PAGE One magazine May-June 2017

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May/June 2017





Celebration of Professional Learning Reflect

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Contents May/June 2017

Vol. 38 No. 5

Feature 06  Educational Leaders Provide a Practitioner Perspective on Topics Ranging from Accountability Metrics to Standardized Testing to Poverty


013  Educators from Across Georgia Take a Deep Dive into Burke County Schools 014  A Pathway to Profound Learning 015  Calhoun City Teachers to Assume Role of Students in Model Classroom 016  APTLA Graduation Paves Way for Transformation



4  From the President Good Teachers Plant Seeds Everyday 5  From the Executive Director Educators Demonstrate Knowledge of Students, Communities, Accountability

Legislative 18  Chief Turnaround Officer to Oversee Support for Low-Performing Schools 19  Educator Pay Raises and Other Budget Highlights 20  2017 PAGE Legislative Summary Retirement 22  TRS Supports 3 R’s of Pension Plans: Recruitment, Retention and Retirement

Technology in the Classroom 24  Teacher Candidates Take an Interactive Technology Tour at Dalton Elementary Schools Legal 27  Follow Field Trip and Fundraising Policies Student Achievement 29  Northview High School’s Bill Zhang Is 2017 State PAGE STAR Student and Ashley Ulrich is STAR Teacher 31 Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe Is the 2017 PAGE Georgia Academic Decathlon State Champion

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. May/June 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


From the President

Good Teachers Plant Seeds Everyday


Amy Denty

count myself as one of the most fortunate educators in Georgia. My career has been filled with tremendous opportunities, and serving as president of PAGE, Georgia’s largest teacher organization, is certainly at the top of the list. I am both humbled and blessed to have represented educators from every corner of our great state. A favorite quote of mine, from “The Dispersion of Seeds” by Henry David Thoreau, says “Though I do not believe that a plant will spring up where no seed has been, I have great faith in a seed. Convince me you have a seed there and I am prepared to expect wonders.” I never tire of sharing this quote because I believe it is so applicable to what teachers do every day. Good teachers are the gardeners of our futures. Good teachers plant seeds every single day. And sometimes we get to experience the wonder of the bloom. But, sometimes, a particular student

doesn’t bloom until much later — long after he has left our classrooms. Teachers know that is OK though. Teachers know that nurturing and caring for those seeds that we plant will one day present us with a garden full of wonder. Teachers never forget the power of a tiny seed. During much of my career, policymakers have had intense interest in education reform. It seems that every few years we

“Though I do not believe that a plant will spring up where no seed has been, I have great faith in a seed. Convince me you have a seed there and I am prepared to expect wonders.”


— Henry David Thoreau, The Dispersion of Seeds

get a new accountability system, a new curriculum or a new evaluation system. There always will be changes and challenges in our work. But I know that the educators in Georgia are up to the task at hand. I know that we have the talent and the ingenuity to rise to the challenges that policymakers place before us. I also know that our true mission — our real purpose — always will be to provide the tools, skills and knowledge for our students to succeed, to realize whatever unique potential of body, mind and spirit he or she possesses. In doing so, we are nurturing those tiny seeds we planted and are making the world a more wondrous place. One of my favorite children’s books is “Titch” by Pat Hutchins. The title character is smaller than his brother and sister, has smaller toys and often feels insignificant. One day, his brother finds a big shovel, his sister finds a big pot, but Titch has the tiny seed. Titch’s seed grows and grows, and that made all the difference. It occurred to me the first time I ever saw the book that teachers are the Titches of the world. We hold the tiny seed in our hands. What an awesome power and responsibility we hold. Sometimes that responsibility is scary, but I’m so proud that educators march into schools every day and choose to make the difference. And wow, what a difference we make! I salute you for the difference you make every day in your community, your school and in the lives of the children you touch. The world is more beautiful because of you. n

May/June 2017

From the Executive Director

Educators Demonstrate Knowledge of Students, Communities, Accountability


istening to educators who care deeply about quality education for all students always touches my heart. Fortunately, I am blessed in my role with PAGE to observe so many educators across Georgia who dedicate their professional lives to children and who possess the knowledge and skill to make a difference. I encourage you to read the full story recounting the roundtable discussion with Phi Delta Kappa’s Kappan magazine Editor-in-Chief Editor Joan Richardson. The educators who gathered at the PAGE offices in February came together, with no prior direction or guidance from the editor or our staff, to share their thoughts on the state of accountability in Georgia and the challenges experienced at the school level. The group was diverse in role, region and relationships with PAGE and each other. What struck me as the discussion flowed was the ease with which each was able to knowledgably address complex questions and provide rich context and connections. These educators demonstrated their breadth of knowledge and profound thinking about teaching and learning, and about understanding their students. Their expertise is borne of years of study, experi-

ence, professional learning and reflection on their practice. The issues with accountability were discussed with candor, including the fact that educators do not fear it, but believe accountability should be for the right things and measured in meaningful ways. If ever there was a question about the value of the extensive statewide work PAGE commits to with its professional learning initiatives, this conversation — as well as many others I’ve observed or in which I’ve participated during the past few years — demonstrates that it’s worth the investment. 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. y design, PAGE’s professional learning initiatives require that educators who participate together must include people from different role groups within the district, such as classroom, department, school and district administration. It is important that new learning and conversations about next steps not occur in isolation. We also know that leadership happens at all levels in a school, which is why our invitations to join our initiatives address teacher leaders and leadPAGE believes in the power of ers of leaders. And, just as is power in crossing an individual educator in making there over traditional role groups a lifelong difference in the life within districts, it’s equally beneficial to bring together of a child, and we know that groups within RESAs to power multiplies when groups break down district lines of educators within schools and and to work for the good of Georgia students in regional districts learn together. efforts.

May/June 2017


Dr. Allene Magill Like my observation of the PDK conversation, I always walk away from PAGE professional learning sessions with a sense of pride in the work of our educators and their dedication to increasing their capacity to do even more for students. STAR STUDENTS & TEACHERS SHINE

I met with many of the regionwinning STAR Students and STAR Teachers at events around Georgia in recent months. As I tell these impressive students, their families and teachers, the STAR events are some of the highlights of my year. The excellence demonstrated by these students through their academic accomplishment and community service is outstanding. And, each student shares how his or her STAR teacher influenced them, including choices in careers, discovery of a passion or an awakening of talent. It is an honor for PAGE and the STAR sponsors to recognize and encourage these highly motivated students as they complete high school and enter higher education. ENJOY SUMMER

The summer “break” is upon us, and I hope that many of you are able to find the time to pursue the things that energize you and help keep you passionate about the critical work of teaching Georgia’s students. I encourage you to engage your curiosity, learn something that you can share with your students this fall and rest up to meet the challenges of the next year. Thank you for what you do. You make a difference. n


PAGE Professional Learning

Educational Leaders Provide a Practitioner Perspective on Topics Ranging from Accountability Metrics to Standardized Testing to Poverty

By David Reynolds, PAGE Impact Project


dozen educators from north and south Georgia, from city and county districts, recently gathered in a conference room at the PAGE office in Atlanta. While some have known one another for years, for many it was a first acquaintance. Yet, they displayed such a level of familiarity and comfort as colleagues that even the introductory conversations were relaxed and accepting. As each greeted the other and found a seat, an observer could believe they all worked together regularly and were just settling in for another staff meeting. The cohort came together at the request of Dr. Allene Magill, PAGE executive director, to talk with Joan Richardson, editor-in-chief of Phi Delta Kappa’s Kappan magazine, who sought their views on recent and potential shifts in education. The conversation also focused on key forces that impact public school educators. Each participant is a current or past participant in a PAGE Professional Learning initiative or network. Representing six school districts in 6  PAGE ONE

Georgia, they are teachers, academic and instructional coaches, department leads, athletic directors, assistant principals and principals. Their accounts are based on years of addressing common challenges with collaborative solutions. As the dialogue unfolded, areas of expertise surfaced. Whether the issue was accountability metrics, standardized testing, poverty or graduation rates, someone in the room addressed the

topic with clarity and pragmatism. One example is the College and Career Ready Performance Index (CCRPI), Georgia’s single statewide accountability system. LeAnne McCall, principal of Lowndes High School, said that while some components of the CCRPI are valid and useful, proportionate values of the sections should be adjusted. However, because the index appropriately touches upon multiple

(l-r, clockwise) Dr. Allene Magill (PAGE), Kevin Strickland (Rome City), Dr. Phillip Brown (Rome City), David Reynolds (PAGE), Dr. Peter Coombe (Calhoun City), Brock Holley (Calhoun City), Dr. Marc Feuerbach (Cartersville City), Dr. Treva Gear (Lowndes), LeAnne McCall (Lowndes) May/June 2017

areas — course offerings, reading levels, support for specific groups of students, school climate, test scores and graduation rates — adjustments are needed with respect to balance, weighting, validity and continuity. To provide her community with a cogent picture of her school’s CCRPI performance, McCall supplants resources from the Georgia Department of Education and the Coastal Plains Regional Educational Service Agency with Lowndes High School data. The clear graphics, verbal delivery, print material and question-and-answer opportunities combine to communicate clearly. The educators said they welcome the accountability that comes with CCRPI, but they also addressed challenges associated with this tool. Even as they faithfully align their efforts with externally mandated requirements, educators seek to place more emphasis on helping each child succeed. Toward that end, they analyze data for ways to enhance student achievement. Yet, with some student groups, maintaining the pace of desired improvement can be a slippery goal. For example, between FY15 and FY18, performance targets will have nearly doubled for Students with Disabilities (SWD). Even if expectations for this subgroup remain the same, the year-to-year gauge of a school’s CCRPI progress often looks at static grade-level figures, as opposed to following the same students, because the students who earned the test score in the previous year have advanced to the next grade and

