Bartow County Superintendent John Harper said at this month’s school board work session the level of testing done in the county school system is so extensive the dates set aside for testing on the school calendar affect time needed for instruction.
“We test excessively,” Harper said at the July 22 session. “When we look at it on the calendar…you can see the number of days involved in testing in our schools and the number of days we are in school…it looks as though we test or have a window of preparation for testing, more than the number of days we are instructing. Make no mistake about it, it does interfere with day-to-day instruction.”
Some educators and administrators argue that oftentimes, federal mandates, such as No Child Left Behind, do more harm than good, forcing states to commit resources that are already stretched thin to comply.
In 2012, the state was granted a waiver from NCLB and according to a statement from the White House, “in exchange for the flexibility it now must raise standards, improve accountability and undertake essential reforms to improve teacher effectiveness.”
Georgia became one of 22 states involved with the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers test development consortium with the aim of developing next generation student assessments in mathematics and English language arts by 2014-15.
However Harper said there were many school systems, especially those in rural areas, who were concerned about some PARCC requirements, particularly since testing would be computer-based.
“That’s has been an issue with schools systems in Georgia, peculiarly in the rural areas, even Bartow, who are pretty far along in terms of having testing equipment online, which was part of the requirement,” Harper said during the same work session.
Harper said it also was unclear where funding for the PARCC tests would come from.
Harper said some PARCC testing packets were $18.50 per child, those tests only covered two sections and there was concern that local school systems would be required to foot the bill.
In response to statewide concern, state school Superintendent John Barge and Gov. Nathan Deal announced July 22 that the state was withdrawing from the consortium.
“After talking with district superintendents, administrators, teachers, parents, lawmakers and members of many communities, I believe this is the best decision for Georgia’s students,” Barge said in a statement.
Instead, the Georgia Department of Education will work with educators across the state to create standardized tests aligned to Georgia’s current academic standards in mathematics and English language arts for elementary, middle and high school students, a statement read.
Harper said there is no approximate date for when that assessment will be ready for students.