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Policy Updates Blog

This blog provides updates on important policy developments related to science education in Georgia. These updates are also provided directly to our members via email.  Much of the information here is provided by our legislative consultant, Mr. Tyler Kaplan of the J.L. Morgan Company.  While the blog is available to the public, only GSTA members may post comments.
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  • 22 Mar 2017 12:48 PM | Jeremy Peacock (Administrator)

    The 2017 session of the Georgia General Assembly is scheduled to adjourn Sine Die next week on Thursday March 30th. “Cross-over day,” the day by which all bills must be approved by their chamber of origin in order to remain in consideration, occurred on Friday, March 3rd. The committees in each chamber have been working nonstop since that time to move bills to their respective rules committees. From there, the rules committees determine which bills move to the floor of each chamber for a vote.

    The House and Senate came to an agreement this week on the fiscal year 2018 budget in the form of a conference committee report. Leadership from both chambers worked to resolve the differences between the House and Senate versions of the appropriations packages and the result of those negotiations is represented in the conference committee report. The budget is the only piece of legislation that the General Assembly is constitutionally required to pass during their 40-day session.

    Below is a summary of relevant legislation under consideration:

    • HB 338, sponsored by Rep. Kevin Tanner (R-Dawsonville) has been renamed the “First Priority Act” and has been amended several times throughout the legislative process including a change that prevents for-profit entities from operating schools under the terms of the legislation. A change was also made to the formation of the education turnaround advisory council in order to include more representation from the education community and their respective associations. Finally, $1,000,000 in funding for the implementation of the bill was added to the conference committee report on the fiscal year 2018 budget.

    Status: This bill has been approved by the Senate Education Committee, and awaits movement to the Senate Floor via the Rules Committee.

    • HB 237, sponsored by House Education Chairman Brooks Coleman (R-Duluth). This bill, which has been characterized as a piece of legislation meant to support the intent of HB 338, would authorize the Public Education Innovation Fund to receive private donations that could be used as grants for public schools, and establishes a tax credit for such a donation. The legislation was changed in the Senate to reduce the maximum amount of tax credits available and the length of time that they are available for.

    Status: This bill was approved by the Senate Finance Committee, and awaits movement to the Senate Floor via the Rules Committee.

    • SB 30, sponsored by Sen. Vincent Fort (D-Atlanta) creates a pilot program for Sustainable Community School Operations Grants and would allow the Department of Education to issue grants to plan, implement, and improve sustainable community schools. In the Senate version of the fiscal year 2018 budget $50,000 was appropriated to allow for grants to be remitted, but the funding was not included in the conference committee report on the budget.

    Status: This bill was approved by the House Education Committee, and is now in the House Rules Committee where it will be considered for movement to the House floor.

    • SB 211, sponsored by Senate Education Chairman Lindsey Tippins (R-Marietta) seeks to clarify many of the provisions of SB 364 that were signed into law in 2016. Specifically, the legislation directs local districts along with the Department of Education to pursue maximum flexibility from the federal government in terms of the tests that are administered and required in public schools.

    Status: This bill has passed out of the House Education Committee, and is awaiting movement to the House Floor via the House Rules Committee.

    • HB 425, sponsored by Rep. Joyce Chandler (R-Grayson) would strongly encourage the State Board of Education and local school systems to allow the administration of standardized tests in pencil and paper format. The bill would also ask the State School Superintendent to develop guidelines that would be approved by the State Board of Education to strongly encourage how local school systems should handle students who do not participate in state-wide assessments.

    Status: This bill was approved by both the House and Senate and will be transmitted to the Governor’s desk.

  • 02 Aug 2016 10:14 PM | Jeremy Peacock (Administrator)
    House Education Committee Chairman Brooks Coleman is organizing several listening sessions to gather feedback from educators on Education Reform Commission proposals and other legislative changes.


