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Posted: August 3, 2013 8:30 p.m.

State leaves test development group

Georgia has withdrawn from the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (a test development consortium), a move that state officials attributed to the costs of administering the standardized tests.

State School Superintendent John Barge and Gov. Nathan Deal announced last week that the Georgia Department of Education will instead work with educators across the state to create standardized tests to meet its current academic standards.

Georgia was one of 22 states that joined the PARCC several years ago, with a goal of developing the next generation of student assessments in math and English language arts by the start of the 2014-15 school year, GaDOE spokesman Matt Cardoza said in a news release.

However, the state decided to withdraw from the PARCC because of cost concerns.

Based on the number of students in grades 3-8 who took Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests in 2012, administering the consortium’s math, reading and writing tests would cost Georgia about $27.5 million, more than the statewide K-12 assessment budget of $25 million, which includes advanced placement tests for low-income students and ESL testing, Barge said.

"Assessing our students’ academic performance remains a critical need to ensure that young Georgians can compete on equal footing with their peers throughout the country," Deal said. "Georgia can create an equally rigorous measurement without the high costs associated with this particular test."

State school officials noted that creating tests in Georgia will allow the state to maintain control over its academic standards and student testing, Cardoza said.

A common assessment, which was being developed by PARCC, would have prevented the DOE from being able to adjust and rewrite Georgia’s standards when educators indicate revisions are needed to best serve students.

Newton County Schools Superintendent Samantha Fuhrey said as long as the new versions of state assessments include the rigor associated with the Common Core, NCSS students will be prepared to compete with their peers throughout the country.

"The development of the new Georgia exams follows past practice and allows for educator input and revision when needed," she said. "Moving to Georgia’s ‘Assessment System’ and away from PARCC ensures that our limited resources will be focused on students’ learning opportunities."

Barge said state education officials will look to the University System of Georgia and the Technical College System of Georgia for help in creating the tests.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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