State Board Reports

10/17 - Chief Turnaround Officer Named

Chief Turnaround Officer Named
by Angela Palm on 10/17/2017

Another piece of HB 338, the First Priority Act/school turnaround bill, is on the verge of being implemented.  In case you're wondering what has been implemented, the Education Turnaround Advisory Council (lines 326-364) was named in June and has had several meetings. One of the first tasks for the Council was around the hiring of the Chief Turnaround Officer.

In an open session today, members of the State Board of Education and the Council met the three finalists for Georgia's first Chief Turnaround Officer:

  • Dr. Eric Parker, Superintendent of Eastern Kentucky University's Model Laboratory Schools, also led school improvement efforts in Montgomery, Alabama, after serving as principal in Gwinnett County and Atlanta Public Schools.
  • Dr. Lannie Milon, Jr., a leader at a high school in Houston, worked in turnaround efforts in Houston and Jefferson Parish.  He began his career teaching in Atlanta Public Schools. 
  • Dr. Eric Thomas, Chief Support Officer for the University of Virginia's Darden/Curry turnaround program, also served as Chief Innovation Officer for Cincinnati Public Schools.  He has also been a teacher and principal.

In full disclosure, GSBA is part of the Council and today I was representing the Association.  The information provided here occurred in the open, so no secrets here. 

Each candidate did a presentation based on a scenario given to them.  In two separate groups, State Board members and Council members then interviewed each of the candidates.  Council members could ask anything we wished.  Since most of us are veterans of hiring, we know the rules.

Each of the candidates was passionate and explained their views in detail.  The State Board received information from the Advisory Council in Executive Session as they deliberated on the finalists.  Dr. Thomas was selected.  Negotiations and final checks are the next step.  If all that works out, we have our first Chief Turnaround Officer.  

There has been a lot of concern about how this would work since the CTO reports to the State Board rather than the Superintendent who has his own School Improvement Division.  None of the candidates today took an adversarial position to the Department or school districts.  Rather, there was a general recognition that we're all in this together.  How refreshing.

Advocacy Workshop 

Don't forget our Advocacy Workshop is Tuesday.   If you haven't registered, please do!  Some of the material provided will be specific to your district, so we need to know you're coming.  See you there!

09/29 - State Board Discusses ESSA and Holds Meetings

State Board Discusses ESSA and Holds Meetings
by Angela Palm on 9/29/2017

The State Board of Education completed its monthly meeting yesterday (Thursday).  Wednesday included meetings of the Rules Committee, District Flexibility and Charter Schools Committee, Budget Committee, and Executive Session.  The Budget Committee reviewed all relevant items from the agenda of the Committee of the Whole. 

Yesterday the Board met in full, held its official meeting, and held a hearing on the McIntosh County Board of Education due to its accreditation status.  McIntosh's motion for a continuance was granted and the hearing was suspended until March 22nd.  The district will make monthly progress reports by the fifth of each month.

If your interest is just in the discussion on the state ESSA plan, scroll to the bottom. 

Rules Committee 

The Rules Committee reviewed the changes up for adoption this month to the rule on Language Assistance.  Staff said the minimum required by ESSA was put into rule.  Guidance will provide more direction to districts but the districts can go above the minimum in the rule.

Standards for World Language 3 were created at the request of districts that have students coming in having taken less commonly taught languages such as Farsi and Hindi in other countries. Students receiving credit in lieu of enrollment in a foreign language are not counted in the CCRPI calculation.

The Committee received a report by district on usage of the Teacher Resource Link (TRL).  Teachers in some districts are using it a lot more than others.  They also received a report on the impact of Hurricane Irma on schools.  Staff noted that many districts do not have back up generators and that power was off long enough in some places that the schools lost all the perishable food.  There was discussion as to whether districts had insurance coverage for that and they are working on finding that out.

Six SWSS districts did not include a waiver for the minimum school year so may need a waiver -- or amend their contract as two districts plan to do. 

