Combo Photo - Right, State School Superintendent, Richard Woods. Left, Governor Nathan Deal.

Superintendent Richard Woods submitted Georgia’s Federal Education Accountability Plan on Monday to U.S. Secretary of Education, Besty DeVos along with 33 other states.

Seventeen states have already submitted their plans, and some of those states received less than stellar responses from Secretary DeVos’ office.

Unlike prior federal versions, the new federal law required high stakeholder engagement. Superintendent Woods spent over a year getting input from teachers, parents, and business leaders about the state’s federal accountability plan.

According to a September 14th letter sent to Governor Nathan Deal by Superintendent Woods, he reminds Deal of the long working process that it took to assemble the plan.

“This is the first time such a wide range of education stakeholders have come together to draft such a comprehensive education plan for our state, an accomplishment that should be recognized and respected,” said Woods. 

Governor Deal’s letter to Woods states that he would like to see more weight added to specific areas of the College and Career Readiness Performance Index (CCRPI), the states accountability report card. Those areas include closing achievement gaps among economically disadvantaged students, reading levels, removal of student attendance as an accountability indicator, and removal of other measures which include arts education. Deal cites that such areas “pad” the measure and “further complicates the CCRPI.”

Woods responds in his letter about the changes and stated that Governor Deal’s recommendations on some of those areas would place Georgia’s schools back under a similar measure reminiscent of No Child Left Behind putting emphasis on more high-stakes testing.

“This would lead to a CCRPI measure based nearly 100% on test scores, which is essentially no different than Annual Yearly Progress (AYP). The AYP system failed to result in meaningful improvement in student outcomes. The state should be extremely cautious about adopting an accountability system that returns to a disproportionate emphasis on test scores and the unintended consequences associated with such a system – this would be a huge step backward for our state,” said Woods.

In an email sent to the Georgia House of Representatives on Monday, September 18th, Woods includes some changes requested by the Governor which includes Deal’s signature education policy, HB 338, First Priority Schools and piloting of computer-based assessments.

First Priority Schools allows the state to intervene in lowest 5 percent of low-performing schools. Some of these interventions may require state takeover.

Email sent to State House of Representatives from Superintendent Woods – Sent Monday, September 18th, 2017.

Earlier today, Georgia’s State ESSA Plan was submitted to USED. Please see the attached final document.

With this plan, we have recognized and respected the diverse feedback and insight of Georgians, while crafting a cohesive, aligned, and positive education plan for our state – we’ve done Georgia’s nearly 1.8 million students proud!

As I’ve stated multiple times, we are post-NCLB and post-RT3 – what will Georgia education look like? This plan creates the framework and lays the foundation for just that.
Over a year ago, we set out on this journey and today marks a major milestone. Our focus now turns to implementation, providing the service and support that our districts deserve.
The following changes were made to the state plan that was submitted to Governor Deal based on his recommendations, along with additional stakeholder feedback we received:

Added stronger assessment flexibility and innovation language both within the plan and in Appendix H – per the Governor’s request

Commitment to maximum flexibility
Will apply to participate in the Innovation Demonstration Authority

Interim assessments
Option to use nationally recognized assessments for high school

Literacy targets: changed lower bound to mid-point targets – per the Governor’s request.
Clarification on primary schools and alternative schools receiving CCRPI scores – per the Governor’s request

HB 338: alignment to GOSA’s new criteria – per the Governor’s request.
Comprehensive Needs Assessment/District Improvement Plan(CNA/DIP) changes to requirements based on district feedback – in response to stakeholder feedback and per the Governor’s request.

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Jeremy Spencer is currently the market and content manager for All on Georgia-Camden  and Glynn Counties. Jeremy’s focus will be local news, statewide education issues, and political commentary for the All on Georgia News Network. Jeremy has served as a education policy analyst for local legislators and state education leaders as well as a campaign strategist for local and statewide political campaigns.

Jeremy grew up in rural Southern Georgia and he has served as a healthcare provider, high school science teacher, and a state education official.  Jeremy holds degrees in science and education from the University of Georgia, Piedmont College, and Valdosta State University. He and his wife have lived in Camden County for 16 years and they have two teenage children. Jeremy and his family attend Christ Church Camden in Kingsland, GA.


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