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Gainesville school board looks at testing
Some may be reduced at district level
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The Gainesville City Board of Education heard a proposal to eliminate certain pre- and post-testing at a district level at its Monday work session.

Jamey Moore, director of curriculum and instruction, suggested to board members that the system allow principals the chance to opt out of testing by using data the state now provides.

“Because of the State Longitudinal Data System, we now have access to information that drives instruction on Day One,” Moore said. He explained that the state is now providing growth data on all of the Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests and End of Course Tests, which are required by the state.

In an email, Superintendent Merrianne Dyer explained that the district pre- and post-tests were initially put into place to provide student growth feedback to the school leaders. For example, certain classes would use the previous year’s CRCT exam as a pretest on which to base individual student growth throughout the course.

The SLDS provides information on each individual student’s test scores, enrollment and attendance history, according to its website at Teachers can also access in-state transfer student histories, as well.

With the state now providing more information on individual students, Moore’s suggestion was that the local district cannot rely on its own testing, particularly since more state tests are on the horizon.

At the work session, Moore said that with the new student learning objective tests, the school system will be adding around 200 pre- and post-tests in the next two years.

Georgia has added student learning objectives to follow the growth of students in subject areas not covered by the CRCT or EOCT. According to the state Department of Education’s website, the results are a key component in the new teacher evaluation system.

“My concern, overall, is that we’re testing so much we’re cutting down on teaching time,” Dyer said at the meeting.

Moore’s proposal is to allow the decision on district testing to be made at the school level.

“We’ll still support (testing) as needed by principals, but we’re hearing from principals and teachers that some of those tests, they do not find useful at all for what they’re doing in their classrooms,” he said.

Board member Sammy Smith inquired whether or not all schools would follow the same guidelines.

“For example, at the five elementary schools, will they be consistent or will they be all independent?” he asked.

Moore affirmed that the schools would choose their testing structure independently, taking into consideration the needs of their students and families.

“I believe that with our charter and our site-based control, and those leadership teams making those decisions, that they would be taking into account what the parents from their schools would want to happen for their children,” he said.

The Gainesville City Board of Education will have a meeting July 15 at 6 p.m. at the main office on 508 Oak St.

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