Student testing, teacher evaluations draw attention at Capitol

Teachers and parents gathered at the Capitol Tuesday to support legislation that reduces the affect of student test results on teacher job reviews.

Two bills — Senate Bills 355 and 364 — await hearings. Both reduce the percentage of each teacher evaluation that would be determined by student test performance.

At a rally across the street from the Gold Dome, a group called TRAGIC, which grew from a Facebook page, gathered in person to discuss those proposals and other issues, including the diminishing state funding for health care and the November ballot item to create a school-takeover district controlled by the governor.

“We do not believe that teachers’ evaluations should be tied to student testing,” said Tyler Barr, a Douglas County businessman and president-elect of the Georgia PTA. The group’s executive board voted recently to support testing only for academic reasons, deciding tests should no longer be used for teacher accountability at all.

Earlier in the day, Sen. Lindsey Tippins, R-Marietta, chief co-sponsor of SB 364 and chairman of the Senate Education and Youth committee, met with teachers and talked about his bill, which would reduce the weight given student “growth” on achievement tests to 30 percent of teacher evaluations. SB 355, by William T. Ligon, Jr., R-Brunswick, would go further, to 10 percent.

Tippins said his own bill, with its less dramatic rollback, was more likely to get the political support needed for passage. At least half of each evaluation must be based on student tests under current state law. Later, at a luncheon with teachers, Georgia Superintendent Richard Woods reiterated his previously stated support for rolling back the test portion of evaluations.

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