Georgia’s tests are getting an evaluation of their own, State School Superintendent Richard Woods told a Flowery Branch audience Monday night.
“We’re in the process of having an inventory of all the tests we do, and that means state, federal and local (tests),” he said. “We want to see what’s going on. Not only do I want to see the number of tests, but I want to see what’s driving those tests.”
Woods took testing to task during remarks to the South Hall Republican Club at the Spout Springs Library, but he didn’t totally slam them.
Tests “are part of the evaluation process, and I’m not saying doing away with them,” he said. “But you have to use tests in the proper manner. ... If you allow teachers to teach their kids, then tests and all that other stuff will take care of (itself).”
Woods, who was sworn into office in January, said he believes standardized testing “is driving everything we are doing.”
He said that in talking with his student advisory council after taking office, a group of middle and high schoolers spent two hours talking to him and peppering him with questions.
“Every other question dealt with testing, so I’m thinking ... 50 percent of what they’re talking about is testing,” Woods said. “Something’s not right.”
He has pushed cutting the number of student learning objectives that teachers must give to measure student growth and academic achievement.
“That little SLO became a four-letter word in the state of Georgia,” Woods said. “It’s one of the most hated things we have done.
“One of the things we have recently done is pull those back. Where teachers would typically have to give six of those, now it’s probably either one or two.”
Woods said one school official told him that her school gave some 20,000 tests in late April and early May.
“That means schedules you have to deal with and kids in and out,” he said. “We are losing quality time and time is something we cannot take back.”
Also, in his speech, Woods said he wants to emphasize reading.
“What we know in educational research is children have to be on grade level (in reading) by third grade,” he said. “Nobody argues with that.”