May/June 2017

its corresponding courses and exams. Consequently, overall school scores may advance, but progress may not occur quickly enough or with the specified number of students. If the present “n” were 25, for example, the CCRPI score of a school with 25 students in one subgroup (e.g., SWD) can be affected differently than a school where only (l-r) Brandi Moore and Nancy Zahn (Dalton City) 24 students enrolled are in that same subgroup. Therefore, due to subMiddle School Assistant Principal group calculations, the categories that Nancy Zahn, is that changes — someapply to a student can ultimately detertimes complete replacements — occur mine a school’s score, and, as a result, soon after new processes and tools are its ranking. Such grading and ranking developed and implemented. (Dalton structures fail to communicate what Middle School serves nearly 200 English schools are truly accomplishing. learners and student enrollment is 80 The CCPRI appropriately takes into percent economically disadvantaged.) account important measures such as Teachers, who have spent innumerable career, fine arts and world language hours learning about new guidelines, pathway completion; Lexile reading standards, curriculum, tests and the latscores; absenteeism; graduation rates; est teacher evaluation instrument, must STEM and STEAM certifications; shift their efforts midstream, even before as well as innovative and research/ having an opportunity to assess patterns, evidence-based practices. However, trends, benefits or drawbacks. the improper focus on a very few tests Recently instituted Student Learning (along with changing tests, curriculum Objectives (SLOs) were developed for shifts, decreased funding and increasing multiple content areas, but were then student poverty) means that the CCRPI scaled back from six tests to one or is still a work in progress. Continued on page 8 Regardless of how we gauge the quality of student learning, it is critical that the state “What really matters, who really provide the resources needed to comply with mandated matters, rather, is that particular reporting, and, more imporchild, and whether he or she tantly, to support the student had a chance to truly do his or and teacher interactions that underlie the data. her best that day. Schools are Georgia public school teachnot a business in the traditional ers strive for every student to graduate ready for college sense, and we are talking about or a career. What begs to be people … not a product that resolved is how to avoid reducdoesn’t care, can’t care, about ing such noble aims to the least common denominator of a test how it is processed, or where it score, or some other piece of ends up. We must think about standalone evidence. Serious thought must be given on how how we, and our students, to best honor the efforts of impact others’ lives.” educators and recognize student growth, while capturing — Dr. Marc Feuerbach, only the most meaningful and Cartersville High School Principal useful data. One problem, said Dalton PAGE ONE  7

PAGE Professional Learning two in an attempt to rein in the state’s over-reliance on testing. This provided a respite from testing, and it supported the belief of Georgia’s superintendent of schools, Richard Woods, who promotes a personalized approach to education. Yet, regardless of where one comes down on SLOs, or any other standardized testing process, when work is done to comply with requirements, or to voluntarily exceed expectations, and then that work is no longer required, the time and effort to create that “system” can be viewed as wasted. When progress made becomes progress forgotten or replaced, that progress doesn’t “count,” and schools and teachers are incorrectly seen as failing to meet minimum levels of proficiency, failing to “earn the points,” or failing to produce a successful, achieving school. Educators know that students are the focus of all that is done in schools, and good schools use the following question as a filter for decision-making: How might this decision (e.g., the identification of instructional materials, moving to block scheduling, considering the flipped classroom, etc.) lead to higher student engagement and learning? At the best schools, teaching and learning practices are regularly informed by student voice, feedback, talent and interests. Programs and policies are frequently examined, and those that detract from learning are altered or abandoned. Since it can be argued that a school’s most precious resource (other than people) is time, at successful schools, time is not casually earmarked for purposes that do not advance learning. Consider, for example, the time involved in answering the 121 questions that make up Georgia’s high

tion, underemployment, inhibited access to health care, etc.) have been shown to create a state of continual stress, which in and of itself adversely impacts academic performance. The very obstacles for which schools attempt to compensate are the same issues that suppress the scores of the schools most affected by these challenges. Nevertheless, impresThe Reality of Poverty’s Impact sive results are possible and occur more The economy of Georgia and of our frequently than might be readily evident, individual communities also impacts our though they are not typically reported. schools. If jobs are lost, wages are slashed Red Bud Middle School Principal or shifts change, problems are created Jennifer Hayes relayed that “teachers are with transportation, childcare and proteaching their hearts out,” an observation viding for basic needs. And, according to seconded by her peers. She added that the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute, her Gordon County colleagues always one out of four Georgia children live look first at what students need (60 perin poverty. This harsh reality, however, cent of RBMS students are eligible for does not prevent Georgia educators free or reduced-price meals), and second from meeting students at their respective at what is best for teachers. Schools and points of need. Georgia’s teacher-leaders, teachers are addressing “virtually everyand those who work alongside them, are thing these days,” a reality confirmed by experts at coalescing efforts to provide author Jamie Vollmer (“Schools Cannot the most effective mix of resources to Do It Alone”), who has produced an eyeincrease each child’s chance for graduaopening document and video titled “The tion and success thereafter. Ever Increasing Burden on America’s Despite these myriad challenges, an Public Schools.” In addition to designing objective and even hopeful tone marked lessons and school activities, teachers, the group’s reflection on the work of counselors, administrators and support the state’s educators. For example, at personnel often assist with basic needs Rome High School, a majority-minority (clothing, food, hygiene), life skills, such site, 55 percent of students qualify as as conflict resolution, and traumatic economically disadvantaged, yet the personal and family issues. These types school’s graduation rate outpaces the of vital interventions and acts of comstate’s rate by more than 13 percentage passion are not — indeed cannot — be points. Dr. Phillip Brown, the school’s adequately captured and communicated former principal, reminded the group to those who are not in the schools, day that students do not have the means to in and day out. change their family’s poverty status. And Red Bud sixth grade math teacher such problems (chronic food insecurity, Christy Martin concurred, echoing inconsistent income, lack of transportathe inconsistency that has become the norm for imperatives placed on schools. Expectations for academics, wellness, counseling/guidance and more are now a continually morphing and moving target. The traditional teaching of subject-area content (what is taught, and when) also changes frequently. The concept of independent and dependent variables, for example, has been introduced to students in varying degrees over the years anywhere from (l-r) Dr. Marc Feuerbach (Cartersville City), Nancy Zahn (Dalton City), Beverly grades six to nine. Literacy Treadaway (PAGE) Dr. Treva Gear (Lowndes), LeAnne McCall (Lowndes), Brock skills also are more often Holley (Calhoun City), Christy Martin (Gordon), Jennifer Hayes (Gordon) needed in mathematics to


school survey for the School Climate Star Rating. This is just one example of an expectation that takes time from teaching and learning. The educators who met with Kappan magazine’s Richardson repeatedly expressed concerns about the effective use of their time in meeting student learning needs.

May/June 2017

respond to word care, can’t care, about problems rather how it is processed than just working or where it ends equations. This is up. We must think not necessarily bad, about how we, and but it changes how our students, impact teaching and learnothers’ lives.” There ing exchanges are was strong consensus designed. around this point. Martin’s menIn the Cartersville tion of mathematics City school district, sparked a discussion 56 percent of stuthat cycled back dents are eligible for to assessment. For free or reduced-price example, one articumeals and one of (l-r) Kappan Editor-in-Chief Joan Richardson and PAGE Executive Director Dr. Allene Magill lates the answer to a every 12 students is geometry problem an English learner. differently when responding online verleverage educator efforts for positive Regardless of access to resources, our sus pencil and paper. change and can help thriving, learning public schools continue to rise to the Dr. Treva Gear, a Lowndes High communities maintain their trajectory. occasion. Cartersville High students, for School instructional coach with a sciIn instances where different schools example, are nearing an 85 percent gradence and special education background, examine concurrent ways to reach stuuation rate, up from 79 percent three agreed that there are problems inherent dents and impact learning, collaboration years ago. Feuerbach and others like him to over-testing. Tests are being used, across schools, and even across district view the current state of affairs through for example, to assess students who do lines, can be a great (often untapped) a lens of possibilities. As a result, what not do well on standardized tests. The resource. For example, Lowndes High some people may see as an obstacle, they educators also agreed that the test that School, because of its participation in view as a rich opportunity to accelerate “counts” greatly determines what must PAGE’s South Georgia School District learning for students who might not othbe done in the classroom and, as a result, Network, reached out to a sister school erwise have the support to succeed acasome very meaningful learning experiin Tift County to enhance reading and demically. Every individual in the meetences (e.g., thematic long-term projects) writing in multiple content areas. ing told Richardson that he or she was must be condensed or skipped altogethBrown commented that although dedicated to the students, families and er. Also, remember that the overwhelmteachers in Rome City Schools care communities they serve, no matter what ing majority of “school-score testing” greatly about good relationships with external requirements come to bear. This occurs well before the school year ends. students, such vital qualities of student truth is one that PAGE wants the public This further restricts the teaching timelearning are not “teakable” (measurable to fully grasp. There are thousands of line. Yet, because of the current testing by TKES). Cartersville High Continued on page 10 regimen, additional impetus was provid- School Principal Dr. Marc ed for teachers to talk with one another Feuerbach agreed, adding that about individual students, which led to while accountability is good, “People look at our teachers developing common assesschanging weights on metrics ments. This is viewed as a beneficial out- creates difficulties. Even so, demographics and talk about growth of the requirements connected to those problems can be dealt diversity and cultural differences, metrics, such as those reported via the with (the entire group posbut we are not necessarily CCRPI. sessed a can-do attitude), yet the core concern goes beyond viewing those differences in the Collaboration Is a Great Resource the numbers of students in traditional sense now. We see Another topic of conversation was the certain programs who score heavy weighting of test scores on teacher at, below or above a certain our student population, at our evaluations; Georgia’s instrument is the level. Feuerbach said, “What school, almost as one culture, a Teacher Keys Effectiveness System, or really matters, who really culture of achievers overcoming TKES (pronounced “teaks”). The educamatters, rather, is that partors also honed in on TKES’ focus on ticular child, and whether he poverty, as poverty cuts across teaching and learning interactions, best or she had a chance to truly all ‘official’ subgroups.” practices, etc. Because collegial culdo his or her best that day. tures are not yet fully established in all Schools are not a business Nancy Zahn, Assistant Principal, schools, TKES’ emphasis on creating a in the traditional sense, and Dalton Middle School robust learning environment, through we are talking about people attention to meaningful standards, helps … not a product that doesn’t May/June 2017


PAGE Professional Learning tireless educators working on behalf of Georgia’s schoolchildren to prepare the state’s youth for a successful and fulfilled career and life. Kevin Strickland, a 21-year educator at Rome High School (and recently named assistant principal at Model High School in Floyd County), said if changes do not occur, we may “lose a lot of individuals — teachers and students.” He believes there is too much concern about tests, numbers and comparisons. In fact, the current educational climate nearly led him to temporarily forget about whom he was teaching. It only took a bit of reflection to re-solidify that “whom he was teaching” is exactly why he was teaching. Stated another way, an emphasis on so many wrong things can distract us from focusing on students as individuals. Nothing should derail us from looking at student needs and customizing support for them so that they can be successful. Now, he once again only focuses on the thing he can truly control: He is in total control of how he teaches. A key element? He listens to the kids. Strickland said that educators must focus on relationships, and that if they do, the test scores will eventually take care of themselves. It is up to educators

to “create the environment in the classroom that will lead the students to want to be at school. Then success will come,” he said. “Engagement matters where learning matters.” Brock Holley, exceptional students (special education) lead teacher at Calhoun High School in Calhoun City Schools, supports the wisdom of teachers focusing on that which they can control in the ever-changing climate of public education. In addition to relationships, he added communication to the equation, which he views as an equally vital part, along with content and curriculum, of a balanced and comprehensive school experience for all students. And, it’s clear that Holley and his colleagues are providing rich educational opportunities for students, as Calhoun High now claims one of the highest graduation rates in the state at 96.8 percent, per a November 2016 press release from the Georgia Department of Education. (Calhoun High School’s graduation rate was 67 percent in 2005, and 85 percent in 2011.) Dr. Michele Taylor, superintendent of Calhoun City Schools, remarked in 2016 that the school system’s goal is “to connect with 100 percent of our parents through face-to-face conferences,

