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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.
  • 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

  • 13 Feb 2016 12:54 PM | Jeremy Peacock (Administrator)

    Science/STEM Education: Bills to Watch

    On Thursday February 12th, the Georgia General Assembly completed the 20th day of the 40-day legislative calendar.  The next 20 days will be incredibly fast paced, as legislation must “cross-over” to the opposite chamber by day 30 (currently scheduled for February 29th) in order to remain in consideration.  Your GSTA team at the Capitol is actively monitoring relevant legislation as it moves through the committee process and will continue to report throughout the legislative session.  

    Fiscal Year 2017 budget: The Governor’s proposed FY 2017 budget contains 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 proposed FY 2017 budget is under consideration by the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Education, but the final recommendations have not been released.  Once the House approves the budget it will move to the Senate and then to a joint “conference committee” for reconciliation before each chamber must approve the final conference committee report.  GSTA is actively supporting DOE's efforts to finalize and implement the revised Georgia Standards of Excellence in Science.  To that end, we are submitting letters of support for DOE's budget request to the House and Senate Appropriations Committees.

    The following bills are general education measures that include provisions that will potentially affect science education in Georgia.  While GSTA is not taking an official position on these bills, we feel it is critical to monitor them through the legislative process and through possible implementation.  We encourage you to educate yourself on these bills and to contact legislators with any feedback you may have.

    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, science end of course tests would be administered annually in grades five and eight.  From a political standpoint, this bill has bi-partisan support and is sponsored by the Chairman of the Senate Education and Youth Committee.  The Senate Republican Caucus, which is comprised of all republican members of the Senate, has selected this bill as a priority for the 2016 legislative session.  

    Status: This bill has been first read on the Senate floor and was assigned to the Senate Education & Youth Committee.

    SB 355, sponsored by Senator William Ligon (R-Brunswick). This bill seeks to enact numerous reforms to the use of standardized tests and Georgia’s teacher evaluation system.  If passed, the bill would reduce the impact of student scores on teachers and administrators.  Notably, the bill would also allow parents to opt-out of standardized tests if they so chose.  This bill, unlike SB 364, is driven by some of the more conservative members of the Senate Republican Caucus instead of by a bi-partisan coalition of legislators.  

    Status: This bill has been first read on the Senate floor and was assigned to the Senate Education & Youth Committee.
     
    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 being discouraged from pursuing 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 require local districts to institute an instructional material review process that includes an easily accessibly 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 816, sponsored by Rep. Billy Mitchell (D-Stone Mountain). This bill, entitled the “Student Religious Liberties Act of 2016” seeks to address students’ expression of religious viewpoints in public schools.  A portion of the bill addresses the expression of religious viewpoints through coursework and classroom assignments.  The bill would put into law that students shall not be penalized or rewarded on account of the religious content of their work. Instead, a student's academic work that expresses a religious viewpoint would be evaluated based on ordinary academic standards of substance and relevance to the course curriculum or requirements of the coursework, artwork, or assignment.

    Status: This bill has been assigned to the House Judiciary Committee, which is chaired by Rep. Wendell Willard (R-Sandy Springs).  We are continuing to watch this bill closely throughout the process. 
  • 29 Jan 2016 10:08 AM | Jeremy Peacock (Administrator)

    Georgia Science Teachers Association Legislative Report – January 2016

    The 2016 session of the Georgia General Assembly is picking up speed as more legislation continues to be filed, and committee hearings began in earnest this week.  Your GSTA team at the Capitol is actively monitoring relevant legislation as it moves through the committee process and will continue to report throughout the legislative session. 

    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 being discouraged from pursuing STEM courses because of the impact that the rigor could have on their HOPE scholarship eligibility.  

    Status: The House Higher Education Committee approved this bill unanimously.  The bill now sits on the House General calendar awaiting movement to the floor by the House Rules Committee.  The University System of Georgia, Technology Association of Georgia, and numerous other key stakeholders are supportive of this legislation. 

    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 require local districts to institute an instructional material review process that includes an easily accessibly public notice and a parental component. 

    Status: The House Education Subcommittee on Academic Achievement and Curriculum, which is chaired by Rep. Mike Dudgeon (R-Johns Creek), approved this bill unanimously.  The bill is slated to be heard by the full House Education Committee early next week.

