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By Beau Evans
Capitol Beat News Service
State school officials are asking Georgians to chime in on whether students should have to take year-end tests during the upcoming school year amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The Georgia Department of Education has launched an online survey to collect feedback on whether the state should be granted a waiver from the federal government to skip the Georgia Milestones and other reporting requirements for the 2020-21 school year.
The survey is open to anyone in Georgia to fill out including parents, teachers, students and others. It is required as part of the state’s waiver request to the U.S. Department of Education.
Per the waiver, the state is also seeking a pass on accountability requirements including the annual report card and the College and Career Readiness Index.
The survey is open for submissions through next Friday (July 10).
School officials say resuming the tests would both complicate classroom learning already challenged by social distancing restrictions and hurt the budgetary bottom line for local schools as districts grapple with $950 million in spending cuts statewide.
“In anticipation of a return to in-person instruction this fall, we believe schools’ focus should be on remediation, growth, and the safety of students,” said State School Superintendent Richard Woods. “Every dollar spent on high-stakes testing would be a dollar taken away from the classroom.”
Standardized tests were suspended for the 2019-20 school year as in-person classes closed across the state and Georgia’s roughly 1.7 million students switched to online learning.
Grady County School Superintendent Dr. Kermit Gilliard said he encourages local parents to take part in the survey.
Local school officials were handed guidelines earlier this month on how to safely reopen classes in the fall, with plans outlining steps schools should take to prevent the highly infectious virus from entering classroom environments and to curb its spread if an outbreak occurs.
Gov. Brian Kemp directed school officials Monday to draw up safe reopening rules for local school districts eyeing ways to resume in-person classes for the upcoming school year.
Anyone interested in taking the survey may do so at http://gadoe.org/ESSASurvey.