“School ranking systems have become a flash in the pan when it comes to truly informative data. They provide a quick blast of information, delivered months after it would be needed for planning purposes, and only evaluate one dimension of a child, a single dimension largely associated with a few hours of testing measured in only a few content areas. As all of us have stated, we invite accountability. We expect to perform above the bar of excellence. We will continue to learn and grow from our peers. All we ask is that the state develop a tool that measures the success of the whole school program while meeting the same standard of excellence that has been set for us, and for those schools to which we are sometimes unfairly compared.” — Dr. Peter Coombe, Principal of Calhoun Middle School and Calhoun High School


meetings, school events, etc.,” which augments other efforts to build school and family partnerships. Spring boarding off of Martin’s comments about curriculum changes, Dalton Middle School math coach Brandi Moore said that changing standards also impact student success. In most core content areas, but in mathematics specifically, Georgia’s subject area standards in the not-too-distant past have included the Quality Core Curriculum Standards, Georgia Performance Standards, Common Core Georgia Performance Standards, and, today, the Georgia Standards of Excellence. With each iteration of standards comes a wave of training and materials, as well as new tests, aligned with the most recent standards. The state has expended a lot of effort providing resources to support unit and lesson design, especially in an online format, but some teachers find that there are now so many resources, that to identify quality ideas, an inordinate amount of time is needed to review and properly vet them for inclusion in one’s classroom. The abundance of material is not a bad thing, yet the reality of planning time must be considered when examining teacher effectiveness. Fourth-year Spanish teacher Michael Airail of Cartersville High School is aware that change is a constant and that mandates, expectations, grading schemes, evaluation processes, etc., will come and go. Regardless of the duration and quality of the latest and greatest change to be implemented, Airail knows that it takes time and effort to implement meaningful change with fidelity and integrity. As Vollmer’s “Ever Increasing Burden” list points out, seldom is any responsibility removed from our public schools, no matter how much is added. Airail sees the application after application of programs and metrics as bandages placed on an ailing and antiquated system. He went on to say, “I enjoy my job. I don’t enjoy doing the government’s job. Teaching is not disheartening. It’s the stuff laid on top of teaching that is. Politics seem to drive instruction versus student need driving instruction.”

Achievers Defying the Odds

Richardson heard that some teachers might teach as many as 170 students in a single day. That figure alone should May/June 2017

provide some context for the challenges that teachers face. Yet, despite the additional expectations placed on schools, despite the fact that more and more educators choose to leave the profession within their first five years of work, those teachers, administrators and support staff who willingly remain in their roles do so because they know the impact they are having on many young people every day. Individual lives are changed by the relationships formed at school, and by the learning that provides

a foundation for college and for careers. This truth remains constant in the midst of never-ending change. Public schools have become organizations of dynamic flux. As Zahn said, “People look at our demographics and talk about diversity and cultural differences, but we are not necessarily viewing those differences in the traditional sense now. We see our student population, at our school, almost as one culture, a culture of achievers overcoming poverty, as poverty cuts across all ‘official’ subgroups.” Many

educators who are experiencing the same significant shifts in their schools and communities share this view. Dr. Peter Coombe, principal of Calhoun Middle School and Calhoun High School, pulled the day’s conversation together as he shared the following: “Standards can only get us so far. We need to focus on non-standard based instruction as well, looking at student interest so that we can engage students more often, and at a higher level. Our time must be focused on those areas that most impact Continued on page 12

Here’s Why More Adjustments to the CCRPI Are Warranted By David Reynolds, PAGE Impact Project The College and Career Ready Performance EOC tests still are in place at the high school level, Index (CCPRI) generates a school score between 0 high schools can no longer earn Progress points and 100. Schools also may earn up to 10 Challenge from these two areas because these tests will no Points for “Exceeding the Bar” and “Performance longer be administered in 6th and 7th grades. Flag” results for some student subgroups. Twenty That is, Progress points for high schools will now percent of a high school’s score is based on concome solely from American literature, ninth grade tent mastery scores for eight state assessments. literature, algebra, and geometry. Stated another Significant additional points are connected to way, the schools and districts that have made great the same assessments for what the state calls gains in science and social studies may lose some “Progress” and “Achievement Gap” measures; of the CCRPI benefits of those gains in FY18 when in fact, test scores can account for nearly half tests from those courses cease to be part of the of the total CCRPI score. Therefore, despite the measures of a school’s effectiveness. annual changes to this instrument, a significant So, with the present CCRPI school score structure, portion of the overall CCRPI score for high school less testing becomes a two-edged sword. Less testcontinues to be derived from tests — primarily ing is overwhelmingly seen as a good thing by most Georgia Milestones End-of-Course (EOC) tests, educators, and the Georgia legislature’s decision last but also, and to a lesser extent, the SAT and/or year to reduce required testing was a solid step in ACT, Advanced Placement tests, and International the right direction. Yet that change ripples through Baccalaureate tests. the calculation processes and End-of-Course tests are gives rise to a new dilemma, administered in math (algebra one centered on the notion Basing a considerable part and geometry), science (bioloof balance. Basing 20 percent gy and physical science), social to 40 percent (or certainly 50 of a school’s CCRPI score studies (economics and United percent) of a school’s CCRPI on a small percentage of States history), and English lanscore on a small percentage its classes, taught by only guage arts (ninth grade literaof its classes, taught by only some of its teachers, does ture and American literature). some of its teachers, does not not adequately depict In many Georgia high schools, fully or adequately depict what how dedicated teachers CCRPI points generated from a school offers, how dedicated the EOC tests listed above are teachers consistently customize consistently customize lifted from what is a very small and guide learning or the true and guide learning or percentage of classes taught quality and scope of learning the quality and scope at the school. And that fracexperiences available to all stuof learning experiences tion will get even smaller in dents. Thus, additional adjustavailable to all students. FY18. Why? Because although ments to the CCRPI are still science and social studies warranted. n May/June 2017


PAGE Professional Learning

student engagement. We need to have time to work with one another and learn from each other, and we absolutely need time to stick with things long enough to determine effectiveness.” Ranking schools based on short-term results is not a productive or accurate way to gauge the quality of a student’s educational experience. In truth, according to Coombe, there are actually no real comparison schools and districts. “When determining the success of a district, a ‘grade’ on a 100-point scale is used, which immediately evokes preconceived notions of success. A school could improve from a rating of 60 to 69, yet still be viewed as ‘failing,’ while a school with different demographics could drop from a 96 to a 90 and be celebrated for its continued ‘excellence.’ Calhoun City Schools has a 62 percent economically disadvantaged student population, along with high EL and SWD numbers. We are recognized as one of the top five systems in the state for graduation rate while maintaining graduation requirements that exceed the

state minimum. We win more region and state titles in one year in areas of academics, arts and athletics than many schools win in a decade or two. Our graduates are more than a ‘product,’ but rather well-rounded contributors to society. We produce the future of Georgia, the nation and the world; however, our schools are compared to systems with less than five percent poverty, little to no subgroup participation and tax bases that far exceed our own.” Coombe concluded by saying that educators “welcome the challenge, but not the ‘grade’ that is unfairly attached to it. The result? School ranking systems have become a flash in the pan when it comes to truly informative data. They provide a quick blast of information, delivered months after it would be needed for planning purposes, and only evaluate one dimension of a child, a single dimension largely associated with a few hours of testing measured in only a few content areas. As all of us have stated, we invite accountability. We expect to perform above the

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bar of excellence. We will continue to learn and grow from our peers. All we ask is that the state develop a tool that measures the success of the whole school program while meeting the same standard of excellence that has been set for us, and for those schools to which we are sometimes unfairly compared.”

We Focus on Relationships

What is evident from the educators who shared their thoughts in this profound conversation is that Georgia’s public school administrators and teacher-leaders are committed to creating learning environments that consider student need, align with student interest, provide every student with a viable path to graduation and to fulfilling post-high school experiences. Reflect for a moment on other themes that emerged during this conversation. Georgia’s educators welcome accountability. Teachers, administrators and others like what they do, love those they serve and know that they are making a difference in countless lives. These leaders are not opposed to testing. They refuse to place blame on parents. Instead, they understand the intricacies and complexities of the forces, factors and factions acting on our schools. Administrators and teachers alike choose to focus on the quality of the relationships they have with others and on the quality of the learning experiences they design. These are the foundational components of the work that teachers do. These are, in fact, the foundational components of any successful venture, in any enterprise, in any sector of our society. n PAGE thanks PDK’s Joan Richardson for inviting some of our state’s best and brightest educators to share their thinking. These leaders did a masterful job highlighting not only the faults and fallacies associated with school grading and ranking schemes, but also articulating their commitment to students and Georgia’s future. Each contributor to this article engages in his or her work professionally while enthusiastically embracing all of the responsibilities and tremendous possibilities connected with the vital work of public education. PAGE is dedicated to continue bringing together resources that will expand and strengthen networks that are laser-focused on learning.

