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Educating Georgia’s Future • 2019


Our Vision Expanding opportunities for all Georgia students Greetings, Thank you for taking the time to learn more about the Georgia Department of Education – and, more importantly, the K-12 public schools the GaDOE supports. We entrust these schools with the future of almost 1.8 million of our state’s youngest citizens. In my opinion, nothing’s more important than making sure we’re expanding opportunities for those students, not Richard Woods, restricting them. Georgia’s School Superintendent

That means our public schools should focus both on the core academics and on opportunities like fine arts, CTAE, foreign languages, and physical education. We have to educate the whole child, rather than simply checking all the right boxes to help our children pass a standardized test. This means our state’s accountability system should include multiple factors that influence academic success, instead of CTAE: Career, Technical, and Agricultural Education – programs that prepare students for their next step after high school Accountability system: The College & Career Ready Performance Index, or CCRPI


placing such a heavy emphasis on test scores that our students’ opportunities are restricted and reduced. All schools – especially struggling and underperforming schools – should be equipped with the resources they need. We should move toward a diagnostic form of testing that gives teachers and parents the information they need to help students, instead of a model that provides a one-day snapshot at the end of the year – too late for teachers to provide remediation. We’re making progress toward these goals. Thanks to the leadership of the Georgia legislature in 2016, Senate Bill 364 reduced the number of standardized tests our students take, bringing it closer to the federal minimum. And Georgia’s state plan for the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) is helping to build a K-12 education system that is structured around opportunities for all students. But there’s still more work to do. We must ensure a fair measure of success for schools, an assessment system that’s truly designed for teaching and learning, and a fair funding formula for public education. I know we agree on this: the students of our state deserve a robust, first-class system of public schools. I’m grateful for your partnership as we work toward that goal together. Sincerely,

Richard Woods State School Superintendent


Our Goals Every child in Georgia will be on a path to reading proficiency by third grade, and math proficiency by fifth grade. GaDOE’s L4GA statewide literacy plan and the collaborative work of the Get Georgia Reading campaign are laying a firm foundation for literacy in the early grades. GaDOE is developing tools to assist districts with utilizing local and state data, and identified best practices and strategies, to make sure their students are on a path to proficiency in reading and numeracy.

Georgia will exceed the national average graduation rate. With positive policy changes and increased options for students, Georgia’s graduation rate continues to rise. We’re focused on providing new paths to a high school diploma.

The number of high-stakes tests will be in line with the federal minimum while support for diagnostic tools in all core content areas will be provided. Georgia has an opportunity to change the culture and purpose of testing and be a national leader. We are working to take advantage of all available federal flexibility surrounding testing.


Every child in Georgia will have access to learning opportunities. New computer science courses have been adopted and fine arts virtual courses have been developed and refined, and we’re working with teachers and state agencies/organizations to blend fine arts and computer science instruction into the core content areas to ensure access for all students. To ensure students are ready for life, we also added a new personal finance course (available to schools as of February 2015). Every child in Georgia will have access to computer science, fine arts, and personal finance learning opportunities.

State and federal processes, procedures, and policies will be streamlined and integrated to provide maximum flexibility to districts while ensuring transparency to taxpayers. GaDOE is conducting a pilot with districts focused on the consolidation of federal funds, which will allow districts to pool funding and support their work in a more effective way. This pilot gives us an opportunity to streamline processes, procedures, and requirements while adhering to the level of transparency Georgia taxpayers expect and deserve.

Learn more: gadoe.org/vision2020



1,717,887 114,244


2,303 140,785 60%

Students eligible for Free and Reduced Lunches



(includes charter schools)



Served by Special Education Services*

*This number represents only special education students in grades K-12. 5

School Improvement Opportunities for every student, in every school All students – not some, not most, but all – deserve great schools. We’re focused on building up a tiered system of supports so every school – not just those on a “list” – are getting the resources they need to improve. We see this work as a primary responsibility for our entire agency – not just the school improvement division. We’ve assembled a team with proven experience transforming Georgia schools, and they’re working hand in hand with school districts and communities, focusing on two essential components of a successful school: strong leadership and quality instruction. These staff members are in schools, providing face-to-face support for teachers and leaders. And they’re working collaboratively with community partners – because we know no good work can be done alone. We continue to see improvements using this model, but know more work lies ahead – and true partnerships between schools, communities, and the state will move that work forward.

