Law changes standardized testing

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 4, 2016

By Ryan Phillips

Associated Press

ATLANTA — Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal signed a bill into law on Tuesday that will bring a wide range of changes to the state’s public school systems.

The new law will bring reductions to the number of standardized tests taken by students, in addition to adjustments in the way teachers are evaluated. The new law takes effect July 1.

Student growth will now count for 30 percent of a teacher’s score, which is a decrease from the 50 percent mandated by past state law.

Supporters, mostly education and teacher groups, have lauded the changes. They say the new legislation will allow teachers to teach, without having to construct a classroom around standardized tests.

John Palmer, vice president and spokesman for Teachers Rally to Advocate for Insurance Changes, said principals and evaluators in schools should be able to use multiple measures to evaluate teachers.

“There is no doubt that student performance should play a part of a teacher’s evaluation, but not if the only performance valued is the growth on a multiple choice bubble test,” Palmer said.

Michael O’Sullivan, Georgia director for StudentsFirst, has been vocal in regards to the educational changes discussed during the legislative session. O’Sullivan said his organization believes that student performance, specifically student academic growth, should be utilized as a part of a teacher’s evaluation.

“While we understand the desire to decrease the weight placed on student performance, we were disappointed the legislation lowered that weight below the recommended range for that component,” O’Sullivan said.