Year-end standardized tests for Georgia public schools are poised to count for zero this school year after state education officials moved Thursday to lower the weight those scores have on students’ final grades from 20% to 0.01%.

The 0.01% grade weight is the most the annual Georgia Milestones tests can be watered down without running afoul of federal rules requiring schools to administer the tests. Normally, the tests count 20% toward final grades in Georgia.

The state Board of Education voted 10-3 to weight the test scores as essentially zero at a minimum, citing the disruptions to education in Georgia resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. School districts could still decide individually whether to increase the grade weights above zero for their students.

The change needs another vote from the state board before it can take effect. It also requires a 30-day public comment period before that vote.

Last month, the board balked at lowering the weight of the test scores to zero, choosing instead to set the grade weights at 10% during the virus-impacted school year. But a survey of about 90,000 parents, teachers, students and others in Georgia found around 86% supported the 0.01% mark.

The push to water down the tests came after the U.S. Department of Education denied Georgia’s request to scrap the Milestones tests this year.

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