District Flexibility Committee 

The Committee heard a report on the newly approved State Charter Schools.  Taliaferro County presented its case for switching from being a SWSS district to a charter system, the state's 43rd.  Contract amendments and charter grants were also reviewed.  Stewart and Twiggs were the school districts reporting to the Committee this month on their accountability results and plans to improve.

Budget Committee 

All their items include powerpoint slides with data if you want more information on any of them.  The Literacy for Learning, Living, and Leading in GA grant (formerly known as Striving Readers) was added at the last minute as the Department had just been notified that Georgia has been awarded $20.5 million for the program.

Committee of the Whole 

A public hearing was scheduled for the proposed changes to State Board rule on Language Assistance but no one spoke.  The State Board created its consent agenda and received reports from the Superintendent and Board Chair.

The graduation rate is now at 80.6%, the highest in maybe ever.  Fifty districts have a graduation rate over 90%.

Dr. Stephanie Johnson, Deputy Superintendent of the Office of School Improvement, provided a presentation on the data analysis her office has done and their action plan.  Superintendent Woods has asked the Education Turnaround Advisory Council to work with this Office and provide feedback.

Troup County reported on the LaGrange Industrial Fellowship for Teachers (LIFT) Program, an interesting community partnership linking teachers to business and skills students need.

State Board Meeting 

Almost all items were on the consent agenda which was adopted.  The Board separately adopted Rule 160-4-5-.02 Language Assistance:  Program for English Learners.

ESSA Plan and CCRPI Changes 

Georgia's state plan to implement ESSA was submitted to the U.S. Department of Education on September 18th.  As reported by various news outlets, the Governor requested changes to the plan that the Superintendent did not make.  Under the federal law, the Governor had to be given 30 days to review the plan but the plan does not require his signature.  He's not the first Governor not to sign his state's plan.  Louisiana, Wisconsin, and Maryland have had or are having very public disagreements.  Several of the plans that have been approved did not have the Governor's signature.

The letters between the two officials and the red-lined version of the plan showing the changes are online. Board Chair Mike Royal said several times that he believes it is a good plan but there are two big areas in which they are struggling to find consensus.

The two major areas of disagreement are testing/accountability for grades K-2 and changes made to the CCRPI.  These are fundamental, philosophical differences that will not be resolved in a quick public discussion, if there is a resolution.  State Board members expressed frustration since they are the policy-making body and complained about communication issues.  The Superintendent and his staff defended their choices.  Local boards and superintendents may have a feeling of "I've been there" at this discussion.  Everybody was polite and professional, they just disagreed.

Dr. Melissa Fincher did a presentation on the assessment/flexibility issue.  The Superintendent is forming an Assessment Task Force, including two State Board members, to continue to look at assessments and flexibility with them.  The Board Chair announced the Board would create its own working group made up of personnel from districts that are being innovative with assessments.  He felt that the Task Force of 33 members is too large to make hard decisions and is more of a "CYA committee with no offense meant to the Task Force members."  

The disagreement on the CCRPI goes to the inputs or outcomes argument.  Adding to the reluctance to include inputs such as enrollment in AP/IB courses was a report that a high school principal enrolled all the students in AP History to get the CCRPI points.  A comparison of the current CCRPI and that proposed in the plan can be found here.

This discussion will continue next month at the State Board Retreat.  The Board Chair said he has three "buckets" on the agenda:  assessments, CCRPI, and accreditation. 

The meeting closed with a focus on the good news this week on ACT and SAT scores, and the graduation rate.

The next meeting is scheduled for October 23-25 for a retreat.  

08/25 - August State Board Report

August State Board Report
by Angela Palm on 8/25/2017

The State Board of Education finished its two-day meeting Thursday, August 24th.  On Wednesday, five Committees of the Board met.  

The Audit Committee discussed the school districts and state charters that are considered high risk based on timely financial statements, audit findings, and other factors.

