PAGE One Magazine, May-June 2019

Page 1

May/June 2019

Meeting Georgia Students Where They Are

Using Technology to Differentiate Instruction in the Classroom

National Superintendent of the Year | 2019 Legislative Summary

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Contents May/June 2019

Vol. 40 No. 4



10  Meeting Georgia Students Where They Are: Using Technology to Differentiate Instruction in the Classroom



4  From the President Reading Proficiently by the End of Third Grade is the Equalizer

8  2019 National Superintendent of the Year Curtis Jones Leads Transformation of Bibb County Schools

5  From the Executive Director Your Advocacy Works: Vouchers Defeated and Raises Secured for All

Legislative 17  2019 Legislative Session Summary

Professional Learning 22  A Look in the Rearview Mirror: Reflections on PAGE Professional Learning Legal 24  Commonly Asked Questions about IEP Meeting Requirements

27  PAGE Names 2019 State STAR Students and Teachers 29  South Forsyth Middle School Wins 2019 PAGE Academic Bowl For Middle Grades State Championship

Teacher Pipeline 21  Nearly 2,000 Future Georgia Educators Visit Colleges of Education


26 Special Section: Hats Off to High Achievement

30  PAGE Georgia Academic Decathlon: Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe Captures Ninth State Title

27 PAGE One Official Publication of the Professional Association of Georgia Educators Our core business is to provide professional learning for educators that will enhance professional competence and confidence, build leadership qualities and lead to higher academic achievement for students, while providing the best in membership, legal services and legislative support.

May/June 2019



Executive Editor Craig Harper

President Larry Lebovitz

Graphic Designer Jack Simonetta

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


From the President

Reading Proficiently by the End of Third Grade is the Equalizer Dr. Hayward Cordy


f you accept as fact without further analysis that what is reported through print and digital media, uploaded to YouTube, and given as reasons for proposed legislation to fix our education system, you might also conclude, as some do, that our system of education is broken and in dire need of an overhaul. The accompanying unspoken message is that we, as educators, are to blame. The reality is that our educational system in Georgia, while facing challenges, is not broken. In 2018, Georgia had an 81.6 percent graduation rate, up from 80.6 percent the previous year. And in 2017, Georgia students taking the SAT outperformed the nation in evidencebased reading and writing, according to the College Board. While achievement gaps remain and must continue to be

addressed so that every child succeeds, progress also has been made in the area of equity. In 2018, the average ACT composite score for Black/African American students in Georgia was 18.0, compared to 16.9 nationally, according to the Georgia Department of Education. For Hispanic/Latino students in Georgia, the average composite score was 20.4, compared to 18.8 nationally. Schools are a microcosm of our communities, and as goes the community so goes the school. It is incumbent upon all educational stakeholders to work as a team to provide a rigorous, well-rounded curriculum and provide the wraparound support and services needed to give all students an equal opportunity. The greatest barrier to student success is poverty — and, shamefully, our state ranks among the 10 worst states for the

percentage of children living in poverty, according to 2018 U.S. Census Bureau data. While Georgia’s child poverty rate has dropped since its decade-high rate of 27 percent in 2012, more than 21 percent of children in Georgia remained impoverished in 2017. Poverty is not a culture, but a chronic condition that affects the minds, bodies and souls of more than 519,099 children in Georgia. Children living in poverty hear as few as 3 million words in their first three years of life, compared to 11 million words for children of wealthier families. In short, the number of words a baby hears in the first three years of life makes a big difference in a child’s language development. (Research demonstrates that the language factor is greater than the link to poverty or level of parental education.) Children who cannot read proficiently by the end of third grade are more likely to drop out of high school, have discipline problems (their behavior becomes their language) and perform poorly in eighth grade math. I know first hand the negative impact that poverty can have in the lives of children. I know also the power of literacy through

The study of 98,162 Georgia students found that those who scored higher on their third-grade end-ofgrade assessment in reading had higher graduation rates and higher average SAT and ACT scores — regardless of race/ethnicity, gender, poverty level and disability status.

Continued on page 6


May/June 2019

From the Executive Director

Your Advocacy Works Vouchers Defeated and Raises Secured for All

Craig Harper


May/June 2019

fiscal transparency for public schools are more than willing to redistribute millions of state dollars to individual use with absolutely no corresponding accountability structure to ensure either quality of education or the appropriate use of funds. Vouchers purportedly serve poor students in “failing” schools, yet the vouchers never require means testing or other limitations that would restrict funding to that population. In the end, vouchers typically serve middle income and above parents who can afford the

many additional expenses related to private school choice, including tuition above the voucher, transportation costs and various fees. Legislators also heard your voices regarding the $3,000 pay raise on the state salary schedule. Initially, the raise was designated for only some educators and left out certified support personnel, including media specialists, counselors and social workers. Through clear, consistent advocacy, the inherent unfairness Continued on next page

Photo by Josh Stephens

dvocacy equals power. The evidence is clear in the defeat of a significant voucher push and the attainment of a $3,000 raise for ALL certified educators on the state salary schedule. Without legislators hearing the strong voices of educators, I believe the voucher bill would have swept through the Senate on a party-line vote. Instead, seven Republicans either voted against the bill or were excused from the vote, leading to a 25-28 defeat. Then, throughout the remaining 13 days of the session, you maintained the pressure. Despite repeated attempts to whip votes to revive the voucher bill on its own or by attaching it to other bills, the votes could not be found this session. PAGE legislative staff — along with other education advocacy groups — worked tirelessly to secure this outcome. We especially appreciate the support of the Georgia School Superintendents Association and the Georgia School Board Association, who made clear the detrimental impact on teaching and learning in Georgia. Restricting public funding to public schools shouldn’t be a question, yet it keeps coming up as groups from outside Georgia and narrowly focused private-school advocates attempt to divert public funds for private purposes. It’s beyond frustrating that the same legislators who preach accountability and


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a well-rounded quality education to not only change the life trajectory of a child but also to give hope and a future to families who otherwise would remain disenfranchised and left to languish. I grew up as the 13th of 14 children born to poor sharecropper parents in Wrightsville in the 1960s. My father was a first-grade dropout, having been forced to quit school as a six year old and plow mules for $.25 per day to help support his family. My mother was fortunate enough to be able to attend school through eighth grade. Research bears out that the maternal level of education is a significant predictor of children’s literacy outcomes, and that the foundation of literacy starts at birth.

of dividing certified staff along assignment roles was made unequivocally apparent to policymakers. Ultimately, legislators found a way to provide the much-deserved raise to all certified staff for the full 12 months. (See our legislative report on page 17.) Like PAGE, the Georgia Association of Colleges of Teacher Education recognizes the vital role of individual advocacy in supporting public education. As such, they are firmly committed to teaching pre-service educators about the power of their influence. During the GACTE spring conference, I enjoyed participating on a panel about how to incorporate policy and legislative advocacy as both a personal experience and a professional expectation. As PAGE legislative staff relay to attendees of our PAGE Day on the Hill (co-sponsored by GACTE and the Georgia Association of Educational Leaders), the key to effective communication with policymakers is to personalize the effect of an issue by relating it directly to student impact and achievement. The biggest hurdle is getting past the initial experience of speaking with a policymaker about something that matters to you. It only gets easier from there. More than 60 student ambassadors from Georgia colleges of education participated in Day on the Hill activities, and that experience will pay big dividends for them — ­ and for public education in Georgia — for years to come.

Literacy is a powerful equalizer As a member of Governor’s Office of Student Achievement’s (GOSA) Get Georgia Reading team, I participate in the program’s community learning events throughout Georgia. GOSA studied the relationship between third-grade reading proficiency and later academic success by tracking 98,162 students from third grade through high school graduation and analyzing Georgia Department of Education student test data. The study found that students who scored higher on their third-grade end-of-grade assessment in reading had higher high school graduation rates, were more likely to take the SAT or ACT and had higher average SAT and ACT scores. It is important to note that these positive outcomes, which are grounded on third-grade reading proficiency, are consistent regardless of race/ethnicity, gender, poverty level and disability status. Reading proficiently by the end of third grade is the equalizer. Schools mirror society: Improving our educational system rests upon the shoulders of our communities, families and schools collectively. Schools are not to blame, and schools cannot do it alone. We must engage parents and inspire our communities at large to further join in our important mission to equalize education. This is our noble challenge, and working n together, it is within our grasp.