Georgia’s System of Continuous UNIVERSAL

TIER I Supports provided to all schools



TIER II Identified for having a consistently underperforming subgroup of students

What we’re doing: A leader with hands-on experience transforming schools. In 2017 we brought on Stephanie Johnson, a successful turnaround principal with experience in Clayton County Schools and Atlanta Public Schools, to lead GaDOE’s school improvement efforts. After overseeing the transformation of Maynard Jackson High School in Atlanta, Stephanie was named a 2017 finalist for National Principal of the Year.

A tiered system of supports for all schools. Previously, schools have only received state support after being placed on an “underperforming” list. We’re building up a range of universal supports to grow and sustain the improvement efforts of all schools and districts in Georgia.

Focusing on instruction and leadership. Using data and consulting with schools and communities, we’ve identified two critical areas of need in struggling schools: instruction and leadership. We’re laser-focusing our work on shoring up support for those two areas.

Tapping the expertise and capacity of our partners. We’re working hand-in-hand with RESAs, school districts, (continues on page 8)

Improvement - Tiered Supports COMPREHENSIVE

TIER III Identified for having a consistently underperforming subgroup of students


TIER IV A subset of the lowest 5% of all schools, when ranked according to three-year CCRPI average – selected by Chief Turnaround Officer in “consultation with GaDOE and the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement (GOSA).” 7

other state agencies, nonprofits and community groups to focus our efforts on lifting up schools, knowing that top-down efforts will never lead to sustainable or systemic improvement.

Providing specialized supports. GaDOE staff and partners provide intensive support to identified schools – including but not limited to assistance identifying evidence-based resources and interventions, professional learning, and onsite coaching for teachers and leaders.

Addressing students’ needs after the bell rings. GaDOE is funding wraparound coordinators in each RESA to help schools create wraparound centers for their students. The centers will operate before, during, and after the traditional school day, connecting students and families with resources to support and improve student achievement.

Wraparound centers operate before, during, and after the traditional school day. Through the centers, students have access to community resources like food pantries, mental health counseling, tutoring, and academic support.


Career, Technical, & Agricultural Education Georgia’s Career, Technical, and Agricultural Education (CTAE) program prepares students to take their next step after high school – whether that’s directly beginning their career or an apprenticeship, serving in the military, or pursuing higher education through the Technical College System of Georgia, University System of Georgia, or another institution. Students can take courses in more than 100 Career Pathways within 17 Career Clusters, earn recognized industry credentials, participate in work-based learning and apprenticeship opportunities, and serve as leaders through membership in cocurricular Career and Technical Student Organizations (CTSOs). GaDOE’s CTAE staff – and educators throughout the state – work directly with business, industry, and higher education to ensure students have the skills they need to contribute to Georgia’s economy and find a rewarding, successful path after high school.


Opportunities for success after high school What we’re doing: Responding directly to industry needs CTAE staff have created Career Pathways and course catalogs in direct response to industry needs. Students now have access to Pathways in cybersecurity, industrial maintenance, granite technology, animation/digital media and other areas of critical importance to Georgia’s economy.

Better connecting education + industry We’ve held regional economic development meetings all over the state, encouraging greater collaboration between local school districts and industry.

Partnering with school districts to bolster economic development We’re working with five pilot school districts across rural, suburban, and urban Georgia on a program that will help meet the workforce

DeAndria Wiggins, a 2017 graduate of North Springs High School in Sandy Springs, discovered her love of technology through the Web and Digital Design Career Pathway. She’s now majoring in computer engineering at Georgia State, minoring in computer science, and interning with the Fulton County Schools Help Desk. “Technology is a growing field, and you never run out of things to do – you never run out of things to learn,” she said.


development needs of Georgia’s current and future employers and expand opportunities for students. Endorsed by the Georgia Economic Developers Association, the Economic Development Partnership pilot is beginning now in Whitfield County, Marietta City, Newton County, Muscogee County, and Wayne County.

Funding career education labs in schools Our FastTrack grants provide funding that helps schools equip CTAE labs for their students. These labs provide immersive learning experiences in high-demand fields like audio/video technology, health science, and engineering.

