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.