PAGE One Aug./Sept. 2017

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August/September 2017

John Tibbetts

GEORGIA TEACHER OF THE YEAR Special Report on Accountability and the Grading of Schools

Georgia’s ESSA Plan | Principals & APs Honored | Student Dress Codes

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D W O r C eT tO iTs


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August/September 2017

Vol. 39 No. 1

Feature 08  Former Army Officer is the 2018


Georgia Teacher of the Year

010  2018 Georgia Teacher of the Year Finalists 014  Congratulations to the Georgia Principals and

Assistant Principals of the Year



Special Report

5  Meet Your 2017-2018 PAGE President Kelli De Guire

Professional Learning 24  An Overview of PAGE Professional Learning Initiatives

Accountability and School Grading

6  From the President Post 9/11, My Search for ‘More’ Led to the Classroom 7  From the Executive Director Wherever You Are in Your Career, PAGE Supports You

Legal 27  Student Dress Code Policy PAGE Foundation 28  2017 ‘A PAGE Turning Event’ Honors DeKalb County CEO Michael L. Thurmond

18  John Tanner Addresses Testing and Accountability in Statewide Tour: Georgians Learn about the Misuse of Standardized Testing for Grading Schools

Every Student Succeeds Act 23  Georgia Plan Proposes More Realistic Growth Measures

18  The False and Damaging Premise of School Accountability

29  Educators and Business Professionals ‘Swing for the Future’


29 PAGE One 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. August/September 2017



Editor Craig Harper

President Larry Lebovitz

Graphic Designer Jack Simonetta

Associate Editor Meg Thornton

Publisher John Hanna

Production Coordinator Megan Willis

Contributing Editor Lynn Varner

Editor Cory Sekine-Pettite

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

Associate Editor Megan Thornton


We’ve planned a great day for education pathway students…     

Keynote address from an award-winning educator Engaging workshop sessions on teaching topics & college life College Fair with representatives from colleges across Georgia Mini-session with host college’s admissions staff Education & Ethics Knowledge Bowl Competition

Who’s invited? FGE chapters  Students enrolled in an Education Pathway (ECE or TAP)  Any high school students interested in exploring a career in education (must be accompanied by a teacher) 

Dates and Locations 9:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. (Start/end times may vary by location.) Thursday, September 28, 2017 Georgia Southern University Tuesday, October 3, 2017 Dalton State College Thursday, October 26, 2017 University of North Georgia Wednesday, November 1, 2017 Middle Georgia State University Wednesday, November 15, 2017 Augusta University Thursday, January 25, 2018 University of West Georgia Thursday, February 8, 2018 Georgia Southwestern State University Wednesday, February 28, 2018* University of Georgia Thursday, March 8, 2018 Valdosta State University Wednesday, March 21, 2018* Georgia Gwinnett College *Tentative date; please check website for updated information.

g G rowin ’s Georgia rs Teache

Statesboro Dalton Gainesville Macon Augusta Carrollton Americus Athens Valdosta Lawrenceville

Kelli De Guire

Meet Your 2017-2018 PAGE President


elli De Guire, the 2017-2018 PAGE president, left a career in technical writing to teach. She was inspired by her brother and sisterin-law, who, like De Guire, went through the Georgia Teacher Academy for Preparation and Pedagogy. In 2003, upon landing a position teaching Spanish at Sonoraville Middle School in Calhoun, De Guire uprooted the whole family — husband Dan and their three kids — from their home in Alpharetta to move to Gordon County. “My 14-year-old daughter almost didn’t forgive me,” noted De Guire, who now teaches literature and dual enrollment English at Calhoun High School. Like any exceptional teacher, De Guire has wide-ranging interests and boundless curiosity, as evidenced by her seemingly endless Pinterest page. She is an avid reader, a history buff, an unabashed science fiction nerd and a diehard Anglophile. Writing is another passion. “My favorite class to teach is creative writing,” she noted. De Guire is also a relentless advocate for public education. A member of the PAGE board of directors for the past nine years, she served as board secretary before becoming president-elect last year. “If I could mobilize teachers in Georgia to do one thing, I would want them all to become advocates for our profession,” said De Guire. “When we all work together, we have enormous power to affect tremendous change for Georgia’s children. Because of PAGE, I am more knowledgeable about how legislation affects my profession. It has also imbued me with the confidence to share my ideas, whether with a group of teachers, a state representative or even Governor Deal. PAGE has truly made me a teacher leader.” A native of Trion, De Guire earned a bachelor’s degree at Valdosta State University and a master’s at Kennesaw State University. n

‘PAGE has imbued me with the confidence to share my ideas, whether with a group of teachers, a state representative or even Governor Deal.’ —Kelli De Guire, 2017-2018 PAGE President

—Meg Thornton

August/September 2017


From the President

Post 9/11, My Search for ‘More’ Led to the Classroom Kelli De Guire

“We’re all stories, in the end. Just make it a good one, eh?” — Doctor Who, Season 5, Episode 13

A By sharing our own ‘who’ and then learning our students’ ‘who,’ we can create a community that works together to create authentic learning experiences.


s the new PAGE president (and science fiction nerd), I’d like to share with you my story of what drew me to teaching. If I’ve learned anything from my amazing mentors, it is that personal stories are where community begins. In 2002, while still struggling with the aftermath of the attack on the Twin Towers in New York, I felt a call to do something important, something substantial — something “more.” I was a technical writer in Atlanta who, by this point in my career, had worked for several lucrative Fortune 500 companies — even completing a brief contract with the Centers for Disease Control — but I was not happy. Like many others after 9/11, I felt that I needed to somehow find my passion and use it to change the world for the better. I was searching for my “more.” About this time, my brother Chris embarked on a new career as a teacher through Georgia’s Teaching Alternative Preparation Program. At first, I could not fathom what would possess a rational adult to leave a lucrative career in physical therapy to head into the scary world of seventhgrade science. However, the more

I marveled at his description of the middle school, the story of my “more” began to emerge. Teaching is the ultimate “more.” There is no job more important than teaching and nurturing children. After tremendous thought and soul searching, I finally understood what my heart had known for quite a while. My story — my “more” — was teaching. As part of the PAGE High School Redesign Initiative at Sonoraville High School, we learned to create community through student story — the “more.” One of the design qualities that we practiced daily was “Knowing Our Who.” It was more than a motto for us; it was a core value. The Schlechty Center taught us that one of the best ways for teachers to design engaging work is by first getting to know our students’ likes, dislikes and values. By sharing our own “who” and then learning our students’ “who,” we can create a community that works together to create authentic learning experiences. Each of us in the teaching profession has been called to the work. We each have a “more,” and that story needs to be told. Telling our personal stories creates community and authenticity. I hope that by my sharing my own story, you, as a member of the vast teaching family at PAGE, feel like part of my community. What is your “more?” Share it! n

August/September 2017

From the Executive Director

Wherever You Are in Your Career, PAGE Supports You


ost people think of the new year starting in January, but educators know it really starts when the school doors open to welcome students for all the potential and promise of the new school year. Summer serves to clear the way for educators to begin anew and be even better than last year. For all of you experienced educators, my hope is that this will be your best year yet. For our state’s newest educators, my hope is that you have a great start to your professional career with strong, supportive mentors. Wherever you are on your career path, PAGE stands ready to support you. Our summer is dedicated to preparing for your school year. Our 14 membership service representatives come together to learn about issues that affect you — everything from legislative and Department of Education changes, to certification and evaluation revisions to benefits programs through the state health department or the Teachers Retirement System. It’s important for our representatives to be able to answer your questions authoritatively and to understand your concerns when we visit with you. I’m proud of their efforts to be knowledgeable of local issues and to then communicate those concerns to PAGE so that we can better serve educators across the state. Many of you know our MSRs through their work at new teacher orientations, staff meetings and other events in your schools and communities. As PAGE membership grows, our service grows as well. This summer, we added a staff attorney, bringing our in-house legal staff to six full-time lawyers. In addition to answering your calls and emails throughout the

year — remember, you have access to a PAGE attorney at any time — our legal experts visit schools and districts to personally answer your questions and to make Educator Code of Ethics presentations. Last year, our attorneys made 389 Code of Ethics presentations and handled about 11,400 legal calls. STRONG NETWORKS OF GEORGIA TEACHER LEADERS

