This article, written by Laura Mann, originally appeared on the PIE Network blog.
This week, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal vetoed a bill that would have made it easier to opt out of the state’s standardized assessment and allow students to choose pencil-and-paper formats of the exam. One key component of House Bill 425 was that it forbid schools and districts from “taking punitive action against a student, including, but not limited to, the adoption of sit and stare policies, in response to a student’s refusal to participate in a federal, state, or locally mandated standardized assessment” and required the superintendent to develop policies about supervision and alternative instructional activities for students opting-out.
Advocates at the state and national level applauded the decision.
PIE Network member Georgia Partnership of Excellence in Education (GPEE) released a statement from their president Steve Dolinger: “The Georgia Partnership, and our partners in the Better Standards for a Better Georgia Coalition, believe that high-quality assessments are a necessary tool for educators, students, and their families. The information provided can provide a clear and accurate picture of both how well teachers are teaching and students are learning. We believe this veto is a wise decision.”
Michael O’Sullivan, executive director or GeorgiaCAN, also a member of the Better Standards for a Better Georgia Coalition, applauded the governor’s veto, saying, “Policy makers should be seeking ways to increase the participation rate of annual assessments, which are critical to a credible, strong accountability system and continue to recognize that these assessments are vital to identifying and ultimately confronting student achievement gaps.”
PIE Network partner Foundation for Excellence in Education (ExcelinEd) expressed similar sentiment and describes the gravity of the decision: “History shows that without giving teachers and schools this feedback on how students are doing, far too many students will fall through the cracks. HB 425 would have formalized the process for students to be excluded from this important tool.”