UPDATED FRIDAY, MARCH 25, 2016
The 2016 Georgia General Assembly convened for its final day Thursday, March 24. In the final hours of the legislative session, the Senate agreed to House changes to SB 364, the highly-anticipated testing and evaluation reform bill. Read PAGE’S analysis of SB 364 HERE. Many thanks to all who advocated for this important bill and to legislators who overwhelmingly passed it.
You also can read more from the AJC’s Ty Tagami, including a helpful bulleted summary of SB 364, HERE.
UPDATED WEDNESDAY, MARCH 16, 2016
SB 364 passed the House on a unanimous vote. The final version of the bill is available HERE.
SB 364 provides important relief on testing and educator evaluation requirements, including reducing the percentage of student growth measures on evaluations from 50 percent to 30 percent for teachers and 70 percent to 40 percent for leaders. Further, student measures will not be utilized for evaluations unless students are in attendance for 90 percent of a teacher’s course. The bill also reduces the number of required tests from 32 to 24 during a student’s K-12 academic experience.
PAGE’s statement on the House passing the bill is available HERE.
UPDATED FRIDAY, MARCH 4, 2016
By Margaret Ciccarelli and Craig Harper
Statement of Support for SB 364
Educator evaluation reform and student testing relief are the major legislative priorities for PAGE in the 2016 session of the General Assembly. The direct advocacy effort of PAGE’s legislative team at the Capitol and PAGE members’ individual efforts with the “I Promise” campaign resulted in the introduction of legislation that addresses teacher and leader evaluation reform and reduction in the number of tests required for students.
PAGE strongly supports SB 364 and appreciates the sponsoring senators for their attention to the calls from educators, parents and students for significant reform on these issues.
SB 364 (Revised), SB 355 (Revised) and HB 1061 (Dead)
SB 364 was revised by the Senate Education and Youth Committee on Friday, Feb. 19 and passed by the Senate on Friday, Feb. 26. The bill is now working its way through the House. The legislation reduces state-mandated standardized tests and reduces the emphasis of testing in educator evaluation. It incorporates a requirement from SB 355 that all state-required tests be evaluated for validity and reliability by a third-party evaluator; this requirement does not apply to SLOs. (Review more details on SB 364 below.)
SB 355 was significantly rewritten before it passed the Senate on Monday, Feb. 29. The bill is now working its way through the House. The revisions stripped all of the education evaluation components from the bill. The legislation is now a testing opt-out bill that prohibits punitive “sit and stare” policies and codifies the Georgia Department of Education’s existing opt-out guidance.
HB 1061 was introduced by Tom Dickson (R-Cohutta), Brooks Coleman (R-Duluth) and others on Friday, Feb. 19. The bill only addresses teacher evaluation, and does not address student testing. The bill did not successfully make it out of committee before the Crossover Day deadline.
Next Steps in the Legislative Process
Since SB 355 no longer contains educator evaluation reform, and the House failed to pass HB 1061, SB 364 is now the only remaining testing reduction and evaluation reform bill.
So far, the House appears less enthusiastic about passing meaningful testing and evaluation reform this year, despite unanimous support in the Senate and overwhelming support by parents and educators.
SB 364 must pass the House Education Committee, the House Rules Committee, and must pass the full House before the final day of the 2016 legislative session, currently scheduled for March 24. The Senate must agree to any changes to the legislation made in the House. And finally, the Governor must sign the legislation by the 40th day after the legislative session ends. If he fails to sign it, SB 364 becomes law unless Governor Deal vetoes the legislation within the 40-day period, which ends on May 3, 2016.
“I Promise” Follow-Through at Critical Point
The direct advocacy of individual PAGE members with legislators on evaluation and testing issues ensured that these bills were introduced this year. PAGE knows from communications with legislators that our members’ voices have made a difference.
PAGE urges its members to continue to contact legislators to encourage their support of evaluation and testing reforms. Let them know that you are asking for their vote in support of these reforms. As always, be courteous and appreciative of their service and remember to contact legislators outside of instructional time using personal email accounts and phone lines.
Click on the bill number to see key points proposed for reform.