May/June 2017

Engagement, Design and Innovation

Educators from Across Georgia Take a Deep Dive into Burke County Schools By Dr. Judy Henry, PAGE Professional Learning

Teresa Mitchell of Early County

Dr. Matt Faircloth of Lowndes County May/June 2017

a get-acquainted dinner where they were assigned to two- to six-member teams. For the next day and a half, the teams met students and staff in all Burke County schools and participated in “real days” full of working within pre-K through high school classrooms. Throughout the process, the visiting teams and their host schools participated in collegial, nonthreatening conversations based upon observations and the desire to learn from one another. The experience deepened understandings of engagement, design and innovation. On day two, the visiting teams joined with more than 100 Burke educators, school board members and district office personnel for lunch at the Augusta Technological College, Waynesboro campus, where they shared experiences of the school visits and discussed ideas and strategies. In addition, Teresa Mitchell, an Early County teacher, presented a Student Engagement demonstration of how each student has unique strengths, Photos by LaToscha Evans


n March, colleagues from six Georgia school districts came together to form multi-level school visitation teams to deepen and share their expertise. The PAGE Network Colleagues — comprised of teachers, principals and district office educators from Calhoun and Rome cities and from Early, Gordon, Lowndes and Whitfield counties — traveled to the Augusta area to spend two days working within all Burke County schools. About two years ago, Burke teacher leaders and administrators began an in-depth process of transformation via the PAGE Burke County Public Schools Initiative. The evening before visiting the schools, the 19 PAGE Network Colleagues met for

needs and commitments. (She made the presentation earlier this year to the Joint House and Senate Education Committee of the Georgia General Assembly.) As a part of the luncheon, Dr. Matt Faircloth, Hahira MS assistant principal (Lowndes), led a Socratic seminar with PAGE Network Colleagues. Observations, learnings and experiences of the two-day visit were discussed, enabling all present to benefit from the expertise in the room. Kerry Davis, a Whitfield County instructional coach, said, “It has been a great experience for me as a practitioner. Being in a classroom in another district made the work real. I also saw that we teach the same content at about the same pace, which is encouraging. We are in this together!” Lowndes County teacher Margo Robinson said she is eager to put into practice some of what she learned. “I was excited to share with my administration the great things I observed throughout both of the schools I visited,” she said. Each of the educators — those within the PAGE Network Colleagues and those within Burke County Schools — recognize that new leadership models benefit Georgia’s students. PAGE is honored that all those involved are similarly driven by a desire to make a lasting difference for public education in Georgia. n

Dr. Allene Magill of PAGE PAGE ONE  13

PAGE Professional Learning

Principal Teacher Leadership Network

A Pathway to Profound Learning By Lynn Varner, Contributing Editor


hat is superficial learning versus the leaders of PAGE is that they’re modelEntertainment vs. Engagement profound learning? How does ing instructional strategies we can use to Another PTLN topic of discussion was engagement differ from enterengage students,” said Farmer. “We use that entertainment versus engagement. Farmer tainment? Those questions were of special here (at the PTLN session) with the teachsaid there are times when educators need interest to Madras Middle School (Coweta er leaders, and we find, even if we might to be entertainers. An example is when County) educator Laura be a little hesitant to participate educators are trying to “hook” students Farmer, who is a particiat first, that we are going from into the lesson or redirect the lesson for pant in the PAGE Principal superficial learner to the procertain students who may be struggling. Teacher Leadership Network found, and we can take that “But the goal is to be more student(PTLN). back to the classroom.” centered,” she said. “We want to make sure Farmer, an ELA/readRusty Meadows, principal the kids are fully engaged in learning, that ing teacher, says superficial of Cook Middle they’re working hands-on. We learning tends to come from School (Cook discussed being orchestrators low-level tasks. A student County), believes of our lessons and not a ‘sage taking notes and then being you need both on the stage, but a guide on the Laura Farmer tested narrowly on just that superficial and side.’” information is an example profound learning As such, educators serve of superficial learning. By contrast, proto have total student engagemore as designers who found learning occurs when students are ment. facilitate learning by allowrequired to take a hands-on approach “With superficial learning students to choose how to with project-based and problem-based ing, you’re establishing the delve into the work at hand. Rusty Meadows learning, such as what is often associated building blocks the students With this approach, “students with STEM-related activities. need to progress to profound have more ownership in their “One thing I think is very neat about learning,” he said. learning,” and that ownership can lead




Principal Teacher Leadership Network: In this two-year initiative, principals and teacher leaders participate in eight, two-day sessions in which they learn from leaders transforming their own organizations and in which they explore ways to design work leading to student success within their own schools.


May/June 2017

to students being excited and engaged in their work, she stated. The educators also value the collaboration among PTLN participants. Meadows commented that, “It’s very interesting, very intriguing to hear from other schools within the system, within the state of Georgia, just sharing ideas, what’s working with other students, how are they building on superficial learning and bringing it to a more profound state and practicing and engaging students to prepare for the Georgia Milestone testing and other assessments throughout the state.” Farmer agreed. “We learned how to discuss and engage with each other, how to work collaboratively. Collaboration is so important with students. We know it’s important, but time pressures can hinder us at times, so it’s a reminder that kids need to be continually collaborating and working hands-on. We were able to practice that among the teacher leaders and principals here today.”


The Coweta County educator also said that PTLN participants reflect upon what they have in progress (at their school), what they need to work on and what is on target. They then share among other teams ideas that were successful and constructive. “That’s where the networking comes in,” said Farmer. “Creating that strong network is so beneficial, to be able to learn from other schools what we can apply to our own. Then we all improve.” n

Photos by Lynn Varner 1. Cook PS (Cook County) Principal Joi Williams and Hanna Sumnar 2. Mike Edwards, Heather Lloyd, Barbara Rousey and Principal Kevin Gaines of Hart County HS 3. Brittania Wright and Shanta Williams of New Manchester ES (Douglas) 4. Lisa Collins, Principal Rebecca Fisher, Kathi Chastain, and Monya Lathem of Mt. Vernon Exploratory School (Hall)

Calhoun City Teachers to Assume Role of Students in Model Classroom


alhoun Middle School and classroom. In addition to learning about about affiliation or novelty and variety, Calhoun High School have realthe Schlechty Center’s 10 design qualities, for example, teachers will experience ized that the traditional model of teachers will experience them in a classlearning first-hand and walk away with professional development is no longer rel- room environment in which they assume the skills to enact the strategies in their evant. With a persistent teacher shortage the role of the student. When learning own classrooms. across the state and the diverse A recently hired Teaching as a requirements of the 21st-century Profession/professional developeducator, schools aiming to excel ment coordinator will assist the must customize interventions and schools’ two professional learnprofessional learning for their ing leaders in the endeavor. teachers. Calhoun City Schools knows “Calhoun City Schools believes it must invest in its current in modeling expectations for students in the hopes that some teachers,” said Campus Principal will return to the community Peter Coombe, Ed.D. “Therefore, as teachers. The district also is we not only educate our teachers developing a mobile learning on the latest strategies and best center in the form of a renovated practices, but also model them.” school bus that will take readIn fact, during the 2017-2018 ing, STEM and other learning school year, the weekly profesopportunities to students. This sional development sessions hands-on learning will be led for all certified staff in the two by its very own students — its Calhoun MS/HS Principal Peter Coombe, Ed.D. schools will take place in a model future teachers. n May/June 2017


PAGE Professional Learning

APTLA Graduation Paves Way for Transformation By Lynn Varner, Contributing Editor


n March, PAGE Assistant Principal and Teacher Leadership Academy (APTLA) participants completed their two-year commitment to the initiative and are now equipped with the knowledge to transform their schools into engagement-focused organizations that nurture profound learning for students. Shelley Tierce, an assistant principal at Cartersville High School, said that she gained a deep understanding about the need to define student engagement. “What I like about this initiative is that PAGE provides us with the frameworks. It’s not a check list; it’s not a one-size-fitsall model,” she said. Working within those frameworks, she and her design team are creating engagement strategies to implement within their school. Tierce also credits the initiative with helping her grow professionally as a leader, and she has learned that you can’t do things alone. “Our design team, which we have developed through this process, can initiate positive change within a school. It’s not a one-person job, and I don’t want it to be driven by me as an administrator. I want it to be teacher-led and studentfocused on engagement and providing all of our kids an opportunity for success,” she added. Grady County’s Whigham Elementary School graduated its first group from APTLA. Teacher Cassie Hudson said that through the initiative, the team has

PAGE Assistant Principal Teacher Leadership Academy: In eight, two-day sessions over two years, assistant principals and teacher leaders focus on leading transformational change within a school. They gain a deep understanding of engagement centered on the quality of the work provided to students.


(l-r) Michelle Gambil of (l-r) Brandon Joiner of Cairo HS (Grady) Cartersville MS and Assistant and Cassie Hudson and Augusta Bostick of Principal Shelley Tierce of Whigham ES (Grady) Cartersville HS (Cartersville City)

learned what it means to be an engagement-focused school and how to start building capacity within their school. Hudson said their goal for next year is to create a design team. “We are trying

to figure out what we want our school to look like, to be like, how we want our students to be engaged more, and then how to get everybody else on that same page,” she said. n





May/June 2017





Photos by Lynn Varner 1. APTLA participants gather to share their observations during this final session. 2. (l-r) Krista Hall of Rome HS (Rome City) and Jennifer Lukens and Neil Wilkes of Hahira MS (Lowndes) 3. Kim Tanksley of Waynesboro PS (Burke) 4. (l-r, clockwise) Kelly Maffeo, Assistant Principal Kim Harmelink and Kelsey Lee of Oconee County HS with Jessica Trimble and Adrienne Chadwick of Calhoun PS (Calhoun City). 5. APTLA Graduating Class of 2015-2017 6. (l-r, foreground) Blakeney ES (Burke) Assistant Principal Jacqueline Jones and Sara Bright and Lindsey Montgomery of Cartersville MS (Cartersville City) 7. Jason Lyles, Assistant Principal Chance Nix, Corey Ortwein, Assistant Principal Kristy Montieth and Rhonda Eaves of Lakeview Ft. Oglethorpe (Catoosa) 8. Assistant Principal Montrell Mclendon, Carrollton ES (Carrollton City) and Assistant Principal Jaime Garrett, Calhoun HS (Calhoun City)

May/June 2017



Chief Turnaround Officer to Oversee Support for Low-Performing Schools

By Margaret Ciccarelli, PAGE Director of Legislative Services


hen it was introduced, House Bill 338, sponsored by House Transportation Chair Kevin Tanner (R-Dawsonville) was referred to by many as “OSD Plan B.” The legislation was created as a result of voter rejection of Amendment 1, the proposed Opportunity School District (OSD) constitutional amendment that would have allowed the state to take over chronically low-performing schools. Though there are similarities, HB 338 represents a considerably different approach to turning around struggling schools. HB 338, signed into law by Gov. Nathan Deal on April 27, calls for the creation of a Chief Turnaround Officer (CTO) who answers directly to the State Board of Education (SBOE). The CTO hiring process includes consultation with an advisory group called the Education Turnaround Advisory Council, comprised of educational leaders, including a PAGE representative. HB 338 requires that the CTO have “extensive personal experience in turning around low-performing schools, including expertise in turnaround strategies, curriculum, instruction, and teacher and principal effectiveness.” 18  PAGE ONE

The CTO will oversee supports for Georgia’s lowest-performing schools in the greatest need of assistance. He or she also will establish a resource list of strategies and services and consult with Regional Educational Service Agencies (RESAs) to determine expertise and resources available at each RESA. Under HB 338, the CTO will manage a team of turnaround coaches tasked with assisting targeted schools. Each year, the CTO also will establish a list of third-party specialists to assist schools and local school districts in conducting comprehensive

on-site evaluations to determine the root causes of low performance and lack of progress, to assist with implementation of intensive school improvement plans, or to provide necessary support services. In conjunction with the Georgia Department of Education and the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement (GOSA), the CTO will identify annually the lowest-performing schools in the greatest need of assistance based on a list of turnaround-eligible schools prepared each year by GOSA. If the CTO determines that capacity

An assigned turnaround coach and lowperforming districts will choose a third party to analyze the root causes of low performance, and then, in partnership with the local RESA and community, will develop an improvement plan. The district will have three years to make academic progress before more punitive measures are enacted.

