General Assembly approves fewer tests with less influence on teacher evaluations

Educators are heralding the passage Thursday of Senate Bill 364, which reduces both the number of tests and the impact on teacher/principal evaluations. (Check out the upcoming Sunday AJC as I wrote an editorial on the bill.)

As the AJC’s Ty Tagami reports this morning:

Senate Bill 364 would reduce the amount of testing tied to teacher performance and lessen the weight of the results in their evaluations.

Student test “growth” — the change in scores over time — currently counts for at least half of each evaluation, but that would drop to 30 percent under the legislation. The bill also would reduce the number of Georgia Milestones tests from 32 to 24.

Proponents say the changes would result in less exam preparation and rote learning, but critics say schools would find it harder to identify weak teachers.

A version of the bill was adopted unanimously by the Senate in February. The House amended it, then passed it unanimously and returned it to the Senate to approve the changes. The bill’s main sponsor, state Sen. Lindsey Tippins, R-Marietta, agreed to the changes and got a 47-2 vote of final approval Thursday.

Here are some reactions this morning:

A former district superintendent urges Georgia teachers to speak out against legislative efforts to weak public education. (AJC Photo)

The Legislature passed a sweeping reform bill focused on tests and their role in educator evaluations. (AJC Photo)

State School Superintendent Richard Woods:  I commend the state Senate and House of Representatives for passing Senator Lindsey Tippins’ bill – SB 364 – because it reflects many of the issues I’ve felt all along are burdensome to student learning and the recruitment and retention of our best teachers. Reducing the number of state-mandated tests students must take, and reducing the percentage that student test scores count for teachers’ and leaders’ evaluations, are common-sense moves toward allowing our teachers to be creative and teach rather than focus on a test. We must support these actions for the future of our students and the future recruitment and retention of our best teachers.

Georgia Association of Educators President Sid Chapman: For the first time in many sessions, we feel that legislators gave public education its due and presented our children and educators with some wins. GAE worked with Sen Tippins from day one to ensure the bill addressed our issues. It is definitely a big step in the right direction. Public educators all over the state have every right to rejoice as the legislature acknowledged the need for a better way of evaluating Georgia’s teachers. GAE would like to thank Sen. Tippins for recognizing how unfair and subjective the current process was and his willingness to listen and work with us. We’d also like to thank the members of the House and Senate Education Committees for their unanimous support on this issue.

Reader Comments 0

9 comments
redweather
redweather

This is good news for teachers. Whether fewer tests will actually aid them in doing their jobs, all I can say is they'd better hope so. Because the so-called "reform" crowd will not rest until it has put the final nail in the coffin of so-called "government schools." The for-profit crowd is simply too well funded to think otherwise.

jerryeads
jerryeads

It's a start. Given that "growth" measures even with good tests - much less the low-bid vertically unscaled junk the state buys - have been shown over and over and over and over to be virtually random, it's criminal that legislators are stupid (or uncaring) enough to even accept 30, much less 50 percent weight in evaluating teachers.

Might as well just line teachers up against the wall and have blindfolded principals throw pies at them - a face hit is an automatic termination, a miss is a raise. BUT: it's a start toward admitting that test developers are even worse at what we do (I was one) than principals doing meaningless evaluations. 

If we want to make teaching better, we'll actually have to spend money doing it rather than wasting the bux on virtually useless minimum competency testing - and, sadly, apparently on "Teeks and Leeks".

bu22
bu22

Was the law changed that required certain tests to be passed before promotion (I think it impacted 5th and 8th grade)?

Carlos_Castillo
Carlos_Castillo

Good to see that this passed; and congrats to Maureen for wading into the topic.


Still, I'm waiting to see comments, even if made anonymously, from recognized private appraisal/performance-management consultants about how teacher and principal growth ought to be managed within Georgia's public schools. 


Does education exist in a separate universe?    

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

"Public educators all over the state have every right to rejoice as the legislature acknowledged the need for a better way of evaluating Georgia’s teachers."

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++


I agree with Sid Chapman. 

I, also, wish to congratulate Maureen Downey for the positive impact that her blog has had on public education in Georgia.  I have no doubt that Georgia's legislators read this blog and weigh the rationale of positions given here.

HILUX
HILUX

Now the rent-a-mob besieging the Gold Dome will focus on reducing test scores to 15% of teacher evaluations ... and then zero. 

If tuition vouchers ever were to empower parents to vote with their feet, legislators would have immediate feedback on parents' healthy mistrust of the education establishment and its promises.

EdJohnson
EdJohnson

@HILUX You offer a great idea…. Reduce it to zero!

Then perhaps that will clear the way to this even greater idea…

“As for measuring effectiveness, teachers​​ themselves develop or identify the measures they want to use to assess student growth. Then, at the end of each year, each principal reviews with each teacher the student outcomes on the measures chosen, and reach an understanding of whether students demonstrated high, moderate or low growth.”

Read about it here.

Wrecker
Wrecker

@EdJohnson @HILUX And then a teacher has a dispute with a unprincipled principal and is given a poor evaluation, despite growth in student test scores.