    HB 816, sponsored by Rep. Billy Mitchell (D-Stone Mountain). This bill, entitled the “Student Religious Liberties Act of 2016” seeks to address students’ expression of religious viewpoints in public schools.  A portion of the bill addresses the expression of religious viewpoints through coursework and classroom assignments.  The bill would put into law that students shall not be penalized or rewarded on account of the religious content of their work. Instead, a student's academic work that expresses a religious viewpoint would be evaluated based on ordinary academic standards of substance and relevance to the course curriculum or requirements of the coursework, artwork, or assignment.

    Status: This bill has been assigned to the House Judiciary Committee, which is chaired by Rep. Wendell Willard (R-Sandy Springs).  We are continuing to watch this bill closely throughout the process.  

  • 27 Aug 2015 6:25 AM | Jeremy Peacock (Administrator)

    Education Reform Commission Update

    - T.J. Kaplan, GSTA Legislative Consultant

    After observing the meetings of the Governor’s Education Reform Commission since its inception earlier this year, Georgia Science Teachers Association President Jeremy Peacock traveled to Atlanta to express members' concerns.  He spent the day in Atlanta meeting privately with key commission members prior to the full commission meeting, where he delivered testimony on behalf of GSTA. 

    Jeremy met first with Representative Mike Dudgeon, a former member of the Forsyth County Board of Education who now serves as the Vice Chair of the House Education Committee.  The meeting also included newly elected Representative Sherri Gilligan, a former instructor at Lanier Tech.  Jeremy took the opportunity to express to both Representatives concerns about funding proposals that may move away from teacher training and experience as a compensation model for Georgia teachers.  Representative Dudgeon agreed that, particularly in STEM fields, advanced degrees are often crucial background for a successful teacher.  Dudgeon also noted that the ERC is not moving towards eliminating T&E, but rather looking at a broad range of options for recruiting the best teachers to Georgia.  Notable ideas put forth by the Teacher Recruitment Committee of the ERC, of which Dudgeon is a member, include signing bonuses for STEM teachers, higher starting salaries for all teachers, and differentiated pay for teachers in more difficult subjects (including STEM) and high needs schools. 

    Jeremy also met with Senator Lindsey Tippins, a former member of the Cobb County Board of Education, who now serves as the Chairman of the Senate Education Committee.  After hearing GSTA’s concerns, Senator Tippins thoughtfully expressed his own similar concerns about Georgia’s current system for recruiting and retaining talented teachers.  He, like other members of the commission, is actively searching for effective ways to appropriately compensate teachers for the skills that they bring to the classroom. 

    Finally, Jeremy met with Governor Nathan Deal’s education policy advisor to update her on GSTA’s work with the Department of Education on the standards revision process.  She was excited to hear about the active role GSTA is playing, and will continue to work with us on the issue.  Jeremy also briefed her on GSTA’s observations from the Governor’s Education Reform Commission to date, and our concerns surrounding teacher compensation and recruitment. 

    Jeremy delivered the following testimony to the Governor's Education Reform Commission:

    • We want to specifically provide input on the ERC Funding Committee proposals that would move away from teacher training and experience as a compensation model for Georgia teachers.
      • Even though these proposals would not force current teachers into a new compensation model, our members are concerned with how the proposals might affect Georgia's ability to recruit and retain the most qualified teachers in the future.
    • While committee members have cited research showing that teacher training and experience is not correlated with student achievement, there is evidence that teacher training and experience does correlate to student achievement in science
      • In particular, we know that a strong content background combined with knowledge of how to help students understand that content is a key to effective science teaching and learning.
    • However, we need to ask the bigger question of which compensation model will be most effective in recruiting and retaining excellent teachers for Georgia's science classrooms. 
    • College graduates with science degrees often have a range of lucrative career options, and the prospect of facing the constant challenges that come in the classroom, with the knowledge that one's salary is tied to student test results, may not fare well against those other options.

    
In the coming months, each of the ERC committees will finish drafting the recommendations that will be voted on by the full commission prior to December.  The finished proposals will be submitted to the Governor.  Before any action is taken, the proposals would need to be drafted in the form of legislation that will be considered by the full General Assembly and the appropriate committees.  We will continue to follow developments and ensure that the voice of Georgia’s science teachers is heard.  You can provide input directly to the Commission by submitting comments at this link or by emailing the Commission at erc@opb.georgia.gov.

