ATLANTA (WXIA) – It’s standardized testing time in Georgia’s public schools, and a grassroots movement for kids to opt out of those tests is growing.
The Opt Out Georgia Facebook page has more than 4,000 members, who helped push through legislation in the state house to reduce testing.
There is a bill awaiting Gov. Nathan Deal’s signature that deals with the issue.
Senate Bill 355 would keep school districts from retaliating against students who refuse to take state-mandated tests, including those with special needs. Opt Out Georgia is fighting testing fatigue for all students.
“My son was extremely stressed, and he started not only chewing his nails, but the skin around the outside of his fingers,” said Gwinnett County mother Stacey Gyorgyi.
Gyorgyi said she realized her third grader’s stress last year came from worrying about an upcoming standardized test.
“I would say, ‘Honey, it’s just a grade. It had nothing to do with you and who you are. Look at how you’ve been a straight-A student all year – Principal’s Honor Roll,’” she said.
Gyorgyi became a fired-up proponent of Opt Out Georgia, the Facebook group fighting for testing changes.
“We will teach you how to refuse for your child,” she said. “We will give you the ammunition to refuse the tests.”
During the recent legislative session, two bills focused on reducing the state-mandated tests kids must take in Georgia – which is three-times more tests than are required nationally. Georgia Milestones is the newest one.
“The test is given to everyone, no matter if they’re in special ed, traditional classes or gifted classes,” Gyorgyi said.
The opt-out movement successfully helped pass Senate Bill 355 – that would allow students to refuse to take the test, including those with special needs, or medical reasons. And, offers the option of using a pencil and paper, and not testing on computers.
Gyorgyi’s child is no longer stressed out.
“We need to bring the joy of education back by bringing the classroom back to the teachers and the parents,” Gyorgyi said.
How does refusing to take the test affect your child’s grade? For students in 3rd through 8th grades, there’s no effect on a child’s grade because of one test, but it might lead to a decision over promoting them to the next level. If that happens, you have the right to appeal that process. As for high school students, the tests are 20 percent of a grade, and they cannot refuse to take them.