Brad Bryant: State Superintendent of Schools
I’m honored to serve as Georgia’s State Superintendent of Schools, and I will prove that I’m the best fit for the job. I will tackle the vital issues Georgia will face in the coming months and years, including budget challenges, the evolving role of testing and accountability, and putting the strongest educators in our schools.
First, regarding the budget, I believe that the state Department of Education should focus on its core functions: supporting Georgia’s great teachers and leaders, helping school systems implement a high-quality curriculum, ensuring we are assessing students appropriately and collecting meaningful data to improve our schools, especially our lowest-performing schools. Efforts that do not support these functions, or state and federal requirements, should be reduced or eliminated.
Under my leadership, every effort will be made to protect local district funding that facilitates the great work of those on our front line in education who make a real impact in classrooms across the state. Providing local districts with flexibility in how dollars can be spent is essential.
Regarding assessment, voters should understand the current state of testing in Georgia:
1) Georgia’s 4th grade reading scores met the U.S. average for the first time on the 2007 administration of the national assessment, NAEP.
2) Passing requirements on our state tests are set by current classroom teachers, along with the DOE.
3) The state’s analysis of 2009 CRCT documents shows that the vast majority of Georgia’s educators are leading students to real academic gains.
I believe we should move toward a growth model in our assessment program. This system would not hold all students to one absolute achievement bar, but instead would take into account the different starting points of each student’s past performance and reward teachers and leaders for helping children achieve at higher levels than where they started.
Georgia will become active in two national assessment consortia, which are designing the next generation of tests to assess students in more meaningful ways, including multiple choice items, along with more complex items, such as short answers and longer written responses. Results from these new tests will be comparable across states in ways that current tests, including the ITBS, are not.
Third, I support a comprehensive approach to teacher and school leader evaluation and advancement. This system will consider several measures of effectiveness, such as high-quality teacher evaluations through classroom observation, peer reviews, and value-added measures of student growth on assessments. It is designed to identify and reward our highest-performing teachers and to provide a career ladder so they can continue doing what they do best – helping students learn.
Beginning immediately, I will focus work on several vital initiatives:
-Implementing the rigorous Common Core Standards. We have been down the path of tracking students in the past and it does not work. I believe that all students should have a well-rounded education that will prepare them for college or a career. We should not curtail their options before they are mature enough to make decisions for themselves.
-Raising achievement for all students in learning environments that meet their needs. I support school choice through high-quality charter schools and choice programs, such as the Georgia Special Needs Scholarships, parochial education, and homeschooling for students.
-Embracing aggressive initiatives to prepare and retain great educators, improve standards and assessments, use data to support instruction, and turn around Georgia’s persistently low-performing schools. We will create opportunities for students to earn course credit based on proficiency rather than the amount of time they spend in a classroom. We will recruit effective leaders from outside of education to an alternative pathway to school leadership, eliminating bureaucratic red tape common in certification programs. We will rigorously and fairly evaluate teachers and principals to ensure that the most talented educators are rewarded and supported for helping children learn. And we will measure the effectiveness of our teacher and leader preparation programs to make certain that our pipeline infrastructure is solid.
As a board member in DeKalb County, as a member of the State Board of Education, and as President of the National Association of State Boards of Education, I am well-versed in the educational landscape at the local, state and national levels. I realize that we face an uphill battle in qualifying as an independent candidate, but I fully expect to qualify. To help, send an email to [email protected] . I am honored to serve as your State Superintendent of Schools and ask for your support.