PAGE One Magazine, Jan.-Feb. 2015

Page 1

January/February 2015

5,100 Georgia Educators Speak Out on Testing

Will Lawmakers Listen?

2015 Legislative Agenda | South Georgia Districts Form Network | Work Outside of Work

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Contents January/February 2015

Vol. 36 No. 3



08  PAGE Special Report: 2015 Legislative Session •  73% of Educators Say That Testing Does Not Benefit Students •  In Their Own Words •  Lost State Funding Is Inflicting Real Pain in Georgia Classrooms •  PAGE Legislative Agenda •  2015 Legislative Issues to Watch



5  From the President We’re 86,000 Strong. Let’s Prove It!

Professional Learning 23  South Georgia Districts Form Network to Develop Engaging Student Work

7  From the Executive Director Someone Needs to Slow This Train Down

24  PAGE Assistant Principal and Teacher Leadership Academy

Foundation News 28  Thank You PAGE Members for Giving Us Terrific Reasons to Celebrate Education

Members in the News 31  Civic Educator of the Year Intrigues with Technology 31  2014 National Blue Ribbon Schools

29  Call for Volunteers

32  Gwinnett Wins Prestigious Broad Prize for Urban Education

Legal 26  Work Outside of Work News and Information 27  Teacher Candidates Learn Rules of Engagement at ‘Survival’ Conference 29  2015 PAGE Planner


PAGE ONE magazine Official Publication of the Professional Association of Georgia Educators Providing professional learning for educators to enhance professional competence, confidence and leadership skills, leading to higher academic achievement for students, while providing the best in membership, legal services and legislative support. January/February 2015


Editorial Staff

New South Publishing

Editor Tim Callahan

President Larry Lebovitz

Graphic Designer Jack Simonetta

Associate Editor Meg Thornton

Publisher John Hanna

Production Coordinator Amber Mosler

Contributing Editor Lynn Varner

Editor Lindsay Field

Advertising/Sales Sherry Gasaway 770-650-1102, ext.145

Associate Editor Jacqui Frasca


Valdosta State University Department of Early Childhood & Special Education O N L I N E - O N LY P R O G R A M S • Master of Education Degree in Early Childhood Education • Master of Arts in Special Education – General Curriculum • Master of Arts in Special Education – Adapted Curriculum • Education Specialist Degree in Special Education For more information:

M.Ed. in Early Childhood Education This program is designed to build on the Bachelor of Science in Education degree in Early Childhood Education and meets the requirements to earn an upgraded teaching certificate (T5) from the Georgia Professional Standards Commission.

MAT in Special Education: Adapted Curriculum The MAT Special Education Program in Adapted Curriculum is designed for teachers of students with significant disabilities who are not currently certified in special education-adapted curriculum.

MAT in Special Education: General Curriculum The MAT in Special Education Program in General Curriculum is designed for teachers of students with mild to moderate disabilities who are not currently certified in special education – general curriculum.

Ed.S. in Special Education The Education Specialist Program is designed for





speech pathologists) who wish to advance their professional skills in special education.

A Comprehensive University of the University System of Georgia and an Equal Opportunity Institution

From the President

We’re 86,000 Strong. Let’s Prove It.


ast year, Mamie Lou Gross Elementary School in Camden County invited me to assist with implementation of the Standards for

Leslie Mills

Mathematical Practice. As I entered a first-grade classroom, a young girl was sharing with others how she solved a math problem. The girl, Sara, later told me that the students share solutions because “we are all better together.” These were powerful words, especially from a firstgrader! A day does not pass that I do not think about what she said. When PAGE recently announced that its membership has grown to more than 86,000, I thought of the ways we are better together through our organization. PAGE Professional Learning is a great example. “Community Conversations” across Georgia are joining local school leaders with community leaders in businesses, churches and social services to seek collaborative solutions to education challenges. The PAGE High School Redesign Initiative, Assistant Principal and Teacher Leadership Academy, Principal and Teacher Leadership Network and the Superintendent Leadership Network all foster collective growth among Georgia educators. PAGE also gives us a powerful voice at the state capitol. Our association’s legislative team is led by Margaret Ciccarelli, who was just named among the “Top Female Lobbyists” in Georgia by James magazine. As we begin a new legislative session, we must make our voices heard. With tens of thousands of us

January/February 2015

working together, we truly can change how education is delivered in classrooms throughout Georgia. As Helen Keller said, “Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.” This was so evident last year when educators were unhappy with their healthcare coverage: Thousands of voices united, and changes were made in our health benefits. It is this same enthusiasm that we must carry into the current legislative session. Pay close attention to the PAGE Legislative Updates and do not hesitate to contact your representatives. While one call to a legislator may not make much of an impact, just imagine what would happen if thousands of us made our voices heard. We also have the opportunity to do that on Feb. 16 at this year’s PAGE Day on Capitol Hill. Please join in and invite fellow educators. Envision the impact if thousands of Georgia educators registered for the event (it’s free) and showed up in mass at the capitol in support of n PAGE’s 2015 legislative agenda.

While one call to a legislator may not make much of an impact, just imagine what would happen if thousands of us made our voices heard.


From the Executive Director

Someone Needs to Slow This Train Down


s we approach a decade under the dictates (I could say heel) of No Child Left Behind—a piece of legislation that began with the shaming and blaming of schools and has now moved, via Race to the Top, to an extreme overreliance on standardized testing—it is time to blow the whistle and say “Enough!” We hope that our new state school superintendent, Richard Woods, takes up this cause. He leaned in that direction during his campaign, calling for less standardization of education and more personalization. PAGE plans to meet with Superintendent Woods to discuss the need for a “time out.” Whether or not he will be able to convince the governor is another matter. Some legislators are beginning to respond to this issue, either because they have been listening to parents, educators and groups such as PAGE, or because they are philosophically opposed to what they view as an inappropriate federal intrusion into state prerogatives, such as K-12 education. Whatever the motivation, we need to catch our breath and rethink what we are doing to our students and teachers with this overabundance of testing, coupled with an over-interpretation of results— stretching and contorting test data into uses for which it was never intended. Anyone in our schools will tell you that teaching and learning are being sacrificed on the altar of “measurement.” It has gotten to the point that some schools are in session for four to six weeks before any actual instruction takes place. We recently surveyed our membership on testing, and what more than 5,000 educators told us is highly instructive:

January/February 2015

•  75% of respondents noted that they are testing or preparing for testing at least 10% of the school year; •  73% do not believe that testing is beneficial to their students; •  63% administer three- to seven-plus standardized state or national tests per year to their students; •  65% report waiting weeks or even months to get results back; and •  85% report that their students are less engaged after testing. Despite a lack of supporting research, the new teacher evaluation system (called TKES) bases 50% of a teacher’s evaluation on standardized test scores. Educators who do not teach subjects covered by standardized testing are evaluated based on their pupils’ mastery of student learning objectives (SLOs). Educators are very concerned about how quickly the learning objectives were developed and about how fast they are being implemented. A group of veteran teachers and administrators, recently convened by PAGE, shared with us the following concerns about SLOs: •  We do not oppose accountability for teaching and learning, but we are seeing that SLOs are harming teaching and learning. •  SLOs do not consistently ensure rigor and quality. Even those selected as “exemplars” and posted for sharing statewide lack sufficient quality. •  Kindergarteners, who came to school excited about learning and participating in meaningful play activities, were reduced to anxiety and tears when they were made to participate in SLO activities/testing.