Don’t Put the Jester in Charge of the Kingdom Innovations in technology continually push educators to figure out how to incorporate new “stuff ” into lesson design. However, the nonstop emergence of new technology can leave educators overwhelmed — even the digital natives. Shiny bells and whistles and the “cool” factor of an online resource that a fellow teacher or instructional tech discovered beckons as a must-use tool. But Weston Kieschnick, a keynote speaker at the annual RESA Summit, offered a refreshing reminder of what’s most important for classroom teachers seeking

See the cover feature on page 10 to read how Georgia teachers are realizing positive learning outcomes by using technology to diversify instruction. effective blended learning. He stressed that technology tools must not become the focus. Learning outcomes and effective content instructional strategies are the foundation of lessons; technology should only be considered after those goals are met. Kieschnick, a former social studies teacher, reminds us that technology is ever-changing. Relevant content and positive student outcomes, however, are timeless. Too often he’s heard teachers ask: “How can I use technology today in my lesson?” The critical question, instead, must be: “These are my learning outcomes. What tools are available to make it more likely that my students will learn what’s intended?” Kieschnick reinforced his statements with the following analogy: “Learning is King. Growth is Queen. ‘Cool’ is the court jester. The jester is technology. And the jester has value, but don’t put him in charge of the kingdom.” As someone who loves newer, better, faster technology, I understand the easy distraction of the latest device and software. I encourage us all to remember that learning critical content is the ultimate goal for students, not how to use the latest app. Reflect on Success The final bell rings out another school year in a few weeks. I hope you take the time to reflect on all the good you’ve done this school year. Amid the stress and hustle, it’s often hard to realize the progress. Your students and parents may not take the time to thank you for the difference you’ve made through your commitment and dedication, but know that your work n is appreciated by many.

May/June 2019

2019 National Superintendent of the Year

Superintendent Curtis Jones Leads Transformation of Bibb County Schools By Meg Thornton, PAGE One Editor


ibb County Schools Superintendent Curtis Jones, Ed.D., was named National Superintendent of the Year in February by the American Association for School Administrators. The West Point graduate and retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel began his career in education as a JROTC instructor in the Griffin-Spalding County School System and rose to lead the district. A Barnesville native and the son of two educators, he spent 18 years in Griffin-Spalding schools, five as superintendent. Jones signed on as Bibb County superintendent in 2015 following the prosecution of former superintendent, who pleaded guilty to tax evasion. Straight away, Jones got to work turning around the reputation of the povertystricken district. He forged strong ties 8  PAGE ONE

with community, including the United Way and Chamber of Commerce, and was a leader in supporting the county’s successful effort to renew the Education Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (ESPLOST). He and his team then developed the district’s strategic plan, “Victory in Our Schools.” It has five goals: increasing student achievement; increasing student and stakeholder engagement; increasing teacher and leader effectiveness; being a reliable organization; and learning and growth. With the success of the ESPLOST in hand, Jones set out to enhance the schools. One of his first priorities was Northeast High School, a run-down facility with broken, graffiti-laden lockers and padlocks on the restroom doors. Although the school was slated to be

rebuilt, Jones saw an immediate need to clean it up and provide the students and teachers with technology. “I did not want students to go for a year or two years waiting for that rebuild effort to occur, and because of that, people saw that we were going to do what was right,” Jones told Georgia Public Broadcasting (GPB). Attendance and behavior are now top priorities. The district closely tracks students to see who is missing school and amassing office referrals. The district office also monitors teacher and leader evaluations monthly to make sure that educator performance is satisfactory and to help them progress in their improvement plans. The district is also working to put more wraparound services in place to address the social-emotional aspects of learning May/June 2019

in Bibb, which has a near 45 percent child poverty rate. “Students are continuing to have issues where trauma is happening. Crime in our community is higher than I would like, and the students who are experiencing (their loved ones) being a victim is baggage that they just can’t leave just because they’re coming to school,” he told GPB. Another goal is to increase the county’s graduation rate, which stands at 78.5 percent (and was 58.9 percent the year before Jones took the helm), to 90 percent by 2025. He also has made reading at grade level a main priority. Mission Has Caught Fire The community is inspired and grateful. Macon resident Guy Boyle put it this way in a social media post announcing Jones’s national honor: “Well done Dr. Jones. … It’s people like you who see all the positive upside to this great community and what we can be together that

has people like me wanting to continue to call Macon-Bibb home. … Thank you for being a positive, inspiring, dedicated contributor to our community.” According to John Zauner, executive director of the Georgia School Superintendents Association, “Dr. Jones creates positive results wherever he lands — no different in Bibb County, which presented tremendous challenges. Bibb’s positive trajectory is the result of Dr. Jones’s dedication to the children of Bibb County. His Victory in Progress guiding principal has caught fire in the community.” Zauner added that Jones is a very thoughtful and strategic leader. “In group settings, he is known for asking tough questions designed to challenge you and cause you to think deeper,” said Zauner. “He is representing Georgia with extreme honor as the 2019 National and Georgia Superintendent of the Year!” After receiving the AASA honor, Jones stated: “I am thankful and humbled by

this recognition. I also know that this selection is because of the great work that teachers, principals and students are doing in the classrooms every day. It is because of the hard work that the senior cabinet and central office do to support schools … and it is because of what parents and the community have done to support our efforts to increase reading proficiency, improve discipline, and make our schools safe, secure and fun places to be.” Upon winning the national title, Jones was presented with the association’s prestigious blue blazer as well as a $10,000 college scholarship fund to be earned by a district student. Jones plans a competition among high school students in which they will vie for the award by demonstrating leadership, citizenship and scholarship. In the military, Jones rose from an infantry officer in Germany and Georgia to comptroller at the Pentagon with the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He then earned a doctorate degree in educational leadership from Nova Southeastern University. In December, he was named Georgia School Superintendent of the Year by the Georgia School Superintendents Association. Jones married his high school sweetheart, Evelyn, more than 40 years ago. She is a retired elementary school teacher and now a part-time academic coach. Jones is the second superintendent from Georgia since 2015 to win the n national honor.

‘Dr. Jones creates positive results wherever he lands — no different in Bibb County, which presented tremendous challenges. Bibb’s positive trajectory is the result of Dr. Jones’s dedication to the children of Bibb County. His Victory in Progress guiding principal has caught fire in the community.’ — John Zauner, executive director of the Georgia School Superintendents Association May/June 2019


Meeting Georgia Students Where They Are Using Technology to Differentiate Instruction in the Classroom By Scotty Brewington


aving lived in western New York, Amber Sheffer has seen a lot of snow. But when she asked her classroom of second graders at Lake Park Elementary in Lowndes County to write about what they like to do in the snow, she quickly realized that many had never experienced it. Sheffer put together a writer’s workshop to get everyone inspired. First, the class read stories together about winter 10  PAGE ONE

and things people do in the snow. Then, she had students pose in front of a green screen and add themselves to a virtual “snow globe.”Using Flipgrid, a free video platform, they brainstormed ideas together as a class about what they would each do in their virtual snow globes. With Flipgrid, Sheffer’s students who struggle with writing were able to enhance their writing by expressing themselves verbally. Everyone researched winter-themed May/June 2019

Flipgrid, for example, students can record themselves reading their writing out loud and then listen back to help them proofread and revise. For students who struggle with reading, they can also use the tool to listen to their classmates’ stories and share feedback via video. Flipgrid, which uses the camera on a laptop computer, can also be used to help students with math. “When students are struggling to explain how they solved a problem, they can write it out on the whiteboard and explain it that way,” said Sheffer. “With Flipgrid, students can explain in front of the camera how they solved it.” We talked to Sheffer and other teachers all over Georgia, asking them how they are using technology to differentiate instruction in the classroom to reach every student. Here’s what they had to say…

What Qualifies as Differentiated Instruction?

In most schools, not everyone in a class comes in at the same skill level. For a fifth grade math teacher, for example, all students may not be working at a fifth grade level on the first day, but they still must all be taught the same math standards. The idea behind differentiated instruction is to teach the same grade level standards to every student in a way that works for them. The term “differentiated instruction” is a framework for teaching that provides all students with a way to learn effectively regardless of their skill and ability level. In math, for example, some students may need more concrete objects and manipulatives to grasp certain concepts, where more advanced students might benefit from focusing on problem-solving skills. Differentiated instruction is designed to serve students in the way that they will learn best while also allowing them to work at their own pace. By grouping students based on skill or readiness level, this type of instruction can help students become lifelong learners. “Differentiated instruction is when you look at learning from the side of the student instead of looking at the standard,” said Ge-Anne Bolhuis, an instructional technology specialist in Whitfield County Schools. Bolhuis, along with a special

May/June 2019

Image courtesy of Amber Sheffer

photos and added them to their individual compositions. To add detail to the stories, the rule was simple: If you put something in your snow globe scene, you have to write about it. “It was the best writing assignment I’ve ever done,” Sheffer said. “They were all so excited. I have some students who hate writing and I couldn’t believe how much they wrote! The technology really drives them.” Flipgrid is just one of many technologies that Sheffer and other teachers across Georgia are using to increase student motivation and engagement and differentiate instruction in the classroom. With

technology coordinator, covers all 22 schools in the county. “You look at ways for the student to master that standard from their perspective.” A typical public classroom environment is extremely diverse. There are differences in culture, socioeconomic status, gender, learning ability, interest level and even language barriers a teacher must overcome on a daily basis. Differentiated instruction begins with using what information is available — through assessments and teacher observations — to determine students’ learning levels so that teachers can create individualized instruction and activities for each student designed to help them succeed. Though good teachers have always tailored the learning experience to meet the individual needs of students, this approach to teaching as a social expectation is still relatively new. “We didn’t talk about differentiation back in 1994. Teachers taught everyone the same way and for those who didn’t ‘get it,’ it was sad,” said Bolhuis. “As teaching has changed — as we have learned that conceptualization comes before algorithms in math, for example — things are taught differently now. It has improved so much.”

