U.S. Department of Education approves Georgia COVID-19 school accountability waivers

(The Center Square) — The U.S. Department of Education has approved Georgia’s request to waive and modify several school accountability measurements in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The one‐year modifications to Georgia’s College and Career Ready Performance Index will allow the state “to account for data limitations resulting from the pandemic,” State School Superintendent Richard Woods said in a June 2 email to superintendents across Georgia.

“We structured our requests to ensure that the 2022 CCRPI is realistic and takes into account the extraordinary circumstances of the last two years,” Woods added. “Our goal is to establish a new baseline, rather than compare your schools’ performance to pre‐pandemic norms. We are pleased that ED has approved this request.”

Under the changes, the state, districts and individual schools will not receive an overall 0-100 score or a letter grade. “The purpose is to focus on the information in each indicator and to avoid consolidating complex information into an oversimplified numerical score,” according to a state education department overview document.

Additionally, math and English Language Arts progress will not be reported for the “Progress” portion of the CCRPI score but will be used to establish a new post-pandemic baseline. State officials said test performance will continue to be reported through CCRPI’s “Content Mastery” section.

Student attendance will not be reported toward the “Readiness” portion of CCRPI.

However, not everyone was in favor of the changes. A Georgia nonprofit says the changes won’t help students recover “learning loss” following the pandemic.

“By doing this we are locking in the learning loss that took place during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Buzz Brockway, vice president of the Georgia Center for Opportunity. “This means for some students, they will never recover from the pandemic learning loss they experienced, nor are they expected to recover. This ignores the millions and millions of dollars Georgia’s school districts are being sent via the American Relief Package Act, which requires that at least 20% of those funds be spent on recovering learning loss.

“What will local districts do with that money? Is giving up best for students? Georgia’s parents should march in loud protest to accept that pandemic learning loss is the new norm,” Brockway added.

States must develop and implement a statewide accountability approach as part of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965.

By T.A. DeFeo | The Center Square contributor

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