Dr. Allene Magill

•  First- and second-graders, as a part of the SLO process, were asked to work on computers, but many lacked the keyboarding and mouse skills to perform the required tasks. •  Georgia’s unequal distribution of technology has resulted in cycling students in and out of technology labs, thus crashing systems and eroding instruction time. •  Many older students, sensing a disconnect between performing on SLOs and their “real” classwork, are dismissive of the tests. •  Educators are concerned about the rigor and confidentiality of the process, but the Professional Standards Commission asserts that because SLOs are local tests they will not regulate the development or implementation process. Policymakers from the governor to the state school superintendent and legislature should be as alarmed as we are at the testing survey results and field reports. We need more time, more technology and more training, as well as a strategic, rather than an ad hoc program of testing and data interpretation. We have to slow this train down before we do irreparable damage to K-12 education in our state. That priority is atop the PAGE legislative agenda this year, and I hope that it will be among your top priorities when you communicate with n your legislators.


PAGE Special Report: 2015 Legislative Session

5,100+ Educators Answer PAGE Survey

73% of Educators Say That Testing Does Not Benefit Students


PAGE survey of more than 5,100 Georgia educators found that standardized testing may be more intrusive and less beneficial to students than supporters of the current testing regime claim. The survey of educators, which was conducted in October, found that: •  75% of respondents report that they are testing or preparing for standardized testing at least 10% of the school year; •  73% do not believe that testing is beneficial to their students; •  63% administer from three to more than seven tests per year; •  41% wait weeks for results; 24% wait months; and •  85% report that their students are less engaged following testing. 86% of the respondents are veteran classroom teachers with six or more years of experience. More than 9% are

administrators. “As we travel the state, we’ve been hearing that testing is taking too much time away from teaching and learning,” says PAGE Executive Director Allene Magill, Ed.D. “There are lengthy delays in getting back meaningful data, and teachers see little or no discernable benefit for their students. The PAGE survey confirms this, and its findings ought to concern policymakers.” The survey results have informed PAGE’s 2015 Legislative Agenda for the Georgia General Assembly session that began on Jan. 12. Amount of Testing

While nearly 30% of survey respondents administer one to two state- or districtrequired tests a year, 39% conduct three to six, and more than 24% conduct more than seven. As to how much time they spend on test

How many state or district required tests do you administer in one school year? 39%


preparation and administration, more than 44% of respondents said that they spend more than 20% of the school year on testing. More than 30% devote between 10% to 20% of the year to testing. More than 11% of the educators spend at least 20 days a year of in-class instruction time on testing. Nearly 8% spend 16 to 20 days; 13% spend 11 to 15 days; 23% spend five to 10 days; and 27% spend one to five days. Nearly 13% of educators also spend 20 or more days of out-of-class time (planning time or at home) working on standardized tests. Nearly 31% spend one to five days of out-of-class time. Nearly half, or 47%, of educators who administer Student Learning Objectives (SLOs) spend between one and 10 days administering and grading the tests. Usefulness of Testing

When asked if the current standardized testing program benefits students, more

What percentage of your school year do you estimate is used in test preparation and test administration? 50%














5% 0%


2% 0

Number of responses: 4,260 8  PAGE ONE











over 20%


Number of responses: 4,268 January/February 2015

Data that is gathered from standardized testing is used in the classroom to improve instruction.

than 73% disagree or strongly disagree, 19% are neutral and 8% agree or strongly agree. And, when asked if students are less engaged in class after taking a standardized test, 85% agree to strongly agree, 9% are neutral and 6% disagree to strongly disagree. When asked if data gathered from standardized testing is used in classrooms to improve instruction, 47% agree or strongly agree, 23% were neutral and 30% disagree or strongly disagree. When asked the same question about SLOs, 26% agree to strongly agree, 21% were neutral and 29% disagree to strongly disagree. (23% of respondents do not administer SLOs.)

8% Strongly Agree

11% Strongly Disagree

21% Disagree 38% Agree

22% Neutral

Testing Results

Number of responses: 3,923

Nearly 90% of educators have testing results made available to them, and 63% say it takes anywhere from weeks to months to receive the results. Almost 50% of respondents receive the results electronically. Others receive results during a school meeting or at a central location at the school. Nearly 74% of respondents receive disaggregated results by individual students.

The current standardized testing program benefits students. 1% Strongly Agree

7% Agree

Testing and Technology

More than 46% of educators use technology to administer standardized local or state tests: 60% have access to broadband Internet and 46% have experienced some sort of technical issue during n testing.

19% Neutral

36% Strongly Disagree

37% Disagree

Have you or your students experienced technical difficulties during testing? 50%

46% 42%


Number of responses: 3,926

Students are less engaged in class after taking a standardized test. 4% Strongly Disagree

3% Disagree

30% 9% Neutral



57% Strongly Agree

10% 0%


Number of responses: 3,290 January/February 2015


28% Agree

N/A Number of responses: 3,924 PAGE ONE  9

2015 Legislative Session

In Their Own Words:

5,100+ Georgia Educators Speak Out on Testing Separate reading and ELA tests are needed. When students arrive in my fifth-grade classroom, I have no idea if they are strong in reading or ELA. — Jones County If I must give up instructional days to test, I should at least receive data that I can use to help my students reach their potential. — Jones County Why all the secrecy? Let teachers know what is important enough to be on the end-of-course tests. — Cobb County Testing is killing learning. — Catoosa County Use the ITBS in grades three, six and eight only. Kids hate school now. — Carroll County These tests are not useful enough to justify the time. — Rockdale County Standardized test data has no impact on current students. — Cobb County Differentiated lessons with formative assessments would enhance learning. — ­ Cobb County After the end-of-course tests, students are not motivated. — Glynn County Decrease the number and length of required tests. — Worth County Testing ruins the pacing of critical subjects. — DeKalb County We’ve dedicated five of the first nine weeks of school to testing. While teachers administer individual Fountas & Pinnell/IKAN GloSS tests, other students are robbed of valuable instruction time. — Henry County Testing uses up seven weeks of computer lab time. — Cherokee County During past assessments (such as the eighth-grade writing test) there were prompts, handbooks and rubrics on the Georgia Department of Education website. There is much less transparency with the Milestones. It is difficult to prepare for an “unknown.” — Gwinnett County Either administer tests that will rank us nationally (SAT, ITBS) or stop with the needless testing. — Bibb County Let us teach. — Carroll County We spend 12 years telling ELA students that in literature, there is no wrong answer as long as the student can support their answer based on the text. We then give them a multiple-choice test where there is only one right answer. Constructed response would allow students to back up answers with textual evidence and prove they actually learned something. — Burke County Elementary students should not be put under so much pressure. The tests are too lengthy. — Forsyth County If we can’t receive results before the end of the school year, extend the testing window. … Students can complete the constructed and extended response items far in advance of the selected response items. — Jones County I squeeze 36 weeks of instruction into about 26 weeks. It’s unfair to students. — Jones County 10  PAGE ONE

