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Georgia Department of Education announces plans to pursue testing flexibility

State School Superintendent Richard Woods creates Assessment Innovation & Flexibility Task Force, establishes Assessment Innovation Fund, communicates intent to apply for Innovative Assessment Demonstration Authority


MEDIA CONTACT: Meghan Frick, GaDOE Communications Office, (404) 463-4246,

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Superintendent Woods’ letter to U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos


September 25, 2017 – In accordance with Georgia’s submitted state plan for the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), and in line with recommendations from Georgia’s Assessment Working Committee, State School Superintendent Richard Woods is establishing an Assessment Innovation and Flexibility Task Force and an Assessment Innovation Fund.


And today, Superintendent Woods sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos expressing Georgia’s intent to apply for the U.S. Department of Education’s Innovative Assessment Demonstration Authority, which allows state education agencies to pilot innovative assessments for accountability and reporting purposes, with the intent of scaling these innovative assessments statewide.


“The model of standardized testing that arose during the No Child Left Behind years – end-of-year summative assessments that provide a one-day snapshot too late for teachers to provide remediation – is not working for our kids,” Superintendent Woods said. “Georgia has a real opportunity, working with innovative leaders in our local school districts who are at the forefront of these efforts, to change the way testing works in our public schools. We have an opportunity to build a model of assessment that is focused where it should be – on student learning. ESSA provides new opportunities for flexibility from the restrictive federal guidelines that govern testing in K-12 schools, and Georgia will aggressively pursue that flexibility for the benefit of our students.”  


The Assessment Innovation and Flexibility Task Force will:


  • Examine and develop recommendations for Georgia to take advantage of the flexibility afforded under ESSA and other federal law
  • Learn about and develop best practices based on the assessment innovation and flexibility being pursued and utilized in other states
  • Apply for and provide oversight for Georgia’s participation in the Innovative Assessment Demonstration Authority
  • Develop recommendations and an implementation plan for competency-based and interim assessments of student learning
  • Adhere to the requirements and principles set forth in Georgia’s Senate Bill 211


The Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) will assist in identifying an independent third-party facilitator for the Task Force’s meetings, and will provide additional expertise and insight on the assessment flexibility and innovation being pursued across the nation. Options for a facilitator will be presented to the State Board of Education and the State School Superintendent, with input from the Senate and House Education Committee Chairs.


The Assessment Innovation Fund will provide competitive grants to local school districts to assist in the creation of innovative assessment resources, tools, and systems. The fund will be established using existing Georgia Department of Education (GaDOE) funds, and during Georgia’s upcoming legislative session Superintendent Woods will urge the legislature to appropriate additional resources for the fund.


“Since participation in the federal Innovation Demonstration Authority yields only additional flexibility and not additional federal funding, I believe establishing this fund at the state level is essential to provide the necessary resources and support for our districts to ensure the success of this work,” Superintendent Woods said.


Members of Georgia’s Assessment Innovation and Flexibility Task Force

Members of the task force are representatives local school districts and business/industry, policymakers, educators, and parents. The Superintendent’s student, parent, teacher, and superintendent advisory councils will also offer feedback and insight throughout the process.


  1. Fulton County Schools
  2. Gwinnett County Schools
  3. Henry County Schools
  4. Putnam County Schools
  5. Paulding County Schools
  6. Dublin City Schools
  7. Jackson County Schools
  8. Lowndes County Schools
  9. Marietta City Schools
  10. Newton County Schools
  11. Savannah-Chatham County Schools
  12. Charles R. Drew Charter School
  13. Georgia State Senate Education & Youth Committee Chair, or designee
  14. Georgia House of Representatives Education Committee Chair, or designee
  15. State Board of Education Member
  16. State Board of Education Member
  17. Designee of the Charter Systems Foundation
  18. Designee of the Georgia School Boards Association
  19. Designee of the Georgia Association of Educational Leaders
  20. Designee of the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education
  21. Designee of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce
  22. Designee of the University System of Georgia
  23. Designee of the Technical College System of Georgia
  24. President of Georgia’s Regional Educational Service Agencies (RESAs)
  25. Designee of the Lieutenant Governor’s Office
  26. Designee of the Governor’s Office
  27. Designee of the Georgia Parent Teacher Organization
  28. Designee of the Professional Association of Georgia Educators
  29. Designee of the Georgia Association of Educators
  30. Designee of the State Charter Schools Commission
  31. Dr. Lynn Plunkett, retired Superintendent of Floyd County Schools
  32. Dr. Melissa Fincher, Deputy Superintendent of Assessment and Accountability at the Georgia Department of Education
  33. Matt Jones, Chief of Staff at the Georgia Department of Education