    The most recent session was held in Watkinsville last week, and GSTA was on hand to take the pulse of teachers who came from as far away as Fulton County. Speakers generally spoke against the over-reliance on testing and the proposed move toward merit pay. A GSTA member who addressed the committee spoke in favor of STEM education and expressed concerns about the rigor of some Move On When Ready courses that take the place of advanced high school courses. GSTA President Brian Butler will be submitting official comments to the committee on behalf of the organization.


    The next session will be held Tuesday, August 19th, from 6:00 until 8:00 pm at the UGA Tifton Campus Conference Center.  Follow this link for details.


    Teacher  who would like to submit comments, but who cannot attend any of the sessions, can submit written comments to Ms. Cortney Gillham, a Policy Analyst supporting the House Education Committee

    We encourage you to take advantage of these opportunities to speak up for your students and for science education in Georgia.

  • 29 Mar 2016 1:42 PM | Jeremy Peacock (Administrator)

    Post-Sine Die Update

    In the early morning hours of March 25th, the Georgia General Assembly completed the final day of the 40-day legislative calendar and adjourned “Sine Die.”  Upon adjournment, the Governor has 40 days to sign or veto bills (this year he will have until May 3rd).  If the Governor does not sign a bill or veto it, it will automatically become law.  The Governor has the power of line-item veto over the budget bills.

    Fiscal Year 2017 budget: The Governor’s proposed FY 2017 budget contained funds for the Department of Education to “develop a statewide, standards-based curriculum to guide instruction and assessment, and to provide training and instructional resources to teachers for implementing this curriculum.”

    Status: Although the House removed some of the funds included in the Governor’s budget, the Senate added a portion of them back in and the conference committee struck a compromise between the two.  In the final conference committee report adopted by both chambers, the curriculum funds were included.  The FY 2017 budget is now on the Governor’s desk where it awaits action. 

    SB 364, sponsored by Senate Education Chairman Lindsey Tippins (R-Marietta). This bill seeks to reform the use of standardized tests in the evaluation of both students and teachers.  A major focus of the bill is to pivot from summative assessments to formative evaluations in math and reading.  Of note, the bill requires science end of course tests to be administered annually in grades five and eight.  The House version of the bill incorporates provisions of HB 1061 including the provision that would require that teachers be evaluated on a students’ achievement only if the student attends at least 90 percent of instructional days for the course in question.

    Status: The Senate agreed to the House’s changes to this bill and it is now on the Governor’s desk awaiting action. 

    SB 355, sponsored by Senator William Ligon (R-Brunswick). This bill originally sought to enact numerous reforms to the use of standardized tests and Georgia’s teacher evaluation system.  The bill was revised in the Senate to address standardized test opt-out procedures and seek to prevent teachers and administrators from being penalized when a student does not take a mandated test.

    Status: This was approved by the House and is now on the Governor’s desk awaiting action. 

    HB 801, sponsored by House Speaker Pro Tempore Jan Jones (R-Milton). This bill, which has strong support from House leadership, seeks to allow the University System of Georgia to add GPA weights to certain STEM courses which would exclusively impact a student’s HOPE GPA.  The purpose of the bill is to prevent students from avoiding STEM courses because of the impact that the rigor could have on their HOPE scholarship eligibility.  

    Status: The House agreed to the Senate changes to this bill and it is now on the Governor’s desk awaiting action. 

    HB 739, sponsored by Rep. Kevin Tanner (R-Dawsonville). This bill, which was drafted in consultation with the Department of Education and numerous school districts, seeks to bring greater transparency to the instructional materials adoption process.  The bill would make the statewide materials adoption process optional and require local districts to institute an instructional material review process that includes an easily accessible public notice and a parental component. 

    Status: This bill was approved by both the House and the Senate and is now on the Governor’s desk awaiting action. 

    HB 1061, sponsored by Rep. Tom Dickson (R-Cohutta).  This bill seeks to reduce the impact of assessments on teacher evaluations. It also seeks to require that growth in student achievement as measured for teacher evaluation purposes only be used if the student attends at least 90 percent of instructional days for the course in question.  The bill does not seek to change the number of state mandated assessments in any specific subject matter area.

