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More funding, less testing for education
Hill Jack
Sen. Jack Hill

In a year that did not see massive reforms in education, the Legislature reacted to what members had been hearing in sessions all around the state: “Do something about testing, and a raise is overdue.” A couple of pieces of legislation that addressed parents’ and teachers’ concerns over testing made some changes but did not completely reform the frequency nor content of school testing. Funding continued to reduce the austerity cut and focused on new technology for schools.

* SB 364—Reduces the amount student achievement plays in teacher evaluation from 50 percent to 30 percent. Changes professional growth to 20 percent, and 50 percent will be based on teacher evaluations and observations. Changes requirement for mandatory test scores to mandate at least 90 percent attendance for test qualification. Principals’ and assistant principals’ evaluation will contain 40 percent based on student growth and achievement with climate at 10 percent, 20 percent on achievement data and 30 percent on evaluations, observations and standards of practice.

Schools are pushed to develop multiple formative assessments to achieve reading mastery by the end of the 3rd grade and math proficiency by the end of the 5th grade. Pilot programs will be utilized. Also, the State BOE is tasked to move end of course and end of grade testing schedules closer to the end of the school year beginning with the 2017-2018 school year.

• SB 355—“Student Protection Act”—Makes state-wide assessments optional with a parent’s written request due to a life-threatening or serious health condition accompanied by a physician’s or therapist’s written recommendation to excuse the child. Sets up an appeal process if a student is retained solely due to failure to take the required test.

• HB 614—Requires the State Board of Education to establish procedures for the placement of video cameras in special education classes. Restricts use of the images, insuring confidentiality and limits retaining of the images to 12 months. Participation is voluntary but regulates the installation, use and storage of the images.

• HB739—Outlines how the state BOE can develop a set of statewide instructional materials and opens up a process for local systems to develop their own materials. Locally listed materials must be available for viewing by parents in person or on a Web site.

• HB 879—Establishes a Georgia Seal of Bi-literacy which will be put on the diploma of a student who has maintained a 3.0 average in all required language arts subjects and has demonstrated proficiency in a foreign language by achieving at least a 4 on a foreign language AP exam or a 5 on an international baccalaureate examination. The state BOE will provide the seal.

• HB 959—Clarifies that students taking AP, college or other advanced courses are exempt from high school end of course exams. Allows the state BOE to identify children of military parents, active or reserve, with a special data identifier that will allow for disaggregation of data. Requires a governing board with decision-making authority for a career academy established by any entity.

53 percent of state funding still going to education

Some things don’t change: of the 53 percent being spent in the state funds budget, some 40 percent will go to k-12 and pre-k schools. That’s about $8.911 billion in state funds, plus $357.8 million in lottery funds.

In addition, some $233.1 million in bonds is directed at school construction and equipment and $14.2 million for school buses. Redirection of $30 million in bonds helped fund the appropriation.

Expenditures of note going to education include:

• $300 million to reduce the austerity cut and is directed for 3 percent teacher pay raises

• $4.1 million for a 3 percent raise for school nutrition employees, school bus drivers and school burses

• $124 million for enrollment growth and teacher pay scale

• $2.5 million for audio-visual technology and film grants to middle and high schools for film and AV equipment

• $2.8 million for information technology applications for local systems

• $300,000 to expand Positive Behavioral Intervention Supports trainers

• $600,000 in new and existing funds for grants to rural systems to increase participation and achievement in AP STEM courses

• Existing surplus funds to provide a $300 per classroom materials grant from Pre-Classes

• $29.4 million to fund “Move On When Ready” dual enrollment for high school students Full transcripts of bills may be found at Simply type the bill number into the box at the top left-hand corner of the screen and specify if it is in the House or the Senate.

The FY 2017 budget (H.B. 751) may be found at As always, I welcome any questions you may have.

I may be reached at
234 State Capitol, Atlanta, GA 30334
(404) 656-5038 (phone)
(404) 657-7094 (fax)
E-mail at
Or call toll-free at
1-800-367-3334 day or night
Reidsville office: (912) 557-3811