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.