How Can Technology Help?

In the early days of differentiated instruction, teachers had to create and write-out multiple lesson plans for different skill levels in their class, which was time consuming and often ineffective. Technology has been a real game changer, making differentiating instruction more accessible to teachers and enabling then to more easily reach all learners in their classrooms. Not only does technology help gather data on individual students’ learning abilities and skill levels, but it also helps teachers take that data and create learning plans to help them work independently or in small groups. For example, Google and Microsoft both PAGE ONE  11

Meeting Georgia Students Where They Are story — even though they may not be able to technically read at that level.” There is even a dyslexic font called “OpenDyslexic” now available that dyslexics say is easier for them to read, Bolhuis said. That font has already been embedded in Book Creator and other technology tools. Google Chrome also allows you to easily change text to the Open Dyslexic font. Google Classroom is an easy tool that allows teachers to take the same assignment and fine-tune it for students in different leveled groups. Take a vocabulary list with 20 words, for example. A teacher could send a document with a handful of extra, more advanced words to those in the class who are ready to go beyond the standard and a different, shorter list of words to those students who are working below the standard. Many teachers use Google Classroom and other Google tools on a daily basis. Leigh Ann Hayward is a Google-certified third grade teacher at Calhoun Elementary, a Title 1 school in Calhoun City Schools. In her classroom, Hayward and a one other co-teacher have seven students with special needs, several students with learning disabilities, and even a student with oppositional defiant disorder (ODD). Every child in Hayward’s classroom has a Chromebook, a laptop that operates on a Google platform. She uses Google Classroom to create individualized group work for students at all learning levels. If the class is working on a math task such as fractions, for example, she can individualize the lesson and send each group

Photo courtesy of Leigh Ann Hayward

Photo courtesy of Leigh Ann Hayward

have a “speech to text” feature that can be used to help students who struggle with writing better articulate their thoughts. Other tools such as Book Creator enable teachers to quickly and easily create their own differentiated textbooks. “If you had a classroom of students struggling with English, for example, you could pronounce certain words in a book so that they could hear the teacher reading the text back to them,” said Bolhuis. “There is also a ‘read to me’ button so that a book can be read to them. This allows students to hear the text — or even a classmate’s


a different level of tasks to differentiate. Each student also has his or her own Google site where they can upload documents for standards as they master them and earn badges for different programs. Parents can link into the site at any time. “They can share their badges with their parents and every time they upload something to their site, parents receive an e-mail that says they have mastered that standard,” said Hayward. “This is great because parents can see what we are doing in class.” Hayward also uses Google Forms to assess student progress in real time and provide students with instant feedback. By having work submitted electronically, it is also much easier to share with the class and students can easily e-mail their work to a partner if they need to work together on an assignment. “When they turn in an assignment, I can reply back to them instantly with comments about what they missed or where they need to go back and take another look,” Hayward said. “All of my students with special needs and learning disabilities are doing the same things as the other students through the use of technology. I just want them to be prepared — technology is the future.” Alison Hamel teaches eighth grade English at Pine Grove Middle School, a STEM school in Valdosta. Each student in her class also has his or her own Chromebook to use in class. Every Tuesday, she breaks students into three learning “stations.” One station is teacher led, where Hamel can offer additional instruction to students who need it. Another station is a “group” station where students help each other and collaborate, and the third station allows students to use technology in independent study. At the teacher-led station, Hamel uses Pear Deck, a free online add on to Google Slides, to work on dialogue and punctuation patterns with students in real time. In the collaborative group station, students can share their work with their classmates and receive instant feedback. At the independent, student-led station, students can access articles through Newsela based on their learning ability or work on targeted skills through Study Island. Recently, for a unit on political cartoons, Hamel was able to use Google Classroom to differentiate by sending cartoons of varying levels of difficulty to groups of students based on their abilities. May/June 2019

Differentiating for All Levels

Technology tools for differentiated instruction can be used for all learning levels — including gifted students. Say students are learning about the Civil War, for example, and are using Book Creator as a tool to teach the standard. Students could create their own textbook on the unit, where gifted students could extend the lesson beyond the standard. Students who read below grade level can select “Read to Me” and listen to an audio version of the text. Often, Hayward gives students the choice of which technology tool they want to use and how they want to present their work. In her third grade class, students who speak English as a second language and special education students use Flipgrid to record themselves and submit ideas and assignments verbally. “My ESL and special education students make phenomenal videos. It really brings them out,” said Hayward. “I have one little girl who wouldn’t speak in class for six weeks. I sent her out into the hall to work on Flipgrid, where she could make videos of whatever I had asked her to do or she could ask me questions and then send me the video, and I would comment back to her. Now she has the confidence to present in front of the room.” Jammie Brown, a fifth grade Early Intervention Program (EIP) math teacher at Varnell Elementary in Whitfield County, has a mix of kids in her classroom — some are working below grade level and others are above grade level in math. Brown uses Khan Academy, a free teaching website, to help provide individualized math instruction. Students who need help on a certain skill — or want to work on an advanced May/June 2019

concept — can use the website to work independently while Brown works with small groups of students. “Technology has definitely helped enrich instruction. Before, we hardly ever did any small group instruction or had students working on different things because we simply couldn’t have that many activities going on at one time,” said Brown. “Now, every day we are working with kids on their level and focusing on helping them grow as learners. It has changed tremendously and definitely made it more engaging for students.” A big benefit of technology tools like Khan Academy is that everyone can use them the way they need them. Teachers can take a standard and make it accessible to everyone to the fullest extent of their ability. Hannah Boruff, a fifth grade math teacher at Cohutta Elementary School in Whitfield County, also uses Khan Academy for differentiated instruction. At her school, a computer-based norm reference test is given to students three times a year to measure student progress. Khan Academy has activities that match up according to a student’s score, enabling Boruff to assign videos and practice problems based on an individual student’s ability. “That has been a huge benefit to me as a math teacher because when they go home and forget everything they learned in class, they can use those videos as a reference. It’s also a way to differentiate based on where they score on the test,” said Boruff. “It helps me assign things to students who are behind, as well as to those way above level. It challenges them and makes them want to perform even better.”

Though many school districts in Georgia have increased the number of computers at their schools to accommodate the state’s mandate that testing be done on computers, not every classroom has a one-to-one set up. Using technology to differentiate instruction is easiest when all students have a computer — or at least access to a computer — in the classroom, but technology can still be used in classrooms where small groups of students share computers or smart phones. One of the biggest challenges with technology is that some students — especially in Title 1 districts — do not have a computer or Internet access in the house. For students who do have computers and Internet access at home, they can simply log on to Google Classroom and work on assignments from home anytime. But for others, access is limited to classroom time. “Students are so varied in the amount of technology they have at home,” said Brown. “They may or may not have Internet or computers at home and that is definitely something that is challenging.” At Houston County High School, every student does not have a laptop, and there is

Photo courtesy of Alison Hamel

Photo courtesy of Alison Hamel

Differentiating on a Budget


What Georgia Teachers are Using: Technology Tools for Differentiated Instruction Flipgrid ( – A popular video discussion platform for educators, students and families to share content and collaborate. Works with any Surface, Chromebook, laptop, iPad, iPhone or Android device. Buncee ( – Creative and communication app for students, teachers and administrators designed to make it easy to create and share content. OpenDyslexic Font for Chrome – An opensourced font created to increase readability for readers with dyslexia that can override all fonts on web pages. iStation ( – Formative assessments to help identify individual student’s needs. Adaptive curriculum with interactive lessons and engaging animation. Book Creator ( – A simple tool for teachers and students to create digital books. Google Classroom – An easy-to-use tool to help teachers create and make assignments and send feedback. Teachers and students can sign in from any computer or mobile device. (Other helpful Google tools include Google Drive, Google Docs, Google Forms, Google Slides, Google Hangouts and Google Expeditions.) Spiral ( – Platform that offers collaborative apps for formative assessments, interactive and collaborative presentations, as well as video and live chat features with questions and quizzes. Khan Academy ( A free teaching website that enables teachers to identify gaps in learning and students to practice at their own pace. Content covers math K-12 through early college, grammar, science, history and more.


Encourage Collabora s tion

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Jennifer Hall, NBCT


Accessible computers & mobile devices

SAS Curriculum Pathways ( – Free online resource that provides interactive resources, such as audio tutorials, apps and videos for language arts, math, science, social studies and Spanish. IXL ( – A teaching website that offers an immersive, comprehensive K-12 curriculum in math, language arts, science, social studies, Spanish and more. Quizlet ( – A simple online tool that allows teachers and students to test their knowledge, play learning games, collaborate with other students, make flash cards and more. Remind ( – Enables parents, teachers and students to instantly share updates and resources. Texts are sent directly to any device and communication is two-way. Students can reply in real time with questions and comments. InstaGram and Facebook – Social media platforms that give students and parents access to teachers and class assignments where they already live online. Used for reminders about tests and quizzes, links to study guides, etc. Newsela ( – Provides current event articles that can be differentiated for individual grade, skill and reading levels. Study Island ( – K-12 practice and assessment tool with customizable classroom assessments and real-time progress monitoring to track student outcomes.

