At the high school level, the school evaluation model also consists of four
areas of performance. Those areas are graduation rate among a cohort of
readiness. In addition to these areas, high schools can earn extra points
under an area known as supplemental indicators. Additional supplemental
indicators have also been built into the evaluation for extra points.

There are many questions that stem from the design of this model about
what learning will resemble. From a teaching perspective, this appears to
be no different than the accountability system that is already in place under
No Child Left Behind (NCLB). Testing and publishing companies will be
awarded large provider contracts to evaluate the students, teachers, and
districts. For example, in the elementary and middle school reading
readiness, Lexile, in coordination with a statistical firm, will create models
for teachers to evaluate their student’s reading levels. Teachers will be
required to implement these statistical evaluations on their students. This
outsourcing undermines the teacher’s role when independently evaluating
their own student’s learning based on sound teaching strategies used by
the classroom practitioner. HB 186, HB 400, and Race to the Top
collectively depreciates a teacher’s role. A teacher’s anecdotal assessment
of student’s reading will be a thing of the past and now a “teacher’s
intuition” appears to be outsourced by statistical firms.

Many aspects of a teacher’s role will be limited due to some of the
evaluation indicators for schools, but still lurking in this new layer of
bureaucracy is something which has now surfaced because of NCLB; a
lack of critical thinking skills amongst many students.  One has to wonder
whether the outsourcing of psychometric providers evaluating the entire
system leads to rushing students through a work based learning curriculum
at an early age; consequently, neglecting basic skills for the long term at
the expense of putting students to work and pay taxes at a younger age.  
This phenomenon may be more visible at the high school level as students
graduate with a high leveled skill in one limited career area.

High school students will be tested as much as they have been under
NCLB, probably even more. With schools now being evaluated in the core
subject areas under a value add measure index, End-of-Course Testing
becomes more critical.  In addition, students will be directed into taking
more rigorous courses such as AP and IB classes along with taking career
placement courses leading to an industrial certification upon graduation.
Will all students be tested in these readiness indicators? Will schools
become more selective as to which students will take certain tests in hopes
to maintain a successful index evaluation?  Will governmental agencies like
the Governor’s Office of Workforce Development or the Georgia
Department of Labor be administering and funding these tests? Many
questions loom as to how high school students appear “work ready” as our
state economy rebounds for the future and our legislators try to recruit
more industry through tax reform and education funding reform. The 65%
Funding Solution law may be changed in this legislative session and there
is large support for the repeal of this law among education special interest
groups. The reason may be that Georgia has to fund this new
accountability system which is largely outsourced to testing publishers and
psychometric firms. The current funding formula will not sustain the cost of
the mandates, especially the evaluation effectiveness measures. Georgia’s
policy makers appear to be creating change in education; however, they
are adding more layer of government to be funded.

With the marriage of HB 186 and HB 400, Georgia’s creation of a national
model for workforce development will continue to confuse stakeholders as
to how the new initiatives will work. Georgia policy makers have added
more handling of the “ice cube” of funding. The more hands that touch the
“ice cube” the faster it melts and by the time it gets to the teacher and
student, there is nothing left. Until the General Assembly can reform
education in Georgia, it must seriously look at changing Georgia’s funding
model before implementing more layers of inefficient bureaucracy. With all
the testing of the readiness indicators to secure a future workforce
development for Georgia, the recommendation to call for one national test
for industry certification seems more appropriate and more prudent of tax
dollars in an economy that is globally intertwined.


References

Georgia Department of Education. ( 2011).  Fall Boot Strap Conference.
Atlanta, GA. PowerPoint: [
PPT]  HB 186

Georgia’s Bridge Bill Act, 2010, HB 400
http://www1.legis.ga.
gov/legis/2009_10/sum/hb400.htm

Georgia’s Expansion of High School Career Pathway, 2011,  HB 186
http://www1.legis.ga.gov/legis/2011_12/sum/hb186.htm

The Lexile Framework for Reading.  (2011). Retrieved Jan 2, 2012 from
www.lexile.com
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The opinions expressed in this article reflect those of the author, and do not necessarily represent those of EmpowerED Georgia.
Jeremy Spencer has been teaching
biological sciences for 13 years in
Georgia.  He currently the education
policy adviser for his elected state
house representative.