ATLANTA (AP) — Public school students in Georgia would see fewer state standardized tests under a bill passed by the state House, but lawmakers want the state to keep national comparisons and keep counting remaining high school tests as part of a student's course grade.
The House voted 151-0 to approve Senate Bill 367 on Wednesday, sending it back to the Senate for more debate. Gov. Brian Kemp and state Superintendent Richard Woods, both elected Republicans, are pushing for fewer tests, part of a national backlash against standardized testing.
The measure would cut four of eight exams in high school and one in middle school.
"You want to go home and tell students and schoolkids and parents you reduced testing? This is your bill." House Education Committee Chairman Rick Jasperse, a Jasper Republican, said Wednesday.
Economics would be one of the now-required tests to be dropped in high school, and the state Board of Education would decide the others — possibly geometry, physical science and American literature.
The federal government requires high school students take at least one test in math, science and English/language arts. The current American history test is not required by the federal government, but Georgia would keep it. All eight courses would still be required for graduation.
Senators sought to drop the requirement that end-of-course exams be factored into a student's final grade, but the House members kept it. The exams now count for 20%, but the state Board of Education could lower the percentage.
Woods also sought to remove the requirement for test questions that could be used to compare Georgia's students to how students perform in other states, arguing that would shorten state tests. The House bill keeps those questions and for the first time would mandate that the state report on how Georgia students perform versus peers nationwide.
The measure would allow, but not require, the state Department of Education to study how much local districts are testing. Many of Georgia's 180 local districts administer their own standardized tests.
Georgia administered no standardized tests this spring after schools were closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and Woods and Kemp are asking the federal government to release Georgia from federal testing requirements again next year. No tests would mean no ratings of schools and districts and no teacher evaluations. Both depend in part on test results.
For younger students, the plan would drop a fifth grade social studies test but would keep an optional eighth grade test in Georgia history. The state would retain math and English/language arts tests that are federally required in grades 3-8.
The measure would require students be tested in the last five weeks of the school year, trying to push back state testing, on the belief that the move would provide more instructional time for teachers. The law already requires districts to test as late as possible.