May/June 2019

Meeting Georgia Students Where They Are use,” said King. “Some students don’t have phones some have different types of phones, and some may not have their phone in class one day because their parents have grounded them from the phone.” King says she likes to use technologies that are “flexible and quick” like Quizlet, which she often uses to review vocabulary words or grammar topics in class. If a student doesn’t have a phone, King asks them to play the game with a partner. With Quizlet, she can post an activity up on the smart board for the whole class or students can go to the app on their own and access additional information with a QR class code. If a student needs extra help, King can also use the app to provide them an extra module. For students with limited home access to computers, King tries to make time for students to complete their work at school. “If a student has to be able to get on PowerPoint or print something at home, I have to make time for that at school or

Photo courtesy of Leigh Ann Hayward

find creative solutions for turning in work digitally and being flexible on time constraints,” she said. “That’s where differentiation would come in. Students with quick access will be ready to move on faster than a student who doesn’t have that at home.”

no consistent access to computers, though the number of computer labs at the school has increased to five for more than 150 teachers to accommodate the need for testing. However, most students do have smart phones, said Spanish teacher Megan King, and she depends heavily on individual student devices in her class. “Because I rely on individual devices, I have to be flexible with the technology I

It’s All About Relationships

Effective differentiation begins with building relationships with students and letting them have a hand in choosing which technology tools work for them. “Many students don’t know in elementary school that they struggle to read, but if you can have them read into a microphone and then play it back to them, they hear where their fluency maybe isn’t that great or where they aren’t observing punctuation,” said Bolhuis. “If you have a good relationship with that student, you can model for them, and they don’t feel threatened. But if you don’t have a good relationship, differentiation is almost impossible — and if you rely just on the technology, it’s meaningless.” Continued on page 16

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When it comes to successful differentiated instruction, running your classroom, or helping kids succeed academically, it always comes down to relationships. “Relationships are at the core of everything I do,” said Boruff. “I believe that when students know you are doing things specifically for them in your differentiation, they know you are working hard for them and trying to meet them where they are. It shows them how much you care about them.” Though many teachers are familiar with various tools and apps, the general training on the technology often doesn’t address how the tools can be used to provide differentiation in the classroom. Keeping abreast of the newest tools and software is impossible without developing strong relationships with other professional educators as well to learn what they are using in the classroom and what works. “I am the only fifth grade math teacher at my school — there is no one to bounce ideas off,” said Boruff. “But when I get together with my colleagues who also teach fifth grade math, I soak up what they are doing and what resources they are using. You need each other. Sometimes you don’t know where to start or have a challenge with one student and need ideas. Having another person who is an expert in their field as well is the greatest resource. They have all kinds of things in their toolbox you can benefit from.” It is critical for teachers to develop a professional learning network where they can engage with other educators and share ideas, Bolhuis said. “The collaborative teaching model is also relatively new,” said Bolhuis. “Now, because of collaborative planning, we can sit around the table and talk about what works for us and what doesn’t work. There is more mind power in the room, which helps a lot.” After all, technology is just a tool — the real work of teaching is still based on the student-teacher relationship. “We don’t want to use technology to the point where we take out human interaction,” said Bolhuis. “If we teach students how to find the tools that will help them do the work — and take away the stigma of differentiation — we will n create lifelong learners.”

May/June 2019


2019 Legislative Session Summary By Margaret Ciccarelli, PAGE Director of Legislative Affairs


n unusual number of leadership changes contributed to a demanding pace during the 2019 legislative session; a new governor, lieutenant governor, House Education Committee chair, Senate Education Committee chair and House Retirement Committee chair worked in their respective policymaking roles on important education-related issues such as school safety, private school vouchers, educator pay raises and TRS reform. Once these policymakers were sworn in and committee work began, the pace under the Gold Dome intensified throughout the session before the legislature adjourned on April 2. The following summary was written at the conclusion of the 2019 legislative session. At that time, Gov. Brian Kemp had 40 days after legislators adjourned to sign or veto any legislation. Legislation not yet signed or vetoed before May 13 became law. The effective date of all bills is July 1, 2019. The graphic on page 20 shows legislative voting records for some bills. Please see how your House and Senate members voted.

State Budget 2019 Amended Fiscal Year Budget The AFY19 State Budget contains the following appropriations of education interest: •  $69,420,000 for school safety grants •  $18,063,705 midterm adjustment to the Local Five Mill Share for state commission charter schools due to legislation passed during the 2018 session •  $1 million to provide generators for backup power at the Georgia Academy for the Blind and the Georgia School for the Deaf •  $500,000 for middle school computer coding labs in rural or high-poverty school districts •  $8.4 million for the Georgia Apex Program to fund support counselors for mental health services in high schools 2020 Fiscal Year Budget The FY20 State Budget contains the May/June 2019

following appropriations of education interest: •  $483,026,192 to adjust the state salary schedule to increase educator salaries by $3,000 for certified teachers and certified employees, including school counselors, school social workers, school psychologists, media specialists, special education specialists and technology specialists, effective July 1, 2019 •  2 percent salary increase for statefunded classified staff, including bus drivers, school nurses and school nutrition workers •  $2 million for facilities grants for charter schools due to legislation passed during the 2017 session •  $2 million to expand the comprehensive Communities in Schools model of wraparound supports to new schools •  $1 million in grants for professional development programs for teachers providing instruction in computer science

courses and content per SB 108 (see more on SB 108 below) •  $100,000 for a two-year pilot program to demonstrate and evaluate the effectiveness of early reading assistance programs for students with risk factors for dyslexia per SB 48 (see more on SB 48 below) •  $78,644,980 increase in funds for Equalization grants •  $1 million for additional high school counselors and enriching counselor programs for Title I schools •  $220,000 for systems and schools to reach and maintain industry certification in the field of construction in collaboration with the Construction Education Foundation of Georgia •  $323,000 for life science industry certification to rural school districts in collaboration with Georgia Youth Science and Technology Centers •  $250,000 for cyber security initiatives PAGE ONE  17

in high schools across the state •  $3,452,650 transfer of funds from the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement (GOSA) to the Georgia Department of Education (GaDOE) to provide one Advanced Placement (AP) exam for low-income students and one AP STEM exam for all students •  Utilize $175,000 in existing funds to support the innovative assessment pilot program established during the 2018 session Dyslexia SB 48, sponsored by the new Senate Education and Youth Committee Chair P. K. Martin (R-Lawrenceville), requires the State Board of Education to develop policies for referring K-3 students for dyslexia screening if the students have been identified through the response-to-intervention process. Subject to subsequent appropriations by the General Assembly, SB 48 also requires universal dyslexia screening in kindergarten, beginning in the 2024-2025 school year. The legislation allows the Georgia Professional Standards Commission to create a dyslexia endorsement program for educators. GaPSC will collaborate with GaDOE to improve and update professional development opportunities for teachers specifically relating to dyslexia. SB 48 also creates a three-year pilot program, beginning in the 20202021 school year, to demonstrate and evaluate the effectiveness of early reading assistance programs for students with risk factors for dyslexia.

School Safety SB 15, by Sen. John Albers (R-Alpharetta), the “Keeping Georgia Schools Safe Act,” includes recommendations made by the Senate Study Committee on School Safety, which Albers chaired before the 2019 session began. SB 15 contains extensive reporting requirements for schools and requires a site threat assessment to be conducted periodically. School leaders will have a choice regarding providers of the threat assessments, and the assessments will then be used to update school safety plans shared with GaDOE. The bill also requires safety plan drills and the establishment of a smartphone or digital application by the Georgia Information Sharing and Analysis Center for reporting of suspicious, unsafe, or unlawful activity. SB 15 mandates the identification of school safety coordinators tasked with issuing annual reports to their local boards of education, coordinating with state agencies, reporting suspected criminal behavior to local law enforcement and working with all levels of law enforcement and mental health and social services providers.

able circumstances” like inclement weather, assemblies, field trips, or lack of field space impedes recess. Schools are encouraged to schedule an average of 30 minutes of outdoor recess. Local boards of education are required to establish written policies ensuring recess is: a safe experience for students; scheduled so that it provides a break during academic learning; and, not withheld for disciplinary or academic reasons. HB 83 also requires boards of education to establish written policies regarding unstructured break time for students in grades 6-8.

