Left - U.S. Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos. Right - Georgia School Superintendent Richard Woods

After Georgia’s plan violated the new federal education law known as Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) in nine areas according to a December letter, the U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos approved the plan.

Georgia’s plan, according to a letter sent from the U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) on Dec. 14th, 2017, needed clarification to meet the federal law. One of the major concerns in Georgia’s education plan which the state’s accountability system would calculate state-required standardized testing participation.

According to ESSA federal law, 95 percent of Georgia’s students must participate in annual testing in all subgroups of students. However, Georgia’s original plan was unclear how it will make rules for those school that has less than 95 percent participation with a threshold of 40 students. Georgia’s plan was amended so that the calculation would only include testing situations where only 15 students would be tested.  One could suggest that school administrators could encourage their worst testing students to stay home on testing day.

Secretary DeVos released a bulletin on Friday evening praising the following changes and clarifications to Georgia’s plan:

“I am pleased to approve these plans which comply with the requirements of the law,” said Secretary DeVos. “I encourage states to use their plans as a starting point, rather than a finish line, to improve outcomes for all students.”

  • Recognizes schools making significant progress with traditionally underserved subgroups through its Closing Gaps indicator.
  • Focuses on the whole child through its College & Career Ready Performance Index (CCRPI), which measures student access to fine arts education, world language instruction, physical education, AP/IB enrollment and career pathways.

Georgia’s accountability plan, the CCRPI, still heavily relies upon standardized test scores, but expects to strengthen areas within the arts, more physical education, literacy, and advanced coursework particularly in the science and math areas to enhance engineering practices.

State School Superintendent Richard Woods spent the better part of 2016 encouraging feedback from Georgia’s education leaders, teachers, and parents about creating Georgia’s ESSA federal education plan.

“Thousands of Georgians—parents, students, educators, policymakers, members of the business community—gave us their feedback as we worked to create our state’s ESSA plan,” said Georgia State Superintendent Richard Woods. “We listened and heard that Georgians want a K-12 education system that supports the whole child; a system that produces students who are not just college- and career-ready, but ready for life. This plan is a direct response to that feedback, and reflects our continued focus on expanding opportunities for Georgia’s students.”

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos also approved five other state-federal education plans from Hawaii, Indiana, Kansas, Montana and New Hampshire.


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Jeremy Spencer grew up in rural South Georgia and has served as a healthcare provider, high school science teacher, school administrator, and state education official. Jeremy is currently the market and content manager for All on Georgia-Camden and Glynn Counties. Jeremy’s focus is local news, statewide education issues, and statewide political commentary for the All on Georgia News Network. Jeremy has served as an education policy analyst for local legislators and state education leaders as well as a campaign strategist for local and statewide political campaigns.  Jeremy holds degrees in science and education from the University of Georgia, Piedmont College, and Valdosta State University. He and his wife have lived in Camden County for 17 years, and they have two teenage children. Jeremy and his family live in St. Marys, GA and attend the Harbour Worship Center in Kingsland.