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In Georgia, academic freedom is a mixed bag. Legislators in that state have accepted Common Core standards, which gives the federal government unprecedented control over testing standards in individual states. As one of 22 states in the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, they handed over some of their local control to federal overseers. However, Georgia took steps this week to maintain some level autonomy.
Rather than using the official Common Core exam, Georgia has decided to create their own testing. One concern is the cost to Georgia taxpayers. The state budgets $8 to $10 per student on examinations each year. The cost of the Common Core test would be a whopping $29.50 per student. That puts the cost of testing statewide as high as $17 million. That is more than Georgia’s entire K-12 testing budget. “Georgia can create an equally rigorous measurement without the high costs associated with this particular test. Just as we do in all other branches of state government,” said Gov. Nathan Deal “we can create better value for taxpayers while maintaining the same level of quality.”
Also at stake is student privacy. With the federal government in charge of testing, many parents are concerned what they will do with the data collected. As some have pointed out, Common Core will collect and store massive amounts of data on American children- data which can then be used in any way which the government might decide in the future. In the interest of keeping information on Georgia’s children private, they decided to opt out of the federal collection option and create their own tests.
Although they have accepted Common Core standards, it is nice to see them still asserting some level of freedom. Perhaps they are forging a new path for academic freedom that other Common Core states can follow. Which state will be the next to step up?