The Georgia ESSA plan is simply something Governor Deal and Superintendent Woods won’t agree on. Gov. Deal strongly believes in high stakes testing which heavily influenced the Atlanta cheating scandals and other scandals across the State in recent years. “Deal is not alone in his fears Georgia may be moving to a less ambitious accountability system that gives schools a pass. In its review of the ESSA blueprint, the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education cautioned the performance of poor children, minorities, immigrants and other under-performing “subgroups” could be downplayed in the state scoring system.” Of course with any leader, there are followers. There are Georgia citizens who agree with Governor Deal’s stance that high-test stakes are needed to ensure that all children are performing up to the standards. This of course sounds great, but we know in reality this not how education works. The reasoning behind why children from different social economic households or communities perform differently is highly influenced by resources, exposure and experiences. Cheating scandals across this state, not just Atlanta, were heavily influenced by high stake testing. High stake testing just highlights inequity in schools, as a result of unfair advantages and distribution of resources. If the scores weren’t erased on the tests, the children still would have been cheated. The American education system has been cheating children out of a quality education for years.
“Georgia has set the expectation that all children will graduate high school ready for college and career, ” wrote GPEE president Stephen Dolinger. “We believe the long-term academic achievement goals set forth in this plan are not ambitious enough for all children to achieve that goal.” Ambitious is best measured through the ways the vision is carried out and how well the team is trained to carry out the vision. Georgia, like many states, needs a clear vision for education all children. We must move past things that simply sound good on paper. Furthermore, if politicians and those who support education truly want to make an impact, then begin with accountability. We aren’t holding strong accountability measures with how we fund Georgia schools. If the business sector has to continue privately and publicly funding schools, then we will have the continued issue of schools being ran as corporations and not schools. All of the monies coming from corporations also come with red tape just like Title I and other federal funded dollars received.
We do understand that testing is definitely needed, but high stakes testing shouldn’t be the only thing to determine school and student success. If the Governor and State Superintendent truly want to make a different in how the Georgia ESSA plan is carried out, let’s have a knock out drag out on how their leadership can ensure that equality funding is fairly distributed to Georgia schools. If we fund schools effectively, then we can adequately measure and assess growth measures. As we already know the many reasons why high stakes testing doesn’t work, let’s look at what our schools and scholars are in need of in order to produce the academic results desired.
- Advanced Technology
- Academic Enrichment Resources
- More small class room/small group resources and support
- Restorative justice implementation in academic and behavior plans
In Georgia there are high performing public traditional and public charter schools that are in need of advanced technology equipment, internet accessibility, supplemental resources for scholars and families and most important more support with preparing scholars for high school so that they can be college ready. Focusing on high stakes testing doesn’t tell us if a child is socially, emotionally, physically, mentally ready and able to succeed in any academic atmosphere. We need to focus on student success and not just test scores.