January/February 2015

In response to a PAGE survey conducted in the fall, educators from across Georgia thoughtfully poured out their views about standardized testing. These excerpts represent only a small fraction of the thousands of comments submitted. Create a pre and post test for all subjects, all grades. That’s it! Let it be a percentage of a child’s grade, increasing (to a maximum of 20 percent) as they advance in grade level. — Douglas County CTAE end-of-pathway tests are helpful to students. The other ones are not helpful. SLO tests are just an insult. — Savannah-Chatham County Students are just numbers to this state. There is no time to investigate a topic of interest. We spend all of August and January and five weeks in April and May on assessments. — Henry County Second-graders take five SLO tests twice a year, three EasyCBM assessments and the CogAT. Now, for the Georgia Milestones, they will also have to take quarterly benchmark tests. The tests could be streamlined. — Cherokee County If the SLOs continue, a test bank of 200 to 300 questions should be developed so that teachers will know the concepts but would not be able to teach the test. — Columbia County I spend most of my planning time finding materials to improve test scores. — Colquitt County Students are so far removed from engagement that sufficient learning is unable to take place. — Cobb County A cumulative portfolio would allow students to demonstrate understanding. — Muscogee County If a baseball umpire scores a 100 percent on a rules test, it only means he/she has memorized the rule book. The real test comes when he/she has to apply the rules. … Get rid of standardized testing and implement comprehensive project-based evaluation. — Camden County A single test should not determine a student’s knowledge for the year. — Colquitt County A first-week-of-school test should be compared to an end-of-year test. … And the end of the year is not in April. Students shut down after testing. — Crisp County Accelerated classes need their own end-of-course test. — Fulton County We often teach standards that are heavy on the EOCT instead of on standards that are most important for next year. — Fulton County Test special education students at their functional level. — Hall County Align core subjects with teaching materials that match the standards. — Coastal Plains RESA School is not out in April! — Carroll County We only see the test grade. A breakdown of each domain would tell me what students are struggling with. — Lowndes County Allow student portfolios. — Franklin County Allow teachers an opportunity to teach. All we do is test, test, test. — Lee County Due to the curriculum and assessment programs, true teaching and learning no longer occur. I am thankful I am nearing retirement. — Tattnall County View students as people with a passion for learning, not as data points. — Fulton County Continued on page 12 January/February 2015


2015 Legislative Session With the required tests for third grade, CCGPS requirements and time it takes to get the results, there is no time to remediate. — Fulton County Break test results down for instructional use. — Savannah-Chatham County SLOs in no way aid in student achievement. A focus on formative testing with flexible test windows would allow teachers to review data and reteach areas/standards that students struggled to grasp. — Carroll County Use one test at the beginning and end of the school year to measure growth. –— Gwinnett County Use one national normed test; use unit tests for subject areas. — Gwinnett County Decrease the weight of end-of-course tests to shift the focus from test preparation to teaching science skills and exposing students to hands-on and relevant content that will entice them to pursue science careers. — Irwin County Make scores available in a timely manner. What good is a test if I cannot remediate? — Madison County Let me teach and let children feel joy in learning. We are creating testing zombies who are only interested in the “right” answer rather than thinking creatively about possible answers. — Camden County SLOs are poorly written and there’s no useful feedback because it is protected. I observed it for K–3 and two months later, we still haven’t caught up. — Cherokee County Go back to one simple test, such as the Iowa Test of Basic Skills. — Forsyth County Eliminate SLOs and reduce standardized testing to one to three asessments per year to be used as additional evidence of student learning. — Fulton County Students are becoming jacks of all trades and masters of none. — McDuffie County Eliminate SLOs. Having to give each student a one-on-one test that takes an hour and a half per student is just ridiculous. — Fulton County Give SLOs to just a sample of students. Some students are tested several times for numerous teachers. It takes nearly a month of scheduling to administer SLOs to a majority ESOL school with 1,200 students. We should be creating community at the start of the school year. — DeKalb County Give one nationally normed standardized test per year. State standardized tests are not worth the millions of dollars we spend on them each year. We need more teachers, not more tests. — Cobb County Eliminate statewide testing and use formative assessments to determine student growth. — Habersham County End-of-course testing should be done at the actual end of the course. — Floyd County Our third- and fifth-grade students lose a tremendous amount of instructional time. — Gwinnett County Provide more examples of the state questions. — Douglas County Under pressure, districts design benchmarks, which in turn, erode precious instruction time. — Camden County There is no reason that an end-of-course test should take three days! — Camden County SLOs are a waste of time and resources. The Georgia Milestones is based on faulty data, and its association with merit pay is absolutely frightening. — DeKalb County 12  PAGE ONE

January/February 2015

Counting scores for teacher pay and not holding students accountable for their own score is ridiculous. — 1st District Because of SLOs, music class is no longer a performance-based experience. I now collect data of the students’ musical knowledge, not the experience. — Fulton County Results should measure student growth for the school year only. — Dublin City Administer state tests at the end of the school year rather than six to eight weeks in advance. Parents and students ask questions like “What’s the point of coming to school after the standards have been taught and tested?” — Forsyth County Norm-referenced tests would give more information about a child’s ability, strengths, weaknesses, etc. … Criterion-referenced science tests don’t help me as a science teacher— the science content changes from year to year. — Forsyth County If teachers must differentiate (based on TKES), the tests should be differentiated. — Fayette County Seventh grade is administering CogAT, ITBS and Georgia Milestones— too much testing. — Cherokee County The test and benchmark assessments should be completed prior to implementation. — Cherokee County A combination of portfolio items and standardized testing gives a much better view of student abilities. — Hall County Stick with a testing system for long enough to gather data to see how effective it is. — Clayton County Choose a less time-consuming SLO. The Fountas and Pinnell Benchmark Assessment is given one on one to each student three times a year. It takes 30 to 60 minutes per child … with 21-plus students per class. — Forsyth County Computerized testing assesses computer skills. — Jones County Allow teachers to see the questions so they can plan their instruction (not teach to the test but understand how the writers of the test interpret the standards). — Oglethorpe County Allow time for training on how to disaggregate the data. — Long County Give kids the time they need to master basic skills. We don’t do that anymore. — Hall County Forty-five minutes maximum per day at the elementary level. — Fulton County No more than three consecutive days of high-stakes testing. — Fulton County Teachable moments and opportunities to explore interesting, relevant topics are passed by in order to rush through the scripted lessons. — Savannah-Chatham County Bring back a graduation test. Many seniors don’t care if they pass a Georgia Milestones End of Course Assesment as long as they have a 74 in the class. — Troup County Test once in the fall and once at the end of the school year to get a true growth measure. — Camden County Standardized testing is not a valid way to assess knowledge, and it is culturally biased toward white students. — Cobb County Timing kindergarten students introduces them to test anxiety. — Richmond County Disaggregate results down to an item analysis broken down by the standard. … Allow districts flexibility in when and what to test. Shorten tests. Watch a third-grader take a 60- to 75-question test— about half way through, they visibly disengage. — Union County Computer testing needs infrastructure support. — Cobb County January/February 2015

