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​Superintendent Woods Supports Legislation Decreasing Testing Requirements for Students and Reducing Weight of Test Scores on Teacher and Leader Evaluations

MEDIA CONTACT: Matt Cardoza, GaDOE Communications Office, (404) 651-7358, mcardoza@gadoe.org

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February 10, 2016 -- State School Superintendent Richard Woods today released the following statements regarding SB 364, which would decrease the number of tests students have to take, as well as lower the weight of test results on the state’s teacher and leader evaluation system.

SB 364 would:

•        Reduce the number of state tests from 32 to 24

•        Reduce the weight of student test scores on the teacher evaluation system from 50% to 30%, with the remaining percentage coming from professional growth plans

On the reduction of state-mandated tests:

“I wholeheartedly support Senator Lindsey Tippins’ bill, SB 364​, because it reflects many of the issues I’ve felt all along are burdensome to student learning and the recruitment and retention of our best teachers. The federal government requires 11 tests; Georgia requires almost three times that. Realignment is needed, and SB 364 would do just that, reducing the number of state-mandated tests students must take. By streamlining testing requirements, we can free up schools to focus on literacy and numeracy in the early grades, giving students a better foundation for success.”

On lowering the weight of test scores in the teacher and leader evaluation systems and adding a true professional growth component to the teacher and leader evaluation systems:

“I also am in full support of SB 364 because it reduces the percentage that student test scores count for teachers’ and leaders’ evaluations. Not only are Georgia students suffering from over-testing, Georgia teachers are, too. We need to loosen the weight of test scores for teacher evaluation and fill the gap with a professional growth component, which is just what SB 364 proposes. This would allow the evaluation system to become more of a coaching tool instead of a ‘gotcha’ tool. We conducted a survey of more than 53,000 Georgia teachers, and an overwhelming percentage selected ‘number of state-mandated tests’ and the ‘method for evaluating teachers’ as the main reasons why 44 percent of newly hired teachers leave the profession within five years. SB 364 will provide a better tool for teachers and also help recruit and retain the best teachers.”

On requiring students to be in class more in order to count toward a teacher’s performance:

Another issue SB 364 addresses has to do with the percentage of days students have to be present in class to be counted toward a teacher’s performance. Currently, students have to be in class only 65% of the time in order to count toward a teacher’s performance.

“The current 65% is far too low, and the SB 364 legislation to raise that to 80% is much more reasonable. Teachers should not be responsible for students who are not in class.”

On allowing all districts to implement tiered observations:

“We know a one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work for our students, and it doesn’t work for our teachers, either. I appreciate that SB 364 allows for tiered observations for our best teachers, which will free up administrators to spend more time with new or weaker teachers while giving teachers who receive high evaluation scores the benefit of fewer observations and more flexibility in the classroom.”

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