    Status:  This bill was considered by the House Education Committee but did not receive a vote.  It did not achieve final passage this year.

  • 25 Mar 2016 2:54 PM | Jeremy Peacock (Administrator)

    Public Hearing & Board Vote on Revised Science Standards

    The State Board of Education will hold a public hearing and vote on adoption of the revised science standards next Thursday, March 31st.  This will culminate a nearly 12-month process that has been driven by teacher input at every step.  The public hearing will provide one last opportunity for science teachers to speak up in support of high-quality science standards for our students.  If you are not able to attend the hearing, then please consider contacting your State Board member to voice your support for the revised standards.  See below for additional information.

    ·       You can view the meeting agenda here:https://eboard.eboardsolutions.com/Meetings/ViewMeetingOrder.aspx?S=1262&MID=49363.  The meeting will begin at 9:30 am, with the public hearing following fairly soon thereafter.

    ·       If you click on item E.1. on the agenda, you’ll see the final proposed version of the standards as they have been recommended to the board.  The crosswalk document, displays the original standards, the initial revision, and the final revision in parallel.  There have been some wording changes based on public comments, but I think the core of the work from the original teacher survey and working committees is preserved.

    ·       The actual board vote will come later in the meeting, as you can see on item I.1.  By clicking on that item, you can see the larger number of support letters, including one from GSTA, that were submitting in addition to the public comments.  You will also notice that the standards are coming to the board with a recommendation to adopt from the Superintendent and DOE leadership.


  • 17 Mar 2016 10:17 PM | Jeremy Peacock (Administrator)

    Pre-Sine Die Update

    On Wednesday March 16th, the Georgia General Assembly completed the 38th day of the 40-day legislative calendar.  At this point in the session, most committees have finished their work and the remainder of the action will be on the floor or in the Rules Committee of each chamber.  Any piece of legislation that has not been approved by both the House and Senate on March 24th will be dead for the year.  Once the General Assembly adjourns on March 24th, the Governor will have 40 days to sign or veto bills (this year he will have until May 3rd).  If the Governor does not sign a bill or veto it, it will automatically become law.  


    Fiscal Year 2017 budget: The Governor’s proposed FY 2017 budget contained funds for the Department of Education to “develop a statewide, standards-based curriculum to guide instruction and assessment, and to provide training and instructional resources to teachers for implementing this curriculum.” 

    Status: Both the House and the Senate approved their respective versions of the budget.  The House officially “insisted” on their position, which sent the budget to a joint conference committee for reconciliation.  Before March 24th, each chamber will approve the final conference committee report.  


    SB 364, sponsored by Senate Education Chairman Lindsey Tippins (R-Marietta). This bill seeks to reform the use of standardized tests in the evaluation of both students and teachers.  A major focus of the bill is to pivot from summative assessments to formative evaluations in math and reading.  Of note, the bill requires science end of course tests to be administered annually in grades five and eight.  The House version of the bill incorporates provisions of HB 1061 including the provision that would require that teachers be evaluated on a students’ achievement only if the student attends at least 90 percent of instructional days for the course in question.

    Status: This bill has been approved by the House and must return to the Senate for an “agree” motion on the House changes before it heads to the Governor’s desk.  


    SB 355, sponsored by Senator William Ligon (R-Brunswick). This bill originally sought to enact numerous reforms to the use of standardized tests and Georgia’s teacher evaluation system.  The revised version of the bill approved by the House addresses standardized test opt-out procedures and seeks to prevent teachers and administrators from being penalized when a student does not take a mandated test. 

    Status: This bill was approved the House Education Committee but has not yet been selected by the House Rules Committee for a vote on the House floor.

     

    HB 801, sponsored by House Speaker Pro Tempore Jan Jones (R-Milton). This bill, which has strong support from House leadership, seeks to allow the University System of Georgia to add GPA weights to certain STEM courses which would exclusively impact a student’s HOPE GPA.  The purpose of the bill is to prevent students from avoiding STEM courses because of the impact that the rigor could have on their HOPE scholarship eligibility.   