The Rules Committee reviewed proposed rule changes up for adoption, proposed changes to the school bus specifications, and discussed two portions of the state ESSA plan.  The bus specifications have not been changed since 2010 so appropriate district personnel might want to review the proposal or at least review the summary of changes.

The Committee also discussed proposed changes to the Testing Programs - Student Assessment rule.  One of the changes would reduce testing for students in Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) courses.  The course grade would be used in lieu of the end of course test (EOCT) so that students do not have to take the EOCT and the AP or IB exam.  The Governor's Office of Student Achievement disagreed with the change since grading differs from one teacher to another and there should be consistency in the elements of the accountability system.  There was no resolution in the meeting as this topic was for discussion only.

The District Flexibility and Charter Schools Committee reviewed proposed amendments to district contracts and the updates to the charter rules.  Dr. Bonnie Holliday, Executive Director of the State Charter Schools Commission, gave an update on the current petition cycle.  Of the 12 petitions received, two will be recommended for approval.  Five withdrew after the interview process and two did not meet the legal requirements. The Commission has averaged an approval rate of 20%-25%.  There have been a lack of quality petitions. 

The bulk of the time was spent on a discussion on the comprehensive needs assessment (CNA) and district improvement plan (DIP) sent out this year for the first time.  Dan Weber, Executive Director of the Charter Systems Foundation, discussed the issues he saw with the plans and the legal authority to require that districts complete them.  He made recommendations for changes based on feedback from some districts.  Department personnel explained the state's rationale and efforts they have made to address the problems.  Both sides will continue the discussion.

The Budget Committeee pulled one item from the agenda.  Title V, Part B, Rural and Low-Income Schools Allocations was pulled as no information has been received from Washington as to the amount. The Committee reviewed most of the budget items on the agenda. The budget request for amended FY '18 and '19 did not receive much discussion as it contains few changes in accordance with the budget instructions.  The proposed mid-term adjustment is $115.8 million in the amended budget.  FY '19 includes a $25 million increase in equalization, a $35 million increase to the local five mill share deduction, and a total of $445 million in increases to QBE.  The austerity reduction would rise $2.6 million to $169,388,279.

The First Priority Act Committee received an update from the National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE) on the search for a Chief Turnaround Officer. The application period closed August 18th.  They received 58 applications with at least 20 being identified as top tier.  This group will be screened by phone in a 20 minute call with one State Board member and on member of the Turnaround Advisory Council on the call with NASBE.  

That group will be narrowed down to around 5-8 candidates.  An in-depth screening call will be done with NASBE, three State Board members, and three members of the Turnaround Advisory Council.  At its last meeting, the Council chose Dr. Allene Magill, Executive Director of PAGE; Kim Evans, President and CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs of the CSRA in Augusta, named to the Council by Lt. Governor Casey Cagle; and Lex Rainey, former Superintendent in Gilmer County, named to the Council by Speaker of the House David Ralston. 

The second screening call will determine who will be interviewed in person.  They anticipate having the CTO named by the end of October.

Committee of the Whole Meeting 

On Thursday, the State Board met as a Committee of the Whole to develop the consent agenda for the Board meeting and to hear reports from the Superintendent and Board Chair.  Time was allotted for public hearings on the seven rules up for adoption but no one spoke.

The Superintendent's Report included eight presentations, but only a few will be highlighted here.  Apparently complaints about the AP curriculum are not over.  The first presentation was from Ken Craft, a citizen who frequently testified against Common core and AP History a few years ago.  This time he seemed to oppose all the AP courses with his powerpoint titled "AP Invasion."  Among other things he said, "too much of our education is teaching kids to hate America."

On a happier note, Supt. Woods awarded the Superintendent's Impact Award to Rep. Dave Belton for his work on legislation for military families. 

Diane Hopkins presented information on the Assessment Inventory Project the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education is doing with the Department. 

The Chair's Report included information from Martha Ann Todd, Executive Director of the Governor's Office of Student Achievement, on the words2reading initiative which promotes early learning and literacy.  Former Rep. Ben Harbin introduced the Board to RoboKind and its robot Milo, a tool to teach social skills to children with autism.