Helping students make informed decisions about their future careers GaDOE and TCSG have entered into a partnership with YouScience, a career-guidance platform that helps students better understand their natural abilities and broadens their awareness of career opportunities. The YouScience platform is now available to all Georgia public high school students.

DeAndria said she’d tell a high school student deciding whether to pursue a Career Pathway to “go for it”. “There are so many doors and opportunities that they should take advantage of,” she said. “This is the last thing I thought would happen – it’s crazy how things fall into place when you pursue something that’s meaningful to you.”


CTAE prepares students... to begin their career, pursue higher education through the University System of Georgia or the Technical College System of Georgia, complete an apprenticeship, or serve in the military.


Literacy Before students can pursue the opportunities available to them, they need a firm foundation of literacy. It’s the building block on which the rest of their education will rest. We’re working with partners – including the Get Georgia Reading Campaign and the Georgia Public Library Service – to get books in students’ hands and lay a strong foundation of literacy skills using the pillars of language nutrition, access, productive learning climate, and teacher preparation and effectiveness. In 2017, GaDOE was awarded $61 million through the Striving Readers grant to fund its Literacy for Learning, Living and Leading in Georgia (L4GA) statewide literacy plan. The funding – the largest amount received by any state – is helping push forward efforts to improve reading and literacy outcomes, from birth to grade 12.


…of elementary schools receiving the initial round of Striving Readers funding saw an increase in children performing at grade level in reading comprehension from 2014 to 2016. In the second round – which is funding the L4GA initiative –Georgia received more funding than any other state, and was one of just three states to receive the funding a second time. 13

Laying the foundation for learning opportunities What we’re doing: Connecting schools + communities to support literacy 95% of the funding from Georgia’s L4GA grant will be sub-granted to local school districts and communities to develop partnerships aimed at improving reading and literacy outcomes for Georgia’s children.

Giving parents and teachers the tools they need to support reading We worked with Georgia teachers to revamp the Teacher Resource Link, which offers user-friendly search options and vetted resources categorized by grade-level standards. And we’ve worked to provide free literacy resources for parents and others who want to support literacy: check out gadoe.org/readingresources.

Getting books to kids – all over the state In partnership with organizations like Better World Books, Atlanta’s CBS46, and the student-led Change4Georgia, we’ve donated hundreds of thousands of books to Georgia students.

Working with educators to support high-quality literacy instruction GaDOE is working directly with classroom teachers through its English Language Arts Advisory Committee, and with teacher educators from Georgia’s colleges and universities through its Literacy Think Tank, to review data about the ways communities and schools are creating conditions for learning – so that every child has a teacher who uses proven, high-quality instructional methods for literacy.


Developing lifelong readers In partnership with the Georgia Public Library Service, we’re working to ensure that every Georgia student graduates school not just with a diploma – but with a public library card in hand. Through our 21st Century Community Learning Centers program, we’re sharing information with students on how to access e-books and how to get a library card.


Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts & Math Blending the fine arts with the problem-solving and critical thinking skills gained through STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math – is a winning opportunity for students. 65 schools have gained STEM certification through the Georgia Department of Education. This rigorous certification – 1,150 schools are currently in the pipeline – encourages an integrated curriculum, as opposed to science, technology, engineering, and math being taught in isolation. It’s driven by problem-solving, discovery, exploratory project- and problem-based learning, and student-centered development of ideas and solutions. In 2016, we expanded the program to include STEAM certification, which recognizes schools that infuse their STEM program with meaningful arts integration. STEAM uses the arts as a vehicle for demonstrating what has been learned, while increasing creativity and teaching “habits of mind” that can be applied to any subject. We’re also working to increase opportunities in computer science and expand that instruction into the elementary grades. That’s because computer science provides foundational learning that benefits every child, not just those who want to major in computer science, or get a job as a software engineer. A strong STEAM program gives students a set of essential knowledge for a wide variety of future careers and interests – and prepares them for the emerging demands of the 21st century.