May/June 2017

and resources are insufficient to serve all schools on the turnaround-eligible schools list, the CTO may select a subset of schools based on: a. whether the school’s rating has been improving or declining over the previous three years; b. whether the school district’s flexibility contract adequately addresses the school’s deficiencies; c. whether the school is in a local school district with a recent accreditation report showing deficiencies; d. whether the school is located in a district in which one-half or more of the schools are on the turnaroundeligible schools list for the fifth or more consecutive year; e. whether the school is in close proximity to another school that will be served; or, f. any other factors deemed appropriate by the CTO. Targeted local school districts will work with an assigned turnaround coach to select a third party to conduct an analysis of the root causes of low performance and lack of progress. Based on that evaluation, the turnaround coach, in partnership with the local RESA, shall recommend actions which, after input from parents and comMay/June 2017

munity stakeholders, will be developed into an intensive school improvement plan. The district will be eligible to apply for grants to implement the intensive plan and will have three years to make academic progress before more punitive reform measures are initiated. Those measures may include the following: 1. continued implementation of the intensive improvement plan; 2. removal of school personnel; 3. implementation of a state charter school or a special school; 4. complete reconstitution of the school, removing all personnel, appointing a new principal, and hiring all new staff — existing staff may reapply for employment at the newly reconstituted school, but cannot be rehired if their performance has been negative in the four years prior; 5. operation of the school by a nonprofit third-party operator selected by the local board of education; 6. mandatory parental option to relocate their child to another public school in the local school district that does not have an unacceptable rating; 7. complete restructuring of the school’s governance arrangement and internal organization of the school; 8. operation of the school by a successful school district; or, 9. any other interventions deemed appropriate by the CTO and the SBOE. HB 338 contains reporting requirements for the CTO, intended to provide transparency. The legislation also creates several study committees, the Joint Study Committee on the Establishment of a State Accreditation Process tasked with reviewing “the potential establishment of a state accreditation process for public schools and school systems in this state” and the Joint Study Committee on the Establishment of a Leadership Academy to study “establishing a leadership academy to provide opportunities for principals and other school leaders to update and expand their leadership knowledge and skills.” And finally, HB 338 allows the SBOE to recommend removal of local school board members if half or more of the schools in a local school district are turnaround eligible for five or more consecutive years. n

Educator Pay Raises and Other Budget Highlights By Margaret Ciccarelli, PAGE Director of Legislative Services


he Fiscal Year 2018 Budget contains an ongoing austerity cut to Georgia’s Quality Basic Education school funding formula of more than $166 million. However, for the first time since the 2008-2009 school year, it contains a dedicated pay raise for many educators. The 2-percent raise is included on the state salary schedule and is therefore expected to make it to educators. Though it is possible that local school districts could use their flexibility contracts or adjust their local salary supplemental to divert the funding elsewhere. Other state budget highlights include the following: •  Increase in state spending to fund the employer share of Teachers Retirement System of Georgia (TRS) from 14.27 percent to 16.81 percent. •  $1 million for implementation of House Bill 338 to hire a chief turnaround officer (see article on page 20) and to assist low-performing schools. •  A nearly $1.3-million increase in funding for personnel for Positive Behavior and Intervention Support specialists to convert part-time staff to full-time staff. •  Transfer funds from the Georgia Department of Education testing program to the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement, including more than $1.2 million in existing innovation grant funds to provide one Advanced Placement STEM exam for every student taking an AP STEM course. •  $250,000 increase in funds for concordant testing models as prescribed in Senate Bill 211. n PAGE ONE  19


2017 PAGE Legislative Summary


elow is a summary of educationrelated legislation that passed during the 2017 General Assembly and was signed into law by Gov. Nathan Deal. The effective date of the following legislation is July 1, 2017, unless otherwise specified within the bills. In order to review how your House and Senate members voted and learn more about the legislative issues affecting Georgia schools, please visit the electronic version of this report online at HB 139 by Rep. Dave Belton (R-Buckhead) requires local school districts to provide the public, to the greatest extent practicable, transparent and accurate financial information. The legislation directs the Georgia Department of Education to create an online database for publication of this information and assignment of school financial efficiency ratings. Later in the 2017 legislative process, HB 139 was amended to include language from the “Educating Children of Militaries Act,” requiring GaDOE to assign a unique identifier to children of active duty and reserve military families. HB 198 sponsored by Rep. Katie Dempsey (R-Rome) requires school districts that already provide information regarding immunizations and infectious diseases to also include information about influenza vaccines. The bill also includes a repeal of the sunset provision on Georgia’s SHAPE program, a childhood public health initiative. HB 245 by Rep. Al Williams (D-Midway) directs the Georgia Professional Standards Commission to create a process by which military spouses may qualify for temporary teaching certificates, endorsement certificates, or expedited certificates upon moving to Georgia with their service member or 20  PAGE ONE

(l-r) PAGE Legislative Policy Analyst Josh Stephens, Director of Legislative Services Margaret Ciccarelli and Legislative Intern Jonathan Smith.

transitioning service member spouse. HB 425 sponsored by Rep. Joyce Chandler (R-Grayson), commonly referred to as the “Opt Out Bill,” strongly encourages the State Board of Education and local school districts to adopt policies enabling students who desire to take standardized tests with pencil and paper (as opposed to electronic formats) to do so. The bill also prohibits “sit and stare” policies, requiring that students who refuse standardized tests be given alternate educational activities.



HB 430 sponsored by Rep. Buzz Brockaway (R-Lawrenceville) seeks to codify many of the charter school-related recommendations put forth by Gov. Deal’s Education Reform Commission. The legislation directs the State Board of Education and the State Charter Schools Commission to jointly establish a code of principles and standards of charter school authorizing to guide local boards of education, the SBOE, and the SCSC in meeting high-quality charter school authorizing

practices. HB 430 also requires the Georgia Department of Education to implement procedures to ensure that local start-up charter schools receive from their local school districts the proportionate amount of federal funds for which the charter schools are eligible. The bill also includes several provisions related to charter school facilities. It requires the SBOE to provide charter school facility funding “more comparable to traditional public schools” and creates a charter schools facilities grant program, subject to appropriation by the General Assembly. Additionally, HB 430 requires local boards of education which deny charter schools the use of unused local school facilities to grant the petitioners a hearing before the local board and affords the petitioners a right of appeal. HB 463 also by Rep. Dempsey, allows the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning to create the “Georgia Foundation for Early Care and Learning to Promote Public-Private Partnerships.” The foundation will promote partnerships May/June 2017

between businesses, nonprofits, higher education, local school districts, public schools, and early care and education programs. Funds received by the foundation may be awarded through a competitive grant process administered by DECAL. HB 237 by House Education Committee Chair Brooks Coleman (R-Duluth) allows for the creation of the “Public Education Innovation Fund Foundation.” The foundation, financed through tax credits awarded in exchange for taxpayer donation to the foundation, is capped at $5 million annually. It is one funding source for HB 338, the First Priority Act. The foundation would award grants to public schools “for the implementation of academic and organizational innovations to improve student achievement.” Priority would be given to schools performing in the lowest five percent of schools in this state, and the foundation would award grants via a competitive grant process. SB 149 by Sen. Emanuel Jones (D-Decatur) provides for school resource officer standards and training, and requires the Georgia Peace Officer Standards Training Council to maintain a 40-hour related training course. The course will provide training regarding the role of officers assigned to schools, search and seizure in schools, criminal offenses, gang awareness, drug awareness, interviews and interrogations, emergency preparedness and interpersonal interactions with adolescents — including encountering mental health issues. SB 186 by Senate Education and Youth Committee Chair Lindsey Tippins (R-Marietta) seeks to clarify that high school students completing dual-credit coursework are eligible for the HOPE scholarship to obtain associate degrees through the Technical College System of Georgia. Late in the legislative process, SB 186 was successfully amended to include kinship care provisions, enabling kinship caregivers to make educational and medical decisions for children residing with them. SB 211, also by Sen. Tippins, builds on standardized testing reform passed during the 2016 legislative session. One provision of the bill specifically relates to first-grade and second-grade assessments in English, language arts/reading, and math and May/June 2017

mandates that research-based assessments will provide “real-time data.” The assessments may only be selected after consultation with local school districts. Further, such assessments should allow flexible grouping of students based on skill level and should measure student progress toward grade-level expectations throughout the school year. The legislation also requires the State Board of Education to direct the work of the existing assessment workgroup to pursue “maximum flexibility for state and local assessments under federal law.” Such flexibility would include, but not be limited to, “recognized college and career-ready high school assessments, provided that comparability can be established,” as well as application for “innovative assessment demonstration authority.” SB 211 directs the SBOE to create and post a report regarding assessments no later than Sept. 1, 2017, and to provide the report to legislative leaders. Later in the legislative process, SB 211 was successfully amended to include language from a bill prohibiting local school districts from refusing to award the distinction of salutatorian and valedictorian to Move on When Ready students. WHAT DID NOT PASS

Since the 2017 session is the first in the Georgia legislature’s two-year biennium cycle, legislation which failed to pass this year is eligible to pass during the 2018 session. PAGE has created a comprehensive list of education-related legislation which falls into this category, including: •  HB 32, by Rep. Joyce Chandler (R-Grayson), regarding sexual contact between educators and students. •  HB 217, by Rep. John Carson (R-Marietta), PAGE-opposed legislation seeking to increase the cap on tuition tax credit private school vouchers. •  HB 273, by Rep. Demetrius Douglas (D-Stockbridge), mandating recess in grades K-5. •  HB 415, by Rep. John Meadows (R-Calhoun), aimed at reforming the Georgia High School Association. •  HB 423, by Rep. Valencia Stovall

