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Legislative - Action Alert - April 21, 2010
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Legislative Action Alert!

End Run on Merit Pay?

Posted April 21, 2010 3:30 pm

In an unanticipated twist of events, Senate Education Chair Dan Weber (R-Dunwoody) introduced a substitute version of his dual enrollment bill, SB 521, in the House Education Committee. In a move that surprised legislators and education advocates, today’s version of SB 521 included language added by Governor Perdue’s office which would mandate that the state board of education development a statewide teacher evaluation instrument and that at least “50% of the calculation for the evaluation instrument shall be based on student growth.”

This new language generated heated discussion among committee members who wondered why such an important concept was added to a bill with only three legislative days remaining in the 2010 session. Legislators questioned how “student growth” could be accurately ascertained without a fully functional Student Information System (SIS). Employees from the GA Department of Education explained to committee members that a larger hurdle for the implementation of the Governor’s plan is the accurate measure of “student growth.” CRCT’S and other standardized tests are not designed to measure teacher effectiveness, and such standardized tests are administered in a minority of classrooms.  One legislator, Rep. Brian Thomas (D-Lilburn) predicted that the language proposed by Governor Perdue’s office today would lay the framework for easy implementation of merit pay in the near future. 

Ultimately, House Education Committee members voted to amend SB 521’s language regarding teacher evaluation and deleted the mandate that student growth comprise half of a teacher’s annual evaluation. However, the committee voted to pass the bill containing language directing the State Board of Education (which is appointed by the Governor), to act in conjunction with the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement to establish a statewide common evaluation instrument for educators.

PAGE representatives spoke before the House Education Committee and explained that the committee’s language deleting the 50% mandate improved SB 521, but that the concept of awarding pay or evaluating educators based on student performance is problematic because of the logistical challenges of fairly implementing such a program. PAGE agreed that student growth is imperative and that a study of educator evaluation is necessary; PAGE suggested that policy makers include educators, in a meaningful way, in the study of improving the evaluation process.   

SB 521, which currently contains the measure mandating creation of a statewide evaluation instrument, is vulnerable in its current state and should not be passed.

The Survey Underpinning Georgia’s Race to the Top Application - Read It Now!

The Survey underpinning Georgia's Race to the Top and behind the legislation to put in place a “merit pay” system is online and can be found at:

Two key questions can be found on slides 9 and 10 of the Power Point display of the survey questions and results. It appears that supporters of “merit pay” are conflating answers to two separate questions when they claim that the majority of teachers support their “merit pay” proposals.

Inputs into the Evaluation Process (Slide 9)

Teachers should be evaluated based on both observation (of planning and instruction) and the degree to which they have helped students grow academically

81%  Agree or Strongly Agree

Use of Evaluation Data (Slide 10)

Increases in salary should be driven by teacher effectiveness

47% Agree or Strongly Agree 

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