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PAGE Supports Broader School Quality Factors, Submission of Original ESSA Plan

Friday, September 15, 2017  
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Governor’s Recommendations Fail to Consider Majority Stakeholder Feedback, Pushes Return to Overuse of High-Stakes Testing


ATLANTA – PAGE strongly supports the more comprehensive school quality factors represented by the Georgia Department of Education’s original ESSA plan and encourages state Superintendent Richard Woods to reject Gov. Nathan Deal’s effort to drag Georgia’s accountability system back into a model based primarily on high-stakes tests.


“Just as he misunderstood Georgian’s desire for local control that resulted in the defeat of the Opportunity School District, Gov. Deal’s requested changes to rely more heavily on high-stakes tests are out-of-touch with the thousands of people who contributed to the new state accountability plan,” said Dr. Allene Magill, PAGE executive director.


The ESSA plan was developed after thousands of Georgia stakeholders participated in feedback sessions across the state and with guidance from six committees comprised of people from all backgrounds and interests. Those stakeholders were clear that they seek indicators beyond high-stakes testing when determining the quality of their schools. Those voices were backed up in recent state polling by PDK which also demonstrated that the public – and especially parents and communities – values access to rigorous academic content, career and technical education and access to courses and activities beyond the core.


While PAGE does not agree with every component of the plan, the state’s largest education association does believe that the Georgia Department of Education (DOE) has thoughtfully crafted an accountability plan informed by the voices of people from around the state who are weary of the old model represented by accountability by testing. The ESSA plan is moving in the right direction with opportunities for flexibility, consideration of other quality factors in helping students with challenges learn and grow and supporting career and technical education pathways.


PAGE urges the DOE to submit its original plan as submitted to Gov. Deal for review rather than yield to his recommendations on removing weighted points for Closing the Gap and on eligibility requirements for struggling schools. The DOE plan appropriately provided weighted points for those schools serving student populations of high poverty, disabilities and English language deficits. Further, school leaders should have clear guidance on when their schools will enter or exit intervention status based on CCRPI. While this was achieved in the original DOE plan, it will be made more confusing and impossible for a school to know from year-to-year its status using the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement (GOSA) calculation which creates a moving target.


“We know from the ESSA stakeholder feedback, as well as state and national polling data that high-stakes tests are not the primary indicator of a quality school experience,” Magill said. “The ESSA plan proposed by the DOE more closely aligns with stakeholder expectations for what makes a quality educational experience. Georgia should be moving forward in alignment with those expectations, not going back to the test and punish mindset of No Child Left Behind.”


Magill said she supports the DOE’s rejection of Gov. Deal’s recommendation to require high-stakes testing in kindergarten through second grade.


PAGE concurs with Superintendent Woods’ statement that all of the governor’s recommendations serve only to “remove or adjust all indicators that do not incorporate test scores” and that such a revision to the state’s ESSA plan would be “a huge step backward for our state.”


PAGE Statement on ESSA

Gov. Nathan Deal's Recommended Revisions to ESSA Plan

Supt. Richard Woods' Response to Gov. Deal

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