65 16

STEM and STEAM certified schools


in the pipeline

Opportunities in Georgia’s growing STEAM career sector What we’re doing: Recognizing and encouraging STEM and STEAM innovation To earn STEM or STEAM certification from GaDOE, schools have to show that they meet specific criteria, including evidence of teacher collaboration, business and industry partnerships, high levels of math and science instruction, and an integrated, projectbased STEM or STEAM curriculum. Schools must recertify every five years to maintain the designation.

Expanding fine arts opportunities through virtual courses To ensure all students have access to fine arts courses, GaDOE is increasing the arts offerings of its Georgia Virtual School (GAVS). GAVS courses are free to Georgia public school students during the school day.

Revamping standards with a focus on 21st century skills We’ve worked with Georgia teachers, parents, higher education representatives, and organizations like the Georgia Science Teachers Association and the Georgia Council for the Arts to refresh Georgia’s arts and science standards. “Now all Visual Arts subjects have updated standards that will help art teachers give students a world-class art education,” wrote Georgia Art Education Association President Dr. Lauren Phillips, in a letter supporting the updated arts standards.


Offering science, math, and foreign language credit for computer science courses In Georgia, students have access to nine computer science courses that can be used to satisfy graduation requirements in the areas of math, science, and foreign language – expanding opportunities for students and expanding the avenues for graduation.

Ensuring foundational learning in computer science for every child Georgia participated in the development of the K-12 Computer Science Framework, an overarching set of ideas developed by industry, national organizations, and state contributors about what aspects of computer science should be taught to every student throughout K-12 education.


Funding awarded to GaDOE by the National Science Foundation to expand K-12 computer science education. Learn more at gadoe.org/CSgrant. 18

Student-Focused Assessment & Accountability The Path Forward on Testing Tests and accountability have a role in K-12 education – but parents, educators, and community leaders overwhelmingly agree they shouldn’t play the outsized role they took on during the days of No Child Left Behind. Working with partners across the state, and through the process of developing Georgia’s state plan for the Every Student Succeeds Act – the federal replacement for No Child Left Behind – we’ve made progress. In 2016, Senate Bill 364 prompted the largest reduction of standardized testing in our state’s history. And Georgia’s ESSA state plan includes refinements to the College & Career Ready Performance Index (CCRPI) that place an increased focus on the opportunities schools provide – including the fine arts, career education, physical education, and world languages. But we must keep moving forward. Georgia’s children deserve an education system that prepares them for life – rather than simply preparing them to succeed on a standardized test.


Our Priorities Getting standardized testing in line with the federal minimum. The number of required standardized tests in Georgia state law still exceeds what’s required by the federal government. We’re committed to working with the Georgia legislature to get Georgia’s testing in line with the federal minimum.

Lifting up, instead of labeling, our schools. State School Superintendent Woods is committed to working with the legislature and other state partners to reduce the weight of test scores in the CCRPI and remove the requirement in state law that the accountability system operate under a 100-point scale. Learn more at gadoe.org/liftupnotlabel.

Taking advantage of federal flexibility and charting a new path forward. We’re working with our Assessment Innovation and Flexibility Task Force – which includes educators, parents, policymakers, and industry – to take full advantage of the testing flexibility allowed under the Every Student Succeeds Act. In December 2018, the Georgia Department of Education submitted its application for the federal Innovative Assessment Demonstration Authority. If approved, this will allow Georgia to pilot an innovative assessment system in its public schools.

Assessments that keep the focus on student learning. The Georgia Department of Education has created Keenville, an innovative formative assessment that provides quick, timely information on students’ literacy and numeracy skills in first and second grade – all while students play a game on their tablet or computer. Keenville is an optional resource available to all schools. Learn more at keenville.gadoe.org.


Partnerships With the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, the Georgia American Academy of Pediatrics, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Georgia State University, and Mercer University: Training teachers and school employees in suicide prevention to make sure every child can turn to their school for help – and every school has the resources they need to provide that support. With the Get Georgia Reading Campaign, the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning, the Georgia Public Library Service and other partners: Creating and promoting a one-stop shop for summer-learning resources, GeorgiaSummer.org. With the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education: Conducting an inventory of tests required at the federal, state, and district level to make sure students aren’t being overtested by assessments that duplicate each other. With Code.org: Teaming up to provide computer science professional learning for Georgia teachers. With the Georgia Department of Labor, the Georgia Department of Economic Development, and the Technical College System of Georgia: Creating and promoting the Georgia Career Pipeline Tool, which connects employers with qualified students in their area. With VocRehab: Piloting a program to place career counselors in schools to support students with disabilities. 21



In 2018, Georgia’s graduation rate rose to an all-time high of 81.6 percent. Seventy-four Georgia school districts recorded 2018 graduation rates at or above 90 percent.