Continued on page 14 PAGE ONE  13

2015 Legislative Session Using comparative data to determine an educator’s effectiveness instead of setting a benchmark for student progress is an incredibly flawed model. — Houston County Eliminate CogAT for seventh-graders; use it only for giftedness evaluations. Eliminate end-of-year tests or administer national assessment at the end of the year. — Cobb County Administer professional pre and post tests for all classes or eliminate them all. SLOs are not valid or objective because teachers grade their own tests. — Henry County Taking the IOWA, CogAT, CRCT (Georgia Milestone), plus all of the other assessments, is way too much for third-graders. — Cobb County Student assessment is an element of instruction, but it has become the element. — Buford City We test the entire month of October with no break. It is exhausting for the kids and teachers. — DeKalb County I overheard teachers who were reluctant to adopt more relevant text books. They were worried about their SLO scores. — Fayette County Instruction is improved through coaching and professional learning, not punitive measures based on test scores. — Dalton City Eliminate redundant tests. Use proctors so SE teachers are not pulled from instruction. — GCPS Do not rate teachers based on a 60-minute test taken in 10 minutes. — Dodge County Use testing for diagnostics, not for high-stakes assessment. — Savannah-Chatham County Testing pressure hinders instruction and hurts student-teacher relationships. — Clarke County Tests should have fewer than 50 questions, and reading passages should not exceed one page. — Whitfield County Test the last week of school to allow more time for instruction and prep. — Clarke County Do not tie tests to teacher effectiveness until we know how this is going to go. — Cobb County Don’t give multiple choice tests for art! — Dawson County With three days of end-of-course testing, district benchmarks, common assessments, AOS, USATestPrep and now rumors of MAP testing, my students lose valuable instructional time. Give me the standards. Tell me what you expect. Let me teach. — White County The test is all students worry about. Let students learn for the sake of learning. — Floyd County Don’t start something once the school year has begun and expect teachers to learn the ins and outs of it while teaching and planning. — Bulloch County Test a couple of times a year to see if classroom instruction is working. Be realistic as to what can be expected in nine weeks when so many standards have to be covered. — Hall County For God’s sake, we now have students taking a test to grade teachers and not students. — Forsyth County Test only at the beginning, middle and end of the school year. — Cherokee County Give one achievement test per year, and measure student progress against his/her own score from the previous year. Childhood is a journey, not a race. — Henry County

The easy standardized tests result in grade inflation for my AP students. — Cobb County Administer only diagnostic tests that will improve instruction. We are destroying students’ love for learning. — Coffee County n 14  PAGE ONE

January/February 2015


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2015 Legislative Session

At the beginning of the school year, the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute (GBPI), with input from the Georgia School Superintendents Association, conducted an in-depth survey of Georgia school districts. Of 180 districts, 151 responded. These districts enroll 91.4% of the state’s public school students. The resulting 2014 “Cutting Class to Make Ends Meet” report, coupled with GBPI’s “Schoolhouse Squeeze” 2014 report, paint a stark picture of how 13 years of state funding cuts are inflicting real pain in classrooms across Georgia.

Lost State Funding Is Inflicting Real Pain in Georgia Classrooms


eorgia’s 180 school districts continue to face enormous financial pressures. The Georgia Legislature has cut more than $8.4 billion in funding for public schools since 2003. At the same time, local funding for schools dropped as property values plunged during the Great Recession. Georgia’s growing number of students in poverty compounds the challenges. While grappling with these pressures, districts are also working hard to increase student achievement. A Georgia Budget and Policy Institute (GBPI) survey of school systems, completed in August, confirms that class sizes have ballooned and critical support and instructional programs have been cut. These cuts come as students need to know more to compete in a global economy. The state needs a highly educated workforce, but Georgia is 35th in the nation in spending per student and invests nearly $1,400 less per student than the national average of $10,608.

‘Since 2003, our school district has lost $22.3 million. [The greatest impact is] elimination of paraprofessionals and teachers, reduced instructional days … implementation of furlough days [and] skipped textbook adoptions.’ — Thomaston-Upson County

A modest increase of $314 million in state funding for the 2014–2015 school year offers a small measure of relief, but the increase is 16  PAGE ONE

dwarfed by the $8.4 billion in austerity cuts imposed since 2003. Of Georgia’s 180 districts, 151 responded to the 2014 survey. These districts enroll 91.4% of all public school students in Georgia. Among the 151 Georgia districts, the survey found:

•  127 districts (85% of respondents) have larger class sizes than in 2009–2010. •  61 districts are furloughing teachers this year. •  49 districts (one-third of respondents) report that this year’s school calendar is less than the standard 180 days. •  66 districts (46% of respondents) have cut or eliminated art and music programs since 2009. Two-thirds have not restored them. •  102 districts (72% of respondents) increased property taxes from 2009 to 2015.

Fewer Teachers, Frozen Salaries, Increased Class Sizes

•  The 151 districts employ 8,363 fewer teachers than in 2009. Since last year, teaching positions declined in 30 districts. Muscogee County lost 130 positions, the most reported by any district. •  This school year, new teachers were hired in 78 of the 151 districts, but the increases were largely in districts that lost the greatest number of positions in recent years. They are Bartow, Cherokee, Clayton, Cobb, Columbia, DeKalb, Forsyth, Fulton, Gwinnett and Rockdale counties, as well as Atlanta Public Schools. Most other districts hired far fewer new teachers. •  Many districts continue to furlough teachers. •  Districts report that local salary suppleJanuary/February 2015

ments for teachers have been reduced or eliminated, cost-of-living increases have been eliminated and salaries have been frozen. •  Teacher morale slipped due to the loss of income coupled with ballooning class sizes. As a result, districts struggle to attract and keep good teachers. •  Of the 151 districts, 19% said that they have increased teacher salaries this school year. The increases are not part of the state salary schedule, which has not changed since fiscal year 2009. •  Nearly 87% of the districts have cut professional development programs for educators. Student Programs and Instructional Support

•  Nearly 63% of districts have cut electives since 2009, and about 71% of those have not been able to restore them. •  Since FY09, more than 36% of the districts have cut remedial or enrichment programs for low-performing students. 54% are partially restoring them, whereas 44% cannot. •  Since FY09, 96 districts have cut more than 2,250 instructional support positions, such as media specialists, social workers, counselors and school-level administrators.

More Students in Poverty

Compounding the issue, Georgia’s schools serve more than 1 million low-income students. Last year, more than 62% of the students in public schools participated in the Federal Free and Reduced Lunch Program.

‘At the middle schools, we have gone from eight exploratory classes to three. We have eliminated ROTC in the high schools. Foreign language has been cut to the bare minimum. [We are] sharing counselors in the elementary schools.’ — Murray County Low-income students are more likely to require additional support to reach achievement levels of students from families that are better off. They are more likely to enter school behind in literacy and math, and the gap persists throughout their school years. Students who are not reading at grade level by the end of third grade are four times as likely to drop Continued on page 18

Districts with the Shortest School Calendars District

2014–2015 School Days

Chattooga County


Haralson County


Webster County


Stewart County


Wilcox County


Toombs County


Pike County


Murray County


January/February 2015

Districts Still Losing Teachers 2014–2015 School Year 1. Muscogee County

11. Dougherty County

21. Lumpkin County

2. Jackson County

12. Greene County

22. Peach County

3. Troup County

13. Dublin City

23. Pulaski County

4. Ben Hill County

14. Randolph County

24. Thomasville City

5. Emanuel County

15. Pike County

25. Crawford County

6. Commerce City

16. Savannah-Chatham County

26. Fayette County

7. Jenkins County 8. Richmond County 9. Monroe County 10. Cartersville City

17. Tift County 18. Bibb County 19. Burke County 20. Camden County

27. Jefferson County 28. Webster County 29. Decatur County 30. Wilcox County


2015 Legislative Session out of school. In 2013, only 20% of Georgia’s low-income eighth-graders demonstrated proficiency in reading, reports the National Center for Education Statistics. This gap can be narrowed by providing these students with highly skilled teachers, smaller class sizes, especially in early grades, and high-quality afterschool and summer learning programs. Most states direct more

‘[We have] absolutely no funds for classroom technology.’ — Toombs County

money to these students. Georgia does not. Proper funding will benefit Georgia students in other ways as well: •  Art and music education is tied to achievements in English, math and critical thinking skills. They also foster a positive school culture. Elective courses help students explore personal interests and build on their strengths, which keeps them engaged and on track toward graduation. •  In-school social workers and psychologists improve academic achievement, and schools with librarians produce more students with higher reading scores. •  Higher salaries, especially for math and sci-

Districts with the Largest Declines in State Funding per Student

Districts with the Largest QBE Cut per Student

State funding per student fell from an average of $5,088 in fiscal year 2002 to $4,480 in fiscal year 2015 in inflationadjusted dollars, a decline of 12%. Most of the districts with the largest percentage loss of state money also have high percentages of low-income students.

