Bill to grade schools makes it across finish line tonight

report cardSenate Bill 410 passed tonight in the last hurrah — or harrumph, depending on your view of our lawmakers in action — of the 2012 Georgia General Assembly.

The bill grades public schools on “indicators of quality of learning, financial efficiency, school climate, and any other indicators the office adopts shall be compared to state standards, progress on improved student achievement, and comparable performance.” In these areas, schools would get stars; five stars is the top ranking and presents excellence. One star signals unsatisfactory performance.

The bill also sets forth numerical grading of schools. The bill states: “The office, in coordination with the Department of Education, shall establish and annually calculate individual school and school system ratings, which shall be a numerical score on a scale of 0-100, for each public school and school system in this state based on the indicators of quality of learning adopted pursuant to this Code section for student achievement, achievement gap closure, and student progress with a majority of the score based on student achievement.”

The numerical grades were a concession to educators who opposed the bill’s original provision to assign letter grades of A-F, based on school achievement data.

According to an earlier AJC story on the bill:

Senate Bill 410 would create a five-star rating system based both on school climate and how well campuses use public money to improve student learning. Schools and districts would be graded on a 100-point scale related to what the bill calls “quality of learning” — including academic achievement and whether teachers make progress in closing performance gaps between groups of students.

“Everybody has been frustrated” by the federal No Child Left Behind Act, said the bill’s sponsor, Senate President Pro Tem Tommie Williams, R-Lyons. “AYP didn’t really give you an idea how well a teacher was doing or how well a school was doing.”

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

33 comments Add your comment


March 29th, 2012
11:50 pm

And this is supposed to prevent or discourage unfair competition practices how? Many moons ago I worked at a fine dining establishment. The amount of effort expended by the manager-owner and the chef to achieve an ever higher star rating was quite apparent. Wouldn’t the same happen with schools?

***warning: sarcasm below***

Well, at least some people are finally considering grading the elephant in the room–parents:

I mean, really, if grading schools and teachers is working so well, it would be smart to grade the people who spend approximately 7500 hours a year with the children–the parents. Teachers only spend about 1260 hours a year with the children. That means parents have them WAY more than we do. So, why not grade them?

***end of sarcasm***

btw, I know some people don’t “get” sarcasm, so this is just to let you all know that I was being sarcastic above. Yes, sarcastic. Miriam-Webster’s defines sarcasm as “1. a sharp and often satirical or ironic utterance designed to cut or give pain; 2. a. a mode of satirical wit depending for its effect on bitter, caustic, and often ironic language that is usually directed at an individual, b. the use or language of sarcasm” So, I was making a joke. A joke. Yes, a joke. Please don’t harangue, harass, or belittle me over this sarcastic comment if you don’t understand it.

re: my calculations: I assumed a 24 hour day, 7 hour school day, 5 day school week, 36 school weeks a year (roughly 180 days), 52 weeks a year, and 365 days a year. With furloughs, weather-related days off, et cetera, it is possible parents spend more than 7500 hours a year with their children. I am neither a mathematician, statistician, nor a mathematics teacher, so I don’t promise with 100% certainty that my numbers are right:

Teachers-> 180X7=1260
Parents-> 180X17=3060 185X24=4440 3060+4440=7500

TO Charter Fodder

March 30th, 2012
5:43 am

Two Cents

March 30th, 2012
5:47 am

Gee, they need to pass a bill where we can grade the Legislators – Repugs would all get F’s.

Two Cents

March 30th, 2012
5:49 am

Two kinds of Repugs – millionaires and suckers who believe their line “I care about you.” Starts my day off with a laugh.

Cobb History Teacher

March 30th, 2012
5:56 am

Remember schools are a reflection of the community they serve. The most skilled carpenter or brick mason can only do so much with the “raw materials” they are given. For those critical of the schools I say before you cast judgement make arrangements to do some observations in the school you are criticizing. Don’t just do a 30 minute spot check come spend a day or two and see what conditions are like. Take note of the resources available, student behavior and engagement, and climate of the school. Don’t rush to judgment based on hearsay. Remember just like that carpenter or brick mason a teacher can only do so much with the students they are given. If a student comes to you ready and willing to learn you can do almost anything, but if they come to you simply because the big yellow people mover picks them up, and they don’t care for your or the subject you teach there is very little you can do. Attitude is everything.

yes i am worried

March 30th, 2012
6:49 am

financial efficiency? How do schools manage that if their system makes all the decisions?