(D-Forest Park), allowing state charter school access to unused local school facilities. •  HB 500, by Rep. Patty Bentley (D-Butler) relating to school nepotism laws. •  HR 319, by Rep. Bubber Epps (R-Dry Branch), allowing the levy of sales tax for school maintenance and operation. •  SB 3, by Sen. Tippins, the Creating Opportunities Needed Now to Expand Credentialed Training (CONNECT) Act. •  SB 30, by Sen. Vincent Fort (D-Atlanta), seeking to create a community school program in Georgia. •  SB 139, by Sen. Hunter Hill (R-Atlanta), seeking to create new career pathways. •  SB 152, by Sen. Emanuel Jones (D-Decatur,) limiting the amount of time a student can be assigned to alternative school. •  SB 188, by Sen. Donzella James (D-Atlanta), seeking to prohibit students from being forced to take psychotropic medication. •  SB 235, also by Sen. James, strongly encouraging school football participants be equipped with four-starrated helmets. •  SR 192, by Sen. John Wilkinson (R-Toccoa), a proposed constitutional amendment seeking to allow local communities to vote to elect their school superintendents and appoint their school boards via grand jury. Recommendations from Gov. Deal’s Education Reform Commission. With the exception of the early childhood provisions, which moved through the 2016 legislative session and HB 430, containing charter-related provisions that passed this year, recommendations contained in the ERC Final Report were not acted upon. Notably, this inaction includes proposed reforms to Georgia’s school funding formula, QBE. n PAGE ONE  21

TRS Supports 3 R’s of Pension Plans:

Recruitment, Retention and Retirement By Buster Evans, Executive Director, Teachers Retirement System of Georgia


am L. C. Evans, but folks just call in this State a high class of teachers and me Buster. I have been blessed with can point out to them that in their old age many wonderful opportunities in my they can have some system of retirement.” life. Education has been, and continues On March 7, 1945, the first monthly bento be, a focus and a passion for me. I’ve efit payment was issued in the amount of been an educator most all my life, and for $41.67. Today, the average benefit paymost of my career I was a PAGE member. ment is approximately $3,300 per month From educating Georgia’s public school and, contrary to popular opinion, the students as a teacher, building great leadaverage educator does not retire until ers as a former superintendent, working approximately the age of 59. at the Georgia Department of Corrections instilling education as a critical way of TRS EXPECTED TO REMAIN A DEFINED preventing crime, to helping my sweet BENEFIT PLAN grandson, Oliver, learn how to set the TRS is a defined benefit plan. roots properly in a newly planted pine According to the National Institute on tree, I believe education is the foundation Retirement Security (NIRS), there are to becoming a lifelong learner. three R’s to teacher pension plans: recruitLast summer, I was presented the ment, retention and retirement. An opportunity to lead the Teachers NIRS study analyzing the effectiveness of Retirement System of Georgia as the execdefined benefit plans on teacher retention utive director. I was honored and humbled and productivity finds that pensions play that the TRS Board of Trustees selected a critical role in recruiting and retainand entrusted me to oversee such a pheing productive teachers by increasing nomenal organization. You see, I was a a school’s level of effectiveness, thereby member of the TRS Board while employed benefiting students. Additionally, defined as superintendent at Bleckley and Forsyth benefit pensions save school districts county schools, and I served as chair for money by reducing expensive teacher several years. I had the priviturnover costs. lege to learn about, and help More specifically, the study, guide, the largest public penThree R’s of Teacher Pension sion plan in Georgia. Plans: Recruitment, Retention, TRS was established by and Retirement, finds: an act of the 1943 Georgia •  Teacher effectiveness General Assembly. In increases with experience. addressing the first meetEducation policy literature ing of the board of trustees, finds that teacher productivGeorgia Gov. Ellis Arnall ity increases sharply within stated that he “wanted TRS to the first few years of teachDr. ‘Buster’ Evans operate on broad principles ing. Thus, the more retention looking to the betterment of the teachamong mid-career teachers, the more the ing profession and providing for worthy average teacher productivity will increase teachers when they determine to retire.” within a school. He further stated that he was “anxious •  The cost of teacher turnover is quite to do everything [he] could to set up a high, both in terms of financial cost and system free from personalities, partisanloss of productivity to the school district. ship, and politics so that we can maintain Additionally, public school teachers have 22  PAGE ONE

lower rates of turnover than private school teachers, largely due to their compensation, which includes their pension benefits. •  Defined benefit pension plans help recruit high-quality teachers, and they help retain highly productive teachers longer, as compared with defined contribution plans or individual retirement accounts. From time to time, there are those who question the value, viability and sustainability of Georgia’s defined benefit plan for teachers and other educators. Negative publicity about the defined benefit plan structure occurs locally and nationally and on a regular basis. Many of you may remember an article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution entitled “Big State Subsidy for Pensions Spurs Concerns for Georgia Lawmakers” (02/13/17) discussing the increase in the employer contribution rate to TRS. At least two factors led to the employer contribution increase: investment returns and the number of active members. First, our investment rate of return is based on a 7.5 percent assumed rate of return. The recession that occurred late in the past decade impacted the equity markets more significantly than any other occurrence since TRS’s inception. However, from a long-term perspective, the 7.5 percent assumed rate of return has been met or exceeded. A 7.5 percent May/June 2017

Bill Would Require Districts to Pay 6% of Salaries of Retirees Who Return to Work By Margaret Ciccarelli, PAGE Director of Legislative Services A state senate bill introduced this spring seeks to change Teachers Retirement System of Georgia provisions that allow educators to return to public education employment while drawing TRS benefits. Senate Bill 293, by Senate Retirement Chair Ellis Black (R-Valdosta), would require local school districts that employ return-to-work employees to provide both the applicable employer and the employee contributions. The law also would prevent return-to-work employees from accruing any additional TRS service credit. Currently, neither the retiree nor the district pays the employer contribution to TRS. This would add funds to TRS, but would cost the employing district 6 percent of the return-to-work employee’s salary. Special rules require that fiscal retirement legislation, such as SB 293, be introduced in the first year of a legislative biennium and that the bill be considered for fiscal study over the following summer. The retirement legislation would be eligible to pass during the second year of the biennium (2018, in this instance). This month, a Senate Retirement Committee meeting is expected to consider whether to send SB 293 on for fiscal study.

assumed rate of return is occasionally criticized as being unrealistic, but it is less than the average rate used among our peers as tracked by NASRA. The AJC article referenced the system’s assets as of June 30, 2016. What the article did not state was the fact that the fund’s assets have grown approximately $4 billion since July 1, 2016, for a fiscal year-to-date return of 6.5 percent. Second, and no doubt related to the recent recession, there are approximately 8,300 fewer contributing (active) members in 2017, than there were in 2008, despite having 107,000+ additional students in

Georgia’s K-12 education programs today. During the same time, the number of retirees has continued to increase. While negative publicity about the defined benefit plan structure occurs, I urge you to do your homework and don’t believe everything you read on the internet! Reliable and valuable resources include NIRS (, the National Council on Teacher Retirement (, the National Association of State Retirement Administrators (www., and of course, Nationally, TRS is in the top 25-30 percent of all teacher retirement plans with

TRS BY THE NUMBERS With a 79% funding ratio, TRS is nationally ranked in the

TOP 30

of all teacher retirement plans.

TRS assets have grown about


since July 1, 2016, for a fiscal year-to-date return of 10.25%. Over the long term, the 7.5% assumed rate of return has been met or exceeded.

59 The average age of

retirement for educators.

The average TRS benefit payment is about


A MONTH. May/June 2017

a 79-percent funding ratio. TRS maintains a stellar and respectable reputation and was most recently ranked the 24th largest retirement fund by Pensions and Investments (02/06/17). The economic impact of TRS benefit payments is approximately $6.4 billion, including direct (retiree spending), indirect (when businesses purchase additional goods and services), and induced (increased hiring as a result of the direct and indirect), impacts. I believe defined benefit plans create a better education system in Georgia, not only from a recruitment and retention aspect, but also ethically and morally rewarding those people who have given their lives to a noble career in public education. TRS is a key component of the educator compensation and benefit mix for those in our system. The plan’s quality continues to positively support recruitment and retention of outstanding educators, while providing our retired educators a degree of financial security in retirement. As a result of the support TRS receives from the office of Gov. Nathan Deal, the Georgia General Assembly and our members and retirees, TRS will continue to maintain a strong and steady retirement plan, with an exceptional reputation. It is my honor to serve as the executive director of TRS, and I’m excited to be on the journey to retirement with you. n PAGE ONE  23


teach 21st-century learners


This PAGE One column features technology-in-the-classroom advice from tech-savvy Georgia educators.

Technology in the Classroom:

Teacher Candidates Take an Interactive Technology Tour at Dalton Elementary Schools By Nick Sun, Director of School Support, Dalton Public Schools


n a classroom surrounded by parents, teachers and students, an instructional tool showcases the African elephant. The presentation combines a slideshow, a Sway, (see sidebar for software descriptions) and virtual field trips viewed on a monitor for all to watch, while also providing interactivity with iPads and virtual reality headsets. Anyone who comes by becomes naturally intrigued and engaged. How does this presenter capture the attention of his audience, explain the content and immerse them in 21st-century instructional tools and software? Through professional learning and experience. Oh, and by the way, this teacher is a 6-yearold kindergartener. Instructional technology professional learning is a growing requirement for teachers and school districts. Teachers network about technology and share best practices, and technology conferences introduce educators to the many tools now available to them, as well as provide demonstrations. These are great ways to enhance a teacher’s toolkit, yet how do we prepare future educators to step into a real or virtual classroom and “drive” these instructional technology tools in ways that benefit student learning? To help teacher candidates from Dalton State College become classroom ready, they attended an “Instructional Technology Walk” hosted by Dalton 24  PAGE ONE

Public Schools. Throughout the day, 41 DSC student teacher candidates observed teachers in classrooms using instructional technology and then helped instruct students using those technologies. The Dalton State students rotated between Roan School and Blue Ridge School, two PK-5 elementary sites. The teacher candidates experienced a student-led morning television show; visited digital math stations in classrooms; engaged in lessons using Quiver, Kahoot!, Osmo and Nearpod; viewed lessons designed within the learning management system Canvas; and saw students upload their work into Seesaw. A different Dalton Public Schools teacher led each demonstration. The visit included a tour of Roan School’s iLab, which combines a Thinker and Maker Space. At Blue Ridge, the teacher candidates and elementary students got onto the interactive floor in the SMALLab. The college students experienced how two different schools in the same school district are utilizing instructional technology in different ways and how the tools increase student learning and engagement.


