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FILE - In this Feb. 4, 2020 file photo, State school Superintendent Richard Woods speaks at a news conference in Atlanta, where Gov. Brian Kemp announced legislation to cut five mandatory standardized tests for Georgia public school students, including four in high schools. The state Board of Education on Thursday, Aug. 27 chose which four high school tests it will drop. (Bob Andres/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP, File)

ATLANTA (AP) — Georgia public high school students will take exams in algebra, American literature and composition, biology and U.S. History under a plan to cut four other exams.

The state Board of Education voted to approve the plan Thursday. It would take effect this school year, although Georgia could give no standardized tests for a second year if it gets a waiver from the U.S. Department of Education.

The change was mandated by Senate Bill 367, which Gov. Brian Kemp signed into law earlier this year. Kemp and state Superintendent Richard Woods, both elected Republicans, are pushing for fewer tests, part of a national backlash against standardized testing.

The law mandated that the board drop the economics test. The board decided to drop tests in geometry, physical science and 9th grade literature and composition.

All eight courses are still required for graduation. 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 lawmakers mandated it be kept.

The exams still must be factored into a student's final grade. They now count for 20%, but the state Board of Education could lower the percentage later.

The law requires the state to prepare a state report comparing how Georgia students perform versus peers nationwide. It also allows 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 last 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 drops a fifth grade social studies test but would keep an optional eighth grade test in Georgia history. The state retained math and English/language arts tests that are federally required in grades 3-8.

The measure requires students to 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 required districts to test as late as possible.

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