March 30th, 2012
6:53 am

And how does the system do that when, each year, it is shortchanged by the legislature?


March 30th, 2012
7:23 am

I have a feeling “financial efficiency” as used here means doing more with less. Either this is the wave of the future, or a wave good-bye.

Attentive Parent

March 30th, 2012
7:42 am

As with HB 186 last year on mandated career pathways and soft skills/social and emotional learning, the Georgia legislature has once again passed a statute full of defined terms. Except it never bothers to make anyone define them in the statute so the accepted Orwellian Edspeak meaning is what comes into play.

Legislators-did you know looking up those terms in 186 sends us bouncing all over the world to policies and practices in effect and destroying economies already?

Do you understand that “Quality of Learning” is a defined term that has nothing to do with academics? Unless changing the emphasis counts.

Did you know the school climate index is based on implementing policies of Social Justice?

Do you know what the focus of the schools will now be?

Where does all the sorry advice on education in Georgia come from?

Listening to the SREB again?

Ed Advocate

March 30th, 2012
8:26 am

The watered-down version of this bill passed despite the fact that GA DOE says they’ll already be doing (under GA’s new index that replaces AYP) the reporting called for in the bill. In committee meetings, it became quite clear that the bill wasn’t necessary, which likely lead to its failure on the House floor on Day 39. The bill was revived last night after the GA Chamber put a document on Chamber letterhead on legislators’ desks. My understanding is that the letter was done because of support from the Governor’s office and from the new lobbyist Michelle Rhee’s Students First has hired at the capitol. The success of 410 is a hollow victory for the reform crowd who worked together to push 1162, the charter amendment, but I bet they’re still patting themselves on the back this morning, regardless.


March 30th, 2012
8:40 am

Those who passed this bill know most schools won’t get a very good grade. This is just an attempt to get more charter schools.

Hey Teacher

March 30th, 2012
8:42 am

How much money is going to be taken from our ever-dwindling resources to hire overpaid “consultants” that will be doing this grading?

[...] A bill that would give Georgia schools letter grades was passed by the state Senate just before the legislature adjourned for the year. (AJC) [...]


March 30th, 2012
9:14 am

For some reason I am not getting a warm fuzzy about more government intervention at the local level. That hasn’t worked out to well so far. Oh I get it now, we empower more government to fix what they have either caused or heavily contributed to. That usually doesn’t come out very well in the end.


March 30th, 2012
9:25 am

The grade will indicate the priorities of the community.


March 30th, 2012
9:33 am

Although I am against vouchers in principle, that would be one sure way to effectively gauge the effectiveness of local schools. I.e, if given a TRUE CHOICE, how many parents would allow their cildren to remain in the local public school?

With regards to this bill, I agree with @Pluto.

Ron F.

March 30th, 2012
9:51 am

Lee: that’s the whole point of this bill. It’s one more way for the state to insert its control and be able to say, “see, we told you we need state charter schools and vouchers.” This is just the state making sure they have the ammunition. Not that I don’t think some change is necessary, but do you really think the state knows how to do it with all they’ve screwed up so far? And be careful about vouchers- I have a sneaking suspicion they’ll end up being cut back as well once everyone is dependent on them.

Attentive Parent

March 30th, 2012
10:08 am

Thank you Ed Advocate.

This ties in to bad ideas being pushed nationally by both the US Chamber and the Business-Higher Ed Forum.

I am afraid Georgia is determined to learn the hard way that a Corporatist planned economy for the state is a terrible idea when small businesses are the employment driver.

Disagree with you on this being necessary. You are right this is based on the NCLB waiver Georgia is already operating under. If you look at lines 58-60 of that bill and add the true meaning of “quality” in education, you get official permission for very intrusive psychological testing and monitoring of each Georgia student.

Plus the method for closing the achievement gap will be very controversial. Remember what I said about tracking this all over the globe? That was not an idle comment.

I have come a long way since the days of trying to figure out what was really going on with the math.

To Brandy

March 30th, 2012
10:09 am

Brandy, you are really not very bright.
You complain that we should grade parents because parents spend more time with their children than teachers but…you are counting the time the children are ….asleep. Kinda hard to teach a child when they are asleep and kinda hard to teach the kids when the parents are asleep.
If you want to make a point about parents being an advocate for their child’s education or if you are trying to make a point that parents need to be a positive educational role model, please present an intelligent comment.
Otherwise, when you spout out numbers like these, you’re really making yourself look silly.