In its State Board meeting, all the proposed rules were adopted in separate votes.  They also approved posting the school bus specifications mentioned above.

The Board Chair announced McIntosh County Board of Education will be served a notice for a hearing before the State Board on September 28th due to its accreditation status.

Following the Board meeting, the State Board reconvened the suspension hearing of the Hancock Board of Education. After receiving their latest AdvancEd report which returned Hancock to accredited status rather than accredited under review, the Board voted to recommend to the Governor that he not suspend the Hancock Board.  The Chair noted that 178 districts have signed contracts with the state and that is a much better way to handle accountability for local boards rather than the "nuclear option" of removal.  They will continue to look at and hold Hancock accountable for its contract.

The next State Board meeting will be September 27-28. 

07/21 - July State Board Report

July State Board Report
by Angela Palm on 7/21/2017

The State Board of Education held its regular monthly meetings on Wednesday and Thursday this week.  Wednesday was filled with Committee meetings and executive session.  On Thursday, the Board met as a Committee of the Whole to hear presentations and set the consent agenda for the State Board meeting which followed.


If you ever wonder what, if anything, we are doing to improve public education, tune into the Superintendent's and Chair's reports during the Committee of the Whole.

Dr. Melissa Fincher presented the work being done on the formative assessment for grades 1 and 2 required by legislation the last two years.  The Department has worked with Georgia Public Broadcasting and a game-based company in Austin to develop Keenville. The first phase is to begin next fall.

Dr. Barbara Wall presented the Economic Development Partnership program which rolls out this fall. 

Dr. Martha Ann Todd presented an evaluation of the Hall County pilot of the Technical College Readiness Courses.  It was a small sample since it was offered only in three high schools this spring but Hall County is expanding it.  State Board members were very interested in knowing if other districts were going to offer them this school year but the state won't know until the FTE counts are done.  Dr. Todd explained that it's more likely that they will be offered in the spring due to the qualification requirements.

In an effort to get the information out to as many teachers as possible about the improvements and additions to the Teacher Resource Link (TRL), a powerpoint has been created to walk users through it.  Please note there is no public access to the system.  

Teachers will access it through the district Infinite Campus or student information system, then click on the TRL tab.  There are 28,000 resources for K-12 that can be filtered seven ways.  For K-5 teachers there is also an essentials toolkit for Math and English Language Arts.  Grades 6-8 will get this resource next.  Teachers can save resources to a folder and it will be available to them even if they change districts

If your teachers have struggled to find needed curriculum resources, this is the place for them.  This site was designed as teachers requested to be easy to use. 

Action Taken on Rules 

The State Board adopted proposed changes to two rules:

They also initiated seven rules to incorporate legislative changes.  You can see the proposed changes by clicking on the rule on either of the agendas above. The rule on Language Assistance:  Program for English Learners was pulled from the agenda for further work based on feedback from stakeholders.

Other Action 

The State Board voted to reverse two local board decisions, 2018-38 and 2018-39.

All other items were approved through the consent agenda.


Staff presenting to the Budget Committee should know coming in when a program was put into place and what impact data is available because they are going to be asked.  This Committee is being very intentional about looking at results rather than just the budget amount.  If five years of data is available, they want it to see any trends.  They also look for attainable but challenging goals.  For example, the budget item for the high school grants for career, technical, and agricultural education included information on performance on the Perkins Core Indicators.  Committee members questioned why the math and technical skills targets were so low.  The only answer seemed to be that the goals are negotiated with federal officials.

There was a good bit of interest during the session in the score comparability study between Georgia Milestones end-of-course assessments and national assessments required under SB 211. The National Center for the Improvement of Educational Assessment, Inc will do the study.

A portion of the FY '18 budget was once again adopted.  They expect their review of the budget to be complete by the August board meeting so they can do the final adoption.