  • 11 Apr 2015 9:05 AM | Jeremy Peacock (Administrator)

    Although the bill does retain testing for math and science, it does not treat STEM education as a national priority. It removes the Math and Science Partnership program (Title II B) and places no priority for STEM-related activities in the state grants provided for teacher programs. This is a huge disappointment to many in the STEM education community.”

    That’s what Jodi Peterson, NSTA’s Assistant Executive Director of Legislative Affairs, had to say about the Senate’s proposed replacement for the maligned NCLB law.  Please read her full blog post here.  GSTA’s President, Dr. Donna Governor, has contacted Georgia Senator Johnny Isakson, a member of the HELP Committee working on this bill, and we encourage you to do the same.  You can email senator Isakson here to ask him to restore STEM as a priority area and to restore the Math-Science Partnership program.  We know many of you have benefitted directly from this program, and personal stories of those benefits can be very persuasive.

    Here is a summary from our Legislative Consultant, T.J. Kaplan, of other key provisions in the proposed bill…  Senate begins markup of federal education legislation to replace NCLB: The bipartisan bill to replace No Child Left Behind that was crafted after months of negotiations between Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.) would end federal high-stakes testing and grant more power to states to decide what to do about struggling schools and how or whether to evaluate teachers. The Senate education panel …  hopes to bring the bill before the full Senate later in the spring. The 600-page proposal would make plenty of other changes to the way the country’s 100,000 public schools operate… 

    Among the provisions: … States would still have to administer reading and math tests to students in grades three through eight and once in high school, and science tests once in elementary, middle and high school. But states could choose one end-of-year test or a series of smaller tests that would combine to create an overall measurement of student achievement.  …States would design their own systems to hold schools accountable for educating kids. It must include graduation rates, English proficiency rates for English learners and some measure of college or career readiness. … It would be up to states to decide whether to evaluate teachers, and, if so, how to do it. That’s a big departure from current conditions … The bill says states have to assure the federal government they have “challenging” standards but that’s about it. What’s more, the federal government isn’t allowed to mandate or encourage states to adopt any standards, including as a condition of competitive grants, the way the Obama administration used Race to the Top to nudge 43 states and the District to embrace the Common Core. http://bit.ly/1IvF1Nl.

    Regards, 

    Jeremy Peacock

    GSTA President Elect & Advocacy Chair

  • 11 Apr 2015 8:51 AM | Jeremy Peacock (Administrator)
    GSTA is passing on the following message from the National Science Teachers Association.  Please take a few moments to read and act on this important notice.

    The U.S. Senate and House of Representatives are currently working to reauthorize (rewrite) No Child Left Behind. Please contact your members of Congress immediately, and ask them to make STEM education a national priority. At the Legislative Action Center of the STEM Education Coalition website, you can send a letter to your elected representatives, asking them to

    • Maintain a strong focus on science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education.
    • Continue the focus on math and science as required elements of any state's accountability system.
    • Provide states with dedicated funding to support STEM-related activities and teacher training.

    It is urgent that educators take a moment to write to your elected officials, and send this message to colleagues and networks in your school or district.

    Click here for the latest NSTA blog on ESEA reauthorization.  

    Thank you,

    Jeremy Peacock

    GSTA President Elect & Advocacy Chair

  • 25 Mar 2015 4:04 PM | Jeremy Peacock (Administrator)

    Here is a pre-Sine Die update on some of the bills we are tracking.

    Per our earlier report, SB 89 (digital textbook mandate amended down to a strong suggestion) was combined with HB 414 (the more reasonable of the two student data privacy bills) and was heard in the Academic Achievement Subcommittee of House Education yesterday.   The bill did not receive a vote, but will be looked at in greater detail by legislators in the interim before next legislative session.  We have pasted below a PDF of the bill in its most recent form. 

    Additionally, Governor Deal's "Opportunity School District" legislation was voted out of the House Education Committee earlier this week.  The substitute version of the constitutional amendment and companion enabling legislation that cleared the committee are pasted below. This afternoon, the House passed the constitutional amendment enabling the OSD.  This will now return to the Senate to reconcile House changes.  This issue will be decided by Georgia voters in the next general election.

    Finally, SR 80 (Senator Ligon's APUSH resolution, now watered down) and SB 132 (Move on When Ready) are set for a final hearing the House Education this afternoon.  SB 2 (joint enrollment) is sitting in rules awaiting assignment to the House floor for final passage. 

