parents understand this option is available to them.”

He closed out his letter by praising the flexibility offered to schools by the US Department of Education though he expressed his disappointment in their approach to testing. “…I continue to believe that high-stakes standardized tests in the middle of a pandemic are not necessary, wise, or useful,” he said.

Woods closed out his letter by saying that the State of Georgia is working to ensure “maximum flexibility around testing” and to ensure the health and safety of students. This letter can be read in its entirety by clicking here.

What does this mean for Pike County students? Pike County Times contacted Superintendent Michael Duncan to ask this question.

Duncan advised that the Pike County School System will be abiding by the direction of the State Board of Education. This includes Milestones testing for those attending school. However, those who are learning remotely due to the extraordinary circumstances of COVID will not be required to come to the school to do testing.