The State Board of Education approved increased funding for pupil transportation, Regional Education Service Agencies (RESAs) and other categorical grant programs administered by the Georgia Department of Education (GaDOE) at a called meeting on April 27. The meeting was at the conclusion of its monthly session, which was in a retreat format on April 26 and 27. The retreat provided an opportunity for board members to look closely at several issues including assessments, CTAE, and standards. Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan provided opening comments to board members on the first day of the retreat. The following day, Sen. Chuck Payne (R-Dalton), chair of the Senate Education & Youth Committee, described his history of working with youth and how he approaches issues related to them.
The funds approved by the board are directed to:
Georgia Network for Educational & Therapeutic Supports (GNETS)
Non-Quality Basic Education Formula Grants
Preschool Disabilities Services
Tuition for Multiple Disability Students
For most items, the money added was to partially restore state funding cuts. More information is available here.
Board members heard an update on the state’s innovative assessment pilot. Under the pilot, two groups of school districts, the Georgia MAP Assessment Partnership consortium and the Navvy Putnam consortium, are testing assessments that could serve as alternatives to Georgia Milestones.
Review the GMAP consortium presentation here.
The Navvy Putnam consortium presentation is available here.
The SBOE held a second discussion about assessments following a presentation by Woody Paik, vice president of Curriculum Associates, the company that developed the iReady assessments used by many districts. Paik shared findings from an analysis of iReady assessment data for the current school year, which showed that fewer students are on grade level in math and reading than in previous years, though the decline is not as great as initially feared. Paik also noted that formative assessments should be used to inform instruction, not to make judgments about teachers or students.
GaDOE staff shared progress on the review of Georgia Standards of Excellence and how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the process. There has been frustration from board members in the past about their role in several standards review processes. State School Superintendent Richard Woods and Chief of Staff Matt Jones shared this chart of the standards review process steps and explained that GaDOE involves the SBOE at the appropriate steps in the standards review process.
GaDOE staff also provided an update on SB 153, a bill that addresses how alternative charter schools that focus on dropout recovery or high school credit recovery are defined and funded. The presentation on SB 153 is available here. Board members also learned how state schools have responded to the pandemic including some of their plans for the months ahead.
State Superintendent Richard Woods looked back on the challenges of the past year as well as the successes. These included efforts to address the technology gap and support remote learning, ensure students received needed meals, and the ingenuity educators across the state displayed in adapting to the needs of their students as they re-opened school buildings as well as offering virtual instruction. Woods also highlighted the deep commitment of teachers who have navigated unforeseen challenges since the onset of the pandemic.