Recess HB 83 requires elementary schools to schedule daily recess for students in K-5, beginning in the 2019-2020 school year. Recess is not required on school days when students have physical education or structured activity time. The bill also waives the requirement when “reason-

Teachers Retirement System Though a number of Teachers Retirement System bills did not make it through the General Assembly in 2019 (more on that in the final section of this report), one TRS bill did move forward. Because HB 292 by Rep. Tommy Benton (R-Jefferson) was assigned fiscal bill status, the legislation was required to move forward for an actuarial study this summer. HB 292 is eligible to pass during the 2020 session. The forthcoming actuarial analysis is anticipated to provide more insight into the $600-$660 million non-payment by the University System of Georgia to TRS. The nonpayment was the subject of a state audit released during the 2019 session.

Gov. Brian Kemp signed into law a bill requiring Georgia drivers to stop for school buses.


Computer Science SB 108, also sponsored by Sen. P. K. Martin, requires computer science courses to be offered in some middle and high schools, beginning in the 2022-2023, and requires such courses to be offered in all high schools by the 2024-2025 school year. The legislation corresponds with a $1 million proposed appropriation in the FY20 state budget for the grants earmarked for educator professional development programs for teachers providing instruction in computer science courses and content.

School Legal Issues Several criminal and civil school law bills also passed during the 2019 session, including: HB 478, by Rep. Mandi Ballinger (R-Canton), provides additional due process protections for educators placed on Georgia’s child abuse registry. SB 9, by Sen. Harold Jones (D-Augusta), a sex crimes bill, incorporates language which originated as May/June 2019

part of another bill by Rep. Ed Setzler (R-Acworth) that expands Georgia law regarding educators, school employees and agents of school systems who engage in sexual relationships with students older than the age of consent. SB 9 creates misdemeanor and felony tiers dependent on the degree of contact between school employees and students. HB 311, by Rep. Andy Welsh (R-McDonough), removes sovereign immunity protections for state and local governments but exempts local school districts. Other Bills SB 25, sponsored by Sen. Bill Heath (R-Bremen), requires drivers to stop for school buses that have their stop arms activated on all highways except those divided by a median. SB 25 has already been signed by Gov. Kemp, marking his first bill signature. PAGE Director of Legislative Affairs Margaret Ciccarelli attended the bill signing during the legislative session. SB 60, the “Jeremy Nelson and Nick Blakely Sudden Cardiac Arrest Prevention Act,” is also sponsored by Sen. Martin. The bill requires schools to provide educational materials about the danger of sudden cardiac arrest to students participating in interscholastic athletic activities, their parents and their coaches. SB 83, sponsored by Sen. Jeff Mullis (R-Chickamauga), expands the Old and New Testament courses currently taught in Georgia public schools — adding aspects of art history, music history, customs and culture of the Bible, as well as the impact on modern society. Attached to the final version of SB 83 is language from HB 562 by Rep. Robert Dickey (R-Musella). This provision codifies the Realizing Educational Achievement Can Happen (REACH) Scholarship, a needsbased mentorship and college scholarship program for low-income students. SB 67, by Sen. Dean Burke (R-Bainbridge), allows districts to use capital outlay designated funds for schools damaged in natural disasters. HB 12, sponsored by Rep. Rick Williams (R-Milledgeville), requires schools to post a sign containing the phone number to receive reports of child abuse. HB 59, by Rep. Dave Belton (R-Buckhead), allows students with parMay/June 2019

ents in the military to enroll in a school district early when their parent or guardian receives orders. The final version of HB 59 also contains a provision from HB 558 by Rep. Todd Jones (R-South Forsyth). That language allows state charter schools with statewide attendance zones to be considered state agencies for purposes of the Open Meetings Act, thus allowing the schools’ governing boards to meet via teleconference. HB 68, sponsored by Rep. John Carson (R-Marietta), would prevent private school accrediting organizations from operating as student scholarship organizations, which serve as pass-through entities for Georgia’s tuition tax credit voucher program. HB 130, by Rep. Randy Nix (R-LaGrange), authorizes the Georgia Foundation for Public Education, which is an entity of the Georgia Department of Education, to qualify as a 501(c)(3). HB 459, by Rep. Ginny Ehrhart (R-Powder Springs), creates a process to verify school bus drivers’ credentials twice annually. HB 530, sponsored by Rep. Bill Hitchens (R-Rincon), prohibits parents or guardians from withdrawing a child from a public school to avoid compliance with mandatory attendance, school discipline, parental involvement, or parental responsibility laws. HB 530 stems from a heinous crime in Rep. Hitchens’ district in southeast Georgia in which parents removed their children from their local public schools and later murdered the children. HB 527, by Rep. Robert Dickey (R-Musella), reflects an annually required update to weights in Georgia’s Quality Basic Education school funding formula. Resolutions Respective chambers of the legislature passed the following resolutions, which create study committees anticipated to meet before the 2020 legislature convenes in January. PAGE will attend and report on study committee meetings. HR 259, by Rep. Boddie Williams (D-East Point), creates the House Study Committee on Heat-Related Injuries, Cardiac Injuries and other Sports-Related Injuries. HR 585, by Rep. Carl Gilliard (D-Garden City), creates the House Study Committee on Gang and Youth Violence

Prevention. SR 304, by Sen. Bruce Thompson (R-White), creates the Senate Athletic Association Study Committee. SR 353, by Sen. Emanuel Jones (D-Decatur), creates the Senate Study Committee on Community Schools. SR 371, by Sen. Greg Kirk (R-Americus), creates the Senate Protections from Sexual Predators Study Committee. SR 452, also by Sen. Jones, creates the Senate Study Committee on the Financial Efficiency Star Rating (FESR). SR 460, by Sen. John Wilkinson (R-Toccoa), creates the Senate Agriculture, Forestry and Landscape Workforce Access Study Committee. SR 468, by Sen. Gail Davenport (D-Jonesboro), creates the Senate Study Committee on Educational Development of African American Children in Georgia. Bills That Did Not Pass An important part of the story of each legislative session is in reference to what legislation did not pass. The following bills failed to clear both chambers. Because 2019 is the first year of Georgia’s legislative biennium, these bills are eligible to pass during the 2020 legislature, which convenes in January. Vouchers Several voucher bills did not make it through the legislature in 2019. Each bill sought to create a third Georgia voucher program called an Education Savings Account (ESA). PAGE opposed the harmful legislation, as did a number of other statewide education groups, due to the voucher plans’ diversion of resources critical to public schools and the lack of important academic accountability and financial transparency. HB 301, sponsored by Rep. Wes Cantrell (R-Woodstock), failed to move through the House Ways and Means Committee after a state fiscal note demonstrated the high cost of the House version of the ESA voucher. The Senate version of the ESA voucher, contained in SB 173 by Sen. Greg Dolezal (R-Cumming), made it further through the legislative process but failed to garner the necessary majority on the Senate floor. Efforts to bring either bill back for another vote failed late in the session. Continued on page 20 PAGE ONE  19

Teachers Retirement System Several TRS bills did not move forward during the 2019 session. All three have been labeled by the state auditor as nonfiscal bills. Though the bills did not pass in 2019, their status maintains their eligibility to become law in 2020. HB 109 by House Retirement Education Committee Chair Tommy Benton would change TRS benefits for new teachers joining the TRS plan after July 1, 2020. SB 117 and SB 175, both sponsored by Senate Retirement Chair Ellis Black (R-Valdosta), sought to make changes to educator return-to-work laws and require those buying retirement credit to pay full actuarial value.

Dual Enrollment HB 444, by Rep. Bert Reeves (R-Marietta), sought to add limitations to Georgia’s popular dual enrollment program.

Tim Tebow Act SB 163, the “Tim Tebow Act” by Sen. Bruce Thompson (R-White), sought to allow home school students to participate in extracurricular activities at the public schools for which they are zoned.

Evaluation Appeal, Chief Turnaround Change and Local School District Financial Management After SB 68 by Sen. Freddie Sims (D-Dawson) successfully passed the Senate and moved to the House,


School Start Date After a Senate Study Committee on Evaluating the School Year Calendar of Georgia Public Schools recommended that schools start classes no earlier than seven to 10 days before Sept. 1, Senate legislation mandating such never materialized. Rep. Ron Stephens (R-Savannah) did introduce HB 421, which sought to prohibit schools from starting before Aug. 1. That legislation never gained traction.

the legislation, which incorporated recommendations from the Senate Study Committee on Continual Audit Exceptions on Local School Systems, became a vehicle for several other bills. Amendments to SB 68 included language from HB 32 by Rep Kevin Tanner (R-Dawsonville), which sought to reorganize Georgia’s Chief Turnaround Office, and HB 68 by Rep. Benton, which sought to create an appeals process for teachers who have accepted their fourth or subsequent consecutive contract with the same school district and receive an evaluation with a performance rating of unsatisfactory, ineffective, or needs n development.