The PAGE Professional Learning department is expanding its regional networks that bring educators from multiple districts and schools together to develop highly engaging instruction. These network professionals are expanding their reach to visit with and learn from educators outside of their regions. Last spring, PAGE launched its Northwest Georgia District Network, and this fall we anticipate starting the Northeast Georgia District Network. These professional learning sessions deliver on the central purpose of PAGE’s mission to provide professional learning to enhance competence and confidence, to build leadership and to increase student achievement. Additionally, our work with principals, assistant principals and teachers in design teams is impacting schools and classrooms all across Georgia. Back in Atlanta, our highly respected

Dr. Allene Magill legislative services team communicates with lawmakers year-round to keep them closely connected with educator concerns. We also stay up to date with the Georgia Department of Education, the Teachers Retirement System, the Department of Community Health and all other state agencies that influence the professional lives of educators. During the legislative session each winter, you have a chance to interact with legislators at the annual PAGE/GAEL/GACTE Day on Capitol Hill. Members of the PAGE board of directors, who are elected by membership, also play a major role in guiding PAGE and ensuring that our organization holds true to our purpose of serving Georgia’s professional educators. I am energized by the promise of a new school year and new opportunities to ensure that educators are prepared to make a difference in the lives of children every day in our classrooms. PAGE is privileged to be part of your professional support to help you do what you do even better. n

It’s important for PAGE membership services representatives to be able to authoritatively answer your questions and understand your concerns. I’m proud of their efforts to be knowledgeable of local issues and then communicate those issues to PAGE so that we can better serve educators all across the state.

August/September 2017


Congratulations to John Tibbetts of Worth County High School

Former Army Officer is the 2018 Georgia Teacher of the Year


former U.S. Army officer is the 2018 Georgia Teacher of the Year. John R. Tibbetts is an economics teacher at Worth County High School in Sylvester. A 1979 graduate of Tift County High School, Tibbetts earned a degree in computer science and a master’s in history from the United States Military Academy at West Point. He also holds a master’s of military art and science from the 8  PAGE ONE

U.S. Army School of Advanced Military Studies, and he served 21 years of active duty in the Army. Tibbetts was stationed overseas for more than five years, including service in Iraq during Operation Desert Storm, Turkey and Afghanistan. On Sept. 11, 2001, he was serving as a lieutenant colonel at the Pentagon when American Airlines Flight 77 slammed into the outer ring of the building, killing 189

people. Prior to that, he worked at the National Military Command Center where his job was to talk to the person who had the “football” — a briefcase, the contents of which are to be used by the president of the United States to authorize a nuclear attack while away from fixed command centers. “Our job was to talk the president through his options,” Tibbetts said. Following his military service, Tibbetts August/September 2017

State Superintendent Richard Woods (left) surprises John Tibbetts with the news that he is Georgia Teacher of the Year.

worked briefly in the private sector. He then spent a year teaching at Albany Early College, before accepting a position at Tift County High School and later at Worth County High, where he has taught economics since 2015. He gained his initial teaching certification through Georgia’s nontraditional pathway — GaTAPP, for which he now serves as a mentor. Tibbetts likes teaching economics because it “has a great deal of relevance

Scott Chafin (left), former principal of Worth County High School, congratulates John Tibbetts.

to what goes on in the daily lives of my students. … [It affects] our students’ livelihoods, quality of life and their futures,” he stated in his Teacher of the Year application. “The kids are always the best part of my job,” he added. “I feed off their energy and the excitement of learning something new.” Tibbetts focuses on hands-on, activelearning activities that allow students to connect with economic concepts

through classroom simulations. He also uses his teacher website extensively. “It provides an always-ready, accessible platform I can point students — and parents — to in order to access material we’ve studied in class, prep material, and my extra-credit assignment. I tell them, ‘It’s on my website!’” In addition to being a teacher, Tibbetts is a Georgia High School Association certified wrestling referee. n

How the Georgia Teacher of the Year is Chosen A panel of judges, including teachers, past winners of the award and administrators, chose the 10 finalists for the 2018 Georgia Teacher of the Year from 150 applicants, all of whom had been selected as their school district’s Teacher of the Year. The judges then hear speeches and hold interviews with the finalists. The runner-up for the 2018 Georgia Teacher of the Year is Dominique Vidal Nichols, a teacher at Westside High School in Bibb County. The Georgia Teacher of the Year typically takes a one-year sabbatical, working directly with the Georgia Department of Education. During this

August/September 2017

time, the teacher representative speaks to groups throughout the state; conducts staff development activities for other teachers in his or her area of expertise; serves on statewide committees; and participates in numerous state conferences. “It’s hard to name anything quite so important to a student’s success as the influence of a truly excellent teacher,” State School Superintendent Richard Woods said in a statement. “Every [TOTY finalist] deserves our respect, admiration and gratitude. Each of them is a testament to the powerful difference a great teacher can make in the life of a child.”


2018 Georgia Teacher of the Year Finalists hen did you first realize W you wanted to be a teacher? K. Paige Cole: After a long day of student-teaching, I got into my car and started crying, probably from a mix of exhaustion and an emotionally charged school day. As the tears rolled down my cheeks, I started planning in my head for the next day. That was when I knew I was in for the long haul. Jonathan Deen: In the ninth grade at Bacon County High School, I had an awesome history teacher, Gail Williams. I had just moved from Albany to the family farm in Alma, Ga., and was struggling to meet new friends. She was a great storyteller who could make the past come alive, and it was exactly what I needed. It was not long before she had instilled in me a love for learning history. I knew then I wanted to be able to do what she did.


PAGE congratulates all of Georgia’s 2018 Teacher of the Year finalists. The following excerpts from the TOTY applications of these extraordinary teachers provide a bit of insight into what makes them tick.

What character qualities make great teachers? Susan Donlin: Great teachers see the good qualities in every student, including students with very low academics or severe behavior issues. You must utilize their strengths to help them grow.

will often give as much or as little as is expected of them.

Suzette Weinhardt: Empathy, compassion and patience are necessary for any teacher. At the high school level, a great teacher must have a love of content. Dominique Vidal Nichols: Teachers must be compassionate, reflective, intrinsically motivated, friendly and committed to learning. Jonathan Deen: A great teacher needs to have high expectations because the model we set matters even more than the content we teach. Extensive research shows that teacher expectations directly affect student achievement, as students

Gerald Kosoff: Consistency, passion and patience. Consistency is the foundation of great teaching — consistent expectations and class structures; consistently being present and prepared to engage students; and consistently following through on promises. Being consistent earns me the trust and respect of my students. Passion can bring a consistent teacher to the next level; students can detect which adults are passionate about working with them and which are not. Finally, patience is critical. Students — even high school students — are still kids, and they can make frustrating choices. Having patience with them in these moments (while still remaining consistent with expectations) helps build a classroom culture that allows for great teaching.

Gerald Kosoff

Dominique Vidal Nichols

Paulette M. Allard

AP Calculus, AP Statistics, KIPP Atlanta Collegiate, Atlanta Public Schools

World Literature, AP English Literature and Composition, Westside High, Bibb County Schools

Honors Biology and Forensic Science, Harrison High, Cobb County Schools

Suzette Weinhardt

Jamie Lynn McFarland

Mathematics, Accelerated Geometry, Algebra 2, Pre-Calculus, Sandy Creek High, Fayette County Schools

Grades 3-5 Severe/Profound Intellectual Disabilities, Rock Springs Elementary, Gwinnett County Schools

August/September 2017

What keeps you in the classroom? Dominique Vidal Nichols: Witnessing as a student grows along the continuum of personal and academic excellence is mesmerizing. It’s that magic — that joy— that keeps me rooted in the classroom. K. Paige Cole: The excitement of working with high school students in a government class in extraordinary times like these has me hooked. Maybe I am an adrenaline junky, but other lines of

work just seem boring. I also may suffer from arrested development in that I enjoy talking to adolescents and learning about their worldview. Paulette M. Allard: The learning! I enjoy learning myself so I try to learn and use new things in my classroom every year. I also believe my students have much to teach me; so learning is a reciprocal process in my classroom.

