Racial Test Scores

January 17, 2012 by staff 

Racial Test Scores, Georgia’s 180 school districts soon may have no choice but to evaluate teachers largely on their students’ progress and test scores. That’s because the U.S. Department of Education is requiring states to launch a statewide teacher evaluation system that’s driven by student achievement. In exchange, the state would receive a waiver from what some say are unreasonable requirements of the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

Georgia was one of the first states to ask for the federal NCLB waiver, and state officials are confident they’ll get one — possibly any day. That would mean a big shift in the state’s plans. As part of its Race to the Top application, Georgia promised that 26 districts — including Gwinnett, DeKalb, Clayton and Atlanta — would pilot a new evaluation system that could eventually be taken statewide.

The 26 districts committed to being guinea pigs for the evaluation system — and a more controversial companion pay-per-performance plan — in exchange for a chance to share in $200 million from President Barack Obama’s Race to the Top education reform initiative.

Teachers are skeptical the state can develop and put in place a fair evaluation system and are upset at the likelihood one will be mandated statewide by 2014-15 as a condition of receiving the waiver.

Jadum McCarthy, Georgia teacher of the year, said he doesn’t believe Georgia should be forced into rolling out a teacher evaluation system statewide, “especially with the short time frame we have been given.”

“While they [federal officials] are not taking over local education, they’re certainly dictating a large part of it,” McCarthy said.

“When people start realizing it’s going to affect people, there is going to be a horrible backlash,” said Connie Jackson, who works for the Georgia Association of Educators in Cobb County, one of several metro districts that opted not to participate in Race to the Top.

“I am all for reform in teacher evaluations, but I don’t believe what they currently have will work,” she said. “I think non-Race to the Top districts expected there to be [a] longer [time] for input and fighting and getting it right before it was put into place.”

State education officials long have promised the evaluation system would not be put in place statewide without sign-off from the General Assembly. Matt Cardoza, spokesman for the Georgia Department of Education, said last week that commitment still stands.

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