    Status: This bill has been approved by the Senate and must return to the House for an “agree” motion on the Senate changes before it heads to the Governor’s desk.  


    HB 739, sponsored by Rep. Kevin Tanner (R-Dawsonville). This bill, which was drafted in consultation with the Department of Education and numerous school districts, seeks to bring greater transparency to the instructional materials adoption process.  The bill would make the statewide materials adoption process optional and require local districts to institute an instructional material review process that includes an easily accessible public notice and a parental component.  

    Status: This bill has been approved by both the House and the Senate and will now be transmitted to the Governor for his consideration.  


    HB 1061, sponsored by Rep. Tom Dickson (R-Cohutta).  This bill seeks to reduce the impact of assessments on teacher evaluations. It also seeks to require that growth in student achievement as measured for teacher evaluation purposes only be used if the student attends at least 90 percent of instructional days for the course in question.  The bill does not seek to change the number of state mandated assessments in any specific subject matter area.

    Status:  This bill was considered by the House Education Committee but did not receive a vote.  It is no longer eligible for consideration this year in its current form.  


  • 09 Mar 2016 7:46 PM | Jeremy Peacock (Administrator)

    The House Education Committee met this afternoon for the second time to discuss SB 364, (substitute version attached), authored by Sen. Lindsey Tippins. Prior to the bill presentation from the author and public testimony, House Education Chairman Brooks Coleman took the time to address a report circulated by the Professional Association of Georgia Educators that the Governor reached out to the committee to ask them to hold the bill. Chairman Coleman dismissed this claim as being as far from the truth as an association has ever strayed.

    Chairman Tippins, in consultation with Chairman Coleman and Vice Chairman Dudgeon, drafted a substitute version of the legislation, that was summarized by Vice Chairman Mike Dudgeon:

    Under Section 1 concerning evaluations, the House changes to SB 364 include:

    • Evaluations are available to all schools, not just the charter schools and strategic waiver systems
    • On line 21, 90% (162/180 days) student attendance is the minimum threshold needed to affect a teacher’s evaluation
    • On lines 63-64, the evaluation percentages are altered to include 30% based on the annual state assessment, 20% on professional growth, and 30% (down from 50% in the original bill) on the SLO’s
    • On line 78, SLO’s are codified to be centered around teachers, not students
    • In the Senate version of SB 364, there were provisions defining alternative ways to develop and administer SLO’s, this is removed in the new House version
    • For administrator evaluations, the 70% threshold for testing accounting for an administrator’s evaluations, the House version reduces this to 40%
    • On line 110, language is added to mandate that quota systems for teacher evaluations cannot be applied
    • Relating to classroom evaluations on line 125, multiple evaluations is not limited to a specific number however teachers with the two highest tiered evaluation scores (professional and exemplary) are only required to undertake two evaluations.

    Under Section 2, concerning testing, the House changes to SB 364 include:

    • On line 174, SB 364 removes the Social Studies and Science assessments in grades 3,4, 6 & 7. By reducing these 8 tests, the total testing days is reduced from 32 to 24.
    • On line 186, the COMPASS test is replaced with the ACCUPLACER system
    • On line 193, relating to testing windows, the House version puts the onus on the Board of Education and the State Department of Education to reevaluate their testing window policies by 2017 and will be required to submit a report to the General Assembly on their changes
    • On line 203, the language remained in the House version that requires a nationally accredited third party auditor to review the state required tests

    Under Section 3, relating to appeals and other issue areas, the House version did not include language creating an appeal process for teacher evaluations. The Committee did not want to adjust this, and the language only grants an appeal for further action for procedural errors on behalf of the evaluators.