The QBE funding formula is down by $500 or more per student in 46 districts for the 2014-2015 school year. These are the districts with the largest reduction per student. In all but one district, the majority of students qualify for the Federal Free and Reduced Lunch Program.

District Name

State Funding Change (per student 2002–2015)

% Free & Reduced Lunch Students

Greene County



Montgomery County



Putnam County



Randolph County



Baldwin County



Dublin City



Rabun County



Fannin County



Towns County



McIntosh County



Thomasville City



Hancock County



Vidalia City



Jefferson City



Clinch County



Chatham County



Dooly County



Atlanta Public Schools



Seminole County



Washington County



Based on data from the Georgia Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics. 18  PAGE ONE


QBE Cut per Student

% Free & Reduced Lunch Students

1. Taliaferro County


2. Trion City



3. Quitman County



4. Atkinson County



5. Pelham City



6. Clay County




7. Madison County



8. Bacon County



9. Floyd County



10. Webster County



11. Chattahoochee County



12. Commerce City



13. Jenkins County



14. Wheeler County



15. Turner County



16. Irwin County



17. Haralson County



18. Lanier County



19. Jefferson County



20. Bleckley County



Based on data from the Georgia Department of Education.

January/February 2015

ence teachers, attract more effective teachers. Districts paying less than neighboring school systems struggle with retention, driving up costs. 13 years of Cuts: The State’s Disinvestment in Public Education

Most state funding for public schools is distributed through the Quality Basic Education (QBE) formula, which the General Assembly approved in 1985. The formula calculates district funding needs based on enrollment characteristics and participation in programs such as gifted, technical and special education. The Legislature has underfunded schools every year since 2003. In recent years, the gap between the amount the formula calculated and the Legislature provided became huge. Each year from 2010 to 2014, Georgia shortchanged public schools by $1 billion. The Legislature provides $746 million less in fiscal year 2015 than the formula dictates. School districts would receive an average of $439 more for each full-time equivalent student if the Legislature provided


the full amount calculated by the formula. That’s a loss of nearly $11,000 in a class of 25. It is a loss of more than $285,000 in a school of 650 students. The funding formula is down by $500 or more per student in 46 districts (see chart). The state piled on more financial stress in fiscal year 2012 when it ended its contribution to health insurance for bus drivers, cafeteria workers, maintenance workers and other non-teaching staff. In 2014, districts spent $596 per month for each of these non-teaching employees. The hardship is exacerbated by declines in property tax revenue triggered by the Great Recession. From 2008 to 2013, inflation-adjusted property values slid in more than 90% of Georgia’s school districts. Recommendations to Lawmakers

GBPI’s “Cutting Class” report recommends that Georgia leaders align school funding with their expectations for students and with the state’s economic and workforce development goals. It

asks that the General Assembly create tax and budget policies to fund a highquality public education system for all Georgians. Ways in which lawmakers can raise revenues include increasing the sales tax or expanding it to cover more services, limiting itemized deductions and raising the cigarette tax. The report also asks the General Assembly to factor in important differences in districts such as the number of low-income students and the fact that, due to differences in property wealth and population size, districts have differing abilities to raise local revenues. Finally, the report recommends that district leaders be given greater authority on how district education dollars are spent. n This article is excerpted from two reports issued last fall by the GBPI— “Cutting Class to Make Ends Meet 2014” and “The Schoolhouse Squeeze 2014.” You may view the full reports, including survey responses from school districts and district-by-district data, on the GBPI website at






February 14–May 24, 2015

February 14–May 24, 2015

Through June 7, 2015

October 18, 2015–January 17, 2016




HIGH MUSEUM OF ART ATLANTA | 1280 PEACHTREE STREET, N.E. | HIGH.ORG Images: Wifredo Lam, Le Sombre Malembo, Dieu du carrefour, 1943, collection of Isaac and Betty Rudman.© 2014 Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY/ADAGP, Paris. Photo by Rey Parlá. 2014 © Parlá Studios, LLC. Wifredo Lam photograph by Man Ray © Man Ray Trust/Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY/ADAGP, Paris 2014. Gordon Parks, Untitled, Shady Grove, Alabama (detail), 1956, inkjet print, courtesy of The Gordon Parks Foundation. © The Gordon Parks Foundation. Prince’s Dress Carriage, ca. 1750–1755, wood, gold, braids, metal, leather, velvet, and glass, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, Austria.

For more information, please call 404-733-4468 or email January/February 2015


2015 Legislative Session

PAGE Legislative Agenda Reconsider Testing and Evaluation Policies Professional educators support thoughtful student assessment and fair and comprehensive performance evaluations. State leaders should review Georgia’s high-stakes testing program and its impact on teacher performance evaluation. Policymakers should adjust the implementation of Georgia’s statewide teacher and leader evaluation system to ensure the success of the program. The program does not measure the progress of Georgia students against a national standard, and it makes a poor criterion for a pay-for-performance system. Additionally, Georgia’s controversial student testing program takes too much time away from student learning, and it does not provide teachers with timely information that allows them to adjust how and what they teach. High-stakes student tests are a source of excessive stress and should not account for more than 20 percent of educator performance evaluations.


Reverse Class Size Increases

Restore A Full School Year

State leaders should provide resources to reverse the trend of rising class sizes. Teachers, parents and students know from experience that smaller classes improve discipline and safety, increase learning opportunities for students and enhance student engagement and behavior. Smaller class sizes are particularly important in classes comprised of struggling students, early grades and math and science courses.

Policymakers should provide funding so that all Georgia public school students can attend class for at least 180 days. Georgia must also stabilize its curriculum and give teachers 10 days of meaningful professional learning and class preparation. Nearly 50 Georgia school districts report school calendars of fewer than 180 days for the current school year. At least eight school districts report school calendars of 160 or fewer days. Georgia’s public schools serve more than one million low-income students. Funding should be targeted to student demographics and should be at levels sufficient to allow impoverished students to succeed n academically.

PAGE Day on Capitol Hill Tuesday, Feb. 17 • Breakfast at the Capitol • Meetings and Lunch with Legislators Register now at

January/February 2015

2015 Legislative Issues to Watch By Margaret Ciccarelli, PAGE Director of Legislative Services The following are education issues likely to arise during the 2015 General Assembly, which convened in January. Common Core

Georgia’s use of the Common Core standards was a highly politicized issue during the 2014 session. A coalition of business leaders, military leaders and educators stopped a bill that would effectively take Georgia out of Common Core. Gov. Nathan Deal has charged the State Board of Education with a review of the standards, and this review is ongoing. A legislative study committee on Common Core and the role of the federal government in Georgia education also continues, and the committee’s recommendations will soon be finalized. Guns in Schools

Controversial new state gun laws giving local school boards authority to allow educators to carry firearms and allowing those with concealed carry permits to carry weapons in school zones will likely be revisited by the judicial system, legislative system or both. Second Amendment advocacy group is assisting plaintiffs who filed suit, seeking a ruling that will enable the plaintiff fathers of several elementary school students to carry firearms into their children’s schools. Education Budget

in the FY15 budget reduce ongoing austerity reductions from about $1 billion to approximately $747 million. Governor Deal has indicated a desire to rewrite QBE during his second term. Many believe that the rewrite will include a downward adjustment of the new state formula to reflect current funding levels. For a helpful reference, the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute’s comprehensive reports on school funding can be found under the education policy area tab at

Congratulations to PAGE Director of Legislative Services Margaret Ciccerelli, who was named among Georgia’s “Top Female Lobbyists” by James magazine.

