Annual Report addresses “Top 10 Issues in Education”

Cindy Morley

Friday, January 14th, 2022

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Improving school culture and revamping the teaching profession are two of the Top 10 Issues to Watch in 2022, according to The Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education. The Partnership released this year’s report during a Media Symposium Friday morning, and while the questions from the writers varied on the 10 issues, many of the questions seemed focused on accountability – or the lack of.

For the past 18 years, the Partnership has published the report, which identifies and analyzes the key education issues Georgia will be or should be addressing in the coming year.

Concerns seem to revolve around the lack of accountability that has developed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the report, “During the pandemic, state leaders paused the publication of accountability results so that school systems could focus on reopening schools and accelerating learning for all students. By Fall 2020, the Georgia Department of Education recommended that the state adopt a new accountability system.”

Dana Rickman, president of the Georgia Partnership said, “Our concern is that there has not been a robust discussion about accountability or a new system. The Department of Education has said it is through with the CCRPI (College and Career Ready Performance Index) but no one is talking about a replacement. It seems the current accountability system has gone away, but we desperately need some type of system.”

The report goes on to say, “After the U.S. Department of Education approved Georgia’s ESSA plan, policymakers and agency leaders revised state-level strategies to take advantage of federal flexibility. The state department redesigned the state’s accountability tool – CCRPI – during the 2017-2018 school year. The GaDOE participates in the Innovative Assessment Pilot, which allows school systems or district consortia to administer alternative assessments in place of state-required tests. In Spring 2020, the Georgia General Assembly reduced the number of required statewide assessments.”

The report states that these efforts lay the groundwork for state and local leaders to create an accountability system that provides a more “holistic view of how schools support accelerated student learning and more equitable access to educational opportunities.”

In the report, the Partnership calls for leaders to develop a system that provides data in a “transparent format that situates current student and school performance in two contexts.”

“First, the tool should provide a historical perspective for consumers to understand if current efforts are contributing to increased or declining performance. Second, the tool should allow consumers to see how current performance compares to all similarly situated schools in the state.”

On the issue of revamping the teaching profession, the report states that Georgia should set a goal of transforming the teaching profession by 2030.

“To revamp the profession, school and district leaders should address three policy areas critical to developing coherent educator workforce strategies: 1) recruitment and hiring, 2) teacher leadership programs, and 3) expanded professional learning opportunities.”

“Put simply, investments in teacher leadership today could seed the teaching profession that Georgia needs by 2030.”

This year’s report also lists workforce readiness, addressing non-academic barriers, equity through acceleration, education funding, and protecting early learning among the 10 top issues.

“As we approach nearly two decades of writing this report, I am proud to know that the Partnership is still delivering on our promise to provide education stakeholders and leaders in Georgia with a clear, nonpartisan view of the most pressing education issues in the state,” said Rickman. “Each year we aim to craft a report that is accessible and can supply policymakers, educators, community and business leaders, and education stakeholders with timely information that will help them identify and think through the diversity of opportunities that exist to move Georgia forward.”

Each Georgia legislator receives a copy of the report at the beginning of the legislative session. Also, school districts leverage the report in their leadership training, and several colleges and universities use the report in their education policy classes.