ATLANTA — The Georgia Department of Education (DOE) on Wednesday announced a pilot project to test a new method for evaluating teacher performance.
The new program will be called GaLEADS. It will be tried in a dozen Georgia school districts beginning in the 2023-2024 school year. Districts can apply to participate in the pilot project.
“I am fully committed to developing a teacher evaluation model that treats teachers like professionals and helps them succeed throughout their careers, for the benefit of students – rather than a punitive ‘gotcha’ system,” said public school superintendent Richard Woods.
“This pilot project is a proof-of-concept opportunity and will allow us to work with school districts across the state to create an assessment system designed for teacher growth.”
The DOE recently released a report exploring the reasons for teacher burnout in Georgia. Teachers said they faced unrealistic performance expectations, especially given the disruption to learning caused by the COVID pandemic.
“Coming out of the pandemic, the desire to ‘get back to normal’ also came with an unrealistic expectation…without giving teachers the time, support, resources, and compassion to meet students at their current level,” says The report.
The Professional Association of Educators of Georgia (PAGE) agreed that the new pilot could help address teachers’ concerns about the appraisal system.
“PAGE is encouraged by the teacher evaluation pilot project announced,” said Margaret Ciccarelli, director of legislative services for the organization.
Data from a 2021 statewide survey indicated that 45% of educators felt that feedback from supervisors under the current system was not helpful to their teaching practices, Ciccarelli said.
“A more effective educator evaluation system in Georgia will better serve students by supporting teachers at every stage of their career, recognizing that the coaching needs of beginning teachers differ from the needs of qualified seasoned educators,” he said. she stated.
Lisa Morgan, president of the Georgia Association of Educators, called for greater teacher involvement in revamping the state’s teacher evaluation program.
“Classroom teachers are the experts and should be the primary spokespersons for the necessary supports available to themselves and their colleagues,” she said. “We look forward to working with the department to ensure current educators are involved throughout the process.”
Republican Woods was first elected public school superintendent in 2014. He is running for a third term against Democrat Alisha Thomas Searcy.
Searcy hit back at Wednesday’s announcement of the new teacher evaluation program, calling it an election gimmick with a questionable timeline.
“Why is the current state superintendent, who has been in the job for almost eight years, deciding that now, 69 days before the election, he wants to make teacher evaluation a priority?” asked Searcy. “This has been a concern of teachers for at least eight years.”
Searcy said teachers should be involved in overhauling the teacher evaluation process.
“Educators, students, and parents deserve a public school principal who is a collaborator and seeks teacher feedback,” she said.
This story is available through a partnership with Capitol Beat News Service, a project of the Georgia Press Educational Foundation.