    Thank you,

    TJ Kaplan

  • 25 Mar 2015 8:50 AM | Jeremy Peacock (Administrator)


    Standards Revision

    A group of GSTA leaders visited Atlanta February 18th to meet with Superintendent Richard Woods and his staff and to visit with key legislators in the Capitol.  Overall, it was a very positive experience.  Jeremy Spencer (Associate Superintendent of Virtual Learning and former science teacher), Matt Jones (Chief Officer of Academics), and Cindy Morley (Chief Officer of Governmental Affairs ) joined the meeting from the Superintendent’s office.  Our approach was to ask Mr. Woods how GSTA could support and get our members involved in the process of reviewing and revising the science standards.  We also took several opportunities to advocate for use of the Framework and NGSS as models during the process.  Here are the main takeaways from the meeting. 

    • Jeremy Spencer will play a key role in the revision process, based on his experience as a science teacher. Spencer voiced support for the Framework and learning progressions, which we saw as a very positive sign. He also mentioned that his main concern with the NGSS, themselves, is that they might be too “busy” and confusing for teachers. This is an issue that could be addressed during the revision process.
    • Mr. Woods described a tiered system for revision teams with a core leadership group combined with “outer rings” that would carry out the actual revision process. This aligns to the model Dr. Juan-Carlos, GaDOE's science program manager, has shared in the past. Mr. Woods asked GSTA to work with Dr. Aguilar to recommend GSTA members to serve as advisers to this team, and we have already taken action on this opportunity. We recommended five representatives, who are mostly classroom teachers from various levels and areas of the state: Zoe Evan (middle school assistant principal and NGSS Life Science Writing Team member), Brian Butler (high school physics teacher and former U.S. Air Force meteorologist), Denise Webb (elementary science and engineering teacher), Nick Zomer (middle school science teacher), and Trish Dubose (high school science teacher and former GaDOE science implementation specialist). We plan to position GSTA as a resource to GaDOE throughout this process, and we hope to engage our members in the process to the greatest extent possible. We are also working with partner organizations (e.g. RESAs, GYSTC, and GSSA) to engage them in the process and leverage their expertise.
    • Looking at the longer term, Matt Jones discussed his desire to increase the level of professional learning offered in science. GSTA can play a major role in supporting high-quality professional learning for science teachers in our state. As you know, we have an incredible wealth of human resources within the organization. To follow up on this, we have invited the Superintendent, his staff, and Patricia Williams from the Governor's office to our May 9th Science Saturday event to highlight our professional learning activities and the three-dimensional learning approach.
    • See our follow-up letter to Mr. Woods for more information.

    Following our meeting with Supt. Woods, we spoke to several key lawmakers, the lobbyists from PAGE, and a representative from the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce. With the lawmakers, our goal was to establish or continue relationships, build awareness for our organization, and establish a basis in the case that we need to contact them in the future. We received a very supportive response from Representative Dudgeon, who spoke at our August joint advocacy meeting.  We hope to work through the Chambers of Commerce to generate support from the business community for our efforts to support science education in our state. We will continue communicating with these policy makers and stakeholders, and we will continue to keep our membership informed of all important developments

    Legislative Session

    Friday, March 13th marked the 30th day “crossover” deadline at the Georgia Legislature. If a bill did not gain passage from either the House or Senate by the time the gavel fell late Friday evening, then it is considered “dead” for the year. Although members of either chamber will have opportunities to “attach” their dead language to their colleagues’ bills later in the session, the likelihood of passing a bill that way is remarkably low. Below is a report on education legislation that the GSTA is tracking through the process.   

    Data Privacy Bills:

    HB 144: “Student Online Information Act” - Filed by Representative Craig Gordon (not a member of the Education Committee), the bill has been put on hold by the committee.  The bill did not meet the crossover deadline. 

    HB 414 - Representative Buzz Brockway’s version of the data privacy bill passed House Committee in early March and is now in the Rules Committee awaiting movement to a floor vote. The bill establishes and implement policies and requirements with respect to the collection and disclosure of student data. The bill did not meet the crossover deadline. 