Beating the Nation on SAT and ACT Georgia students outperformed the nation on the ACT in 2018, for the third consecutive year and the third time in state history. In 2018, Georgia public-school students outperformed their counterparts in the nation’s public schools on the SAT, recording a mean score of 1054 compared to the national mean of 1049.

11th in the Nation for K-12 Achievement Georgia is ranked 11th in the nation on the K-12 Achievement indicator of Education Week’s Quality Counts report, which is based on NAEP scores.

Georgia Milestones Scores Trending Up Georgia Milestones scores increased on 22 of 26 subject-area assessments in 2018, with the largest increases being recorded in third grade math and high school biology, physical science, and economics.


All Students, All Schools: Supporting Rural Georgia

More and more Georgians are recognizing the importance of a “rural renaissance” to the future of our state. Recognizing that public schools in rural areas face unique challenges and resource gaps, we’re working to equip them with the resources they need and make sure K-12 education is spurring renewal in rural Georgia. Through our Partnership for Rural Growth, we’ve undertaken the following initiatives to expand the resources available to public school districts in rural Georgia.

Grants to establish or expand fine arts programs is providing $10,000 stART grants to 35 rural school districts to assist them in expanding the fine arts opportunities available to their students. In each selected district, the funding will be used specifically to create new arts education programs or expand existing programs.

STEM and STEAM coordinators in Southwest and Southeast Georgia More than 1,150 Georgia schools have expressed interest in pursuing STEM or STEAM certification. To assist rural schools in expanding and improving their offerings for students in Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math, GaDOE is funding STEM/ STEAM coordinators based in Southwest and Southeast Georgia.

Workshops to increase access to AP, Dual Enrollment, and Gifted coursework GaDOE is partnering with the College Board to offer free workshops for eighth-, ninth-, and tenth-grade teachers in 14 rural districts. The two- and three-day workshops are designed to help teachers prepare their students for accelerated opportunities like Advanced Placement (AP), Dual Enrollment, and Gifted courses. ELA, math, science, and social studies teachers will be equipped with engaging resources for their students and meaningful feedback 23

to show them where each student needs additional support and focus. The goal is to significantly increase the number of students in each target district who can access and complete college-level work before leaving high school.

Grants to help schools teach entrepreneurship GaDOE is providing up to 40 $11,000 Entrepreneurship, Enterprise & Education (E3) grants to rural school districts. The grants are designed to support entrepreneurship education – lessons and curriculum that prepare students to pursue entrepreneurial opportunities after high school. The funding can be used to plan, develop, and implement lessons and curriculum; provide contentspecific professional development for teachers; and purchase equipment needed to support entrepreneurship education – for example, computer software, creative supplies, and devices like 3-D printers.

A network for school improvement for school and district leaders in rural Georgia GaDOE is establishing the Rural Education Leadership Network, which will connect school- and district-level leaders in rural school districts. Through the network, the Southern Regional Education Board will work with education leaders to identify common needs and strategies to address them, then provide training and expert assistance, at no cost to the schools or districts.

GFPE’s Rural Education Fund In 2018, the Georgia Foundation for Public Education – the foundation of the Georgia Department of Education created the Rural Education Fund to provide support for schools and districts in Georgia’s rural gfpe.org communities. The first cycle began in 2018, providing grants of up to $5,000 to 12 rural schools and districts to identify and solve an educational challenge in their community. Schools in Banks, Brooks, Echols, Grady, Lumpkin, Meriwether, Pulaski, Randolph, Tattnall, Upson, and Wayne counties received funding to expand programs in areas like the fine arts, computer science, robotics, STEAM, and literacy.


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Everything described in this book – and everything we do, each and every day – is focused on the nearly 1.8 million students in Georgia’s public schools. Thank you for joining us to work on their behalf.

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Georgia Department of Education - Annual Report 2019  

Georgia Department of Education - Annual Report 2019