Georgia withdraws from testing consortium

ATLANTA — In a move that will impact all local public schoos, state School Superintendent Dr. John Barge and Gov. Nathan Deal announced this week that Georgia is withdrawing from the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers test development consortium.

Instead, the Georgia Department of Education plans to create the exams in-house by working with educators to write the standardized tests that align with Georgia’s academic standards in mathematics and English/language arts for elementary, middle and high school students.

Officials said the state also will seek opportunities to collaborate with other states.

“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,” said Barge.

He said creating the tests locally will ensure the state maintains control over its academic standards and student testing, whereas a common assessment would have prevented the state from being able to adjust and rewrite its standards when educators indicate revisions are needed.

“We must ensure that our assessments provide educators with critical information about student learning and contribute to the work of improving educational opportunities for every student,” he said.

Georgia was one of 22 states to join PARCC several years ago with the aim of developing next generation student assessments in mathematics and English/language arts by 2014-15.

“Assessing our students’ academic performance remains a critical need to ensure that young Georgians can compete on equal footing with their peers throughout the country,” said Deal. “Georgia can create an equally-rigorous measurement without the high costs associated with this particular test. Just as we do in all other branches of state government, we can create better value for taxpayers while maintaining the same level of quality.”

Barge was one of the state school chiefs serving on the governing board for the consortium, but he voiced concerns about the cost of the PARCC assessments.

The English/language arts and math tests alone were estimated to cost significantly more than Georgia spends on its entire testing program.

Barge also expressed concerns over the technology requirements for PARCC’s online tests. He said many Georgia school districts do not have the needed equipment or bandwidth to handle administering the PARCC assessments.

“We are grateful to Georgia educators who have worked hard to help develop our standards and assessments,” said Barge. “We look forward to continuing to work with them to develop a new assessment system for our state.”