Student Advisory Council continues answering Superintendent Woods' charge to help others in their communities
Statement from State School Superintendent Richard Woods:
"The U.S. Department of Education requires states to submit a plan for the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) on one of two submission dates: April 3, 2017 or September 18, 2017. GaDOE initially planned to submit on the early date (April 3), but after discussions with the chairs of our working committees, we’ve decided to wait until the second submission date (Sept. 18).
The consensus was that, since the new presidential administration is now taking office, we believe some of the regulations may change. Rather than submitting under the current regulations, we want to ensure we know what additional flexibility may be offered by the new administration.
It took a long time for No Child Left Behind to be reauthorized, and it may take just as long for ESSA to be reauthorized down the road. I want to ensure that the plan we submit gives Georgia as much flexibility as possible, since this is the plan we’ll likely operate from for many years."
The Georgia Department of Education is partnering with Communities in Schools of Georgia, the Yaarab Shriners of North Georgia, and Atlanta City Council Member Mary Norwood to launch the Red Fez Reading Club, which will encourage the development of students’ early reading skills.
The primary purpose of the club is to improve early reading skills by encouraging literacy for children, families, and communities. As an incentive, children are able to earn up to 10 tickets to the annual Shriners Circus for every 10 books they read between February and May of 2017.
Participating schools can enroll their readers through the State Longitudinal Data System (SLDS), and print tickets through the SLDS to the Yaarab Shrine Circus & Fair at Jim R. Miller Park in Marietta for students.
“Literacy is absolutely essential for our students’ success, and we need to encourage a love of reading in Georgia’s children in any way possible,” State School Superintendent Richard Woods said. “We’re very pleased to partner with other organizations who care deeply about educating Georgia’s future to offer a fun, creative incentive for reading.”
Read more: http://www.gadoe.org/External-Affairs-and-Policy/communications/Pages/PressReleaseDetails.aspx?PressView=default&pid=500
The Georgia Department of Education and the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education will co-host a Solutions Summit to address the challenges faced by chronically underperforming schools, State School Superintendent Richard Woods announced today.
The summit will bring together stakeholders from all invested groups – members of the education, business, policymakers and faith communities, as well as families – to have candid conversations about the issues these schools face and develop a shared framework for improvement.
“There is no simple, one-step solution for every school that’s struggling to improve student achievement,” Superintendent Woods said. “We must look at a holistic approach to educating students in underperforming schools, and that must include the communities. More than identifying just the problems, we must develop real, actionable solutions that engage stakeholders around the common challenges facing these schools.”
Dr. Steve Dolinger, president of the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education, reinforced Woods’ comments. “The summit presents a unique opportunity to do more than talk about problems many of our schools face. We must move past talking to action,” he stressed. “Key education, business, community and government leaders will have the chance to leverage their collective will to make a collective impact.”
The summit will include an overview of state, regional, and national efforts to support chronically underperforming schools, along with panel discussions on the opportunities and challenges facing districts, communities, and state agencies as they work to provide that support. Partners from GaDOE and GPEE will present a deep dive into the data of chronically underperforming schools, examining and discussing student achievement, school climate, demographics, turnover rates, discipline rates, attendance, and other related community data.
These discussions will be followed by a time for candid conversations and brainstorming, and an opportunity for attendees to commit to an action framework to support underperforming schools.
The summit will be co-chaired by Dr. Mary Sue Murray, a retired State Board of Education member with more than 30 years of education experience, and Stephanie Johnson, principal of Maynard Jackson High School and a 2017 National Principal of the Year finalist.
Superintendent Woods named one of Georgia Trend's 2017 '100 Most Influential Georgians' for efforts to reduce high-stakes testing, support teachers, and set vision for the state
The Georgia Department of Education, in partnership with the Get Georgia Reading Campaign and the Georgia Alliance of Education Agency Heads, is convening a “Literacy Think Tank” composed of literacy faculty from Georgia’s colleges and universities. This group of 58 teacher educators will review data about the ways communities and schools are creating conditions for learning and help design strategies to engage teachers across the state as partners, so that every child has a teacher who uses high-quality instructional methods for literacy.