    SB 157 - Senator Bill Ligon’s version of the data privacy bill is far more severe – although the Senate Education & Youth Committee slated it for consideration, it was removed from the calendar owing to an apparent lack of support. The language could resurface when House bills are taken up in the Senate, so we will continue to monitor. The bill did not meet the crossover deadline. 

    Education Reform:

    SB 2: Career Education Dual Enrollment – SB 2 passed out of the House Education Committee on March 2nd.  The bill creates an opportunity for students who have successfully completed 9th and 10th grade to enroll in a post-secondary institution and earn credits towards a degree or certification.  The students would also be permitted to count the courses taken at the post-secondary institution towards their high school requirements. Status: SB 2 passed the Senate and the House Education Committee.

    SB 132: "Quality Basic Education Act" – SB 132 passed out of the Senate Education and Youth Committee on March 2nd.  The bill is a housekeeping measure designed to allow students to achieve either an associate degree or technical certification in what is defined as “high demand industry.”   The authority is given to the Department of Education to determine the courses that can be applied towards high school requirements. SB 132 passed the Senate and now sits in the House awaiting consideration.

    SB 133: Opportunity School District – SB 133 passed the Senate on March 6th.  The bill creates what is referred to as an “Opportunity School District,” a program that allows the state government to intervene in failing schools across the state.  The program would be administered by the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement, and is designed to focused on the lowest performing 20 schools in the state.

    SR 287: Constitutional Amendment:  Opportunity School District – SR 287, the companion constitutional amendment resolution to SB 133, would allow the measure to be put to a statewide ballot.  The measure would have to pass a statewide referendum before being enacted. Status: SB 133 and SR 287 have both been passed by the Senate, and will be heard for the second time in the House Education Committee on March 23rd.

    Other bills:

    SB 89: “Digital Classroom Act” - Senator John Albers’ bill passed the Senate in the first week of March. It encourages local boards of education to provide instructional materials and content to be in digital or electronic format. It also encourages local boards of education to provide wireless electronic devices for students to access instructional materials and content. Status: passed the Senate.

    HB 243 - Filed by Representative Mark Hamilton, the bill seeks to establish a state run program for education savings accounts.  The bill was originally assigned to House Education, but last week it was recommitted to House Ways & Means. This bill did not meet the crossover deadline. 

    SB 92 - Filed by Senator Hunter Hill, this bill is a Senate version of the House bill filed by Representative Hamilton. This bill did not meet the crossover deadline.


    - T.J. Kaplan, GSTA Legislative Consultant, and GSTA Advocacy Committee

  • 17 Feb 2015 11:19 AM | Jeremy Peacock (Administrator)

    During our recent conference, the GSTA board learned that GaDOE is preparing to begin the process of reviewing and revising Georgia's science standards. We welcome this news, and we plan to make every effort to ensure that this process reflects extensive input from our members and that it is grounded in science education research. The first step in the standards revision process will be a survey of all science teachers to gather feedback on our existing standards. You should receive the survey by April of this year, and it will ask for specific feedback on our existing standards and general input on the direction of the revision process. Teachers will be able to give feedback on single or multiple courses, based on their particular background and expertise. In an effort to reach all Georgia science teachers, you may receive the survey notice multiple times. Surveys will be distributed primarily through RESAs and GYSTCs, GaDOE will distribute the survey to their contact list, and GSTA will forward all announcements to our entire contact database. This survey is critical as it will provide guidance for the teams of teachers and other stakeholders that will be convened by GaDOE to revise the standards.

    GSTA urges you to participate in the survey and, more specifically, to reflect the research-based, three-dimensional approach to science learning. This approach, laid out in A Framework for K-12 Science Education and modeled in the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), seeks to engage students in science and engineering practices (e.g., engaging in argument from evidence) while simultaneously learning and applying core ideas (i.e., content standards) and crosscutting concepts (i.e., big ideas like patterns or structure & function). This 3D approach already is being promoted by our GaDOE Science Program Manager within the context of our existing standards, and it aligns to the goals of the new Milestones assessment system. This standards revision process represents an opportunity for GSTA to act on our position statement regarding the Framework and NGSS and, more importantly, an opportunity to improve the depth and quality of science education for all of Georgia's students. In preparation for the survey and revision process, we are running our full position statement below. Please read over this statement, familiarize yourself with the Framework and NGSS, and stay tuned for important updates on this process.