    Following Vice Chairman Dudgeon’s presentation on the new changes in the bill, Chairman Tippins gave brief remarks on his thoughts of the new version of SB 364. Sen. Tippins noted that he was confident his bill was good for the teachers/educators in the State, but recognized the tremendous effort that the House and Senate Education committees had put in to adjust the bill so that it would be a strong first step in addressing education shortfalls in the state. He continued by expressing his hesitancy with the House version, because it failed to include the reading/math mandate by fifth grade that the original Senate legislation had included. The Chairman strongly encouraged the members to put that language back in the bill, and when questioned about allowing classroom subject flexibility to ensure that all students are on reading/math level by fifth grade, the Chairman said:

    If you think I'm hung up on reading & math, I am. If you get reading right, they will be better science & social studies students.”

    Chairman Tippins closed his remarks by voicing his commitment to advancing the interests of public education in the state, and that any future legislation should focus on leaders arguing student issue areas and crafting policy that was both meaningful and impactful to Georgia’s students.

    Following the author’s presentations, public testimony was heard from over thirty members of the public voicing their strong support to the committee for addressing their concerns. Those testifying in favor of the measure included the State Department of Education, GAE, PAGE, the Georgia Association of Education Leaders, TRAGIC, and many other educators representing themselves.

    Many members of the public, while supportive of the measure as a whole, urged the committee to address two issue areas specifically that were left out of the bill:

    • Senator Tippins’ mandate for students being on reading/math level by leaving elementary school, but allowing some classroom flexibility to meet that goal
    • Further addressing the post-evaluation process, and mandating a formal post evaluation discussion between the teacher and evaluator, not just a signature or written affirmation that the evaluation had been conducted and received

    The committee adjourned without a vote but committee members will be allowed submit any recommendations or amendments to the legislation to the committee administrative aide before Wednesday afternoon.  Chairman Coleman indicated that the he plans to call a vote on the final version of the House legislation Fridaymorning at 8:30 AM.  Chairman Coleman also indicated that the reading/mathematics mandate would be put back into the House version of SB 364.


  • 04 Mar 2016 12:57 PM | Jeremy Peacock (Administrator)

    Senate Education and Youth Committee Chairman Lindsey Tippins' (R-Marietta) assessment bill, SB 364, (substitute version attached), was heard for the first time in the House Education Committee Wednesday.  We expect that the bill will be heard again next week and could be voted on at that time or at a later date.  Following is a summary of the House hearing.

    Chairman Lindsey Tippins began his presentation to the House Education Committee on SB 364 by noting that this legislation needs to pass in order to support teachers and the education workforce at large. Chairman Tippins noted that he has heard from many constituents and others across the state that public education is failing the teachers in Georgia and there hasn’t been a substantial policy change on assessments or teacher evolutions in nearly 50 years. Chairman Tippins framed his discussion in the context of what he believes needs to change and noted that like any good policy initiative, it will take time to get to the point where the public at large is satisfied with the policy. He remarked that SB 364 was designed to craft a model that is best for the local school district, and that the legislation seeks to reframe the conversation about student and educator efficiency and increased effectiveness in public education. He closed his remarks by clearly stating that this legislation is moving forward in one form or another, as it is one of the Senate Republican Caucus’ top priorities this session.  

    Chairman Tippins briefly overviewed the high level changes in SB 364 to public education:
    1. Reduces TKES student growth from 50% - 30%
    2. Reduces LKES student growth from 70% - 40%
    3. Reduces state mandated tests from 32-24 by eliminating social studies and science tests in grades 3-4 and 6-7. Students would be tested in these subjects in grades 5 and 8.
    4. Makes SLOs a local adoption
    5. Requires that a student attend 80% of the available classes to be counted in a teachers growth measures
    6. Reduces the number of observations for tenured teachers with a proficient or exemplary rating
    7. Requires an annual summative assessment for each student
    Chairman Tippins continued by noting how the legislation is designed around education inputs rather than education outputs and is intended to be a “minor reduction” in testing.  He also noted that Georgia requires three times the amount of testing that federal government requires.  SB 364 is crafted to allow for teacher and educational flexibility, but is also based on the notion that all students should be evaluated properly. Finally, the Chairman expressed that he will not negotiate on mandated reading/math skills by the time a student enters the 6th grade. He cautioned the committee that the State and the Department of Education do not need to hold teachers accountable for areas outside of their control, and that the most effective model he has seen is the use of frequent formative assessments. He closed his presentation to the committee by detailing the provision in the bill that allows the local system to keep their current model of testing/evaluation if they can show the DOE through data/results that the model is working.