First Priority Act Committee 

The Committee received a report on the meetings on the Education Turnaround Advisory Council, the job description for the Chief Turnaround Officer, and other documents from the Council meetings.  On August 9th at 2 PM the Council and this Committee will meet with representatives from the National Association of State Boards of Education to further discuss the qualifications of the CTO.

The Governor's Office of Student Achievement is recommending that the lowest five percent be calculated by averaging the most recent three years of the CCRPI score and ranking schools by that to determine the lowest five percent.  Under the most recent scores (2014-2016) the average would be 53.4 and 105 schools would be identified.  Under the requirement under state and federal law to identify the lowest five percent, we will always have 100-110 schools identified as needing support. 

The ESSA state plan has a two-step process for determining the lowest five percent: take the lowest five percent of the schools that scored less than 60 on the CCRPI for three consecutive years.  The Committee preferred the GOSA calculation.

The State Board will meet next on August 23-24. 

06/16 - June State Board Report and Other Happenings

June State Board Report and Other Happenings
by Angela Palm on 6/16/2017

This was a busy week for the State Board and the Department of Education.

What's the Plan? 

draft of the state plan to implement the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) was posted yesterday afternoon for public comment.  I encourage districts to have at least one person read the plan and think through any implications for your flexibility contract and any other impact on your district.  The plan was written to try to get our various improvement and accountability efforts working together to support student achievement.  That's not the easiest thing to do when they were all created separately. 

For those unfamiliar with the process, the U.S. Department of Education provided a template with questions that each state had to answer and that is what you will see in the plan.  That, however, is not all we will be doing to continue to strengthen our education system.  The plan was also written to try to leave as much flexibility for future decisions as possible. One person's flexibility is another person's vagueness, however, so FYI.

There is also a link to an index so you can find specific topics and a video is coming June 27th.  An online survey is available to provide feedback.  

Turnaround Bill Being Implemented 

Implementation of HB 338, the First Priority Act or "Plan B," has begun. The State Board created a First Priority Act Committee, chaired by Barbara Hampton.  The Committee reviewed the legislation and discussed its responsibilities. They plan to meet each month and will interview the CTO candidates.  

In its meeting, the State Board authorized the chair (Mike Royal) to receive information and determine a suitable vendor for the national search for a Chief Turnaround Officer (CTO). The National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE) has offered to do the search.  As a membership organization, they will charge less than an executive search firm.  There is no hard deadline set for hiring the CTO but they would like to do it as soon as possible.  The turnaround process will be in place for the 2018-19 school year. 

The Education Turnaround Advisory Council, created in HB 338, held its first meeting yesterday afternoon.  See lines 326-364 of the bill for the members and duties of the Council.  Dr. Jimmy Stokes, executive director of GAEL, was named chairman by the Council members.  The Council recommended that Mike Royal pursue having NASBE do the search.  The next meeting will be a conference call on July 14th.

State Board Meeting 

The State Board held its two days of meetings June 14-15.  Committee meetings were held on day one while the Committee of the Whole and official State Board meeting were held on day two.

Yesterday's Board meeting was mostly handled by a consent agenda. 

Separate action items included:

  • The State Board adopted portions of the 2018 budget: "the budgeted personal services amount for all programs and one-twelfth of all remaining program appropriations.  All state-funded grant programs such as the Quality Basic Education program are adopted in their entirety.  Individual exceptions to this resolution may be approved at the discretion of the Budget Committee."  They are reviewing all budget items and have not completed their review.
  • They adopted the amended Virtual School rule.
  • After a report from General Counsel on the public notice given on the GNETS rules, the Board voted to repeal the existing rule and adopt the new one.
  • They reversed local board decision 2017-36. 

Committee of the Whole 

Prior to the State Board meeting they met as a Committee of the Whole.  Pratt & Whitney was recognized for their partnerships with Muscogee, Chattahoochee, and Harris counties plus the Columbus Technical College.  Their focus is the certified manufacturing specialist program.  10% of their workforce, with an average pay of $24 per hour, came from this program.  