What is your favorite part of the school year? Dominique Vidal Nichols: My favorite part of the year is when I see the difficult student become agreeable, the nervous student become confident, the depressed student become happy, the self-conscious student become proud of who they are or the doubtful student become self-assured. Susan Donlin: I love that point a month or so into the year when the kids all know the class routine, I have learned what makes them tick and classroom instruction really takes off. Jamie Lynn McFarland: I love our end-of-year production. We work on the scenery and costumes for weeks and my students are involved in every aspect. We record student lines on their communication devices and practice them. My parents don’t get to cheer their children on at T-ball games, ballet recitals, soccer games or spelling bees, so this is when they get to see their child be the star of the show. The pride that I sense from my students

and their parents on the day of our play is so sweet. Paulette M. Allard: My favorite part of the school year is the last six weeks of each semester. By this time students know the routine, they know I have their best interests in mind, and (most) students have figured out my sense of humor, so we have more lively class discussions! Laura Gerlach: I really enjoy the beginning of the year when I meet students and their parents. I shake hands with the new scholars, changing their last name to mine. Me: “And you are...?” Kid: “Savannah Wilson.” Me: “Oh, You mean Savannah Gerlach?” Parents usually nod in agreement and understand that I’m making the kids my own. I’m taking them in, adopting them if you will, and adding them to the people I care about. Plus, it’s a time to re-energize and try new strategies.

Susan Donlin

K. Paige Cole

Adapted Curriculum, Marietta Middle, Marietta City Schools

AP United States Government and U.S. History, North Oconee High, Oconee County Schools

August/September 2017

hat do you tell W students when they need encouragement? Suzette Weinhardt: Encouraging students is nearly impossible if you do not know them. Building relationships early in the school year is critical because each student is unique and needs something different from me. I try to mention specifics about the child. Being genuine with high school students is more important than anything! Jonathan Deen: I find inspiration in the words of Winston Churchill: “The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees opportunity in every difficulty.” I try to let students know that struggles are a part of life, but that to succeed one must persevere. Dominique Vidal Nichols: I remind my students of the personal affirmations they recite at the beginning of each class session, such as: •  “I am valuable, important and capable of rigorous learning, influential leading, and purposeful living.” •  “‘Can’t’ is not in my vocabulary.” •  “I press harder when things get difficult, push myself to reach my goals, and dismantle barriers to my own success or the success of others.” I also remind them that whatever they meditate on is what will manifest. Continued on next page

Jonathan Deen

Laura Gerlach

American Government, Dual Enrollment U.S. and World History, Putnam County High, Putnam County Schools

5th Grade, Troup County, Furlow Charter School of Sumter County


hat do you tell other W teachers when they need encouragement? Jamie Lynn McFarland: I remind them how important our job is. We have been given influence over the lives of impressionable children for an entire year. Let’s not waste our influence. Embrace them, love them — even when it’s not easy. K. Paige Cole: I offer other teachers encouragement by listening in a nonjudgmental way. Teachers inspire me because this job is so hard and requires endless energy and passion. When I am discouraged, my husband often tells me to “Take it down a notch.” This is my cue to remember that a lot of discouragement comes from unmet expectations. This is not to say lower the bar, but instead to meet students where they are and then help them get up that hill.

hat is your favorite technology to use for engaging W students in learning? Susan Donlin: When creating interactive SmartBoard activities, I incorporate the favorite songs, movie characters or cartoons of individual students. When students select the correct answer on the SmartBoard, the pictures spin, cheer or play their favorite song. Suzette Weinhardt: I think mixing things up is the key to student engagement. Whether it’s playing Kahoot where students use their phones or iPads, passing the Mobi around for them to write out solutions, or even me modeling keystroking with the online graphing calculator, no one piece of technology will engage every student every day. Paulette M. Allard: My favorite technology is the comparison microscope with a Wi-Fi camera. My forensic students are amazed to use such an elaborate piece of equipment that “real scientists” use and they can capture images from the Wi-Fi camera to their

cell phones and share the data instantly with each other. Laura Gerlach: This sounds oldschool, but I love teaching children to create in Word. Most children, although digital natives, have no idea how to create on the computer. Generating their own ideas and positioning words, organizing graphics and choosing a target audience is important. I teach them how to rightclick, where to change fonts, how to insert text boxes, when to change the margins, and how to design charts, tables, and graphs. Translating Science Fair data into colorful bar graphs is a piece of cake. Gerald Kosoff: I particularly like Desmos, the free online graphing tool. It’s tremendously user-friendly, and many teachers have created interactive demonstrations that allow me to guide students through advanced discoveries (particularly for calculus).

veryone likes to know the morning routine of successful E people. What is yours? Suzette Weinhardt: I get up at 4:20 three mornings a week to run and attend boot camp. Running relaxes me and allows me to focus on specifics for the day. I like to be at school by 7:15, although our report time is 8. I need the quiet time to organize myself, to prepare my classroom – to prepare me! Jonathan Deen: I like to run and do yoga before heading off to work. Dominique Vidal Nichols: I get up at 5 a.m. and begin my meditation. I make affirmations about my day, and then I watch the news while I get ready for work and eat breakfast. I arrive at work at 6:45 a.m. and put on a smile as I welcome students to the cafeteria for breakfast. Susan Donlin: I like to start my day by going to the gym. I either swim, use the track or work out with my trainer. I shower and dress at the gym and head to school, where I meet my kiddos at the bus, and we have breakfast together.


Jamie Lynn McFarland: I spend about 15 minutes reading my Bible, praying and doing a simple devotional. Then I take my breakfast with me in the car and listen to worship music. By the time I get to school, I’m ready to hit the ground running! K. Paige Cole: My routine is like being shot out of a cannon. I get up at 5 a.m. and run with a rotating group of people. Then there is stretching, showering, dressing, eating, coffee, news, dog-walking and packing lunch for a departure at 7:25. Gerald Kosoff: If all goes as planned, I’m up early to go for a run, which gives me an energy boost to start the day. After showering and grabbing my lunch, I’m out the door. If there are no morning staff meetings, I’ll do a lap around my classroom, ensuring that materials are in the right place and my board is updated. I then attend breakfast in the cafeteria and talk informally with students before heading upstairs to greet my students at the classroom door. n August/September 2017

Membership Services Representatives Nancy Ratcliffe District 7 770-773-6004

Jo Breedlove-Johnson District 3a 770-617-6489

Laurie Provost District 3b 678-860-9907 Melanie Evans-McHugh District 5 404-323-3990

Diann Branch District 9 770-757-3001

Ha b


ha m



Kathy Arena District 10 706-564-5873

3a Peggy Brown District 11 770-634-6489







10th Linda Woods District 1 912-237-2600

Mc Du







Shirley Wright District 4 (Atlanta City, DeKalb) 770-732-9540



11th Bibb







13th mery


1st Evans


BJ Jenkins District 6 888-413-1091


Laura Clements District 13 229-392-4088



Gwen Desselle District 2 229-805-1764

College Services Representatives




Joey Kirkland District 12 912-531-3086


North GeorGia

Diane Ray 678-296-7355

Jo Breedlove-Johnson 770-617-6489

Dale Gillespie District 8 229-506-2966

South GeorGia

Dale Gillespie 229-506-2966

Mary Ruth Ray 912-237-1899

Congratulations to the Georgia Principals and Assistant Principals of the Year GAESP Georgia National Distinguished Principal Cynthia Hammond, Ed.D., Westside Elementary (Houston)


ynthia Hammond, Ed.D., of Westside Elementary School in Warner Robbins (Houston) was named 2017 Georgia National Distinguished Principal by the Georgia Association of Elementary School Principals (GAESP). Since Hammond became principal at Westside nine years ago, the school has gained STEM certification and made the state Department of Education’s five-year “Beating the Odds” list. Furthermore, the principal has worked with literacy coaches from the Teachers College at Columbia University in New York to build strategies to enhance literacy instruction. Hammond also helped lead the school’s Vine to Table initiative, whereby teachers and students use aeroponic towers to raise vegetables and a greenhouse to grow fruits and vegetables to help feed the community.

Hammond, who has a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Fort Valley State University, began her professional career as a police officer in Macon and later worked as an officer in Fort Valley. She was named Police Officer of the Year and promoted to detective, where she dealt with juvenile crimes and taught the DARE program. She then earned a master’s degree in education, a specialist degree in educational leadership and a doctorate degree from Argosy University. After she began teaching, Hammond was selected as Byron Middle Teacher of the Year and then Peach County Teacher of the Year. Hammond previously served as assistant principal at Westside, as well as at Matt Arthur Elementary and Miller Elementary. In 2009, she was named Georgia’s Outstanding Assistant Principal by GAESP. Hammond’s mother, Catherine Jackson, is a retired educator from Liberty County.

GAESP Georgia Distinguished Assistant Principal Stacie Carson, Ph.D., Fowler Drive Elementary (Clarke)


owler Drive Elementary School Assistant Principal Stacie Carson, Ph.D., was named 2017 Georgia Distinguished Assistant Principal by the Georgia Association of Elementary School Principals (GAESP). According to Principal Anissa Johnson, Carson restructured the school’s Response to Intervention process to address the needs of the whole child. She also analyzed student performance in order to recommend relative instructional practices. And her leadership extends beyond the school: Carson serves as lead assistant principal within the Clarke County School System.