    Following the Chairman’s remarks, the Committee posed questions to both him and State Superintendent of Schools Richard Woods, which are summarized below:  

    Chairman Coleman asked Supt. Woods to give a brief overview of the State required tests:
    Supt. Woods responded that local systems can require additional tests (benchmark testing) that is directly tied to accountability, and that the Department does not mandate the systems to perform more tests. The committee received a copy of a matrix showing the state required tests v. federally required tests v. an aggregate of what local school systems test.

    Rep. Tommy Benton asked Chairman Tippins if there had been discussions in the Senate process about using MAP in the bill?
    Chairman Tippins responded that the bill addresses this in K-5 grade, but that the local system, the education committees and other thought leaders have to determine which assessments give the teachers and the administration the best feedback.

    Chairman Randy Nix specifically asked about a provision on page 3 relating to the student growth (30%) a minimum of 20% on state assessments, and what the thought process was from going from 50% -20%.
    Chairman Tippins responded that the other 10 percent is multiple indicators of student achievement (20% has to be Milestones) and remarked that a single test on single day in a high stakes format is not the best indicator of student growth or achievement.

    Chairman Randy Nix continued by asking about the provision on Line 79, which eliminates the state board approval of SLOs.
    Chairman Tippins interrupted Chairman Nix and told the committee that the proposed legislation is eliminating SLOs as they are designed today, but that they are not eliminating the approval process.

    Rep. Margaret Kaiser asked if there is going to be flexibility for formative assessments for charter schools?  
    Chairman Tippins responded that a clarification needs to be be made in the current version of the bill for public charter schools, and that particular issue hasn’t been discussed yet.

    Rep. Mike Dudgeon asked Supt. Woods if he could offer his vision of SLOs/student growth for five years from now?
    Supt. Woods responded that he envisioned the Department looking at one growth measure, where they would still have pre/post tests, and that the administration would work with the teacher to give them flexibility at the local level to determine success. This drastically cuts down on the required number of tests (next year is only two growth measures).

    Rep. Mike Dudgeon continued by remarking to the committee and the audience that the legislation is not dramatically decreasing testing days as opponents would contend, but rather the proposal is to move from 32 testing days to 26 testing days.

    Rep. Valencia Stovall asked specifically about lines 13-14, relating to development. She asked if there had been consultation with stakeholders that would include parents/students?
    Chairman Tippins responded that the parents are the stakeholders, and that if the parents want to be involved then they will be involved.

    Rep. Amy Carter expressed her concerns about the testing window (she thinks that testing would be too early in the school year) and voiced concerns for seniors who are graduating and taking tests late in the year, along with the 3rd and 5th grade “testing gap.”

    Chairman Randy Nix closed the hearing, as a sponsor of the House counterpart to the bill, and expressed his thanks to Chairman Tippins and Supt. Woods for their hard work thus far on the bill. Chairman Nix said that his only reservations about the current form of the bill are that there is not an appeal process for the teachers to adjust their evaluations. Chairman Nix closed by saying that he hoped a hybrid bill of his legislation (HB 1061) and SB 364 could be put together to move the state’s teachers forward and remove onerous and burdensome provisions on them in the future.
  • 04 Mar 2016 12:52 PM | Jeremy Peacock (Administrator)

