October 25, 2020

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education gives you strength

Ga. education board balks at reducing the importance of Milestones tests

2 min read
Woods had argued that the tests, which influence grade point averages and, therefore, college admissions...

Woods had argued that the tests, which influence grade point averages and, therefore, college admissions and scholarships, would make an already difficult school year more stressful and would also be unfair. Many students are attending online because their families are concerned about becoming infected or because their school district isn’t offering in-person classes.

Board members expressed frustration with the way Woods released his proposal publicly last week — without talking it over with them first. One asked why he had chosen to weight the tests at 0.01% of a course grade.

Woods explained that he had to set the weight above zero.

“Point zero one was about as close to zero as I could get,” he said. “If I could have brought it down to zero, I would have done that.”

Woods proposed the rollback after U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos announced last month that states should not expect another waiver from administering the federally-required tests like they got last spring.

First, Woods told schools that the scores would not be part of teacher evaluations. Then, he directed schools not to use the scores in promotion and retention decisions in third, fifth and eighth grades. Then, he pitched the grading rollback.

Eight board members voted against it before voting 9-3 to instead weight the scores at 10%.

The proposal now goes to the public for a 30-day comment period before a final board vote.

In a written statement after the meeting, Woods said the mandate to give the tests and the board decision on their weight is unreasonable and insensitive” given the realities of the pandemic. He encouraged the public to engage in the commenting process.

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