The Forsyth County school system stands behind the state’s decision to opt out of a national consortium and instead develop its own assessments for the Common Core standards.
“I think it is a good decision and I think it’s the right decision for Georgia at this time for probably three reasons at least,” said Forsyth Superintendent Buster Evans.
The new national test, called the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC, is being created to assess math and English/language arts performance beginning in the 2014-15 school year.
The test, for which more than 20 states have joined together to develop, will offer the ability to compare performances.
Georgia was one of 22 states to join the partnership years ago. While this move does not impact the Common Core standards set for those subjects, the state is now responsible for those subject assessments.
Evans said the test Georgia creates likely will be a more rigorous variation of its current Criterion Referenced Competency Test and End of Course Tests.
In announcing the decision, the state made two points about PARCC, with one being the cost of the tests, running as high as $29.50 per student. That could have cost up to $27 million for Georgia, well over the $25 million budgeted for all testing.
Matt Cardoza, communications director for the Georgia Department of Education, noted in an e-mail that “those costs were only for English/language arts and math, not all the other areas we have to test.”
Cardoza said it was not immediately known how much money the state would save by the move.
A news release from the department said a “common assessment” would also have prevented the state from “being able to adjust and rewrite Georgia’s standards when educators indicate revisions are needed to best serve students.”
Evans said the cost of was one of the top three reasons he’s happy with the decision.
“We need to be focusing more resources into the classroom and not on assessment,” Evans said.
In addition to the cost, Evans agreed with the state that not every county is equipped with the level of technology needed to take the online assessment test.
“I just don’t think there was any way that it was going to work in the amount of time Georgia had to prepare for it,” Evans said.
“While I think that assessment is important and standardized assessment is important, I think we have plenty of standardized testing taking place and I’m not seeing a need for an extension.”
The state’s position, shared by School Superintendent John Barge and Gov. Nathan Deal, stressed the importance of maintaining control over academic standards and student testing.
While Georgia is not on board with the PARCC, the state has adopted the Common Core standards, of which Evans said there are both good and bad features.
“A lot of times we get caught up in what we call things,” he said. “I think the fact is that there will be some good things that come out of it and if there are things that are not good ... we don’t do them.
“I’ve often times been very leery of buying into one particular thing 100 percent.”
According to the PARCC website, the partnership is funded by a federal grant for $186 million, through the U.S. Department of Education’s Race to the Top.
Georgia is not the first state to drop out. Alabama, North Dakota and Pennsylvania have done so, and legislative leaders in Florida have asked that state’s education commissioner to withdraw.
Carly Sharec of the FCN regional staff contributed to this report.