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State school board rejects plan to value exams close to zero

ATLANTA (AP) — Georgia's state Board of Education balked Thursday at a plan to make standardized tests statistically meaningless for public high school students' grades this year, in an hourslong clash that shows many board members disagree with state Superintendent Richard Woods' efforts to dismantle Georgia's system of grading students, schools and teachers.

Woods, an elected Republican, wanted to cut from 20% to 0.01% the amount that end-of-course exams in algebra, American literature and composition, biology and U.S. history count in a high school student’s overall course grade. Board members rejected that plan in an 8-4 vote. Instead, they agreed 9-3 to seek public comment on making the exams count for 10%.

Thursday's vote is not the final word. The proposal will go out for public comment and board members will vote again after at least 30 days.

Woods argues the tests will have no statistical validity this year because of pandemic-related disruptions. He has been a foe of standardized testing, saying teachers should be trusted to take care of their students without testing oversight.

“As a student, as a child and as a teacher, I didn’t have to deal with this," Woods told board members. “And I think I turned out pretty good and I think my students turned out pretty doggone good as well. And I think we could learn a lot from that.”

Woods said many districts are changing what they are teaching. He pointed to earlier comments by Clayton County Superintendent Morcease Beasley that his district wasn't teaching all the state standards because it didn't have time to communicate all material in online lessons. Woods wanted Georgia to skip administering any tests for a second year in a row, but U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said the federal government...

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