School update: No state testing, but seniors will graduate

High School seniors will not be held back from graduating on time due to COVID-19 school closures. Districts may choose to graduate seniors and issue diplomas to seniors as planned but hold formal ceremonies later in the summer. Additionally, no state testing will be administered in Georgia for the rest of the school year.

These determinations were issued today, April 7, by the Georgia Department of Education in a series of formal procedures and guidelines provided to local school districts for testing, grades and graduation.


Georgia has received formal approval from the federal government to waive testing and accountability requirements for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year, according to a statement by State School Superintendent Richard Woods. No state testing – including Georgia Milestones EOGs and EOCs, GAA 2.0, and GKIDS – will be administered in Georgia for the rest of the school year. Additionally, there will not be a 2020 CCRPI.


“It became clear as the COVID-19 pandemic progressed that there was no realistic path to offering state assessments this year – and, frankly, that testing is not what students, parents, and educators should be focused on at this time," Woods stated. “Georgia's public-school community will continue to focus on keeping students safe and providing opportunities for learning and growth as we weather this storm together."​


Graduating Seniors

2020 graduating seniors cannot control the disruption to school schedules caused by COVID-19, and GaDOE has issued guidance to school districts to ensure no senior will be held back from graduating on time due to the COVID-19 school closures.


GaDOE is collaborating with the University System of Georgia, Technical College System of Georgia, Georgia Student Finance Commission, and others to ensure graduating seniors are not penalized due to the COVID-19 closures.


School districts were advised that they may choose to graduate and issue diplomas to seniors as planned, but hold formal ceremonies later in the summer if necessary, and, as GaDOE does not set school calendars or dictate the last day of the school year and does not set graduation ceremony requirements, those schedules will be made by the Stephens County School Board and administration.


Grading

The decision on how to calculate final student grades is being left to local districts to determine, but GaDOE has issued a document to school systems outlining various options they can consider, including adoption of a “no zero” policy for all assignments since school closures began, or allowing students to redo, resubmit, and/or retake assignments. The documentation sent to school districts directs local school systems to be “sensitive about the realities students and staff are dealing with during this time.”


“The state-level waivers approved on March 26 include a waiver of promotion/retention requirements, the 20 percent course-grade requirement for EOCs, and other requirements related to graduation and course completion.,”states the GaDOE press release. “This will ensure that students are still able to advance to the next grade in spite of the COVID-19 closures.”


For students in grades K-8, districts may choose to issue “pass” or “fail” grades instead of final grades or numeric scores.


“While GaDOE explored the possibility of offering a “pass/fail" option for grades 9-12, we ultimately determined this is not a viable option due to the potential impact on higher education acceptance requirements (in and out of state), scholarships and financial aid opportunities, and other GPA-related requirements from colleges and universities,” Woods stated in the press release.


This also applies for high school subjects/courses taught in middle school for high school credit.


While districts must issue numerical grades for high school courses, they may still adopt any of the other policies outlined in GaDOE guidance, including adopting a “no zero" policy for all assignments since school closures began; allowing students to redo, resubmit, and/or retake assignments; and evaluating key content and competencies taught prior to school closures to establish a “cutoff point" for grades/assignments.


“Parents should be assured their high-school student will not be penalized for circumstances outside their control,” Woods stressed.


ConnectLocal has contacted Stephens County School Superintendent Bryan Dorsey and Deputy Superintendent Daniel Oldham regarding local schedules, procedures and graduation policies under these new state guidelines. We will update this story with additional information as soon as it is made available.



FYI


On March 30, Governor Brian Kemp and the Georgia Department of Community Affairs launched a new website to inform Georgians about ways to connect to high-speed internet throughout the state. Visit broadband.georgia.gov to find internet access points near you.


GaDOE continues to work with the Governor's Office of Student Achievement, the Georgia Foundation for Public Education, and corporate funders to connect students and families with devices and Internet connections. If you would like to contribute to the effort to get digital devices into students' hands, please make a secure tax deductible online donation at www.gfpe.org/invest.

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