“Her outstanding role as a leader fosters an environment conducive to creating other leaders through modeling appropriate leadership practices, mentoring and displaying professionalism,” said Johnson. Formerly, Carson was assistant principal at Winterville Elementary School and a teacher at Alps Road Elementary School, both in Clarke County. She earned her bachelor’s from the University of Mary Washington, her master’s from Virginia Commonwealth University and a doctorate from the University of Georgia.

By Meg Thornton


August/September 2017

GAESP Georgia Distinguished Principal Kaleen Pulley, Buford Academy (Gwinnett)


he GAESP named Kaleen Pulley, principal of Buford Academy (Gwinnett), the 2017 Georgia Distinguished Principal. Accomplishments at Buford Academy under Pulley’s helm include being a 2017 Title I Highest Reward School, a Top 10 Georgia Elementary School and a three-year Governor’s Shape Honor Roll recipient. Pulley, a PAGE member, also has teamed up with the North Gwinnett Kiwanis Club to implement the Kiwanis Bring Up Grades

program, or BUGS, which recognizes students who improve their grades. Prior to joining Buford Academy in 2012, Pulley served as assistant principal at two schools in South Carolina and as a teacher in Virginia. She earned an undergraduate degree from Radford University (Virginia), a master’s in science education at Troy State University (Alabama) and an education specialist degree at Piedmont College.

GAESP Georgia Outstanding Assistant Principal Jamie Voorhies, Huddleston Elementary (Fayette)


uddleston Elementary School Assistant Principal Jamie Voorhies has been named Georgia’s outstanding assistant principal by GAESP. Voorhies, a PAGE member, worked with the staff to build a Response to Intervention process in which grade-level teams analyze data to help students be successful. She and the staff and district coordinators also wrote a grant proposal to bring Project Lead the Way to Huddleston. By using PLTW with the school’s STEAM initiative “we are creating inquiry-based, self-directed,

problem-based learning at our school,” she stated on the Distinguished Principals nomination application. Voorhies has a bachelor’s in elementary education from Fort Hayes State University in Kansas; a master’s in curriculum and instruction from Kansas State University and a master’s in administration and leadership from Emporia State University in Kansas. Prior to joining Huddleston Elementary in 2012, she served as an assistant principal in Texas and as a teacher in Texas, Utah and Georgia.

GAMSP Georgia Middle Level Assistant Principal of the Year Kevin Benson, White County Middle School


evin Benson of White County Middle School is Georgia’s 2017 Outstanding Middle Level Assistant Principal of the Year, according to the Georgia Association of Middle School Principals (GAMSP). Benson, who is in his fourth year on the job, has helped develop his school’s Positive Behavior Interventions & Support program, and, as the school’s safety director, is helping to rewrite the school district’s safety plan in collaboration with

local and state agencies. White County Superintendent Jeffrey Wilson called Benson “inquisitive, serious, and a life-long learner,” adding that he is “well deserving of this honor.” Benson earned a bachelor’s degree in education from Kennesaw State University, a master’s degree from the University of Georgia and a specialist degree from Liberty University. His first administrative position came in 2010 at the Summit Academy in Carnesville.

Continued on next page

August/September 2017


GAMSP Georgia Middle Level Principal of the Year Lori Joiner, Risley Middle School (Glynn)


ori Joiner, principal at Risley Middle School in Brunswick (Glynn), is Georgia’s 2017 Distinguished Middle Level Principal of the Year, according to GAMSP. Joiner led the school in becoming a Georgia Lighthouse School to Watch and a National Designated School to Watch in Georgia. The designation involves a rigorous evaluation by the National Forum to Accelerate Middle Level Education. Joiner, a PAGE member, is president-elect of GAMSP and serves on the board of the Georgia Association of Educational Leaders. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Armstrong Atlantic University and a master’s and specialist degree from Georgia Southern University, where she is completing a doctorate in educational leadership. She began her teaching career in 1992 at Glynn Middle School. “I chose education after being a dental hygienist for 10 years,” she said. “I would visit

classrooms to teach students about dental health and enjoyed planning those lessons and being in the schools.” When asked about key leadership traits needed, Joiner said that a principal should be an instructional leader first. “An instructional leader looks at data every day. I look at attendance one day, instructional software reports the next day, teacher gradebooks on another day. I talk with individuals about what I see and what needs to be addressed. When teachers and students know you are checking and asking questions about data, they will be checking it as well. It keeps the focus on improvement.” Joiner said when her school’s news team interviewed her about the Principal of the Year award, she asked the students for their thoughts. “One young lady said she was not surprised. The student said, ‘You have high expectations for us, and we have high expectations for you, too.’ I think that sums it up.”

GASSP High School Assistant Principal of the Year C.T. Hussion of Union County High School in Blairsville (Union)


.T. Hussion of Union County High in Blairsville has been named High School Assistant Principal of the Year by the Georgia Association of Secondary School Principals (GASSP). Hussion believes that his school has taken full advantage of the system’s charter status to create innovative opportunities for students. For example, by using Lexile reading data from the Scholastic Reading Inventory and state testing data, the school has identified at-risk students and incorporated an innovative Response to Intervention system that works well at the high school level. “We take the bottom 25 percent of our freshmen with low Lexiles and re-sequence their courses to allow them time to build their literacy, writing and math skills,” he wrote in his award application. “Before beginning this program, we averaged los-


ing around 40 students by the end of their freshman year. Last year, we only lost three, (and two of those moved).” The program has expanded to support these students into their sophomore year. Hussion earned a bachelor’s in history, a master’s in secondary education and an educational specialist degree at Piedmont College, followed by a degree in educational leadership at Kennesaw State University. He began his teaching career at Gainesville High School. (He was twice named the Gainesville Times Coach of the Year.) In 2007, he began teaching economics at Union County High School, where he was named the Teacher of the Year in 2009 and Employee of the Year in 2013. A PAGE member, Hussion was promoted in recent months and has just taken the helm as principal of Union County High School.

August/September 2017

GASSP Middle School Assistant Principal of the Year Chris Chitwood of Wilbanks Middle School in Demorest (Habersham)


hris Chitwood of Wilbanks Middle School in Demorist (Habersham) has been named Middle School Assistant Principal of the Year by the Georgia Association of Secondary School Principals (GASSP). As a former math teacher, Chitwood loves data. He implemented his school’s Tied to Excellence program in which students, who are placed into small groups based on their individual needs, set goals and track their progress. He and his principal also focus on helping math and ELA instructors track standards proficiency. The administrators meet with those content leaders twice a week — once to plan lessons and assessments that are standards based, and the other for the teacher to share how they are using formative assessments and what they are doing if a student hasn’t reached proficiency in a standard. “By knowing each student’s achievement level, assess-

ing and tracking daily, and meeting with each student frequently about his or her data, we are able to close the achievement gap and better prepare students for college or their career,” wrote Chitwood in his award application. Chitwood drills down into data in other ways as well. “I often take early data and use spreadsheets to calculate CCRPI scores before the information is released. It is important to me to know exactly where we, as a school, stand in critical areas (including subgroups) before our data is calculated and released so we can make important decisions for the upcoming school year.” Chitwood earned a mathematics undergraduate degree and a master’s in education at Piedmont College and an educational specialist in leadership degree at Lincoln Memorial University.

GASSP Georgia High School Principal of the Year Tommy Welch, Ph.D., Meadowcreek High School (Gwinnett)


ommy Welch, Ph.D., of Meadowcreek High School in Norcross (Gwinnett) was named Georgia High School Principal of the Year by GASSP. Since Welch became principal in 2011, Meadowcreek’s graduation rate has jumped more than 20 percent, SAT scores have improved by 40 percent, ninth-grade retention rates are up and the school has expanded Advanced Placement options. Welch is credited with leading Meadowcreek’s transformation to an academy fostering small learning communities, and he has helped broaden student opportunities by developing relationships with area businesses. “Dr. Welch’s leadership is authentic, sincere and steadfast,” said the Gwinnett Public Schools executive direc-

tor of School Improvement & Operations, Debbie Dees. The Buffalo, N.Y., native earned undergraduate and graduate degrees from the State University of New York at Buffalo, an Ed.S. from Piedmont College and a Ph.D. from Mercer University. He came to Meadowbrook as a social studies teacher in 2003 and then became an assistant principal and interim principal. “Dr. Welch connects to everyone around him, which has enhanced our experience as students,” said Meadowbrook Student Body Vice-President My Le. “Anytime we have anything we would like to change, Dr. Welch is always willing to listen. You leave the conversation feeling mature and empowered to conqueror anything.”

