January 26, 2015 – State School Superintendent Richard Woods today sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, members of Georgia’s congressional delegation and members of the U.S. Senate and House Education Committees about the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). In his letter, he calls for a balance between accountability and responsibility with regard to testing requirements.
“With the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act comes an opportunity to address the valid concerns of students, parents, teachers, and communities regarding the quantity and quality of federally mandated standardized tests,” Superintendent Woods wrote in the letter. “As a nation, we have surrendered time, talent, and resources to an emphasis on autopsy-styled assessments, rather than physical-styled assessments. With the reauthorization of ESEA comes an opportunity for a real paradigm shift in the area of assessment.”
“Instead of a ‘measure, pressure, and punish’ model that sets our students, teachers, and schools up for failure, we need a diagnostic, remediate/accelerate model that personalizes instruction, empowers students, involves parents, and provides real feedback to our teachers. We need greater emphasis for a federally supported but state-driven formative assessment model that identifies the strengths and weakness of students, coupled with a less intrusive, student-sampled or grade-staggered summative assessment model for the purposes of state-to-state comparisons and world rankings.”
“We must find a balance between accountability and responsibility. We must give our teachers the tools and trust to be successful or our current path to hyper-accountability will continue to set our students and teachers up for failure.”
Read the full letter below:
Jan. 28, 2015
Dear Superintendent Woods:
I know I speak for the overwhelming majority of our more than 86,000 members when I say thank you for your leadership in revisiting the testing regime both nationally and here in Georgia. To say that you have “hit the ground running” on this issue is an understatement.
PAGE applauds the truths you communicated to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan in your letter on the long overdue reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, more commonly known as No Child Left Behind. You note that in our testing and reporting regime under NCLB we have for far too long relied upon a “measure, pressure and punish model that sets our students, teachers and schools up for failure.” We could not have said it better and I know educators across the state are proud of the stand you have taken.
We also commend your support of House Bill 91 which would eliminate the Georgia High School Graduation Test as a requirement for graduation and, more importantly, eliminate that test as a barrier to a diploma for former students whose lives have been put on “hold” because of their inability to pass it. We share your support of this legislation and will gladly work with you to seek additional ways we can reduce the burden of over testing in our schools.
We share your view that a dialing back of testing does not mean a retreat from accountability. No educator worthy of the name seeks to dodge responsibility for the education of students entrusted to them. But we have lost our way during the past decade and now must restore some balance, as you correctly note, “between accountability and responsibility.”
PAGE stands firmly at your side on this issue and your common-sense approach. We look forward to the day when our schools, teachers and students can benefit from a new day in which they are all set up for success.
Dr. Allene Magill
PAGE Executive Director