May/June 2019

Teacher Pipeline

Nearly 2,000 Future Georgia Educators Visit Colleges of Education By Mary Ruth Ray, PAGE College Services Representative


e all have experienced the frustration of a store’s long checkout lines or slow service when a restaurant is short on wait staff. But when schools don’t have enough teachers, the consequences may not be that obvious to the public; after all, schools can’t close their doors because of a teacher shortage. However, the effects of a teacher shortage are profound. Class sizes increase, more long-term substitutes are used and schools often have to resort to hiring teachers who may not be highly qualified to teach certain subjects. All of these hinder student achievement. This is why PAGE, through its Future Georgia

Educators (FGE) program, is committed to doing our part to recruit the next generation of top-notch Georgia educators. To that end, during this school year PAGE and 10 partner colleges throughout Georgia will have hosted nearly 2,000 high school students at our annual FGE Days events. Students hear from award-winning educators — including 2019 Georgia Teacher of the Year Allison Townsend — participate in hands-on workshops about careers in education and college life, and visit with college recruiters as well as college of education students. Students also compete in the “FGE Knowledge Bowl,” which tests their knowledge of the

Georgia Code of Ethics for Educators and content from education pathway classes. “It’s exciting to see so many young people interested in teaching come together and in many cases visit a college campus for the first time,” said Jimmy Jordan, PAGE membership director.“We hope these events will inspire the students to seriously consider a career in teaching. And we aim to provide them with valuable information to help make that aspiration a reality. Ultimately, we hope that the teacher shortage in Georgia becomes a distant memory.” For more information about Future Georgia Educators, please visit www. n

FGE Day at Augusta University

FGE Day at Georgia Southern

FGE Day at University of North Georgia May/June 2019


Professional Learning A Look in the Rearview Mirror:

Reflections on PAGE Professional Learning By Rick Little, PAGE Professional Learning


cross Georgia, districts, schools, administrators and teacher leaders have improved their schools through participation in PAGE Professional Learning. Cohorts have included principal/teacher teams, assistant principal/teacher teams, superintendents and a group focused on school accountability. Beginning this fall, PAGE is restructuring its professional learning offerings to cast a wide net to serve more educators at every level (including students in Georgia’s colleges of education). Two-year professional learning opportunities will be available in regions across the state to teams of educators. Educators continually seek effective

ways to design quality work to meet the needs of students. They also want professional collaboration, participatory leadership and results-oriented decisions based on sound beliefs about our profession. They know the value of networking with colleagues who share similar challenges and work under similar state and federal mandates. PAGE professional learning champions the need for schools to transform into collaborative learning organizations that embrace change and improvement. We guide educators in designing meaningful, engaging work that speaks to the needs and values of students. “At the end of the day, it is not the teacher that should go home tired and exhausted, but the stu-

Over the years, PAGE has received hundreds of testimonials from educators about the value of their professional learning experiences. Here are just a few: “I found my voice as a teacher leader. You have to leave the classroom behind sometimes to get a bigger picture of your school.” “I feel better equipped to look at the lesson-planning process from the lens of a designer.”


“I love the 10 Design Qualities and Profile Elements. These are definitive and practical tools for teachers to use when considering if an activity is reaching all students.” “I added a lot of technology tools to my teaching toolbox.”

May/June 2019

Pictured are participants in the 20172019 PAGE Assistant Principal and Teacher Leadership Academy. (Photos by Lynn Varner)

dents, because they have been so engaged and focused in their work,” stated one professional learning participant. It’s about the work we design and the relationships we forge rather than “fixing” students or teachers. Intentional thinking about students and how they learn is critical in the design process, and collaboration is key. Participants become intentional about building relationships with students, colleagues and parents. A high school teacher in the Northwest Georgia School District Network recently shared that while rigor and relevance are critical in designing learning experiences, building the relationships with students makes the difference in meaningful and profound learning. Professional learning also focuses on developing principals in their role as leader of leaders, facilitating the design of work

“I love the idea of transformation vs. reformation.” “Engaging students leads to profound learning and increased achievement.” “Designing engaging lessons and units is never a finished process. Authenticity is key."

for staff and students and supporting classroom instruction. Teachers develop their role as leaders, designers and guides to instruction. School administrators, along with teacher leaders, drive the process of transformation, creating the conditions for students, parents, staff and stakeholders to collaboratively engage in the work that leads to profound learning. Teachers and school leaders must be empowered to address challenges with a common aim forged on mutual compelling beliefs about schools and children. Transforming schools and classrooms is about the journey, however. Inevitably, the intended direction and destination will change over time, but the map we build will guide us down the right track. As PAGE works to redesign professional learning opportunities and offer new and meaningful experiences, we continually seek feedback and reflections of participants. PAGE is intentional in its efforts to make the work authentic, applicable and aligned with the real work that goes on in schools. For information about PAGE Professional Learning, please contact David Reynolds at n

“This experience equips you with the tools to do the work and helps you become a change agent. Embrace that. You can make a difference. Your voice matters.” “The emphasis is on students rather than state mandates or arbitrary standards.” “We are developing a shared vision for improvement.”

May/June 2019



Commonly Asked Questions about IEP Meeting Requirements By Lauren Wilmer, PAGE Staff Attorney


eorgia educators are responsible for making sure that students with various disabilities receive a free, appropriate public education, also called “FAPE”. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004 (IDEA)¹ is a federal law that requires public schools to develop an Individualized Education Program (IEP) for every student with a disability who is found to meet the requirements for special education. The IEP is the main vehicle used to ensure a child with disabilities is receiving FAPE. This written document is created and continually revised through a process of IEP meetings with a student’s IEP team throughout the school year. The PAGE legal department regularly receives phone calls addressing concerns around IEP meetings requirements. IEPs present unique legal issues for educators. This article addresses the most frequently asked questions pertaining to IEP meetings and their legal requirements. Who should be on the IEP team? IDEA defines the individuals who should be a part of a student’s IEP team. The team includes the student, the student’s parent(s) or legal guardian(s), a special education teacher, at least one general-education teacher, a representative of the school or district who is knowledgeable about the availability of school resources and an individual 24  PAGE ONE

who can interpret the instructional implications of the results of the student’s evaluation (such as the school psychologist).² IDEA stipulates that one person may be sufficient to satisfy two requirements. For example, in some counties, a school psychologist may both interpret the instructional implications of a student evaluation and serve as the person who is knowledgeable about resources in the school or district. In such cases, educators should consult with their building administrators for further guidance. Does the whole IEP team have to attend every meeting? According to IDEA, IEP team members may ask the IEP team to excuse them

from all or some part of a scheduled IEP meeting. However, they must have written consent from the parent to be absent. If the parent does not give permission, the IEP team member must attend or the IEP team must reschedule the meeting.³ Before to the meeting, input into the development of the IEP must be submitted by the excused team member, in writing, to the parent and the IEP team. Can the parent/guardian bring an advocate or attorney? IDEA allows for a parent or guardian to bring an outside professional to an IEP meeting. The parent or guardian must be able to show how that person has knowledge and/or special expertise regarding May/June 2019

the child.⁴ This could include the professional’s credentials and a description of how he/she knows the child in question. Often these outside professionals already have this prepared. It is up to the parent/ guardian inviting the outside professional to determine that the invitee has the requisite knowledge regarding the child. IDEA is silent as to whether the parent/ guardian has to give advanced notice to the IEP team that he/she is bringing an outside professional to the meeting. Can the parent/guardian demand the student be at the meeting? IDEA states that “only the parent has the authority to make educational decisions for the child …including whether the child should attend an IEP team meeting.”⁵ IEP team members may be able to argue that the child’s presence is not appropriate because of age and maturity. However, ultimately the school cannot deny the child from attending if it is the parent’s wish. Additionally, if the purpose of the IEP meeting is to discuss the child’s IEP transition plan for work/college, the school must invite the child. This planning starts at 16 years of age, at the latest.⁶ What is proper notice for an upcoming IEP meeting? IDEA states that in order to ensure one or both parents of a child are present at each IEP team meeting, a school must (1) notify parents of the meeting early enough to ensure that they will have an opportunity to attend and (2) schedule the meeting at a mutually agreed on time and place.⁷ The notification to the parent/guardian must include (1) the purpose, time and location of the meeting, (2) who will be there, and (3) notification of the parent’s right to invite an outside professional who in their opinion has knowledge or special expertise regarding their child.⁸ For a child beginning ninth grade or by the age of 16, the invitation must include that the purpose of the meeting will be consideration of postsecondary plans and transition services for the student.⁹ Do you have to reschedule the IEP meeting if a parent is unavailable? Federal law states that schools “must ensure that the IEP team … includes May/June 2019