    GSTA's Official Position Statement on the Revision of the Science GPS

    The Georgia Science Teachers Association is an organization that seeks to expand levels of student achievement in Georgia. We are the premier organization in the state for sharing best practices in science education. The association represents science teachers from around the state who teach in a variety of schools and contexts.

    Science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) industries are the drivers of tomorrow’s economy. According to the Department of Commerce, from 2000 to 2010, jobs in STEM fields grew at three times the rate of any other field. Through 2018, jobs in STEM fields are expected to increase by 17 percent, nearly double the projected growth rate of other jobs. Our state’s future economic success, and that of our students, is closely tied to developing a workforce with the talent, creativity, and knowledge to innovate in STEM fields.

    The Georgia Science Teachers Association believes that the time has come for the existing Georgia Performance Standards in science to be reviewed and revised.  For the benefit of Georgia’s students, an assessment of our current standards must be completed as soon as possible. We believe that the review should be informed by the vetted research that serves as the foundation of the Next Generation Science Standards and of the Framework for K-12 Science Education.  Both of these documents are based on internationally benchmarked research on how students learn science content and college and career readiness, and will prove to be an essential, promising part of strengthening K-12 STEM education in Georgia.

    Georgia has the opportunity to take a step towards ensuring that all our students have access to a world-class science education by conducting this review. These internationally benchmarked standards are the work of accomplished, practicing K-16 educators and researchers from 26 states, including Georgia, working together.  The standards were developed through a state-led process in which Georgia served as a lead state. Citizens and educators from within our state provided valuable feedback and leadership in every draft of the standards. There is no federal support of these standards and no federal incentives tied to their review or adoption. Our support is founded in a belief that Georgia’s students deserve the right to a science education that provides them with the knowledge, skills, and education they will need to succeed in school and to support our state’s economy at nationally and globally competitive levels.

    It is our desire that every child in Georgia will receive a high quality science education that will prepare them for life and work in the 21st century. In order for that to occur, our students need a set of challenging science standards that will provide them with the knowledge and skills needed for success. We strongly encourage Georgia’s elected officials and state leaders to actively support science education for all students by moving forward with this evaluation and review during the 2014-2015 academic year

  • 17 Feb 2015 11:18 AM | Jeremy Peacock (Administrator)

    - T.J. Kaplan, GSTA Legislative Consultant, and GSTA Advocacy Committee

    Making Connections
    Members of the GSTA presidential chain regularly seek opportunities to connect with key policy makers to speak up on behalf of science education in Georgia. We work to position the organization as a key source information for these policy makers and to advocate for the importance of research-based STEM education. December's Biennial Institute allowed us to connect with several legislators to voice our support for the CCGPS in math and ELA.

    In the new year, we are shifting our focus to coming revision of Georgia's science standards. Last month, we met with Pam Williams, who is Governor Deal's newly appointed Education Outreach Coordinator. Mrs. Williams will have a role in education policy within the Governor's office, but she will also act as a self-described "cheerleader" for the good things happening in Georgia's public schools. Consider emailing Mrs. Williams if you would like to highlight an innovative science or STEM program at your school. She is on the lookout for opportunities to visit and highlight schools. This week, we will be visiting the Capitol to connect with legislators and Superintendent Woods. The visit with Mr. Woods will provide an opportunity to follow up on his conference session and continue building a productive relationship with him and his staff.

    Legislative Session
    As we approach the midpoint in the 2015 Legislative Session, the volume of bills is beginning to grow as is the sense of urgency in the Capitol halls.  The first few weeks in early January were marked by the pomp and circumstance of the Governor’s swearing in and inaugural gala. Since that time, there has been steady growth in number of committee meetings and floor votes.

    Although no legislation specific to science education has been proposed, we continue to keep a close eye on activity in both chambers. In particular, we closely monitor all meetings of the House Education and the Senate Education and Youth committees. We have established open lines of communication with their respective chairs, Representative Coleman and Senator Tippins.

    The 40 day session is currently scheduled to adjourn "Sine Die" on April 2nd. The 30th day of the session, which is scheduled to occur on March 13th, marks “crossover day,” which is the drop dead date for any bill that hopes to reach the Governor’s desk. On that day, all bills must pass out of their chamber of origination by midnight. Any bills that do not meet the deadline can be taken up by the General Assembly in the 2016 session, which will be the second year of the current biennium.

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