GASSP Georgia Middle School Principal of the Year Tiffany Taylor, Ph.D., Carver Road Middle School (Spalding)


iffany Taylor, Ph.D., principal of Carver Road Middle School in Griffin (Spalding), was named 2017 Georgia Middle School Principal of the Year by GASSP. Under Taylor’s leadership since 2014, the school was named a 2016 and 2017 Model School by the International Center for Leadership in Education. The school also has experienced one of the largest attendance gains in the state, according to the Georgia Department of Education. “Dr. Taylor’s leadership skills are well known throughout the school, the district and the commu-

August/September 2017

nity,” Griffin-Spalding County School Superintendent Jim Smith told the Jackson Progress-Argus. “She has high expectations and is very focused and driven to improve student achievement.” The Butts County native earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of West Georgia and completed her master’s and doctorate in educational leadership at Mercer University. Her experience includes being an assistant principal at Griffin High School, teaching English language arts and being a graduation and instructional coach for the Monroe County School System. n


Special Report

John Tanner Addresses Testing and Accountability in Statewide Tour

Georgians Learn about the Misuse of Standardized Testing for Grading Schools By Craig Harper, PAGE Director of Communications


esting and accountability researcher John Tanner circulated through Georgia in May to address the misuse of standardized testing for grading schools and school districts. In a statewide tour sponsored by PAGE, Tanner shared his message in Dalton, Macon, Valdosta, Camilla and Waynesboro. In Dalton, he drew more than 200 educators, community members and business leaders. “The topic of school accountability measures is so important right now,” said Dr. Allene Magill, PAGE

executive director. “This conversaare designed to find an average that tion is especially timely as our state does not exist in the real world of leaders prepare to implement the children and learning. Furthermore, First Priority Act to address strugmultiple studies confirm that only gling schools. And it is critical for about one-third of testing results can educators and communities to be attributed to school influence. understand how to respond to the Standardized tests really function letter grade rankings of their schools.” According to Tanner, “Tell me a child’s poverty level standards-based state and I can tell you within a testing does not provide narrow range how that child will the data that policymakers and many others think it perform on a standardized test.” does. Testing constructs

The False Premise of School Accountability John Tanner is the executive director of Test Sense, an educational consulting firm, and the director of the Texas Performance Assessment Consortium, a project in which 40 school districts have joined forces to build a community-based accountability system for their schools.

By John Tanner


ne who is “accountable” provides a complete, objective accounting, and then accepts responsibility for the findings. Educators who are accountable for schools owe such an accounting to their communities and the students they serve, and sound educational policy should support them 18  PAGE ONE

in doing so. We are, after all, talking about a key institution for the preservation of American democracy. Judging it accurately should be a priority. But educational accountability occupies an odd space in the American political psyche. Our schools are subjected to a policy approach typically reserved for dangerous industries, whereby we “hold

their feet to the fire” because they cannot be trusted to be accountable on their own. The primary objective of such polices is to punish those who fail to comply. In 1983, the bombshell report “A Nation at Risk” made headlines with its claim that American education was in such a sorry state that, had a foreign country been involved, it would August/September 2017

“Someone once asked me why I hate school grades or labels. It’s because no one can be accountable to a label or a grade. It reduces the complexity and diversity in a school to the label, which then misrepresents most of the students and teachers in that school. It is not actionable. It is not useful. It is politically convenient and that’s it.”

to reveal a student’s socio-economic status, said Tanner. “Tell me a child’s poverty level, and I can tell you within a narrow range how that child will perform on a standardized test.” Standardized testing results are further misused when they are the primary measure for success and failure of schools, Tanner added. A particular disservice to schools is the use of testing data to grade schools using an A-F ranking. “Someone once asked me why I hate school grades or labels,” Tanner said. “It’s because no one can be accountable to a label or a grade. It reduces the complexity and diversity in a school to the label, which then misrepresents most of the students and teachers in that school. It is not actionable. It is not useful. It is politically convenient and that’s it.” Tanner’s key message is that community-designed accountability systems created by local stakeholders provide the most meaningful accountability.

Educators See a Disconnect

be tantamount to an “act of war.” That claim helped institutionalize the idea that education in the United States was an abysmal failure. Despite the basis

for the report’s claims being thoroughly debunked a few years later, the avalanche of distrust it triggered has persevered, justifying the policy approach used since.

Tanner’s message resonated with educators who see a disconnect between the learning they observe in students and standardized test scores. Tanner’s words also challenged noneducators to reconsider what they believe tests are telling them about a student, school and district’s achievement. Tanner is encouraged that the use of standardized testing to the detriment of education is increasingly becoming understood. “It is remarkable to me how the dialogue around school accountability is shifting here in Georgia and across the country,” he said. “There is a recognition that for 20 years we’ve been responding to a definition of school success that is anything but. The excitement is in the possibility of breaking out of an

John Tanner addresses about 200 educators, education stakeholders and community members in Dalton at his first stop on a statewide tour sponsored by PAGE.

August/September 2017

unhealthy paradigm and moving to something infinitely better for our students and the schools that serve them.” Tanner also noted that he appreciated the response from Georgia educators. “I’m impressed at how rarely Georgia educators said, ‘this isn’t doable,’ because in most places with a similar demographic that would be a common refrain. Instead, it was just the opposite.” n

That approach presumes educators’ feet must be held to the fire, along with serial polluters and dangerous industries, and each generation of accountability since has presented an iteration of that thinking. The tool selected for holding schools accountable is primarily end-of-year test scores in key subject areas, the results of which are then used to pass judgments on schools. Those judged negatively are deemed non-compliers and subject to sanctions. In creating the school accountability system, policymakers committed two errors based on two critical misunderstandings. The first involved test scores. Policymakers saw that averages from standardized tests matched their bias regarding what they considered “good” and “bad” schools. They then codified that misunderstanding into laws that insist no schools should have low test scores. The second is that they presumed it acceptable for a judgment made about a Continued on next page PAGE ONE  19

Dr. Allene Magill, executive director of PAGE, talks to participants at the Dalton event about Georgia’s accountability system and the importance of John Tanner’s research on the misuse of A-F grading systems.

portion of an organization to serve as the basis for judging the entire organization.

dent who is furthest below average to the student who is furthest above average. Such information is useful for analysis Gaping Holes in Understanding so long as it is presented alongside other Researchers developed standardized tests data, i.e., “multiple measures.” It is espeto help analyze hard-to-observe human cially useful for signaling patterns. But characteristics. Literacy or numeracy like any tool, its usefulness is limited by within a population, for example, is much its design, which is why a carpenter has trickier to analyze than, say, height. To both a hammer and a saw. For example, analyze height, a researcher could simat no point along the continuum of stuply measure a group of people. Or, if dents do we measure what was learned, no measuring stick existed, a researcher so the amount of learning at any point could line people up from the shortest to can’t be known. Knowing the cause for a student’s score also can’t be known: Was it good or bad teaching, a good or challenging home life, or something In creating the school accountability system, else entirely? None of that can be gleaned from simply policymakers committed two errors based on knowing a student’s position relative to others: Those two critical misunderstandings. The first involved things need to be understood test scores. Policymakers saw that averages from through tools specific to those purposes. Nevertheless, standardized tests matched their bias regarding what enamored with the underlying statistics, policymakers they considered “good” and “bad” schools. They then selected the methodology codified that misunderstanding into laws that insist as the basis for educational accountability. no schools should have low test scores. The second is Policymakers then compounded that mistake with that they presumed it acceptable for a judgment made the presumption that someabout a portion of an organization to serve as the basis where along the continuum of test scores exists a special for judging the entire organization. score that can signal whether a school is doing a good job. While the student at the top 20  PAGE ONE

the tallest and use the relative differences between them as the basis for the analysis. Statistics don’t require knowing how tall anybody is; they just need to know the relative positions in the data set. But some traits, such as literacy and numeracy, lack both a measuring stick and the ability to directly observe differences. Test items selected against a very narrow, specific set of statistical criteria form a test that shows the relative positions of test takers to each other: The results show a continuum from the stu-