A public hearing was held on amending the Virtual School rule, repealing the existing GNETS rule, and adopting a new GNETS rule.  Four people spoke against the GNETS rule, apparently liking neither of them. Three opposed the GNETS program and PBIS (positive behavior intervention services).  The last speaker recognized a need for a system but wanted the state to run it and make sure there is a therapeutic component.  Two speakers complained about a technical glitch in the posting of the rules and claimed the state failed to meet the requirements for public notice.

Superintendent's Report 

The 2018 Teacher of the Year is John Tibbetts, an economics teacher from Worth County High School.

There was an update from Dr. Barbara Wall on the Employability Skills Task Force.  Ellen Cushing from the American Institute of Research also spoke.

There was a report on the Georgia Insights Initiative to put data into context.  Stephen Owens showed the School Climate Dashboard which will be on the website by the end of the month.  There is no new data or expense -- they are just trying to make the data they have more useful and available.

Chair's Report 

We will soon have a "One Stop Shop for Teachers."  It is an effort to combine the Georgia standards site with the teacher resources.  Designed by teachers, it will roll out in July.  It started with K-5 and other grades will be added.

Congratulations to all -- 2.9 million assessments were administered, 85% of them online.  95% of the end-of-grade assessments were held without interruption; 97% of the end-of-course tests were.  The preparedness of districts was noted.

There was an update on the consolidated funds pilot.  Fourteen districts will participate next year.

The next meeting of the State Board will be July 19-20.   

05/04 - May State Board Report

May State Board Report
by Angela Palm on 5/4/2017

The State Board of Education held its regular meetings May 3-4.  On May 3rd, several Committees of the Board met.  Agendas and other documents are available here.  Here is information from some of the Committees.

The Audit Committee met with representatives from Randolph County to discuss their financial issues and their next steps.  They received an update from State Auditor Greg Griffin on the status of financial documents from the Dublin school district and discussed other matters. If your district's financial house is not in order, better get started on it or you too may be meeting with this Committee. 

The Rules Committee discussed changes to the GNETS rules, energy systems courses, arts standards, and other items.  We have over 400 courses in the arts areas now and have our first two STEAM certified schools.  Staff gave an update on ESSA efforts in assessment and accountability.  In discussing assessment requirements, they noted that we have an increasing number of middle schoolers taking high school courses.  The largest number is in math, then science, and third is literature.  Changes to the CCRPI were also discussed.  All this is in preparation for the state plan to implement ESSA.

The District Flexibility Committee had Superintendents from Muscogee, Bibb, Clayton, and Cobb come to do accountability discussions with them.  All the districts had schools that beat the odds for five or more years and schools that scored below 60 for three or more years.  The Committee wanted to know what they were doing to replicate the success of the higher performing schools at the lower performing ones and how they were using their flexibility contracts to improve student achievement.

The State Board met as a Committee of the Whole on today then went into their regular meeting.  No one spoke at the public hearing on the adoption of changes to  State Board rule on the Identification and Reporting of Schools.  They then set the consent agenda for the Board meeting.

The Superintendent's Report included a presentation on Tobacco Free Schools, notice that it is Star Wars Day, Teacher Appreciation Month, and National Children's Mental Health Awareness Day.  State Board members received an update on the work of all committees working on the state ESSA plan.  They recognized the work of Matt Cardoza as he moves from the Department of Education to the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education.

The Chair's Report was brief. Teacher of the Year Casey Bethel spoke in recognition of its being Teacher Appreciation Month.  Now that HB 338, the First Priority Act, has been signed, a Subcommittee of the State Board will be named to work on the implementation.  It will be chaired by 6th District State Board member Barbara Hampton.  Other members will be named later.  The first meeting of the Education Turnaround Advisory Council has been tentatively set for June 15th at 1:30.  Next month the Board will have a presentation by Dr. Melissa Fincher on a study that has been done on the validity and reliability of the MileStones assessments.

