Pre-Sine Die Update
On Wednesday March 16th, the Georgia General Assembly completed the 38th day of the 40-day legislative calendar. At this point in the session, most committees have finished their work and the remainder of the action will be on the floor or in the Rules Committee of each chamber. Any piece of legislation that has not been approved by both the House and Senate on March 24th will be dead for the year. Once the General Assembly adjourns on March 24th, the Governor will have 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.
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: Both the House and the Senate approved their respective versions of the budget. The House officially “insisted” on their position, which sent the budget to a joint conference committee for reconciliation. Before March 24th, each chamber will approve the final conference committee report.
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: This bill has been approved by the House and must return to the Senate for an “agree” motion on the House changes before it heads to the Governor’s desk.
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 revised version of the bill approved by the House addresses standardized test opt-out procedures and seeks to prevent teachers and administrators from being penalized when a student does not take a mandated test.
Status: This bill was approved the House Education Committee but has not yet been selected by the House Rules Committee for a vote on the House floor.
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: This bill has been approved by the Senate and must return to the House for an “agree” motion on the Senate changes before it heads to the Governor’s desk.
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 has been approved by both the House and the Senate and will now be transmitted to the Governor for his consideration.
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 is no longer eligible for consideration this year in its current form.