Leading education and parent groups sent a joint letter to House Education Committee Members today endorsing the testing and evaluation reforms contained in Senate Bill 364.
There will be a public hearing Wednesday on the bill, which lowers the weight of test scores in teacher and principal evaluations and reduces the overall number of tests given in Georgia.
Under current law, half of a teacher’s review is based on student scores on state exams. Senate Education Chairman Lindsey Tippins lowers the weight of test scores to 30 percent in SB 364. The bill passed the Georgia Senate unanimously and was reviewed last week on detail by the House Education Committee.
For another view on this issue, take a look at this entry I posted last night.
Here is the letter:
Georgia’s 1.7 million students deserve to learn from educators who are committed to every student’s academic progress, their development as critical thinkers, and their ability to pursue creative expression.
Our state’s current testing and evaluation programs are a disservice to students and educators. Overreliance on testing interferes with the delivery of quality educational experiences to students, and the amount of testing alone takes away from instructional time. Our children deserve opportunities for classes like music, art, and physical education. These classes help develop the whole child, but are not easily evaluated by a test.
Georgia’s students also deserve to learn from experienced, high-quality educators. Basing 70% and 50% of administrator and teacher evaluations on test scores narrows the focus of evaluations and fails to account for many other factors that lead to successful classrooms and school buildings. As a result, these evaluation policies are contributing to escalating educator attrition rates in Georgia and frustrating many students and their parents.
In an effort to help Georgia’s students and improve Georgia’s ability to recruit and retain high-quality educators, we jointly support the student testing and educator evaluation reforms proposed in the version of SB 364 which passed the Georgia Senate on Feb. 26.
Though the education advocacy organizations signed here will individually submit positions on SB 364 and may suggest small changes to the legislation, we stand together in support of SB 364’s core reforms: rethinking student testing and de-emphasizing testing in educator evaluation.
We jointly recommend against raising the emphasis on testing in educator performance evaluation beyond the 30% for teachers and 40% for school leaders proposed in the version of SB 364 which passed the Senate. This iteration of SB 364 also allows local school districts necessary latitude to build additional student growth measures into the educator evaluation system as part of the district’s flexibility contract, should the districts choose.
We look forward to collaborating with state leaders on meeting the needs of Georgia students and preparing those students for a bright future. In order to do so, it is critical that we work together to reform Georgia’s student testing and educator evaluation programs now.
Professional Association of Georgia Educators
Georgia Association of Educators
Georgia Association of Educational Leaders
Georgia Parent Teacher Association Georgia School Boards Association
Georgia School Superintendents Association
Teachers Rally to Advocate Georgia Insurance Choices