August/September 2017

Literacy and numeracy exist in greater degrees in wealthier populations than in socioeconomically disadvantaged populations. That in no way means that students in the disadvantaged category can never catch up, but rather, that they need the time, support and resources to do so. It also does not automatically mean that schools serving poorer populations are worse than schools serving wealthier populations, which is a bias many people share. Rather, a quality school is one that knows what its students need and then executes accordingly.

of the continuum can be said to possess a greater amount of the thing being analyzed than the student at the bottom, what cannot be known without looking is what caused either to possess what they do. Perhaps the student at the top acquired what he or she has entirely from educated parents, and the school had nothing to do with it. Or perhaps the student at the bottom came to school from very difficult circumstances and has made significant progress entirely due to a dedicated teacher. Literacy or numeracy levels can only be understood for complex reasons that lie outside the test score. The same is true for measuring school quality. Compounding the issue is that such tests reveal a highly specific pattern: Literacy and numeracy, at any age, exist in greater degrees in wealthier populations than in socioeconomically disadvantaged populations. That in no way means that students in the disadvantaged category can never catch up, but rather, that they need the time, support and resources to do so. It also does not automatically mean that schools serving poorer populations are worse than schools serving wealthier populations, which is a bias many people (and policymakers) share. Rather, a quality school is one that knows what its students need and then executes accordingly. In that vein, high-quality schools that effectively serve low-scoring students, and low-quality schools that underserve highAugust/September 2017

scoring students surely exist, and a valid accountability program would identify them as such. But a very different result emerges if the patterns of literacy and numeracy are asked to serve an accountability role: The result will correlate with the socioeconomics of the school and ignore the actual work being done. Policymakers nevertheless chose to assign quality labels to schools and students based on the levels of literacy and numeracy signaled by test scores, not on why that level of literacy or numeracy exists. The result of that decision was easily predictable: Teachers in poorer schools are now highly likely to be judged as ineffective and their schools as failing, while teachers in wealthier schools are now highly likely to be judged as effective and their schools successful, regardless of the underlying reality.

A Little Knowledge Can Be Dangerous

The judgments from end-of-year test scores in key subject areas are then asked to represent the entire school in terms of its quality. That such tests are incapable of signaling why any level of literacy or numeracy exists doesn’t seem to matter: Those in a policy position seem comfortable presuming that good schools cause high test scores, and bad schools cause low test scores, despite their selection of a testing methodology that can signal neither.

But the problem goes much deeper. A judgment of one part of an organization — even if valid — if extended to the entire organization must be viewed as invalid, because it is a judgment made without evidence. Imagine rising one morning with a goal of tending to a large lawn. To know the proper actions to take, you need an understanding based on a complete accounting: Does it need to be weeded, fertilized, mowed, watered, reseeded or some combination of all the above? Do different spots require a different treatment? Do you need expert advice? With organizations, let alone most lawns, the proper treatment is complex, with different areas requiring different types of attention. Only a complete accounting can address that complexity. Extending judgment from a partial accounting to an entire organization — whether a lawn, a business or a school — risks vastly inappropriate judgments. In its current form, educational accountability is a partial accounting extended to the entire organization. In fact, end-of-year test scores designed to signal the distribution of literacy or numeracy across a grade level always are a partial accounting. When extended to the whole of each domain, and then to the whole of the school, it creates an educational accountability based on a partial accounting of a partial accounting. Continued on next page PAGE ONE  21

A complete and proper accounting would demand that the school demonstrate an understanding of the unique needs of its students, have a plan to serve them and then aggressively execute that plan to its fullest. Those that do should be applauded. Instead, poverty is equated with failure. Partial accountings create inefficiencies. If a school is judged as failing when it is not, acts accordingly, and changes what is working, it risks harm to the students it serves. If a school is judged as succeeding when it is not, acts accordingly, and does not change, a false message of success is sent at the expense of its students. The current system of partial school accountability drives inefficiency in schools through “feet-tothe-fire” judgments made prior to having the evidence to make a valid judgment. Schools are assigned a judgment based on the amount of literacy or numeracy in a school as of a date during the school year, regardless of cause, and then required to act as if that judgment is true. All this has a particularly chilling effect on schools that serve impoverished students. Students in such schools tend to have developed fewer literacy and numeracy skills as of a moment in time than their wealthier peers, with the primary difference being that the poorer students have had a different experi-

ence. A complete and proper accounting would demand that the school demonstrate an understanding of the unique needs of its students, have a plan to serve them and then aggressively execute that plan to its fullest. Those that do should be applauded. Instead, poverty is equated with failure, the school is told to act accordingly

and the children suffer. An impoverished school is highly likely to be judged negatively year after year. Repeated judgments of that ilk cannot help but create inefficiencies, hurt the most vulnerable of our students and then insist that the process be repeated year after year.

A True Accounting

Lest anyone presume I’m arguing for an easier way, my argument is for true accountability. True accountability requires a greater, not a lessor, accounting. Virtually every educator I’ve had the chance to work with has said they would embrace such an accounting. It would allow them to avoid specious judgments, manage from the truth and more effectively attend to the challenge of educating each child. Complex issues often are best remedied through simple solutions. That is the case here. First, school leaders should make decisions only from a true and complete accounting, and recognize the harm to a student and a school caused when a partial accounting pretends to represent the truth. Second, recognize that state test scores have a surprisingly limited amount of interpretive power, which never includes judging school quality. Judgments of school quality must be made, but they should be made based on evidence capable of rendering that judgment. Finally, don’t wait for a better set of educational policies. You don’t need them to do what is right, and students don’t have that kind of time. n

How Accountable is Georgia? John Tanner’s guiding question is “For what are you accountable and to whom?” The October/ November issue of PAGE One magazine will present research by University of Georgia professor Richard O. Welsh analyzing Georgia’s accountability system in relation to other states. We will also look at how the various state agencies responsible for accountability are connected.


August/September 2017

Every Student Succeeds Act

Georgia Plan Proposes More Realistic Growth Measures By Margaret Ciccarelli and Craig Harper The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) was signed into law in 2015. The bill, which earned bipartisan support in Congress, freed states from their No Child Left Behind (NCLB) waiver agreements and entrusted them with the responsibility to develop their own plans to support education. The ESSA significantly scaled back the authority of the U.S. Secretary of Education and U.S. Department of Education.


The Georgia Department of Education (GaDOE) will submit Georgia’s plan in September. The plan was developed following extensive input from the public, educators and other stakeholders through listening sessions and a State Advisory Committee. The state committee has five working committees whose members include students, parents, teachers, school leaders, state agencies, nonprofit and civic organizations, business and education advocacy groups.

AGE appreciates the work that the the NCLB waiver and the new plan that student performance recalibration expectaGaDOE invested in preparing the highlights the many changes. tions. However, in accordance with existstate’s proposed plan for ESSA. The We are pleased to see that student ing state law, the ESSA draft continues to involvement of stakeholders at every level achievement and progress are weighted chip away at certification requirements for of public education, including many PAGE under the proposed plan. We recommend Georgia educators and does not require members and PAGE leaders on several that Closing the Gaps scores also should gifted certification for districts receiving planning committees, ensured that the be weighted for English learners and ecogifted funding. Georgia should not lose voices of those closest to the work in classnomically disadvantaged students. sight of the importance of teacher certificarooms, schools and districts were heard. Additionally, the plan makes a sigtion and its impact on student learning. The new plan makes evident that nificant departure from a “blaming and GaDOE listened to pleas for more simshaming” approach based on compliance A GaDOE web resource plicity and transparency in the College and checkboxes to one of identification of presents Georgia’s ESSA & Career Readiness Performance Index deficits that are a cause of low performance plan and the work behind its (CCRPI), more realistic expectations for while also providing support to make real development, growth based on where a school or subimprovement. GaDOE makes it clear it has including a group began measurement for improvehigher expectations for its role in school video overview. ment, and more clarity regarding the facimprovement and providing the kinds of Scan the tors that cause schools to enter or exit state resources for struggling schools that have interventions. Consistent with our feedbeen absent in past efforts. PAGE recogbarcode to visit back on HB 338 during the 2017 legislative nizes this intent and believes it is critical the page. session, we urge clarity regarding how that our professional educators and our CCRPI scores trigger state intervention organization do their parts to hold the under the First Priority Act. Schools need state accountable to this declaration. In areas where work still is being done advance notice and incentive to improve The plan supports Move on When on curriculum or assessment alignment, their trajectory over time. Ready initiatives already under way in the plan indicates that GaDOE will revisit Because of the involvement of so many Georgia with strong support for allowing and rewrite the plan as necessary to incorexperienced educators, the ESSA plan middle school and high school students porate improvements. addresses a number of concerns under to access more rigorous content as soon as PAGE looks forward to implementathe current plan written as a waiver to they are capable. tion of the new plan and to working NCLB. The CCRPI factors are divided The plan recognizes and incorporates with state leaders, local educators and into five categories using clear language charter district and strategic waiver system schools to improve outcomes for all and performance considerations. The flexibility contract cycles into long-range Georgia students. n baseline and growth expectations for each subgroup and school begins with the baseline for each with realisThe new plan makes evident that GaDOE listened to pleas tic improvement goals above for more simplicity and transparency in the CCRPI Index, that baseline rather than more realistic expectations for growth based on where a a benchmark baseline and growth expectations that are school or subgroup began measurement for improvement, disconnected from reality. and more clarity regarding the factors that cause schools to GaDOE prepared a helpful comparison document (side enter or exit state interventions. by side) of CCRPI under August/September 2017