    Science/STEM Education: Bills to Watch

    On February 25th, the Georgia Science Teachers Association held its first annual “Day at the Capitol.”  GSTA members from across the state descended on the Capitol to meet with state legislators and speak with them about relevant issues before the General Assembly.  During the morning session, GSTA members met privately with key influencers such as Senate Education Chairman Lindsey Tippins (R-Marietta), House Majority Leader Jon Burns (R-Newington), House Education Chairman Brooks Coleman (R-Duluth), and House Education Committee member Beth Beskin (R-Atlanta).  Later that morning, the group met Governor Nathan Deal (see picture below) and was honored in the Senate Chamber by Senator David Lucas (D-Macon) with Senate Resolution 709.  In the afternoon, each GSTA member met with their local legislators to discuss the importance of the science standards review process and the GSTA’s legislative priorities.  Members of the group spoke with Senate Majority Leader Bill Cowsert (R-Athens), Senate Science & Technology Chairman Bruce Thompson (R-Canton), Governor Nathan Deal’s Senate Floor Leader Butch Miller (R-Gainesville), Senator Bill Ligon (R-Brunswick), Senator Nan Orrock (D-Atlanta), Senator Frank Ginn (R-Athens), Representative Spencer Frye (D-Athens), and others. 



    On Monday February 29th, the Georgia General Assembly completed the 30th day of the 40-day legislative calendar.  This day was the deadline for legislation to “cross-over” to the opposite chamber in order to remain in consideration.  Legislators who sponsored legislation have from now until March 24th to move that legislation through the committee process and to the Governor’s desk.

    Fiscal Year 2017 Budget: The Governor’s proposed FY 2017 budget contained funds for the Department of Education to “develop a statewide, standards-based curriculum to guide instruction and assessment, and to provide training and instructional resources to teachers for implementing this curriculum.”

    Status: The House version of the budget reduced those funds slightly in accordance with agency-wide reductions, and the Senate is now considering the budget in committee.    Once the Senate approves the budget it will move to a joint conference committee for reconciliation before each chamber approves the final conference committee report. 

    SB 364, sponsored by Senate Education Chairman Lindsey Tippins (R-Marietta). This bill seeks to reform the use of standardized tests in the evaluation of both students and teachers.  A major focus of the bill is to pivot from summative assessments to formative evaluations in math and reading.  Of note, the bill requires science end of course tests to be administered annually in grades five and eight.

    Status: This bill has been approved by the Senate and will now move to the House for consideration. 

    SB 355, sponsored by Senator William Ligon (R-Brunswick). This bill originally sought to enact numerous reforms to the use of standardized tests and Georgia’s teacher evaluation system.  The revised version of the bill approved by the Senate addresses standardized test opt-out procedures and seeks to prevent teachers and administrators from being penalized when a student does not take a mandated test.

    Status: This bill has been approved by the Senate and will now move to the House for consideration.
     
    HB 801, sponsored by House Speaker Pro Tempore Jan Jones (R-Milton). This bill, which has strong support from House leadership, seeks to allow the University System of Georgia to add GPA weights to certain STEM courses which would exclusively impact a student’s HOPE GPA.  The purpose of the bill is to prevent students from avoiding STEM courses because of the impact that the rigor could have on their HOPE scholarship eligibility.  

    Status: This bill has been approved by the House of Representatives and is now eligible for consideration by the Senate Higher Education Committee.  The University System of Georgia, Technology Association of Georgia, and numerous other key stakeholders are supportive of this bill. 

    HB 739, sponsored by Rep. Kevin Tanner (R-Dawsonville). This bill, which was drafted in consultation with the Department of Education and numerous school districts, seeks to bring greater transparency to the instructional materials adoption process.  The bill would make the statewide materials adoption process optional and require local districts to institute an instructional material review process that includes an easily accessible public notice and a parental component. 

    Status: This bill has been approved by the House of Representatives and is available for consideration by the Senate Education & Youth Committee. 