To Carlosgvv

March 30th, 2012
10:14 am

You claim this bill is an attempt to try to open more charter schools.
What is wrong with that, Carlos?
Taxypaying parents vote with their feet. If a charter school is providing a better education, so be it. The kids will go there. Why are you afraid of public education having some competition? If a public school is good (and there are many) the parents won’t want to go to a charter school.
It’s only where schools are massively failing such as in APS, that parents are demanding charter schools. The stakes are extremely high. A child’s education is at risk. A person’s education determines the quality of their lives. Why would any parent just not care and send their kids to failing schools? We love our kids. They are the most important thing to us. We sacrifice to provide for them. Why would any parent not want the very best possible education they can afford?
It really is that simple. Build a good public school and the public will beat a path to its door.

Attentive Parent

March 30th, 2012
10:14 am

Ron-Charter schools and districts are not the choice panacea people believe. First they fail to appreciate the charter is a legal operating document and when it contains words that function as terms of art, parents are agreeing to operate in ways they seem to not appreciate.

Fulton’s new charter guts academics but no one apparently told the School Board what those terms meant.

Secondly, charters still have to meet AdvancEd’s criteria. Which means agreeing to move away from academics.

Elgart’s stamp comes with an agreement to move away from the transmission of knowledge. That applies to charters as well.

Bad Teacher

March 30th, 2012
10:31 am

@ Attentive Parent, Why would they want to know what words mean, that would indicate a level of understanding.
@ carlosgvv, you are probably correct.
@ TeacherMom4, I wish you were right, but after 35 years of doing this, I would like to see just one of those communities.
Just some Synonyms we could use: Obfuscation, complicate, bewilder, confound, conceal, obscure, perplex, baffle, befuddlement, bafflement, bewilderedness, bewilderment, confusion, discombobulation, fog, obfuscation , perplexity, puzzlement, stupefaction, stupor

Just killing time during silent reading, as they choose not to read anywhere else.


March 30th, 2012
10:38 am

CobbHistoryTeacher hits the nail on the head, schools are a reflection of the community, but I would add this is in spite of the best efforts of the PROFESSIONALS who labor under the policies created by the community.
The Ga legislature, a patriarchal society if ever I saw one, would, I suspect, create a storm of protest if a non-professional dared to tell them how to run their own professions. Their inane attempts at social engineering through education policy is backfiring even now. UGA has some very good, nationally recognized education programs. I speak with the cream of the crop students coming out of those programs and they tell me they want to move out of state to where education is appreciated. So we are producing educational leaders who want to flee to other states. Why is that? Look to the community.
It is a wise person who leaves professional decisions to the professionals. Not many wise people in our legislature.

To Crankee-Yankee

March 30th, 2012
12:42 pm

Legislatures run all schools in America; yet, some school systems are really good and some, like Georgia’s is gosh-awful. You can’t pin bad schools on legislatures because legislatures are everywhere and many states have much better schools than Georgia — about 47 of them.

Bad Teacher and Silent Reading

March 30th, 2012
12:44 pm

You see, Maureen, this Bad Teacher openly admits not teaching her kids while she tells them to “read silently” while she blogs on Get Schooled while she would be teaching her children.
Bad Teacher, you are a disgrace and the reason kids don’t learn.


March 30th, 2012
3:46 pm

Wow, GM really has too much time on his/her hands and apparently cannot comprehend what he or she reads. I did say it was sarcasm, right? Re-read my first post on this thread to learn the definition of sarcasm.

Besides, 7500 vs. 1260 is a lot of time. Not all of it spent sleeping. Assuming a 6am wakeup and a 9pm bedtime, on school days, parents have at least 7 awake hours with their children–same as I figured for the average school day. On weekends, breaks, and from birth to age four or five parents have their children 24/7. Assuming 12 waking hours each day of weekends and breaks, parents spend 3480 waking hours with their children during the school year–2220 hours more than teachers do. Multiply that over 13 years of education, you get 45240 waking hours, 28860 hours more than teachers. Over the first years of life, parents have their children for 35040 hours. Over 13 years of education, teachers only have children for 16380 hours–a 18660 hour difference. Now, how parents choose to spend that time is not my business, but it is fact that parents are more responsible for children time-wise than teachers are. You (and many, many other people) want to blame educators and schools for every problem in society and/or for every problem your child(ren) has, but, the numbers are there: parents ARE more responsible time-wise for their children. So, why not grade parents?