Continued on page 22

Online M.A. in english Studies For Language Arts Teachers

The Valdosta State University Master of Arts in English Studies for Language Arts Teachers is an innovative online degree program designed specifically for language arts teachers who wish to expand their content knowledge in the major subfields of the discipline, including literature, composition, rhetoric, linguistics and creative writing.

• A fully accredited, fully online program, housed in a major comprehensive state university. • Courses are designed for K-12 language arts teachers working full-time. • Degree can be completed in two years including summers. • Course content covers all major subfields in English studies. • Application deadline is April 15 for Summer 2015. For more information, visit:

The state education budget continues as a major driver of state and local education policy. The fiscal year 2015 education budget includes formulaic increases for increased student enrollment and teacher training and experience. However, automatic rolling reductions to the education budget continue to cause painful cuts at the local level, particularly in rural school districts. Increases to Georgia’s school funding mechanism, the Quality Basic Education (QBE) formula, January/February 2015


2015 Legislative Session Standardized Testing and Educator Evaluation

Georgia’s new statewide educator evaluation system, which links student standardized test scores to teacher performance evaluations and teacher performance evaluations to teacher retention and certification, is currently being rolled out statewide. The system was developed as a condition of receipt of federal funds. In August, U.S. Secretary of Education

Arne Duncan announced that states can delay the use of standardized test results in teacher performance ratings by another year, saying “I believe testing issues today are sucking the oxygen out of the room in a lot of schools.” Georgia’s new Milestones testing program is currently slated to replace the state CRCT. Look for more conversation at the state and federal levels regarding the impact of standardized testing on students and educators.

We come to your school with programs that integrate the arts into other areas of learning. Workshops & residencies performances teacher professional development

Education-Related State Constitutional Amendments

Proposed state constitutional amendments require a two-thirds majority vote in the legislature before being approved by voters. Amendments in 2014 aimed at allowing newly incorporated Atlanta metros to create their own school systems and allow local communities to levy additional funding through Education Local Option Sales Tax failed and are likely to be revived. Ripe for renewed consideration is an amendment allowing for the election of local school superintendents. This fall’s election cycle also included perennial conversation regarding the possibility of converting Georgia’s state school superintendent position from an elected position to an appointed one. Such a change would require amending the state constitution. School Choice

In late summer, Governor Deal announced interest in creating a statewide recovery school district in Georgia. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, a similar system in Louisiana replaced traditional public schools with a network of charter schools. The Louisiana system has had mixed results, and Deal backed away from the plan during the election cycle. Look for more conversation regarding charter schools, a statewide recovery district and school vouchers during the 2015 legislative session. Fair Dismissal for Educators

This summer’s ruling by a California judge struck down the state’s tenure laws and has reinvigorated national debate regarding teacher tenure. Though the California decision has no official legal bearing on Georgia and our state’s more modest fair dismissal laws are distinguishable from California’s, Georgia leaders may be inspired by the recent California ruling.

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All bills from 2014 are dead, as last year was the second in Georgia’s biennial legislative system. New legislation must be refiled, and legislators may pre-file bills as n early as Nov. 15.

Major funding and support for Arts for Learning, Woodruff Arts Center is provided by the City of Atlanta Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs, the Fulton County Board of Commissioners under the guidance of Fulton County Arts & Culture (FCAC), and the Georgia Council for the Arts through appropriations of the Georgia General Assembly. GCA also receives support from its partner agency - the National Endowment for the Arts.

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January/February 2015

Professional Learning

South Georgia Districts Form Network To Develop Engaging Student Work


Photos by Sharah N. Denton, M.S.

n the first partnership of its kind, five south Georgia school districts are collaboratively developing in-depth strategies to provide students with highly engaging work. The goal is school transformation. The network, called the Professional Association of Georgia Educators South Georgia School District Network, is working with PAGE and the Coastal Plains Regional Education Services Agency. Approximately 140 teachers, principals and superintendents in the school districts of Berrien, Brooks, Lowndes, Tift and Valdosta City are participating. Through the network, school personnel are developing deep understandings

January/February 2015

of their students and communities—and of each other. Educators are examining exactly “who” their students are, a critical step in developing engaging work that causes students to want to learn, resulting in learning at a profound level. Questions the educators are exploring include: •  What factors influence our students’ desire and ability to learn? •  How do our students prefer to learn and present their work? •  Do our students see links between learning opportunities and their future? •  What factors outside of school inhibit or support learning? The professional learning series is

informed by the Schlechty Center’s model for student engagement. “The fundamentals are based on solid research,” says Berrien County Schools Superintendent Danny Hayes. Sessions focus on the core business of each district, resulting in deepened understanding of local needs and district standards. Reaching Beyond Schoolhouse Walls

The PAGE South Georgia School District Network, formed in September 2014, will span several years. Though still in its infancy, its sphere of influence is already widening to include community members beyond schoolhouse walls. In order for school transformation to occur, all stakeholders—teachers, principals, superintendents, parents and community leaders—must all work together, states PAGE Executive Director Dr. Allene Magill. Additionally, to help guide the process, participants in the network are using the PAGE Communities Conversations website at as a key resource. The PAGE South Georgia School District Network sessions are hosted by Brooks County Schools, under the direction of Superintendent Owen Clemons, at the J.H. Wells Education Center in n Quitman.


Professional Learning

PAGE Assistant Principal and Teacher Leadership Academy The PAGE Assistant Principal and Teacher Leadership Academy, a two-year initiative, is composed of school teams from across Georgia. Participants meet four times a year; these are scenes from a two-day workshop last fall. In addition to practicing relational leadership and effective communication, participants bring diverse perspectives to improving the quality of the work designed for students. 2



January/February 2015

1. Annie Wimbish, Ed.D., of the Schlechty Center 2. Caroline Stephens and Jamie Parlo of Tolbert ES (Gordon County)


3. Bill Haskin of Lowndes MS; Marne Wilson and Jeff Shattuck of Gordon Central HS; Ethelyn Johnson of Central HS (Carroll County); Debbie Clance of Belwood ES (Gordon County) 4. Bernard Young of Twiggs County HS 5. Ali Finley of Dalton City Schools; Octavia Pryor of Metter MS (Candler County); Philisia Spearmon of Metter HS (Candler County) 6. Barbara Langford and Ryan Land of Calhoun MS; Margaret McMillan of Berrien HS; Jennifer Harris, Ashley Wallace and Ethelyn Johnson of Central HS (Carroll County) 7. Sam Ruggiero and Justin Timms of Redbud MS (Gordon County)

Photos by Meg Thornton



6 7

January/February 2015



Work Outside of Work

Contract Restrictions on Side Jobs By Sean DeVetter, PAGE Staff Attorney


potentially troublesome area of school law concerns employment that takes place outside of an educator’s contract. Many educators seek outside employment during the school year and during summer months. While outside work may be a great way to earn extra money and/or explore other interests, educators need to be aware of potential conflicts with their teaching contracts, the Code of Ethics for Educators and school system policies. Teaching Contracts

Most teaching contracts contain clauses certifying that the educator is not under contract with another school system and will not take on employment outside the teaching contract that interferes with the duties of the contract. Responsibility lies with the educator to ensure these conflicts do not exist or develop. Failure to abide by the terms of the contract may result in termination of the contract and possibly a referral to the Professional Standards Commission.