    HB 1061, sponsored by Rep. Tom Dickson (R-Cohutta).  This bill seeks to reduce the impact of assessments on teacher evaluations. It also seeks to require that growth in student achievement as measured for teacher evaluation purposes only be used if the student attends at least 90 percent of instructional days for the course in question.  The bill does not seek to change the number of state mandated assessments in any specific subject matter area.

    Status:  This bill was considered by the House Education Committee but did not receive a vote.  It is no longer eligible for consideration this year in its current form. 


    HB 734, sponsored by Rep. Jason Spencer (R-Woodbine).  While this bill it outside of education, we were introduced to it during our Capitol visit.  The bill would facilitate the development of space flight-related business activities within Georgia, with a goal of increasing the number of STEM-related jobs available in the state.

    Status:  This bill was passed by the House Monday and will now move to the Senate for consideration.
  • 17 Feb 2016 7:40 PM | Jeremy Peacock (Administrator)

    Senate Committee Hears Feedback on SB 364

    The Senate Education & Youth Committee met this afternoon to discuss SB 364, sponsored by Senate Education Chairman Lindsey Tippins (R-Marietta). SB 364, Tippins explained, is an attempt to alleviate some of the excessive testing requirements that are placed on students and teachers in Georgia. Tippins noted that despite the relief from a number of federal testing requirements provided by President Obama’s B.E.S.T. Act, there are still issues with the state standardized testing model.  Tippins explained that the current model takes students out of the instructional learning setting and puts unnecessary burdens on the teachers and administrators. He briefly went through the various provisions of the bill, and although the discussion was ‘hearing only,’ a substitute bill will be written to address errors in the current draft. The main purpose of the bill, however, will remain the same. Following Tippins' overview, representatives from GAE, PAGE, TRAGIC, Georgia Association of Educational Leaders, Educators First, various teachers and administrators from around the state, and State School Superintendent Richard Woods spoke in strong support of the bill. The bill is expected to be passed by substitute in a follow up hearing next Monday.

    We strongly encourage you to review the bill for yourself and to provide your input both to Education and Youth Committee members and to your local legislators.  You can find contact information through the links below.

    Contact Your State Policy Makers

  • 16 Feb 2016 1:33 PM | Jeremy Peacock (Administrator)

    SB 364 - Evaluation & Testing Bill is Headed to a Hearing Wednesday

    Educate Yourself and Speak Up!

    The GSTA legislative team has learned that SB 364 will receive a hearing in the Senate Education and Youth Committee, Chaired by Senator Lindsey Tippins, Wednesday and Friday of this week.  While this bill is being praised by many education groups, it does raise important questions for science teachers. With that in mind, we want to provide you with the following analysis. After reviewing this information, please contact committee members and your local representatives to share your input on the bill.

    SB 364, sponsored by Senate Education Chairman Lindsey Tippins (R-Marietta), seeks to reform the use of standardized tests in the evaluation of students, teachers, and administrators.  A major focus of the bill is to pivot from summative assessments to formative evaluations in math and reading.  Of note, science end of course tests would be administered in grades five and eight, while math and ELA would continue to be assessed annually.  This is a significant change from the current system of annual statewide science assessments in grades 3 through 8. GSTA's adopted position statement (Click here to read the full statement.) on assessment states that science assessments should receive the same emphasis and should have the same role in accountability as other academic disciplines.  By proposing an increased focus on assessing math and literacy at the early grades, combined with reduced testing of science, SB 364 may lead to the unintended consequence of reducing the time that schools dedicate to science instruction in grades K through 5.  Likewise, assessing only 8th-grade physical science at the middle school level could send the message that the Earth and life science taught in 6th and 7th grades are less important.  We have communicated these concerns to Chairman Tippins, and we will continue to monitor the bill, including any changes and eventual implementation. With these concerns in mind, though, we also know that teachers and other stakeholders want to see less testing and less emphasis on test scores. Therefore, we strongly encourage you to review the bill for yourself and to provide your input, whether in support of or opposition to the bill, both to Education and Youth Committee members and to your local legislators.  You can find contact information through the links below.

    Contact Your State Policy Makers

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