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 14. Curriculum and Testing

 

Georgia’s commitment to a quality instructional program is evident in the state statutes and the resulting rules, regulations and policies implementing those statutes. In the preamble to the Quality Basic Education Act (QBE) in 1985 and in its subsequent revisions, including the A+ Education Reform Act of 2000, the General Assembly stated the need for:

  • "Implementing a quality basic education curriculum in public schools statewide which ensures that each student is provided ample opportunity to develop competencies necessary for lifelong learning as well as the competencies needed to maintain good physical and mental health, to participate actively in the governing process and community activities, to protect the environment and conserve public and private resources, and to be an effective worker and responsible citizen of high character;"
  • "Providing all children and youth in Georgia with access to a quality program which supports their development of essential competencies in order that they may realize their potential;..."
  • "Establishing and maintaining statewide standards which ensure that each student has access to a quality program;..."
  • "Providing an accountability system to ensure that all students are receiving a quality instructional program so that all students can achieve at their highest level; and
  • "Providing a seamless education system to allow for the delivery of educational programs at all levels and the movement of students between programs and education agencies as efficiently and effectively as possible and to provide for coordination on a continuing basis between agencies responsible for education services."1

To achieve these objectives, the General Assembly and the State Board of Education have prescribed a curriculum which local school systems have the responsibility to implement. Local boards of education have the option of supplementing or enhancing the state prescribed curriculum. This chapter identifies a number of curriculum issues with which local boards of education should be familiar. The chapter also will review assessment and testing of students, particularly as assessment relates to the concept of local accountability for student learning and achievement.

Endnotes
Questions
14. 1 What is the role of the State Board of Education in establishing and evaluating the curriculum for Georgia schools?
14. 2 What does the Quality Basic Education Act prescribe as the essential elements of a local school system’s curriculum?
14. 3 Does the law specify which courses must be taught within the statewide curriculum?
14. 4 What does state law provide concerning the basic structure of the instructional program within Georgia’s public schools?
14. 5 What are the requirements for a middle school program in Georgia?
14. 6 What programs for students with special needs are required by state law?
14. 7 What requirements are found in state law concerning the length of the school year?
14. 8 What exceptions to the 180-day school year does the law allow?
14. 9 Is a local board of education ever authorized to vary from the 180-day requirement without State Board approval?
14. 10 What are the provisions in the A+ Education Reform Act for additional instructional days?
14. 11 Is a local board required to offer a summer school program?
14. 12 What requirements are found in state law concerning the length of the school day?
14. 12.a Are students entitled to a break during the day?
14. 13 What are the requirements for teacher-student ratios and maximum class sizes?
14. 14 What are the various types of standardized tests which may be used in assessing student achievement?
14. 15 What are the specific student testing requirements contained within Georgia law?
14. 15.a How will student performance on state-mandated assessments affect local placement and promotion decisions?
14. 15.b What happens if the student does not pass the appropriate grade level test the first time?
14. 15.c What happens if the student does not pass the appropriate grade level test the second time?
14. 15.d How does the process for appealing the decision to retain a student work?
14. 15.e How will promotion/retention decisions be made for special education students?
14. 15.f Does the emphasis on assessment of achievement using the criterion referenced assessment mean that a student in grades 3, 5, or 8 who performs at grade level on the state-mandated test must be promoted?
14. 16 Will a student’s grade on the end-of-course assessments count as part of the student’s grade in the course?
14. 17 How will these assessments be used in holding schools and systems accountable and what other indicators will be included in the accountability system?
14. 18 How and to whom will the accountability information on each system and school be reported?
14. 19 How will the accountability system be enforced on local schools?
14. 20 How will local boards compile all of the student and employee data required to implement the accountability requirements of state and federal law?
14. 21 What does the law provide about selection of textbooks for use in Georgia public school classrooms?
14. 22 How may a local board respond to challenges to curriculum, textbooks and library books?
14. 23 What does the law provide concerning the teaching of sex education in the public schools?
14. 24 What topics of instruction must be included in a local board of education’s sex education program?
14. 25 Who controls the grade levels for instruction, specific content, and selection of materials for the sex education program in the public schools of Georgia?
14. 26 Do parents have the right to decide whether their children participate in the sex education and AIDS curriculum?
14. 27 What does the law require concerning the character education curriculum?
14. 28 Who determines the grading policies and procedures of the public schools?
14. 29 Does a principal have the right to intervene when a teacher assigns failing grades to a large percentage of his/her students?
14. 30 Does a local board of education have the right to impose as an additional graduation requirement that a student demonstrate a minimum score on an achievement test?
14. 31 Does a school district have the right to retain a student in kindergarten against the parent’s wishes?
14. 32 May a school system group students for instruction based on ability or achievement?
14. 33 Do students who are being educated by their parents at home have the right to enroll in one or more classes at school or participate in extra-curricular activities?
14. 34 What is a “charter" school?
14. 34.a Are there different types of charter schools?
14. 35 What process must be followed by an existing local school in order to become a conversion charter school?
14. 36 What must be included within a charter petition?
14. 37 Does the law place any restrictions on which schools may apply for charter school status?
14. 38 May a charter school screen its student applicants for enrollment?
14. 38.a What authority does the Georgia Charter School Commission have to create new schools?
14. 38.b How do commission charter schools differ from state charter schools?
14. 39 When can the state board issue a charter for a state chartered special school?
14. 39.a What provisions exist in the law dealing with facilities for charter schools?
14. 39.b Can a board of education obtain a waiver of provisions of state law for schools that are not charter schools?
14. 40 What is the “No Child Left Behind Act of 2001” (NCLB) and what is its significance?
14. 41 What is “adequate yearly progress” under NCLB?
14. 42 What happens if a school fails to make adequate yearly progress?
14. 43 What are the transportation and other obligations a district has to students who wish to transfer under NCLB?
14. 44 What is required in providing supplemental services to students?