Senate Education Chairman P.K. Martin sponsored a bill to reduce the number of required school tests in Georgia. (Official Georgia Senate photo)

ATLANTA – The Georgia Senate passed legislation Tuesday to reduce the number of standardized tests the state’s public school students must take each year.

Under Senate Bill 367, five tests would be scrapped including exams in American literature, geometry, physical science and economics.

The bill passed unanimously out of the Senate and now heads to the state House of Representatives.

Its sponsor, Senate Education Committee Chairman P.K. Martin, said too much testing is the top concern he hears from students and educators in Georgia.

“This places too much pressure on our students [and] on our teachers,” Martin, R-Lawrenceville, said from the Senate floor.

Besides fewer tests, the legislation would require the remaining tests to be given within 25 days of the school year’s end instead of at any time, so that teachers could focus more on teaching class subjects rather than preparing for exams.

Additionally, the changes would allow school districts to discontinue a practice of comparing Georgia’s testing standards with other states and let them abstain from “formative assessments” meant to see how much students learned in a school year.

Representatives from several teachers’ groups voiced support for the bill last month at a Senate committee hearing, including the Professional Association of Georgia Educators and the Georgia Association of Educators (GAE).

State School Superintendent Richard Woods also supports fewer exams and has given assurances the Georgia Department of Education will make sure less testing does not hurt student performance.

The bill’s passage in the Senate advances a key plank of Gov. Brian Kemp’s agenda in this year’s legislative session. He has made rolling back some standardized tests in Georgia a key component of changes he wants to see for the state’s public schools.

The bill’s move to the House also follows Senate passage of a measure that would cap participation in the state’s popular dual enrollment college credit program. That measure, House Bill 444, proposes limiting enrollment to 30 hours per eligible student to prop up the program’s struggling finances.

The dual-enrollment bill, sponsored by Rep. Bert Reeves, R-Marietta, passed out of the Senate in late January by a 34-18 vote.