Professional Learning An Overview of PAGE Professional Learning Initiatives

Engagement-Focused Schools Gain a Deep Understanding of How to Motivate Students

By Angela Garrett, PAGE Professional Learning


f you have participated in a PAGE Professional Learning initiative, then you know how the work changes you and your school or district. The lessondesign strategies result in learning that is interesting and enjoyable, with students persisting in work beyond the classroom. Furthermore, the frameworks allow participants to design for specific areas of improvement. And, although these are not prep sessions for future principals or assistant principals, participants gain a deep understanding of what it means to be an effective and caring leader. Here is an overview of PAGE Professional Learning initiatives: Both the Assistant Principal and Teacher Leadership Academy (APTLA) and the Principal and Teacher Leadership Network (PTLN) are composed of groups of four-person school teams (one administrator and three teachers). Participants work to develop engagement-focused schools whereby educators gain a deep understanding of their students and how to motivate them. Lesson design is a critical part of both initiatives. The APTLA or PTLN experience can transform a school culture and result in improvement in multiple areas, such as instruction, collaboration among teachers, a focus on engagement, attendance and a decrease in discipline referrals.

At the conclusion of an initiative, participants share with each other how the experience has changed their thinking and what they will do differently when back at school. Some of our most recent “graduates” in APTLA had the following comments when asked, “What did you learn through the participation of this network?” •  The importance of engaging students. •  We were so used to going to conferences. This isn’t a one-size-fits-all model. This work is based on our needs. We have ownership in its implementation. •  Small changes can make a big difference. •  I’ve learned how to talk about and use the design qualities and put them in the forefront. •  Knowing not only how to refine our vision, but to model it. •  Engagement is not just time on task. Teachers must be engaged, too. •  The design qualities and student engagement were so helpful. •  I’ve enjoyed the support of colleagues. It’s empowering. Sessions are held four times annually for two years. The APTLA is beginning a new cohort this fall, and we welcome new teams. The PTLN will begin a new cohort in the fall of 2018. Continued on page 26

“PAGE believes in the power of an individual educator in making a lifelong difference in the life of a child, and we know that power multiplies when groups of educators within schools and districts learn together.” — Dr. Allene Magill, PAGE Executive Director


August/September 2017

PAGE Superintendent Leadership Network

Superintendents Examine How Top Performers Lead Change The PAGE Superintendent Leadership Network (SLN) is part of a nationwide Schlechty Center network of superintendents leading transformational change. The school leaders are intent on building value, community and relationships to improve schools. The PAGE Superintendent Leadership Network supports leaders whose districts are deeply involved in PAGE professional learning and who are clearly focused on their district being engagement-focused. Network superintendents focus on engagement, on quality work for students and on building school district capacity to initiate and sustain long-term change. SLN is about transformation; anyone interested simply in focusing on compliance with state and/or federal mandates is not the primary customer for this network. The superintendents are engaged in learning experiences with other leaders who are grappling with similar issues. One superintendent from Georgia put it best several years ago: “If all we talk about is FTEs and No Child Left Behind, I can stay at home. I come here to get above all of that.” Network superintendents want experiences, tools and information they can use to create a sense of urgency and to build common understandings in their communities of what is going on in the world. They want to explore trends, shifts, issues and perspectives in order to understand the larger context in which they operate, so they can help others understand that context as well. The superintendents attend conferences to learn from great minds in business, government and philanthropic organizations. They examine how these top performers structure organizational learning, lead change and develop leadership skills among employees. During each experience, the superintendents ask themselves how what they have learned might apply to their own work in school districts. The first conference that SLN participants experienced was “The Changing Mission of NASA” presented in Houston, Texas, in 2011. That has been followed by numerous other learning experiences, including “Innovation at Work” (Spartanburg, S.C., Milliken University), “Learning from the Change Efforts of an Arts Organization” (Louisville Orchestra) and “Building Bridges: Demographic Trends” (Chapel Hill, N.C.).

August/September 2017


Professional Learning


PAGE district networks are composed of school teams as well as superintendents and district personnel from various regions of Georgia. Collaboratively, they create a culture of learning by focusing on building trusting relationships with students and colleagues and on improving the work offered to students. Schools and districts from around the regional site may attend the networks. The PAGE regional networks are divided as follows: •  South Georgia District Network (Valdosta) •  Southwest Georgia District Network (Camilla) •  Burke County District Network (Waynesboro) •  Northwest Georgia District Network (Calhoun) •  And coming soon: Northeast Georgia District Network (TBD) These regional networks offer the same quality professional learning as our other initiatives yet allow superintendents and district office personnel to join and have teams working together with teachers and principals. The learning and networking is invaluable for districts. “PAGE believes in the power of an individual educator in making a lifelong difference in the life of a child, and we know that power multiplies when groups of educators within schools and districts 26  PAGE ONE

learn together,” said Dr. Allene Magill, PAGE executive director. The recent creation of two mentoring entities — PAGE Network Colleagues and PAGE Practitioners — add depth to what is learned in the networks so that change is transformative and sustainable. For example, this past spring Network Colleagues, a statewide group of about 20 Georgia educators knowledgeable in using the Schlechty frameworks, visited the Burke County School District, which requested feedback on how its educators were progressing with school and district transformation. The visiting peers spent two days meeting with students and staff in all Burke County schools, followed by a discussion with more than 100 Burke educators and community members about ideas and strategies for deepening engagement, design and innovation. PAGE Practitioners, composed of

teachers and administrators knowledgeable in the framework application, takes small groups of network participants into a “deep dive” in the area of student engagement and improved lesson design. They review lessons through a process that promotes constructive feedback. Various activities focus on improved lesson design using design qualities and offer practical application of learning. In summary, PAGE provides educators across the state access to quality professional learning at no cost to the participants or their districts. Through our networks, administrators and teachers learn new and better ways to increase the number of students truly engaged in classwork and learning. School transformation is possible when relationships are nurtured and small steps are taken every day. The professional learning initiatives supported by PAGE are just one way our organization fulfills the primary focus of its core business to provide professional learning for educators to enhance professional competence and confidence, build leadership qualities and lead to higher academic achievement for students. For information on how your school and/or district can participate in a PAGE Professional Learning initiative, please contact Angela Garrett at n August/September 2017


Student Dress Code Policies By Leonard D. Williams, PAGE Staff Attorney


ow one dresses often is an expression of his individuality and what he believes. Most educators are well aware that local school boards have the right to set dress code policies for students. Administrators can and should set boundaries on students’ attire. But just how far can they go? It is a complicated area of the law with few bright-line rules, but there are three significant factors that school officials should consider when drafting a dress code policy: (1) The reasonableness of the policy; (2) The relationship of the policy to a legitimate public school interest; and (3) The broadness of the policy. The seminal case on a student’s right to self-expression is Tinker v. Des Moines. In that case, the Supreme Court ruled that school boards can censor student speech only if the speech would have a substantial negative impact on school operations. School officials can implement any dress code policy so long as they’re able to show that it’s reasonable, easily understood and necessary for effective school operations. One of the first issues to consider when creating or revising a school dress code is its reasonableness. If the policy is unreasonable, it’s unlikely to withstand a legal challenge. For example, is it appropriate for a school to implement a policy that students may not wear T-shirts with profanity on them? Yes. Courts have consistently held that school officials have the authority to prohibit vulgar or obscene speech that may “interfere with the work of the school or impinge upon the rights of other students.” On the other hand, could a school have a policy that students may not wear clothing with “any offensive” statements or images? That’s not as clear. Generally, a August/September 2017