In the State Board meeting, they had eight separate votes and everything else was put on the consent agenda.  One item was added to the agenda.

  1. The State Board adopted the state salary schedule which now reflects the 2% raise included in the FY '18 budget.  There was acknowledgment that not all certified personnel will receive a 2% raise in total as most salaries include a local supplement that may not be raised by that amount.  The flexibility contracts that give districts discretion in deciding compensation were also mentioned.
  2. State Board rule 160-5-1-.03 Identification and Reporting of Schools was adopted.
  3. Current State Board rule 160-4-7-.15 on GNETS was repealed.
  4. State Board rule 160-4-7-.15 on GNETS was initiated for review and public comment.  For those wondering why they repealed it instead of changing it, their practice is that if it has more red than black with the changes, they repeal it and start over.  State Board Chair Mike Royal highlighted all the work that has been done by staff for the students in the GNETS program.
  5. They reversed local board decision 2017-19.
  6. They reversed in part local board decision 2017-21 and confirmed it in part.
  7. They reversed local board decision 2017-23.
  8. The State Board approved an MOA between the Department of Community Health and the Department of Education to disburse Medicaid allocations to school districts to enhance school nursing services at a cost of $0.00.  They made clear that this is not an expansion of Medicaid.  It will allow Medicaid funds to be pulled down for school nurses and help particularly in the rural areas, resulting in nearly $50 million more for school nurses.  This item had been pulled from the February agenda but was added to this month.  In February, a PowerPoint and board item explained this plan more. Presumably the details are still the same but we offer no guarantee on that.

The State Board will next meet June 14-15. 

04/04 - March State Board Report

March State Board Report
by Angela Palm on 4/4/2017

The State Board of Education held its regular meetings March 29th and 30th.  Board members brought recommendations from their Wednesday Committee meetings to the Committee of the Whole on Thursday.

As part of Superintendent Richard Woods' Report, Chief of Staff Matt Jones did a presentation on the Department's "Comprehensive Approach to Supporting All Schools." In addition to the work the Department is doing, he highlighted the data resources available from Family Connections including county profiles and finding comparable counties.

Chairman Mike Royal's Report included an update from Hall County on the new reading and math courses.  There is a lot of interest in this as 70 districts have contacted them for information.  Martha Ann Todd, Executive Director of the Office of Student Achievement, reported on the "Real Teachers. Real Voices." campaign.  One of the recommendations from the Reform Commission involved a marketing campaign to promote the teaching profession.  The Teachers' Advisory Committee formed later recommended that the campaign use actual teachers speaking about their work rather than hiring a professional marketing group.  You can access the one minute videos here.  More will be made, but take a minute or three to listen to some.

Dr. Todd also reported on the Teacher and Leader Workforce Report released in January.  They pulled information from several sources to try to put it all in one place.  Highlights from the report are available here.  The full report is here. A couple of the interesting findings:  almost half the teachers had ten or less years' experience; about 10% of the teachers and 10% of the leaders had changed schools from the previous year.  She also demonstrated use of the "Schools Like Mine" website.  Users  can select  a school and two student characteristics, then the six closest matches will come up to compare data.

The National State Boards of Education (NASBE) is tracking what is trending on State Board agendas across the U.S. and provides other information here. The Chairman said the organization is starting to play a larger role.

The State Board held public hearings for all five rule changes up for adoption then adopted the consent agenda and the rule changes.  They reversed a local board decision based on procedural issues.  The Board also authorized the Chair to enter into a consent agreement to continue the hearing on the Hancock Board of Education until August.  AdvancEd requested they delay until the review team makes their May visit so those findings could be included in the hearing.

The next meeting of the State Board will be May 3-4. 

02/27 - February State Board Report

February State Board Report
by Angela Palm on 2/27/2017

The State Board of Education held its regular meetings on February 22-23.  

Committees met on Wednesday, February 22nd; both the meeting of the Committee of the Whole and the meeting of the State Board were held the following day. Click on the link to see the Consent Agenda.  Nothing was pulled out for separate action.