The Code of Ethics for Educators

Georgia educators engaging in outside employment risk violating Standard 5 (Public Funds and Property) and Standard 6 (Remunerative Conduct) of the Code of Ethics for Educators. To avoid conflict with Standard 5, educators should steer clear of using school property (paper, copiers, computers, etc.) when performing work or duties that are not expressly school related. Educators determined to have used school property for outside businesses will be deemed in violation of Standard 5. To avoid conflict with Standard 6, educators cannot financially benefit


from students or their parents. Common examples include private tutoring or summer camp jobs. If the Professional Standards Commission investigates such an allegation, they will look to see if payment, or lack thereof, could lead to undue influence on a student or parent. In other words, does the student or parent think that the student’s grades or situation at school could either improve by paying an educator or worsen by failing to provide compensation to an educator? Educators usually avoid violation of Standard 6 if activities they perform for compensation outside of their contract are authorized by the local system. Local Policy

Before engaging in outside employment, know your local school policy. Some systems prohibit educators from accepting any form of compensation from any student in the system. More commonly, school systems do not allow educators to accept compensation from any student in their building. Many systems have policies that apply during the school year but change in the summer. Most school systems are well aware that employees have outside jobs, and systems usually encourage such employment. Outside jobs often supplement educator salaries, allow educators to explore outside interests and often result in recognition of the educator and school system. If you have any concerns about your outside employment, talk to your administrator. When in doubt, avoid performing services for compensation for your students (and for students soon to be in your class) and their parents. As always, with this or any other legal question, be sure to call n the PAGE Legal Department.

January/February 2015

Teacher Candidates Learn Rules of Engagement at ‘Survival’ Conference By Mary Ruth Ray, PAGE College Services Representative


ast fall, teacher candidates from Georgia colleges gained valuable insight into surviving their first year of teaching. The First-Year Survival Conference, held at Middle Georgia State College in Macon, is an annual event co-hosted by PAGE and the MGSC School of Education. Keynote speaker Jordan Reeves Walker, Ed.D., a national trainer on learning-focused schools and motivating at-risk students, shared strategies for keeping students on task. “To draw a student who is off task into the discussion, ask the student a lesson-related question that he or she can answer,” Walker said. “For example, if the lesson is on types of rocks, you could ask, ‘Johnny, what are some of the colors you have seen in rocks?’” Walker, author of “Successful Classroom Management Strategies and Interventions that Work with High School Students”, also coached teacher candidates on positive interventions to help students manage their own behavior. “We’ve all had the eager students who want to answer every question, limiting the participation of those more hesitant to speak out. This puts teachers in the position of having to equalize participation,” she said. “One solution is to give each student a certain number of index cards. Each time a student answers a question in class, he or she gives you an ‘answer card.’ This will cause the uber-enthusiastic stu-

January/February 2015

dents to carefully consider which questions they want to answer. The students begin to equalize the class participation based on who is still holding answer cards.” Another presenter, PAGE staff attorney Matthew Pence, addressed the Georgia Code of Ethics standards that are the most challenging for new educators, one of which is Standard 9, Required Reporting. “I can’t overemphasize how important it is

to make all required reports, especially suspicion of child abuse. All educators in Georgia are mandated reporters and must report suspected child abuse within 24 hours,” said Pence. Conference workshop topics included reaching the hearts of students to help them reach their goals; parent engagement strategies; technology tools for standards-based learning; and differentiating instruction techniques. The First-Year Survival Conference was attended by 160 teaching candidates from 18 colleges, including Armstrong State University, Clayton State University, Columbus State University, Darton State College, Georgia College and State University, Georgia Perimeter College, Georgia Southern University, Georgia Southwestern State University, Gordon State College, Kennesaw State University, LaGrange College, Mercer University, Middle Georgia State College, University of Georgia, University of North Georgia, University of West Georgia, Upper Iowa University and Valdosta State University. n

‘To draw a student who is off task into the discussion, ask the student a lesson-related question that he or she can answer.’

— Keynote speaker Jordan Reeves Walker,Ed.D.


Foundation News Thank You PAGE Members for Giving Us Terrific Reasons to Celebrate Education


n supporting the PAGE Foundation, PAGE members help fund programs that challenge, celebrate and reward outstanding teachers and high-achieving students. From academic competitions, such as the PAGE Academic Bowl for Middle Grades and PAGE Georgia Academic Decathlon (GAD), to PAGE STAR, the state’s premier academic recognition program, the PAGE Foundation ensures that these programs not only survive, but also thrive. Even in this era of

reduced public education funding, your PAGE Foundation is determined that education in Georgia will continue to be something to celebrate and that hard-working students and exceptional teachers will have the opportunity to achieve bigger dreams. The PAGE Foundation is also proud to provide financial scholarships to aspiring, as well as veteran educators. And through PAGE TV, you can learn more about state legislative actions regarding education, best practices in education and Foundation academic programs.

Our goals for 2015 include: •  Expanding the PAGE Georgia Academic Decathlon program to more students; •  Providing additional funding to better support PAGE Academic Bowl teams; •  Providing scholarship funding to more Georgia educators; and •  Perpetuating STAR, Georgia’s flagship student and teacher recognition n program.

Each year, the PAGE Foundation helps nearly 3,000 Georgia students and teachers fulfill their academic dreams. Below are highlights of just a few of the students or teachers who have benefitted from your generous support of PAGE Foundation programs.

Steven Harris

Michael Lomax, the 2010 State STAR Student and a 2014 graduate of Yale University. “As a lifelong public school student from a poor region of the Deep South, being named State PAGE STAR Student in 2010 was a validation of the hard work put in by myself and my many teachers, especially Ms. Carole Wiles, my middle school English teacher and STAR Teacher selection. What I appreciate the most is being given the chance by the STAR program to showcase that the brightest minds in Georgia don’t have to come from Atlanta.” — Michael Lomax


Rodney Bullard, vice president of community affairs and executive director for the Chick-fil-A Foundation, credits the PAGE Foundation’s Academic Bowl for Middle Grades for helping him learn a valuable life lesson. “Academic Bowl was a great learning experience. I learned that preparation and the amount of work you put into something really does result in the success of that effort.” — Rodney Bullard

Paula Flatman, a middle school Spanish teacher, was working on her master’s degree when she earned a PAGE Foundation Scholarship that helped her study in Spain for two summers. “This PAGE Foundation Scholarship has given me the opportunity to share with my students the greater knowledge of the Spanish language, providing the students with a more well-rounded language experience.” — Paula Flatman

Destin Sisemore and Steven Harris, teammates on the 2010 Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High School State Champion GAD team, credit their participation in GAD for expanding their dreams in higher education. “If there had been no decathlon team, I would probably not be at Princeton. Academic Decathlon was the best thing I have ever done. It has a very persuasive influence.” — Steven Harris

Destin Sisemore at Brown College January/February 2015

Volunteers Wanted for Academic Competitions The PAGE Foundation honors outstanding students and teachers and encourages academic excellence through competitive programs such as the PAGE Academic Bowl for Middle Grades and PAGE Georgia Academic Decathlon. These programs would not be possible without the assistance of many dedicated volunteers. To find out more about volunteer opportunities, please visit and click the “Academic Bowl” or “GAD” tab.

