Superintendent Richard Woods Gets an A+ and Approval for His Statewide EOC Proposal

The+Georgia+Department+of+Education+is+in+charge+of+all+decisions+regarding+high-stakes+testing%2C+which+directly+impacts+Roswell+High+School+students+and+teachers.+Photo+Credit%3A+Gemma+Mueller-Hill

The Georgia Department of Education is in charge of all decisions regarding high-stakes testing, which directly impacts Roswell High School students and teachers. Photo Credit: Gemma Mueller-Hill

Gemma Mueller-Hill

End-of-Course exams are content-based tests showing grade level mastery and most schools administer them as part of state mandated milestone testing. Historically, EOC tests have counted as 20% of students’ final grades.

 

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the federal government granted Georgia and other states a temporary waiver from administering high-stake tests. That waiver has ended and as a result Georgia must once again administer Milestones every year in accordance with federal law.

 

Continued state-level concerns about ongoing coronavirus-related challenges led the state Superintendent and state Board of Education to propose a reduction in the impact that high-stakes tests have on student grades. These concerns include continued remote-testing, technological glitches, and other societal impacts. 

 

This new proposal shifts the emphasis from EOC test-scores to formative and summative in-class evaluations. This was announced during late December in a press release which states “the State Board of Education today voted unanimously to approve State School Superintendent Richard Woods’ recommendation of a 0.01% course grade weight for Georgia Milestones End-of-Course exams for the 2020-21 school year.”

 

This proposal was presented at a previous board meeting and tabled, as the Superintendent and board members were unable to reach agreement over the percentage of EOC test impact on student grades. This decision will have a tremendous impact as it will affect all 180 school districts in Georgia for the current school year.

 

Some have also raised concerns over the lifespan of this legislation, however the Manager of District Flexibility and External Affairs for the Georgia Department of Education, Kerry Pritchard states, “the reduction to .01% weight for the EOC is only for the 2021 school year” and that if “no further action is taken the percentage will revert back to 20% for the following school year.”

 

This elimination of the impact of high-stake exams on students’ final grades is seen as the result of ever-changing COVID-19 protocols and stressors placed upon schools’ staff and students. As board member Mike Long states, “I’m very concerned about our teachers’ mental health.”

 

However, board member Scott Johnson is worried about the effort students will put into testing now that its significance has seemingly been reduced and stressed that, “the data from testing is crucially important in any year but it is exponentially important information this year.”

 

The direct effect that this legislation will have upon students is unclear as of now and can only be predicted, until students take their EOCs in spring 2021 and their scores come back.

 

Click here for a synopsis of the board meeting where Superintendent Woods’ proposal was approved.