After the school visits, Dalton State students met with media specialists and instructional tech specialists in the district’s Professional Learning Den. (All school mascots in Dalton Public Schools are feline.) The Den was set up as a “tech mall” where the candidates rotated through kiosks for hands-on experiences with some of the instructional technology used by Dalton teachers. These experiences gave candidates a chance to play, connect and ask about the digital and instructional tools. “The experience was enjoyable and beneficial,” said Dalton State student Kateland Saylor. “This has been the best technology training we have had.

Throughout the day, 41 student teacher candidates observed teachers in classrooms using instructional technology and then helped instruct students using those technologies. May/June 2017

Photos by Nick Sun

The district’s Professional Learning ‘Den’ was set up as a ‘tech mall’ where the candidates rotated through kiosks for hands-on experiences with some of the instructional technology used by Dalton teachers.

Getting to see the various forms of technology in action and having the chance to work with them hands-on was valuable and memorable. I hope that there will be more opportunities like this to prepare me with technological skills and resources as I enter the education profession.” Both Dalton State students and Dalton Public School teachers believe that experiences with technology will be key to ensuring that new teachers are prepared for the classroom. “It was good for these prospective teachers to see the technological capabilities of even our youngest students,” said Roan School Principal Cindy Parrott. Although this generation of future teachers are smartphone and social

media savvy, implementing instructional technology in a classroom requires more advanced skills, an understanding best practices and, perhaps most importantly, experience using the tools. Dalton State College and Dalton Public Schools anticipate an ongoing partnership to enhance instructional technology experiences for teacher candidates. They plan to expand these opportunities to more elementary schools, the middle school and high schools with more frequent site visits. “The students loved the

authenticity and would love to have more of these in the future,” said Dalton State College Field Director Janet Johnson. Providing that experience for future teachers is a great start in this partnership, but if needed, we also can seek the support from a 6-year-old expert. n Nick Sun, a former math teacher, is the director of instructional technology at Dalton Public Schools. He has a bachelor of science degree from Berry College and an M.B.A from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

An Overview of Dalton Schools’ Instructional Technology Toolkit Below are brief descriptions of some of the tech tools that elementary school teachers in Dalton City use to engage students and monitor their progress. Sway: Add text, pictures and/or video and imported content, pick a format and Sway creates a multimedia presentation. Students can take a photo of a drawing and insert it into a presentation. Work can be shared via a link. A part of Microsoft Office 365, Sway is free. Kahoot!: Kahoot! is a free game-based multiple-choice platform designed for social learning, with students viewing a common screen. Kahoot! can monitor each student’s knowledge, but is generally used as a fun break from traditional classroom activities. Nearpod: Nearpod lets users create and share interactive and, if desired, individualized, lessons. Teachers can download multimedia lessons or create their own. Students can get fast clarification on a missed answer or, as an interactive tool, student poll results can be displayed immediately for classroom discussion. Students also can access assignments outside of the classroom. Yearly subscriptions cost $120. Seesaw: Seesaw is a digital portfolio that allows kids to save and submit their work — videos, photos, text, drawings and voice recordings. Teachers can offer feedback and can make

May/June 2017

items accessible to parents. Free. Osmo: For $80, you get an iPad stand and a mirror that clips to the top of your device and projects the iPad video camera down to the surface. This allows the iPad to “respond” to what is going on. You also get two entry-level game packs — Words and Tangram, great for spelling and even geometry. Words is like hangman. To guess a word represented on the screen, students place a letter tile, which Osmo quickly scans to verify if it is in the word. With Tangram, the screen shows an object created with tangram pieces, and the user tries to match the physical tangram pieces to the image. Quiver: This free app provides children with coloring pages that use augmented reality to seemingly bring the drawings to life. The resulting 3-D animations can be viewed by any angle. Canvas: Canvas is a user-friendly learning management system that has replaced Blackboard in some schools. It includes online grade books, testing, course authoring and integration with thirdparty teaching tools. More than 200 tools allow teachers to customize courses and monitor engagements. The LMS also enrolls parents and provides actionable analytics to teachers and administrators. If your school does not use Canvas, you can create a freefor-teacher account to create courses.


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Legal When planning field trips and fundraisers, educators can expect that their district follows long-established policies and procedures that may be very specific. This column touches on general issues, but educators need to seek the advice of school and district administration for guidance and oversight regarding field trips, fundraisers and student discipline.

Follow Field Trip and Fundraising Policies By Margaret C. Elliott, PAGE Assistant General Counsel


ield trips can be enriching, but they also can increase a teacher’s risk of liability. Follow these guidelines to decrease liability risk and enhance student safety. Plan your field trip months in advance to ensure time to work out the details. First, the trip must be approved by the principal. Then consider transportation. How much will it cost to have a school bus transport students back and forth? And will the school pay for transportation or will student families bear the cost? A field trip may be expensive, so it might seem like a good idea for the class to hold a fundraiser, but such events can be problematic for teachers. Allegations can arise that the money was stolen from the teacher, or that the teacher stole, borrowed or misplaced the money. This can result in school system, PSC and criminal investigations. If an expensive field trip is worthwhile, the better idea is to let the parents be in charge of the fund raising. (You still must get the principal’s permission.) After selling items, such as candy or popcorn, the parents give the money raised to the school secretary to pay for the cost of the field trip; the teacher never touches the money. Permission slips also are an important consideration. The school board attorney should provide the school with official permission slips so that the parent assumes legal liability for their student taking the trip; please do not make up a field trip permission slip on your own. Permission slips must be signed by May/June 2017

parents and returned. To demonstrate approval for the trip, the principal also must sign the permission slip. A teacher may not sign the principal’s name. Because of liability concerns, a student without a permission slip may not go on the trip. Keep all signed and returned permission slips in a safe place, as they may be needed should an issue arise. When a field trip will last all day, the teacher must make sure that all students have lunch and water/drink. All special education and 501 plan students, and students with allergies must be individually checked to be sure they have the appropriate lunch and drink. A student saying, “Yes, I have a lunch,” is not good enough: The teacher must see it or there may be consequences. If a student tends to be challenged by new surroundings or changes in routine, ask that the student’s parent serve as a chaperone. If one or more students will need extra attention on the field trip, discuss that with your principal. If the parents cannot go on the trip, perhaps the special education teacher or a paraprofessional could come along. To help keep students from getting lost, it is a good idea for younger students to have a buddy. This also helps teachers count by 2’s. Students should be counted many times throughout the trip. Returning to school with a student missing is grounds for termination.

Bus drivers typically have to be back at school for their afternoon bus routes, so it is imperative that the teacher has all students back on the bus at a specific time. OVERNIGHT TRIPS REQUIRE 24-HOUR VIGILANCE

Teachers who escort older students on overnight trips to destinations such as Atlanta, Athens, Washington, D.C., New York, Orlando or Savannah also must account for students at all times. Teachers must make every effort to ensure that the students do not have sex, drink alcohol or take drugs on the trip. If the teacher lets his or her guard down, they may find that students have gotten involved with inappropriate activity that could have been prevented. This can be cause for termination; it falls under the umbrella of providing adequate superviContinued on page 28

The school board attorney should provide the school with official permission slips so that the parent assumes legal liability for their student taking the trip; please do not make up a field trip permission slip on your own. PAGE ONE  27

sion for all students. A busy schedule tends to keep students out of trouble. If students are feeling sick on the field trip, the teachers cannot take the “well group” of students to participate in the competition and leave the “sick group” of students back at the hotel unsupervised where inappropriate things could happen. All students must have adult supervision all the times. Even a teacher not listed as an offi-

cial trip chaperone must follow protocol. None of the teachers present can, for example, drink alcohol at dinner, because all teachers must be prepared at all times to help if a student is lost or injured, for example. Drinking alcohol (even in the privacy of a hotel room or with dinner) on a field trip may result in the PSC issuing the teacher a one-year suspension. Also, if a teacher is a parent and takes a personal day to go on a field

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trip with his or her own child’s class at another school, and the parent elects to have wine with dinner along with the other parent chaperones, this could result in a PSC sanction. In the eyes of the PSC, “an educator is an educator” and alcohol would impair the parent/ teacher’s ability to quickly handle a student safety issue. If a student is to be sent home from a field trip for infractions (such as sexual misconduct or drug use) the teacher must call the parent to come and pick up the student. So, for example if a teacher calls the parents’ phone numbers and cannot get in touch with them, it might be that the teacher would ask the student for another phone number. Teachers want to be careful because the student may give the teacher a friend’s phone number and then the friend would come and pick up the student. Therefore, it is imperative to have accurate parent phone numbers. Also, the teacher is responsible for verifying that the person coming to get the student is, in fact, the parent of the student. If you cannot get in touch with a parent, ask the school administrator how to handle the situation. Another issue is that the teacher must provide adequate supervision on the bus. There have been allegations of students engaging in sexual activities at the back of the bus, while other students create a distraction for the teacher in the front of the bus. Teachers must constantly be scanning all of the students to make sure they can see all student faces. On overnight trips, the teacher must make sure students are in their assigned rooms and not in another student’s room or outside the hotel. Usually, overnight field trips are not a restful time for teachers. Teachers are not permitted to bring friends along. All of these rules or situations also apply to coaches who are taking student athletes to a competition that requires the students to stay overnight. We hope that you are able to provide students with wonderful field trip learning experiences; however, you must plan all aspects of the trip carefully, and once on the field trip, do not let your guard down. If anything unusual happens, please call the PAGE legal department at 800-334-6861. n

May/June 2017

2017 State PAGE STAR Student

Northview High School’s Bill Zhang Is 2017 State PAGE STAR Student

State PAGE STAR Student Bill Zhang (second from left) and State PAGE STAR Teacher Ashley Ulrich (center) are joined by presenters (l-r) PAGE Treasurer Lamar Scott, AT&T Georgia Director of External Affairs Rich Johnson and PAGE President Amy Denty.