The Literacy Think Tank is part of Georgia’s statewide literacy initiative and efforts to engage all stakeholders to ensure that every child is on a path to reading proficiently by third grade. The GaDOE is also working with classroom teachers through its English Language Arts Advisory Committee, as well as community groups, students, and teachers from around the state.
“As we work to ensure that all Georgia students are prepared with the crucial skill of literacy, we need everyone who has an impact on classroom learning at the table,” State School Superintendent Richard Woods said. “The new Literacy Think Tank is an exciting opportunity to partner more closely with higher education and work to enhance literacy alongside the individuals and institutions who prepare our classroom teachers.”
The Literacy Think Tank held its first meeting September 27, discussing the need for a focus on literacy in Georgia, the state and federal context for an increased focus on literacy, and next steps for the statewide literacy plan.
“Georgia has been steadily improving literacy learning over the last ten years,” said Caitlin Dooley, GaDOE’s Deputy Superintendent for Teaching and Learning. “We need to scale that improvement and ensure that every child has access to a great literacy teacher. This group of literacy faculty are critical to this goal – they’re the ones who do the work and know the context. We can’t do this without their help.”
Though Amendment 1 spurred a contentious campaign, the points raised by both sides renewed our commitment to focus on chronically struggling schools and we, as Georgians, cannot allow this focus to wane in the aftermath of the election.
Supporting Schools is a Shared Responsibility
The introduction of the Opportunity School District concept in the legislature during my first days in office highlighted the need for the Georgia Department of Education (GaDOE) to broaden our approach to supporting schools. In the past, struggling schools were primarily served by the School Improvement division. I gave the direction that supporting these schools needed to be a shared responsibility across the GaDOE, with a common goal to decrease the number of schools on the Opportunity-eligible list. We’ve made progress and have been able to work with districts to decrease the number of Opportunity-eligible schools by eight percent.
Since the onset of this campaign, my commitment has been focused on our responsibility of ensuring that schools are not on the list in the first place.
Unique Challenges Require a Unique Approach
As State School Superintendent, I have traveled to schools across Georgia, including some that were on the Opportunity-eligible list. Many factors contribute to the poor performance of these schools – fractured communities, unclear expectations, lack of consistent leadership, inconsistent support, and students who have needs that go beyond pure academics. What I have witnessed is that each of these schools face unique challenges, and to truly address struggling schools, we cannot apply a one-size-fits-all approach. We must look at each school and individualize support to best meet its needs. For that reason, our staff will partner with each of these schools so they have a personal contact to help provide whatever support they may need.
It’s Time to Focus on Solutions
To truly customize and target our support for these schools, we must engage stakeholders. In that spirit, I will be inviting stakeholders from all invested groups – members of the education, business, and faith communities, as well as families – to participate in a “Solutions Summit” to have candid conversations about these schools and develop a framework where all parties, including the GaDOE, have skin in the game. It’s time that we stop talking only about the problems that persist in these schools and start developing actionable solutions.
Engaged Leadership, Engaged Communities
Engaged leadership is essential, both in our struggling schools and districts as well as at the GaDOE. Several of the state’s struggling schools are located in struggling communities. To break this cycle, we must engage both schools and communities in a meaningful way. We will be organizing and holding a series of Community Conversations across the state where these schools are located. This will be an opportunity to invite the community in, share our resources and our data, and have conversations to chart root causes and create solutions to address school performance – all with the common goal of supporting our kids.
As State School Superintendent, I am charged with overseeing a K-12 system that educates over 1.7 million students in our public schools, and nearly 65,000 of those students are attending chronically struggling schools. There is a lot of great work happening in a majority of Georgia’s schools, but we must come together as communities to work on behalf of those students whose schools are not best serving their needs. Bold action and long-term commitment are needed to bring about success. I look forward to working with all Georgians to ensure our students are given the greatest chance for a bright future.
The State Board of Education's adoption of the revised testing rule means fewer high-stakes tests for high school students in dual enrollment courses. This move supports Vision 2020, which supports lowering the number of high-stakes testing for students.
Georgia's School Superintendent
Richard Woods has over 22 years of pre-k through 12th grade experience in public education. > Read Full Bio