First Lady Sandra Deal and four-year-old Daliyah Arana provided the inspiration as the Board celebrated Daliyah's reading 2200 books.  She showed off her reading skills, and her parents talked about how they helped her learn to read. 

Changes to the charter rules have been initiated.  The proposals and process for commenting can be found here.

Avis King, Deputy Superintendent of the Office of School Improvement, did a presentation on the Department's work with academically challenged schools and districts. The System of Continuous Improvement defines an effective school and provides a single framework for all schools.  Over 80 low-performing schools do not meet the federal guidelines to receive services, but the Department offered professional development funds that a third of the districts did not take.  There was also a discussion of HB 338 which would allow the State Board to hire a Chief Turnaround Officer among other things.  State Board Chair Mike Royal said, "if the system does nothing, the State Board will."

Martha Ann Todd, Executive Director of the Governor's Office of Student Achievement, reported on the 2016 Answer Change Analysis -- formerly known as the Erasure Change Analysis.

The State Board voted to hold a hearing on the Hancock County School Board due to its accreditation status on May 4th at 1 PM.

The next meeting of the State Board will be March 29-30. 

01/12 - January State Board Report

January State Board Report
by Angela Palm on 1/12/2017

The State Board of Education held its January meetings on Wednesday and Thursday.  The agenda for the Committee of the Whole is here.  The FY '17 School Improvement Grant was pulled for a separate vote, but everything else moved to the consent agenda.

Two new Board members were welcomed.  Outgoing State Board member Brian Burdette gave the inspiration.

Reports and Presentations 

Department of Education staff made presentations to the Board on Building K-5 Foundations Skills and Algebraic Thinking, a K-5 support package on numeracy, and career coaching as part of Superintendent Richard Woods' report.  

Mike Royal's Chair Report included a discussion on supporting academically challenged schools and districts, how the School Improvement division is working with them, and why some are not improving.  Reasons given included incoherence, lack of ownership, low expectations, ineffective use of staff time, and poor quality staff.  To improve, the staff said the schools and districts need coherence, limited goals and initiatives, stable leadership, quality teaching, adults owning all the students, and they need to use the "Systems Framework for Continuous Improvement."

State Board member Barbara Hampton said education groups should be included in the school improvement process and be held accountable. A Solutions Summit is being planned by the Department of Education and the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education to address some of these issues.

Hancock County

The school board of Hancock County was put on the status of Accredited Under Review and granted a continuance last year.  The State Board discussed their next steps in the case and decided to await further information from the district before moving forward.

NOTE:  All school board members should make sure they know and remain aware of the AdvancEd Standards for Quality, especially Standard 2 on Governance and Leadership.  It is the perceived failure to meet these standards that will trigger a hearing before the State Board and possibly removal from office.

The next meetings of the State Board will be held February 22-23. 

12/13 - State Action December 2016

State Action December 2016
by Angela Palm on 12/13/2016

The State Board of Education had a light load this month and were probably glad for a breather.  A one-day meeting was held Thursday, December 8th.

The State Board adopted the amended Rule 160-5-1-.28 Student Enrollment and Withdrawal. They also adopted the standards for three courses, set their 2017 calendar, and elected officers for 2017.  Congratulations to returning Chair Mike Royal, Vice-Chair Scott Johnson, and Vice-Chair for Appeals Kevin Boyd.

The complete agenda is available here

The next meeting of the State Board will be January 11-12, 2017.

Information Resources 

The Georgia Department of Education has a great communications resource on their website, Educating Georgia's Future 2016.  Did you know almost 59% of Georgia's public school students rely on school-provided transportation?  That over 15,000 Microsoft certifications were earned by our teachers and students in 2016?  That we received an "A" in teaching financial literacy?  That students who complete a CTAE career pathway have a 95% graduation rate?  Or that over 21,000 students completed a Fine Arts Pathway in 2016?

If you don't know much about the State Schools for the Blind and Deaf, the Department has a great video overview.