… the parents of the child.”¹⁰ This may mean rescheduling if the parent prefers to meet in person. The law also states that the school is “required to use other methods to ensure parent participation, including conference telephone calls” and other alternative means, such as video conferences.¹¹ Therefore, if the parent and school agree to use alternative methods, such as a video or phone conference call, it is permitted by IDEA. The school may hold an IEP meeting without a parent if the school can show that it could not persuade the parent to attend. In this case, teachers should have diligent documentation that demonstrated their attempt to contact and persuade the parent. This documentation should include detailed records of telephone calls made or attempted and their results, copies of correspondences sent to the parents and detailed records of visits made to the parent’s home or place of employment.¹² Can someone record the meeting? Federal law does not prohibit a parent or school official from recording IEP meetings. State departments of education or school districts can require, prohibit, limit, or regulate the use of recording devices at IEP meetings. The Georgia Department of Education has been silent on this matter. Educators in Georgia will need to see if their board policies prohibit the use of recording devices in the IEP meeting. If the school records the IEP meeting, the recording becomes part of the child’s “educational records” under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). This means that the parent/ guardian would have a right to listen to the recording and request a copy of the recording. What happens with falsified IEP documents? Standard 4 (Honesty) of the Georgia Professional Standards Commission (PSC) Code of Ethics states that “Unethical conduct includes but is not limited to, falsifying, misrepresenting, or omitting … Information submitted to federal, state, local school districts and other governmental agencies; (and) information regarding the evaluation of

students and/or personnel … .”¹³ An educator can be sanctioned for falsifying IEP documents and submitting them to the school system. In a case where an educator fabricated her IEP paperwork by cutting signatures from other documents, pasting them on the required paperwork and photocopying the paperwork to conceal the cut and paste, the educator received a 90-day suspension of her certificate from the PSC. General/regular education teachers who sign IEPs as if they were in an IEP meeting but were not can also expect a sanction from the PSC. What happens when a parent claims you are not following the IEP? If the school district has violated a legal rule, such as failing to hold an IEP meeting, conduct an evaluation, meet a time limit or implement the IEP, a parent/ guardian can file a complaint. Each school district has its own complaint procedure. IDEA requires the party to formally file for IEP due process within two years after knowing of the dispute. Parents/guardians also have a right to file a state complaint stating that the school has broken a law. The due-process hearing and the state proceedings can happen simultaneously. Overwhelmingly these cases are not brought against individual educators, but against school districts as a whole. Educators who are accused of violating a legal rule, such as failing to follow an IEP, can face adverse action from their n employer. Footnotes   1 Education of Individuals with Disabilities Act, 20 U.S.C. § 1400 (2004).   2 20 U.S.C. §1414(d)(1)(B)(2004).   3 20 U.S.C. 1414(d)(1)(C) (2004).   4 20 U.S.C. §1414(d)(1)(B)(2004).   5 34 C.F.R 300.321.   6 20 U.S.C. 1400(c)(14).   7 34 C.F.R §300.322(a) (1),(2).   8 34 C.F.R §300.22(b)(1)(i)-(ii).   9 34 C.F.R §300.22(b)(2)(i)-(ii). 10 34 C.F.R §300.322(a). 11 34 C.F.R §300.322(c); §300.328. 12 34 C.F.R §300.322(d). 13 O.C.G.A. §20-2-984.2; PSC rule 5056-.01 (3)(d) PAGE ONE  25

Hats Off to High Achievement A

t year’s end, we celebrate the remarkable achievements of students throughout Georgia, and we salute the dedicated teachers and coaches who guide them. PAGE is the proud sponsor of STAR, Georgia Academic Decathlon and the Academic Bowl for Middle School Students. We are pleased to introduce you to many exceptional academic achievers — hard workers and lovers of learning all.

Berkmar HS (Gwinnett) decathlete Trung Dinh accepts a gold medal in mathematics at the GAD awards banquet.

2019 State PAGE STAR Student Joyce Liu of Lowndes High School

2019 PAGE Academic Bowl for Middle Grades State Champion South Forsyth Middle School 26  PAGE ONE

May/June 2019

PAGE Names 2019 State STAR Students and Teachers

From left, PAGE Executive Director Craig Harper, State PAGE STAR Teacher Rebecca Martin, PAGE President Hayward Cordy, State PAGE STAR Student Joyce Liu, PAGE Foundation President Ann Stucke and Windstream Communications State President J Berkshire.

By Lynn Varner, PAGE Contributing Editor Photos by Chris Savas


oyce Qiaosi Liu, a senior at Lowndes High School in Valdosta is the 2019 State PAGE STAR Student. She named Rebecca Martin, her AP calculus teacher at Lowndes High School, as her State PAGE STAR Teacher. Robert “Jake” Churchill, a senior at North Atlanta High School of Atlanta Public Schools, is the Runner-up State PAGE STAR Student. He named Adam Brooks, his band teacher at North Atlanta High School, as his STAR Teacher. The announcement came at the State PAGE STAR Banquet on April 29 at the Sonesta Gwinnett Place Atlanta in Duluth. Fifteen PAGE STAR Student region winners were finalists in the culminating event of the annual STAR (Student Teacher Achievement Recognition) program for high school seniors. Among the 15 finalists, six scored 1600 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 school year with the naming of a recordbreaking 609 local STAR Students from each of the participating public and independent high schools across the state. In turn, those STAR students then recognized as their STAR teacher the educator who has had the most influence on their success. “Recognizing these outstanding students and their teachers in region events and then at the state banquet each year is our great honor,” said PAGE Executive Director Craig Harper. “We are pleased to be a major sponsor and administrator for the STAR program to ensure that Georgia’s excellent students and teachers receive the attention they’ve earned through their success.” PAGE and the Georgia Chamber of Commerce are primary sponsors of the state event. Additional sponsors include the Frances Wood Wilson Foundation, the PAGE Foundation, The Mozelle Christian Endowment and Windstream

Communications. Since its inception, the STAR program has honored more than 27,000 students and their teachers for academic excellence. Scholarships Awarded to STARs As this year’s State PAGE STAR Student, Joyce Liu was honored with a $5,000 scholarship from PAGE, presented by PAGE President Dr. Hayward Cordy. Liu is the daughter of Li-Mei Chen and Chunlei Liu of Valdosta. State PAGE STAR Teacher Rebecca Martin received a $2,500 cash award from the Frances Wood Wilson Foundation Foundation, which was presented by PAGE Foundation President Dr. Ann Stucke. Runner-Up State PAGE STAR Student Jake Churchill was presented a PAGE $1,000 scholarship by Dr. Stucke. Jake is the son of Lee and Leslie Churchill of Atlanta. Jill Hay, PAGE general counsel, presented the Runner-Up State PAGE STAR Continued on next page.

May/June 2019


Hats Off to High Achievement Teacher Adam Brooks of College Park with a $500 award from the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, along with the $500 Mozelle Christian Endowment Award. Each state winner received a crystal

award presented by Craig Harper, PAGE executive director, and J Berkshire, Windstream Communications state president. 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.


More than 40 local STAR Students and STAR Teachers attended the state banquet and introduced themselves to the audience.

The 2019 Class of PAGE STAR Region Students: (front row, l-r) Caroline Adkins of Islands HS (Chatham); Caitlinn Ellis of Savannah Christian Prep School (Chatham); Amanda She of Lakeside HS (Columbia); Joyce Liu of Lowndes HS (Lowndes); and Kayla Hutcherson of Armuchee HS (Floyd); (2nd row, l-r) Grayson Wagner of Gainesville HS (Gainesville City); Jessica Lao of the Westminster Schools (Atlanta City); Alex Coats of Columbus HS (Muscogee); and Chloe’ Brevaldo of Charlton County HS (Charlton); (3rd row, l-r) Tien Tran of Houston County HS (Houston); Kyle Carden of Union Grove HS (Henry); and (back row, l-r) Matthew Dacey-Koo of Druid Hills HS (Atlanta City); Jake Churchill of North Atlanta HS (Atlanta City); Keeta Moore of Glynn Academy (Glynn) and Ben Thompson of Walnut Grove HS (Walton).

Each region winner received a handblown glass star. Pictured are PAGE STAR Region 3A Student Jessica Lao and her PAGE STAR Region 3A Teacher Dr. Reanna Ursin.

2019 Runner-Up State PAGE STAR Teacher Adam Brooks and RunnerUp State PAGE STAR Student Jake Churchill.

The 2019 Class of PAGE STAR Region Teachers: (front row, l-r) Seth Bates of Armuchee HS (Floyd); Rebecca Brown of Druid Hill HS (DeKalb); Rita Prescott of Union Grove HS (Henry); Dr. Reanna Ursin of The Westminster Schools (Atlanta independent school); Neera Young of Lakeside HS (Columbia); Megan Heberle of Islands HS (Chatham); Dr. David Arrington of Lakeside HS (Columbia); and Patti Peebles of Savannah Christian Prep School (Chatham independent school). (back row, l-r) Rebecca Martin of Lowndes HS (Lowndes); Chandra Karnati of Gainesville HS (Gainesville City); Adam Brooks of North Atlanta HS (Atlanta Public Schools); Laura Byrd of Houston County HS (Houston); Sunny Vidrine of Walnut Grove HS (Walton); Heath Horton of Glynn Academy (Glynn); Dr. Audrey Pickren of Charlton County HS (Charlton); and Lisa Seegar of Britt David Magnet Academy (Muscogee). 28  PAGE ONE

An annual highlight of the state banquet is Jeff Dore’s interview with each of the STAR Student Region winners. Here Jeff (left) interviews Tien Tran, STAR Student Region 7 winner from Houston County HS. May/June 2019