public school cannot ban clothing with messages it merely finds objectionable, nor should dress code policies be based on school officials’ personal preferences. It would help in the latter example if the school defined “offensive” and took steps to ensure it’s a community-based standard in order to overcome legal scrutiny. Societal and cultural norms also change over time, sometimes quickly. Dress that may have raised eyebrows in the not-too- distant past may be more acceptable today (or vice versa). This is especially important to keep in mind when contemplating how a dress code policy might affect certain groups, such as gender-variant students. At the very outset, when a dress code policy is proposed, policymakers should ask if it is reasonable in nature. There should also be a rational relationship between the dress code policy and a legitimate public school interest. This must be considered because students still have certain First Amendment rights to freedom of expression while they’re at school. In the former example, is there a rational relationship between banning clothing with profanity on it and providing a learning environment free from disruption? Many would answer yes. In the latter example, is there a connection between barring shirts with “any offensive” messages and providing a safe learning environment or any other legitimate

school objective? The case for that may be more challenging. If scrutinized, a school system must be able to show that dress code policy “A” is in furtherance of legitimate school objective “B.” Educators also should avoid drafting a dress code that is too vague, confusing or overreaching. If the policy unduly inhibits the exercise of First Amendment rights by students when balanced against the public school system’s interest in promoting the policy, then the code is probably invalid. In plain English, any dress code policy must be written in such a way that it can be easily understood and does not significantly restrict students’ First Amendment rights to self-expression. In the previous examples, the first policy can be understood easily; the second is open to interpretation. In the former example, the policy is specific and narrow — only shirts with profanity are banned. In the latter, shirts with “any offensive” messages are prohibited. It is arguably vague and overreaching, as this would ban shirts not only with profanity, but could potentially be used against clothing with political speech or expressions of religious beliefs. As a rule of thumb, students may be entitled to wear clothing that conveys societal, political or religious messages, even if unpopular. If you have questions about dress code policies or any other matter, please contact the PAGE Legal Department. n


Foundation News

2017 ‘A PAGE Turning Event’ Honors DeKalb County CEO Michael L. Thurmond


eKalb County CEO and longtime public education advocate Michael L. Thurmond is the 2017 “A PAGE Turning Event” honoree. The popular and elegant event will be held Sept. 16 at the Georgia Aquarium. “Michael has worn many professional hats during his career, and in each role, he has demonstrated a commitment to Georgia public schools,” stated PAGE Foundation President Ann Stucke, Ph.D. “During his illustrious career, Michael has served as a state legislator; the leader of the Georgia Department of Children and Family Services; commissioner of labor; university lecturer; author; attorney; DeKalb County School District Superintendent; and most recently as DeKalb County chief executive officer.

‘Michael has worn many professional hats during his career, and in each role, he has demonstrated a commitment to Georgia public schools.’ — PAGE Foundation President Ann Stucke, Ph.D. We are delighted to recognize everything he has done to advance public schools.” Each year, “A PAGE Turning Event” honors outstanding leaders from busi-

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ness, philanthropy, government and education. Previous honorees include Georgia-Pacific Foundation President Curley M. Dossman, Jr.; BellSouth Georgia President Phil Jacobs; GE Vice Chairman John Rice; Georgia Power Chairman, President & CEO Paul Bowers; The Coca-Cola Foundation Chairperson Ingrid Saunders Jones; Wells Fargo Atlanta Region President Mike Donnelly; AT&T Georgia President Sylvia Russell; R L Brown & Associates President & CEO Robert Brown; and other distinguished Georgia leaders. The annual event also recognizes the educator who had the greatest positive influence on the life of the honoree; for Thurmond that educator is retired football coach James Holston of Athens. In 1970, Holston helped coach the first integrated football team at Clarke Central High School (which was integrated by combining Burney-Harris and Athens High). While coaching football teams at Athens Industrial and Burney Harris high schools, Holston compiled a 129-54-4 record. Proceeds from the 2017 “A PAGE Turning Event” benefit PAGE initiatives. Host committee co-chairs include Georgia-Pacific Foundation President Curley M. Dossman Jr. and Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication Dean Emeritus E. Culpepper “Cully” Clark, Ph.D. n

August/September 2017

Educators and Business Professionals

‘Swing for the Future’

By Lynn Varner, Contributing Editor


n a picture-perfect day in June, 55 golfers took to the fairways to participate in the 2nd annual “Swing for the Future” charity golf tournament. Held at beautiful Eagle’s Landing Country Club in Stockbridge, the event gave corporate sponsors the opportunity to host and compete with educators in a round of golf. The educators’ green fees were paid by business sponsors who saw the tournament as an opportunity to form professional relationships with educators. Greg Wynn, Morris Williams,

August/September 2017

Dr. Glenn McKenna and Walt Jackson Jr., all representing Georgia Power, captured first-place honors. Team members Clay Pilgrim and Nick Bruner, both of Rushton and Company, and Britt Lothridge of VeloSolar earned secondplace honors. And John Carter, Reginald Billups and Tyler Emery of Carter Brothers/Aramark took third place. Anthony James, a PAGE Foundation trustee, and Ricky Clemmons, a PAGE Professional Learning director, served as event co-chairs. Continued on next page

Special Thanks to Our Major Sponsors GOLD SPONSOR l  Anthony and Sheila James BLUE SPONSORS l  Georgia Power l  In

Honor of J. Paul Copeland and Myron F. Steves

WHITE SPONSORS l  Adams, Hemingway & Wilson, LLP l VALIC


‘Swing for the Future’ (l-r): First-place winners, Greg Wynn, Morris Williams, Dr. Glenn McKenna and Walt Jackson, Jr., all representing Georgia Power.

(l-r): Second-place winners, Britt Lothridge of VeloSolar, Clay Pilgrim and Nick Bruner, both of Rushton and Company.

(l-r): Third-place winners, John Carter, Reginald Billups and Tyler Emery of Carter Brothers/Aramark.


August/September 2017

Ethan Huff, an educator and coach at Jasper County H.S, and Chris Newsham, and educator and coach at Alcovy H.S. (Newton County) on the putting green. Huff later won a “Closest to the Pin” contest.

Gold sponsors Sheila and Anthony James, on right, are joined by Georgia Power Regional Sales Manager Jason Willard. Georgia Power was a Blue-level sponsor.

(l-r): VALIC District Vice President Roger Pearson and VALIC Regional Vice President and PAGE Foundation Chair Allen Thomas. VALIC was a Whitelevel sponsor.

Mason Bryan, an attorney with Adams, Hemingway & Wilson, LLP, participated in the tournament. Adams, Hemingway & Wilson, LLP was a White-level sponsor.

Photos by Chris Savas August/September 2017


Have You Transferred Systems? If you transferred from another school system where you were on payroll deduction, you must fill out the short PAGE application (online or paper) to transfer your membership. Otherwise your membership will expire.

Have You Moved or Has Your Contact Information Changed? Update your contact information at

New Teachers Must Upgrade to ‘Professional’ Your PAGE student membership does not cover you for a paid position in a school, even if your student membership has not expired. You must upgrade to “Professional” membership to receive liability coverage and other critical PAGE benefits.

Benefits begin immediately when you join or renew online. Georgia’s Largest Professional Association for Educators. 92,000+ members and growing. OFFICERS President Kelli De Guire President-Elect Dr. Hayward Cordy Treasurer Lamar Scott Past-President Amy Denty Secretary Megan King DIRECTORS District 1 District 8 Dr. Oatanisha Dawson Lindsey Martin District 2 District 9 Brecca Pope Jennie Persinger District 3 District 10 Jamilya M. Mayo TBD District 4 District 11 Rochelle Lofstrand Dr. Sandra Owens District 5 District 12 Nick Zomer Donna Graham District 6 District 13 Dr. Susan Mullins TBD District 7 Lance James DIRECTORS REPRESENTING RETIRED MEMBERS Vickie Hammond Stephanie Davis Howard


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: Craig Harper,; PAGE One, PAGE, P.O. Box 942270, Atlanta, GA 31141-2270; 770-216-8555 or 800-334-6861. Contributions/gifts to the PAGE Foundation are deductible as charitable contributions 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 2017-18 dues is allocated to lobbying. PAGE One (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 nonprofit postage paid at Atlanta, GA, and additional mailing offices. (USPS 017-347) Postmaster: Send address changes to PAGE One, P.O. Box 942270, Atlanta, GA 31141–2270. PAGE One 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 ©2017.

August/September 2017

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