…but, I was just being sarcastic. Yes, sarcastic. Yeesh, re-read my original post on this thread, I actually defined the term. You might just learn something today.

@CobbHistoryTeacher & CrankeeYankee, amen.

@Maureen, I don’t necessarily agree with Bad Teacher’s comment, but GM has blatantly attacked and insulted her (and me). Can he or she please get a warning to be civil? If he or she keeps attacking people, he or she needs to be blocked.


March 30th, 2012
5:54 pm

It is very difficult to teach students who have parents that not only send their kids to school without teaching them the importance of a work ethic but that also complain to the administration when we as teachers try to instill a work ethic into their children. As long as parents encourage laziness and a sense of entitlement in their children, the education system will remain broken. In addition, those who have never taught in a classroom have no business whatsoever making decisions about education. It is like having a gourmet chef tell a doctor how to treat his patients. The chef may be very good at what he does in the kitchen, but he is not an expert in medicine. Only educators should tell educators what to do!!

Dr. Craig Spinks/ Georgians for Educational Excellence

March 30th, 2012
7:41 pm

Our legislature needs to get out and stay out of the way of Team Barge. John and his teammates can rationalize and effectuate GAPubEd to our kids’ long-term benefit..

Oops. I forgot. GAPubEd’s not about the kids; it’s about money, power, prestige and image for our self-serving educRATS and their greedy minions.

John, watch your back.


March 30th, 2012
10:07 pm

Yes, I can blame THIS legislature in THIS state along with our past three governors, two of which I am sorry to say I voted for. Granted, legislatures across the country control the purse strings but, I submit, the ones with good systems (and TRUE local control educationally, not the lip service paid in this state) get it. They let PROFESSIONAL EDUCATORS make the educational decisions & guide over arching policy. You cannot negate GA’s problems by saying every other state has the same setup. I submit that only underscores how rancid the setup is here.
The loons are in charge and I see no light at the end of the tunnel, just look at the situation in Cherokee Co.


March 31st, 2012
9:57 am

I don’t know how well our school will do on the new ratings system.

I do know that the students who attend regularly, who take the more challenging classes, and who take their classwork seriously do quite well, both in high school and beyond. We have former students at the military academies, in medical school, etc.

I also know that the students who are only there because their parents make them come, or to socialize with their friends, or so that they can keep their drivers licenses aren’t doing nearly as well, although some of them are passing.

Attentive Parent

March 31st, 2012
12:04 pm

Science Teacher-in the school scenario you described, unless it is a homogeneous, non-diverse school, the only way to get a good rating will be to slow down the able kids.

The quality of learning ratings system puts the focus on nonacademic differences like attitudes, values, feelings, and dispositions. Use the school to create uniformity and shift away from academics where differences from home, the luck of the genetic draw, and willingness to work hard all perpetuate differences.

This statute when coupled with last year’s Career Pathways, soft skills, Competency statute (HB 186) and the way Common Core is actually to be implemented are designed to limit what any Georgia school child can know or will be able to do. The dysfunctional student will remain so but will be more likely to stay in school now that the focus will be on what “engages” him or her. It’s the able student who is being consciously constrained.

A major boon for the politically connected business or anyone who fears innovation. Plus the need for more bureaucrats to make sure students, teachers, and principals do not successfully reject the intended mental servitude.

When no small business owner will touch this state, maybe the legislature will wake up to what they have done. Or maybe the desire to protect cronies is too strong in Georgia for anyone without political pull to survive.

And then there will be more foreign junkets in pursuit of jobs bad public policy drove away.

I'm a teacher

March 31st, 2012
12:17 pm

This country used to have a pretty good educational system – it wasn’t perfect but it was darn good. Then we started looking at the parts that were not perfect and in a few cases downright bad and we started to try to fix them. The politicians tried to legislate the changes but in doing so not only did not fix the problems but created more of them. Now, instead of having a system where the teachers – who are closest to the students – make decisions about the group of kids in front of them, we have educational “theorist” and politicians making sweeping decisions about how all students should be taught and what they should be able to do. These “theorist” and politicians have not set foot in a classroom in years (sometimes decades), have little to no contact with real kids (other than the ones in their own families) but they know how the “best” ways to teach all children.
Do we really wonder why education is in the mess that it is in today?


March 31st, 2012
3:35 pm