Supporting Excellent Science Teaching for Georgia

GSTA Legislative Action Alert - Contact Your Legislators re: SB 364

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.

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