By Lynn Varner, Contributing Editor


ill Zhang, a senior at Fulton County’s Northview High School, is the 2017 State PAGE STAR (Student Teacher Achievement Recognition) Student. He named Ashley Ulrich, his AP Language teacher, as his State PAGE STAR Teacher. Mary Kathryn Howard, a senior at Tift County High School is the Runner-up State PAGE STAR Student and chose drama teacher Jake Alley as her STAR Teacher. The announcement came at the State PAGE STAR Banquet held on April 24 at the Sonesta Gwinnett Place Atlanta in Duluth. Twenty-three PAGE STAR Student Region Winners were finalists in the culminating event of the annual STAR program for high school seniors. Among those 23 finalists, 12 scored 1,600 on one administration of the SAT, and all were in the top 10 percent or top 10 of their class. The search for the State PAGE STAR Student began earlier this year with the naming of 523 local STAR Students from each of the participating public and independent high schools across the state. In turn, those STAR stuMay/June 2017

dents then recognized the teacher who Georgia. State PAGE STAR Teacher had the most influence on their academ- Ashley Ulrich of Alpharetta received ic success as their STAR Teacher. a $2,500 cash award from the Frances Responsibility for the statewide STAR Wood Wilson Foundation presented by program was passed to PAGE in 1994 Amy Denty, PAGE president. Runner-up by the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, State PAGE STAR Student Mary Kathryn which created the program in 1958. Howard was presented a $1,000 scholarPAGE and the Chamber are primary ship from Lamar Scott, treasurer of the sponsors of the state event. Continued on page 30 Other sponsors include: AT&T Georgia; the Frances Wood Wilson Foundation; and The Mozelle Christian Endowment. Since its inception, the program has honored more than 26,000 students and their teachers for academic excellence. Bill is a resident of Johns Creek and is the son of Feng and Xueqin Zhang. As this year’s State PAGE STAR Student, Bill was honored with a $5,000 scholarship from AT&T Georgia presented Runner-up State PAGE STAR Student Mary Kathryn Howard and Runner-up State PAGE by Rich Johnson, director STAR Teacher Jake Alley. of external affairs for AT&T PAGE ONE  29

Retired journalist Jeff Dore interviews region winner Dhruv Gaur of Lakeview Academy.

PAGE Board of Directors. Mary Kathryn is the daughter of Drew and Kaylar Howard and is a resident of Tifton. Georgia Chamber of Commerce Director of Public Policy Jason O’Rouke presented the Runner-up State PAGE STAR Teacher Jake Alley of Lenox with a $500 award from the Georgia Chamber of Commerce and the $500 Mozelle Christian Endowment Award. PAGE, which sponsored the reception and state banquet, presented each STAR finalist and his or her teacher with a hand-blown glass star by Lillie Glassblowers. Local STAR students and teachers attending the banquet received a memento of the evening. At the 12 PAGE STAR Region events, Region STAR Students received a $400 cash scholarship from PAGE. Region STAR Teachers received a $200 award from the Georgia Chamber of Commerce. For a video report of the State PAGE STAR Banquet, visit pagefoundation. org/?page=STAR1Home n

2017 PAGE STAR Student Region Winners: front row, (l-r) Rachael Cundy, Lakeside High (Columbia); Lucy Wang, George Walton High (Cobb); Meredith Van De Velde, Glynn Academy (Glynn); and Prashanth Kumar, Pace Academy (College Park-independent); second row, (l-r) Mary Kathryn Howard, Tift County High (Tift); Bernadette Hicks, Camden High (Camden); Manav Mathews, Chamblee High (DeKalb); and Amanda Lang, Lambert High (Forsyth); third row, (l-r) Nivedha Soundappan, Houston County High (Houston); Amber Ott, Hiram High (Paulding); Neha Aggarwal, Statesboro High (Bulloch), Dhruv Gaur, Lakeview Academy, (Gainesville-independent) and Madison Landis, Cambridge High (Fulton); fourth row,(l-r) Carson Collins, Woodward Academy (Atlanta-independent), Michael Peng, Campbell High (Cobb); and Sabarish Sainathan, Gwinnett School of Math, Science & Technology (Gwinnett); fifth row (l-r) Justin Gittemeier, Union Grove High (Henry); Thompson Liu, Darlington School (Rome-independent); Geoffrey Mon, Cedar Shoals High (Clarke) and Harrison West, Savannah Country Day School, (Savannah-independent); and sixth row: (l-r) Eric Yan, Peachtree Ridge High (Gwinnett); Varun Nukala, Columbus High (Muscogee) ; and Bill Zhang, Northview High (Fulton).

2017 PAGE STAR Teacher Region Winners: Seated (l-r) Ashley Ulrich, Northview High (Fulton); Shelia Jones, Houston County High (Houston); Renee Stanfield, Union Grove High (Henry); Lisa Robinson, Lambert High (Forsyth); Melyn Roberson, Campbell High (Cobb); and Jeffrey Daniel, Camden High (Camden); and back row (l-r) Alan Farnsworth, George Walton High (Cobb); Jeff Floyd, Woodward Academy (College Park, GA-independent); Dr. John Pearson, Pace Academy (Atlanta-independent); Jake Alley, Tift County High (Tift); Dr. Jason Pritchett, Hiram High (Paulding); Robert Morgan, Columbus High (Muscogee); Greg Field, Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science and Technology (Gwinnett); Uwe Neuhaus, Chamblee Charter (DeKalb), Amit Bharucha, Cedar Shoals High (Clarke); Phil Titus (for Gregg Marshall), Darlington School (Rome-independent); Gabriel Pak, Peachtree Ridge High (Gwinnett); Bryan Wallace, Cambridge High (Fulton); Phillip Chittaro, Lakeview Academy (Gainesville-independent); John Eye, Glynn Academy (Glynn); Dr. David Arrington, Lakeside High, (Columbia); Thomas Crenshaw, Savannah Country Day School (Savannah-independent); and Bruce Law, Stateboro High (Bulloch).


May/June 2017

Georgia Academic Decathlon

Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe Is the 2017 PAGE Georgia Academic Decathlon State Champion By Lynn Varner, Contributing Editor


atoosa County’s Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High School won the 2017 PAGE Georgia Academic Decathlon (GAD) State Championship. It is the seventh time that the high school has captured the event’s top honor. The team scored the highest points overall in Division I and II and was presented the Howard Stroud Championship Trophy. This year’s two-day academic competition was held in February at Berkmar High School in Gwinnett County. As state champion, the Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe decathlon team represented Georgia at the annual U.S. Academic Decathlon Nationals competition in April in Madison, Wisconsin. The Professional Association of Georgia Educators, the Chick-fil-A Foundation and Oglethorpe Power sponsor the state competition. As a partner, Kennesaw State University serves as a host and provides expert speakers for the GAD Fall Workshop and provides and coordinates the more than 200 volunteers needed during the state championship competition. The Gwinnett County Public Schools system serves as host. Charles E. Richardson, editorial page editor for The Telegraph newspaper in Macon and a PAGE Foundation trustee, served as master of ceremonies for the GAD Awards Banquet, during which the highest-scoring students were awarded both team and individual medals in various competition categories. Approximately 170 students from 19

The Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe championship team and award presenters: (seated, l-r) John Muina, Jewel Okoronkwo, Krystina Arp, Chelsea Price and Liza Christopher; (standing, l-r) Coach Ian Beck, Coach Lisa Beck, John Christopher, Nicholas Goodale, Joseph Tench, Corey Handley, Red Follett, Jae Lee, Diane McClearen, director, Community & External Relations, Oglethorpe Power and Dr. Allene Magill, PAGE executive director.

high schools representing 12 districts competed in the academic event. During the competition, students were tested in seven content areas: economics, art, literature, mathematics, science, social science

and music. In addition, students earned points individually in three communication events: public speaking, personal interview and written essay. The program

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The overall top scorers were (l-r) Varsity gold medalist Red Follett from Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High School, Honor gold medalist Angad Joshi from Parkview High School and Scholastic gold medalist Brendan Porter from Villa Rica High School. Accepting Porter’s award is his coach, Cynthia Cox. May/June 2017

Continued on page 32

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is unique because each nine-member team is made up of three “A,” or honor students; three “B,” or scholastic students; and three “C,” or varsity students. Each year, the program features a different overall curriculum topic. “World War II” was this year’s topic.

On the second day of competition, students participated in the exciting Super Quiz, during which team members competed in a quiz bowl format, keying in answers to questions. Richardson also served as master of ceremonies for this event. Catoosa County’s LakeviewFort Oglethorpe was this year’s Super Quiz Champion. Floyd County’s Coosa High GAD STATE CHAMPIONSHIP WINNERS School, coached by Randy DIVISION I DIVISION II Vice and Bill Daughtry, won (large school) (small school) first runner-up honors; with Champion State Champion Richmond County’s Westside Parkview High School Lakeview-Fort High School, coached by (Gwinnett) Oglethorpe High School David Bradberry, named as Coaches: Melodie Carr, (Catoosa) Dave Steele, Krista Coaches: Lisa Beck and second runner-up. Flowers Ian Beck The U.S. Academic First Runner-up First Runner-up Decathlon also sponsors an Hardaway High School A.R. Johnson Health Online National Competition. (Muscogee) Science and Engineering The following schools represent Coach: Carmen Kimsey Magnet School Morris (Richmond) ed Georgia: Large School Online Coaches: Dr. Amanda Competition – Parkview High Second Runner-up Litfin and Philip Villa Rica High School School; Medium School Online Grabowskii (Carroll) Competition – Hardaway Coaches: Cynthia Cox, Second Runner-up High School; and Small School Sarah Triplett, Russell Jordan Vocational High Online Competition – A.R. Bennett School (Muscogee) Coach: Amanda Tuite Johnson Health Science and ROOKIE OF THE YEAR Engineering Magnet School. Hampton High School For a video report of the GAD (Henry) State Championship, visit Coach: Seema Dhody PageTVgad n

OFFICERS President Amy Denty President-Elect Kelli De Guire Treasurer Lamar Scott Past-President Stephanie Davis Howard Secretary Megan King DIRECTORS District 1 District 8 Dr. Oatanisha Dawson Lindsey Martin District 2 District 9 Brecca Pope Miranda Willingham District 3 District 10 Jamilya Mayo 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 Lance James Ex-Officio Vickie Hammond


Looking Beyond Georgia’s School Rating System “For what are you accountable and to whom?” That question is at the heart of the work by John Tanner, a testing and accountability expert, who presented across the state in May during a PAGE-sponsored tour. Tanner highlighted the inaccuracy and fallibility of standardized test accountability and A-F ranking systems for schools. The August/ September issue of PAGE One will feature Tanner’s rationale for community-based accountability and insight from Georgia educators.

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 2016-17 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.

May/June 2017


Step Further

ONLINE OPTIONS, ON YOUR TIME. Mercer University offers online endorsement programs designed for educators looking to enhance their skills while working full-time. We believe that the most effective teachers, educational leaders and school counselors have the power to create change within the classroom.

Learn more about Mercer’s online endorsement programs. 800.762.5404

Mercer offers five endorsement options for students pursuing a non-degree option or looking to combine an endorsement with a graduate degree. Endorsement options are available to certified educators who hold a valid Level 4 or higher certificate.

Endorsement Options Include: • Autism • Early Childhood (K-5) Math • Early Childhood (K-5) Science • English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) • Reading

Mercer University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).