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TESTING AND EVALUATION Testing and evaluation were primary focuses of the education community this session with GAE taking a major role in fighting for members by working with stakeholders, bill sponsors and lobbying members. Senator Lindsey Tippins, Chair of the Senate Education and Youth Committee, introduced SB 364 to address widespread concerns regarding the role and weight of testing with regards to Teacher Keys Effectiveness System (TKES). In the House, Representative Tom Dickson also introduced a bill (HB 1061) dealing with many of these same issues. Through the legislative committee process, and a healthy negotiation between the chambers, a substitute SB 364 emerged, which included some components of HB 1061. GAE members responded tremendously to the several Calls to Action to make our TKES Campaign successful. As passed, SB 364 reduces the weight of testing in the evaluation process for both teachers and leaders. For teachers, student growth will now account for 30% of an evaluation (vs. the current 50%); for principals and assistant principals, it will be 40% (down from the current 70%). For teachers, the remaining 70% will be comprised of professional growth (20%) and observations (50%). For leaders, the remaining portions will be school climate (10%), observations (30%), and a combination of achievement gap closure, Beat the Odds, and CCRPI data as the final 20% of evaluation measures. Senator Tippins made particular note of the fact that he sees this bill as promoting flexibility for districts in the measurement tools used to reach these percentages. Under SB 364 Georgia Milestones testing is eliminated in science and social studies in Grades 3, 4, 6 and 7, thus reducing the number of state-required tests from 32 to 24. Subject to state funding, local districts are to administer math and reading formative assessments in Grades 1 and 2. This bill also requires that all state-adopted or developed assessments must be verified for reliability and validity. Finally, four other aspects of SB 364 are of importance: 1. This legislation mandates that only the scores of students enrolled for 90% of the term (vs current 65%) will be used for evaluative purposes; 2. It rejects performance evaluation quotas; 3. It encourages districts to move the testing window to the end of a term; and 4. The bill allows districts to develop tiered observation systems and to reduce the number of observations of highly-rated, veteran teachers. Status: Signed by Governor May 3, 2016 SB 355 was the other “testing bill” this session. Entitled the “Student Protection Act,” it codifies existing standardized testing opt-out guidance provided by the Georgia DOE. Tests must now be administered in pencil-and-paper format, upon request. The bill also requires the State School Superintendent and State Board to develop policies around opting out and to create appropriate alternatives to testing. In this vein, it prohibits punitive policies, such as “sit-andstare,” for non-testing students. During the last hours of session, a provision was added that would restrict teachers’ first amendment rights regarding talking to students and parents about testing. GAE fought vigilantly in those final hours alongside other advocates to have this provision successfully eliminated. Status: Vetoed by Governor May 3, 2016 www.gae.org | 17 WIN EDUCATION REFORM COMMISSION Governor Deal’s Education Reform Commission (ERC) presented a slate of recommendations to radically change the very face of public education in Georgia. Many expected to see corresponding legislation to these recommendations in the 2016 Session. GAE was very vocal about the ERC’s proposals and the need to slow the implementation process for further vetting. Additionally, GAE expressed concerns that the Commission membership did not include an active educator. Governor Deal postponed these efforts until 2017 and announced the creation of a Teacher Advisory Committee. The voices of GAE members were heard. Status: The Governor has named members of the Teacher Advisory Committee and several GAE members are on that committee. WIN


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