South Forsyth Middle School Wins PAGE Academic Bowl State Title By Lynn Varner, Contributing Editor Photos by Lynn Varner


outh Forsyth Middle School (Forsyth) won top honors at this year’s PAGE Academic Bowl for Middle Grades State Championship competition. The team captured the title at the event held in January at the Arts and Sciences Auditorium on the campus of Georgia College and State University in Milledgeville. At the start of the day, 24 semifinalist teams from across the state competed in a round-robin competition. The top eight teams then competed in the single-elimination competition. The state championship team South Forsyth Middle School Academic Bowl champions and their coaches: (front row, members are Akshur Raghuram, l-r) Sishnu Balamurali, Owen Cleary, Yugesh Muralidhar, and Sudhan Sivakumar, and Yashi Surapaneni, Shreya Naik, (back row, l-r) Coach Ashley Calloway, Yashi Surapaneni, Shreya Naik, Andy Zhang, Andy Zhang, Sammit Deshpande, Akshur Raghuram, Sammit Deshpande and Coach Liz Rushton. Yugesh Muralidhar, Sishnu Balamurali, Sudhan Sivakumar and Owen Cleary. Ashley Calloway and Liz •  5th Place: Aaron Cohn Middle School the students who participated in the state Rushton coach the team. (Muscogee) coached by Rebecca Perez; competition should be proud,” said PAGE The other award-winning teams are: •  6th Place: Mossy Creek Middle School Executive Director Craig Harper. “These •  2nd Place: Chamblee Middle School (Houston) coached by Carol Kohn; students and their coaches worked hard (DeKalb) coached by John Donegan and •  7th Place: Oglethorpe County and studied for months, and we applaud Cathy Hirsch; Middle School coached by Penny Miller them. We also appreciate the support of •  3rd Place: North Gwinnett Middle and Ahna Chastain; parents and school administrators, as well School (Gwinnett) coached by Scott •  8th Place: Inman Middle School as our hosts: Georgia College and State Johnson and Scott Kim; (Atlanta) coached by Jessica Hughes, Abbi University and the Collegiate Middle •  4th Place: Five Forks Middle School Hurt and William Hunter. Level Association.” (Gwinnett) coached by Carla Kuny and “It takes skill and cooperation to create The PAGE Academic Bowl features teams Phillip Watson; a successful academic bowl team, and all of middle school students fielding questions based on Georgia’s curriculum standards in subjects such as history, mathematics, science, literature and the performing arts. Opposing teams compete against the clock to answer toss-up and bonus questions in order to score points. The goal of the program is to inspire students to excel academically, to enhance student self-confidence and self-esteem through high achievement, and to develop both a team and competitive spirit. Statewide, more than 1,200 students competed at the local, regional and state levels of the PAGE Academic Bowl for n Middle Grades. (l-r) South Forsyth Middle School and Chamblee Middle School compete in the final round of the Academic Bowl for Middle Grades State Championship competition.

May/June 2019


Hats Off to High Achievement

Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe Captures Ninth PAGE Academic Decathlon State Title

Villa Rica High School (Carroll) is the state's Division I winner and represented Georgia in National Division IV competition. Team members are: (Front row, l-r) Maxwell True, Sagan Warmoth, Coach Cynthia Cox, Ruth Miles and Reagan Clay. (Back row, l-r) Coaches Sarah Triplett and Russell Bennett, Heather Cook, Kelvin Duverge, Dakota Cox, Austin Skuczas and Ayden Barbree.

By Lynn Varner, Contributing Editor Photos by Chris Savas


atoosa County’s Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High School is the 2019 PAGE Georgia Academic Decathlon (GAD) State Champion. The team scored the highest points overall in Division I and II and was awarded the Howard Stroud Championship Trophy. It is the school’s ninth such title. In April, the team represented Georgia at the United States Academic Decathlon national competition in Bloomington, Minnesota. Villa Rica High School (Carroll) also traveled to Bloomington. That team represented Georgia in the National Division IV competition. (The team qualified because it was the highestscoring team in a division other than the one in which the state champion team competed at nationals.) The two-day state competition was


held in February at Parkview High School (Gwinnett). Division I (large school) state winners are: •  Champion: Villa Rica High School (Carroll) coached by Cynthia Cox, Sarah Triplett and Russell Bennett; •  1st runner-up: Columbus High School (Muscogee) coached by Maribeth Hood and Jan Carter; •  2nd runner-up: Westover High School (Dougherty) coached by Thomas Amos and Pamela Heard. Division II (small school) state winners are: •  Champion: Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High School (Catoosa) coached by Lisa Beck, Jessica Chandler and Ian Beck; •  1st runner-up: Hardaway High School (Muscogee) coached by Carmen

Kimsey Morris; •  2nd runner-up: G.W. Carver STEM High School (Muscogee) coached by Amy Worthy-Foss. The U.S. Academic Decathlon also sponsors an Online National Competition held in conjunction with the national competition in April: •  Parkview High School (Gwinnett), coached by Melodie Carr and Dave Steele, represented Georgia in the Large School Online Competition; •  Hardaway High School (Muscogee), coached by Carmen Kimsey Morris, represented Georgia in the Medium School Online Competition; •  A.R. Johnson Health Science and Engineering Magnet School (Richmond), coached by Sydney Prescott and Philip Grabowskii, represented Georgia in the May/June 2019

This year's winners of prepared speeches are (l-r) Lokesh Joshi, Parkview HS (Gwinnett); Aleksander Lucy, Parkview HS (Gwinnett); and Maya Mahone, Hardaway HS (Muscogee).

Villa Rica High School (Carroll) is the state's Division I winner and represented Georgia in National Division IV competition. Team members are: (Front row, l-r) Maxwell True, Sagan Warmoth, Coach Cynthia Cox, Ruth Miles and Reagan Clay. (Back row, l-r) Coaches Sarah Triplett and Russell Bennett, Heather Cook, Kelvin Duverge, Dakota Cox, Austin Skuczas and Ayden Barbree.

North Atlanta High School (APS) won ‘Rookie of the Year’ honors. Team members include: (Front row, l-r) Lachlan Pipkorn, Molly Neel, Rhiann Ashmore, Emily Song and Khadija Jones. (Back row, l-r) Coach Dr. Usha Patke, Colin Brake, Ranier Truesdale, Jorge de Aristegui, Willie Stiggers and Coach Dr. Deanna Hasty.

Small School Online Competition. The highest-scoring students in the varied competition categories earned team and individual medals at the GAD May/June 2019

awards banquet. Charles E. Richardson, artist in residence at Middle Georgia State College and a PAGE Foundation trustee, served as master of ceremonies.

21 Schools Competed Statewide More than 185 students from 21 high schools representing 13 school districts competed in this year’s Academic Decathlon. Students were tested in seven content areas: economics, art, literature, mathematics, science, social science and music. Students also earned points individually in three communication events: public speaking, personal interview and written essay. The program is unique because each nine-member team is made up of three honor students (GPA 3.75-4.0), three scholastic students (GPA 3.0-3.749) and three varsity students (GPA 0.0-2.999). Each year the program features a different overall curriculum topic. This year’s topic was The 1960s: A Transformational Decade. On Saturday afternoon students participated in the exciting Super Quiz, a collaborative event showcasing the students’ knowledge of the overall curriculum. Dr. Cary Sell, a biology and chemistry educator at Parkview High School and immediate past PAGE GAD state director, served as master of ceremonies. During the GAD awards banquet, Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High School was named this year’s Super Quiz champion. Villa Rica High School (Carroll) won first runnerup honors and Parkview High School (Gwinnett) was second runner-up. North Atlanta High School, coached by Dr. Deanna Hasty and Dr. Usha Patke, was named “Rookie of the Year,” earned by the highest-scoring team among those making their first appearance at state competition. The state competition is sponsored by the Professional Association of Georgia Educators and the Chick-fil-A Foundation. Kennesaw State University hosts and provides expert speakers for the GAD Fall Workshop. Gwinnett County Public n Schools hosts the state competition. PAGE ONE  31

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

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

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

Benefits begin immediately when you join or renew online. Georgia’s Largest Professional Association for Educators. 95,000+ members and growing. OFFICERS President: Dr. Hayward Cordy President-Elect: Nick Zomer Treasurer Lamar Scott Past President: Kelli De Guire Secretary Megan King DIRECTORS District 1 District 8 Dr. Oatanisha Dawson Lindsey Martin District 2 District 9 Brecca Pope Jennie Persinger District 3 District 10 Jamilya M. Mayo Khrista Henry District 4 District 11 Rochelle Lofstrand Dr. Sandra Owens District 5 District 12 Dr. Shannon Watkins TaKera Harris District 6 District 13 Dr. Susan Mullins Daerzio Harris District 7 Lance James DIRECTORS REPRESENTING RETIRED MEMBERS Vickie Hammond Stephanie Davis Howard


The articles published in PAGE One represent the views of the contributors and do not necessarily represent the views of the Professional Association of Georgia Educators, except where clearly stated. Contact the editor: Meg Thornton,; 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 2019-20 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 ©2019 .

May/June 2019



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