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Teacher evaluations in Georgia will focus less on student test scores

(WRDW)
Published: Jul. 14, 2016 at 11:36 PM EDT
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News 12 NBC 26 @ 11 o'clock / Thursday, July 14, 2016

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) -- The way teachers are graded in Georgia is changing. There will be less of a focus on test scores and more of a focus on the classroom environment.

With a high school student, middle schooler, and a son in elementary school, LaRhonda Coleman knows all about the classroom. On top of her own kids, she also worked as a paraprofessional for three years, and she's going back to school to be a teacher. "I just want to make a difference. I want to be one of those teachers that a child can come to," Coleman said.

Next year, there will be a big difference in the classroom. On Thursday the Georgia State Board unanimously voted to change the way teachers and school leaders are graded. Before, students scores on annual statewide tests made up half of a teachers evaluation. Now that will only be 30% of a teacher's grade. The teacher's growth through the year will count as another 20%, and the other half of the evaluation will be based on classroom observation. "It's not that they don't know the information, but they may not be able to articulate, or write it down, but it doesn't mean they don't know the information," Coleman said.

The change will help out students too. "Without that extra pressure of testing on them, that might be able to drop their guard a little bit and be more of themselves with the kids. So the the kids can feel more of those good vibes," she said.

Those good vibes are also going to factor into school leaders' grades. Before those test scores made up 70% of the evaluation for principals and vice principals, now that drops to 40%. Now 10% of their grades will focus on school climate, or the quality of the school for students, parents, and teachers. The other 50% will come from things like school observations and CCRPI scores.

LaRhonda says that's a better way to grade educators. "There are some kids who don't do well at tests but they know the information. There's some kids who can do really well on the test, they can study and they can cram, but they don't really understand and retain the information.

And even though the tests aren't going away, LaRhonda thinks the changes in the grades for teachers, is also an A+ for students.

The changes in evaluations will start this coming school year. The Georgia Department of Education says teachers will get a new handbook detailing the changes.

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