January/February 2015

2015 PAGE Planner JANUARY 24 PAGE Academic Bowl for Middle Grades State Championship, GA College & State University, Milledgeville 25–26 PAGE Assistant Principal Leadership Academy, PAGE Office

FEBRUARY 1–2 PAGE Designing Engaging Work, PAGE Office 17 PAGE Day on Capitol Hill, Georgia State Capitol, Atlanta

MARCH 8–9 PAGE Principal Leadership Network, PAGE Office 22–23 PAGE Assistant Principal Leadership Network, PAGE Office 26–28 FEA Spring Training (FEAST), Epworth by the Sea, St. Simon’s Island 31 PAGE Foundation Scholarship Postmark Deadline

27–28 PAGE Georgia Academic Decathlon State Competition, Berkmar HS, Lilburn


2014-2015 PAGE Officers & Board of Directors

Leslie Mills President

Stephanie Davis Howard President-Elect

Dr. Emily Felton Past President

Kelli De Guire Secretary

Lamar Scott Treasurer

Miranda Willingham District 9

Allison Scenna District 3






TBD District 7

7th Nick Zomer District 5

3a Clark







10th Mc Du







Rochelle Lofstrand District 4 (Atlanta City, DeKalb)


Shannon Hammond District 10

11th Bibb




13th ery






1st Evans

Amy Denty District 1

Dr. Susan Mullins District 6







8th Dr. Sandra Owens District 11 Lindsey Martin District 8 Donna Graham District 12 30  PAGE ONE

Dr. Todd Cason District 2

Dr. Hayward Cordy District 13 January/February 2015

Members In The News

Civic Educator of the Year Intrigues with Technology


lishia Gaston, an eighth-grade social studies teacher at Lowndes Middle School in south Georgia, was named Georgia Civic Educator of the Year in October by the Georgia Center for Civic Engagement. Gaston was recognized at the Georgia Council for the Social Studies annual conference in Athens. The award honors educators who: •  Use experiential learning techniques to engage students in social studies; •  Teach civic education for democratic participation in society; and •  Encourage students to find and use their voice to effect change in their community. Gaston enjoys working technology into lessons. She recently used Google Earth to take students on whirlwind tours of the White House, Arlington National Cemetery, Jamestown and the Georgia State Capitol. In the same lesson, she used MyCongress to n teach students about their representatives.

2014 National Blue Ribbon Schools


he following eight Georgia public schools were named 2014 National Blue Ribbon Schools for superior academic achievement or gains in achievement: •  Wadsworth Magnet School for High Achievers, DeKalb County •  Medlock Bridge Elementary School, Fulton County •  Lake Oconee Academy, Greene County •  South Forsyth Middle School, Forsyth County •  Centralhatchee Elementary School, Heard County •  Elite Scholars Academy, Clayton County •  Stallings Island Middle School, Columbia County •  Big A Elementary School, Stephens County​ The U.S. Department of Education program recognizes schools where students perform at exceptionally high levels, or where significant improvements in aca-

January/February 2015

Centralhatchee Elementary fifth-grade classroom celebrates with blue snow cones.

demic achievement are being made. The schools are honored at an annual awards ceremony in Washington, D.C. “The academic performance in these schools is a result of focused students,

teachers, education leaders and parents working together toward the same goal of high student achievement,” said Dr. John Barge, former state school supern intendent.


Members In The News

Gwinnett Wins Prestigious Broad Prize for Urban Education


ongratulations to Gwinnett County Public Schools, which, along with Orange County Public Schools (Florida), won the prestigious 2014 Broad Foundation Prize for Urban Education. As co-winners, the two districts shared a $1 million prize and each received $500,000 in college scholarships for seniors. Gwinnett, Georgia’s largest school dis-

trict, was cited for increases in average SAT scores among African-American students, among other achievements. In 2013, 88 percent of Gwinnett County’s high school seniors took the SAT, including 90 percent of the district’s African-American seniors. The district ranked in the top 20 percentile statewide for the percentage of low-income students hitting top levels on state exams in reading, math and science. The award is unusual in that districts cannot nominate themselves. Nominees are chosen from large urban districts nationwide that meet criteria for enrollment and percentages of low-income students, among other factors. In 2013, 55 percent of Gwinnett students qualified for the Federal Free

Georgia’s largest school district was cited for increases in average SAT scores among AfricanAmerican students, among other achievements.

Officers President Leslie Mills President-Elect Stephanie Davis Howard Treasurer Lamar Scott Past-President Dr. Emily Felton Secretary Kelli De Guire Directors District 1 District 8 Amy Denty Lindsey Raulerson District 2 District 9 Dr. Todd Cason Miranda Willingham District 3 District 10 Allison Scenna Shannon Hammond District 4 District 11 Rochelle Lofstrand Dr. Sandra Owens District 5 District 12 Nick Zomer Donna Graham District 6 District 13 Dr. Susan Mullins Dr. Hayward Cordy District 7 TBA Ex-Officio Megan King


and Reduced Lunch Program. A second-time winner, Gwinnett won the prize in 2010 and was a 2009 finalist. Among the four national finalists, an education research team spends four days in each district, talking with more than 200 employees. A selection jury of national leaders in education and public service then uses the quantitative data and information gathered during the intensive visits to choose the winner. “We were impressed with Gwinnett County’s steady, sustainable gains,” former Pennsylvania Gov. Edward G. Rendell, a member of the selection jury, stated in a press release. Gwinnett Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks and school board members were at the award ceremony in New York City where U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan made n the announcement in September.

The articles published in PAGE One represent the views of the contributors and do not necessarily represent the views of the Professional Association of Georgia Educators, except where clearly stated. Contact the Editor: Tim Callahan;, PAGE One magazine; PAGE; P.O. Box 942270; Atlanta, GA 31141-2270; 770-216-8555; 800-334-6861. Contributions/gifts to the PAGE Foundation are deductible as charitable contribution by federal law. Costs for PAGE lobbying on behalf of members are not deductible. PAGE estimates that 7 percent of the nondeductible portion of your 2014–15 dues is allocated to lobbying. PAGE One magazine (ISSN 1523-6188) is mailed to all PAGE members, selected higher education units and other school-related professionals. An annual subscription is included in PAGE membership dues. A subscription for others is $10 annually. Periodicals class non-profit postage paid at Atlanta, Georgia, and additional mailing offices. (USPS 017-347) Postmaster: Send address changes to PAGE One, P.O. Box 942270, Atlanta, GA 31141–2270. PAGE One magazine is published five times a year (January, March, May, August and October) by New South Publishing, Inc.; 9040 Roswell Road, Suite 210; Atlanta, GA, 30350; 770-650-1102. Copyright ©2015

January/February 2015

Master of Education Our Master of Education with a Major in Teacher Leadership is designed to create and

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want to improve their leadership skills, but remain in the classroom.

Degree Program Admission Requirements:

• Must be a certified teacher working in the classroom • Must have at least three years of teaching experience in the K-12 classroom

• Recommended undergraduate 3.0 GPA • Official acceptable Graduate Record Examination scores

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Mercer University’s Tift College of Education is committed to creating transformative change, which is why we proudly prepare more educators than any other private institution in Georgia. Our standard of academic excellence is why our graduates are highly sought after and why they are making a difference in our schools, throughout the state, and around KNO PR the world. Mercer offers more than 20 undergraduate and graduate G A IN education programs which include a variety that are approved by the SF OR Georgia Professional Standards Commission. Programs are offered DIVERSITY BE T in Atlanta, Macon, Savannah, Douglas County, Henry County, The Transforming Educator is the Eastman, Newnan and Online.

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