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Fewer standardized tests a possibility for next school year
State school superintendent: Common Core not going away
Gainesville school leaders and other stakeholders gather Friday morning in round table fashion to discuss curriculum and testing policies with State School Superintendent John Barge at Enota Multiple Intelligences Academy. - photo by CHARLIE WILLIAMS

When new standardized test formats are rolled out in the 2014-15 school year, there may be fewer of them.

State School Superintendent John Barge hinted at consolidation during a round-table discussion during a Friday visit to Gainesville’s Enota Multiple Intelligences Academy.

“We do hope to streamline our assessments with this process,” Barge said. “What we plan to do at the (grades) 3-8 level is merge our English/language arts and our reading tests into a single test. So that will get rid of one test.”

Georgia recently withdrew from the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers test development consortium in favor of creating tests in-state. This was a move to save money, Barge said.

He went on to add that with these exams expected to incorporate more writing and reading comprehension skills, the separate writing exams may be able to be eliminated in grades 3, 5 and 8.

“Hopefully (grade) 11, but 11 is a little different ... because it’s built into the graduation rule, and it may take a little bit more work to be able to get that done,” he said.

The new assessments will replace the current format of the Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests and End of Course Tests.

The testing is being developed in response to the Common Core standards, the adoption of which has become a state and national topic. Some people have called for repeal of the standards, but Barge said they are not going away.

“I challenge people that are critics sometimes to look at those standards and find me one of those standards that we should not be teaching our children,” he said. “I don’t think you can.”

He said that Common Core was very similar to the previous Georgia Performance Standards.

Enota Assistant Principal Jennifer Westbrook asked Barge if he anticipated the modified version of the CRCT for eligible special-education students to be continued.

“I think that we would probably all agree that it needs to continue,” Barge replied, noting that it’s a “hotly debated” topic at the federal level.

Commenting on his run for governor, Barge said there needs to be more focus placed on school funding.

“We have entire school districts that are facing bankruptcy,” he said. “Is there a plan? What will the children in those communities do if their school doesn’t have money to pay their teachers? So that’s an issue.”

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