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Georgia Loses Money Earmarked For Teacher Merit Pay

With all of the talk about recent weather and traffic events, we’ve lost an important education story.

Georgia, has now become the first and only state to forfeit Race to the Top (RT3) grant money.   Officials in Georgia were warned last July to address failures in implementing a new teacher evaluation system or lose almost $10 million in funding for a teacher merit pay system.

In the letter regarding the forfeiture, federal officials stated:

On September 16, 2013, I notified the State of my intent to withhold $9,904,629, pursuant to sections 454(a)(1) and 455 of the General Education Provisions Act (GEPA) (20 U.S.C. § § 1234c(a)(1) and 1234d), until the State submitted a credible plan detailing its strategy for coming into compliance with this section of its Race to the Top grant. To date, the State has not submitted such a plan. ….. To date, the OALJ has not received an application for a hearing nor have I received a written show cause response. As a result, the Department is withholding $9,904,629 of Georgia’s Race to the Top grant award, effective with this letter.

I’m not a fan of some of the aspects of RT3 but if the state commits to it, one has an obligation to manage it properly.  Whether you like RT3 or not, this is an embarrassment at the national level for Georgia.  The headline draws attention to the poor state of affairs regarding education management in our state.  Furthermore, it removes funding that would have gone to our best performing teachers.

Georgia’s Department of Education created the very evaluation system they failed to implement.  The evaluation system had problems from the start.   The length of the 358-page evaluation handbook is a clue that the system may have failed under the weight of its own complexity.

Given that it is National School Choice Week, the story of a failed evaluation system is ironic.  The simplicity and equilibrium of parent choice in education as a metric and driver of success is all the more compelling, compared to the byzantine and lengthy teacher evaluation system created by bureaucrats.

Georgians deserve more choice and less bureaucratic failure.

(4) comments
  1. This is pretty outrageous. RT3 was highly publicized and the efforts that resulted in awarded grants were primarily the teachers and volunteer visionaries of 21st century education. To learn that we will possibly not receive 9.9m and this fact is downplayed is disappointing. I will see if I can get some folks to rally up some publicity for action steps. Nancy, please suggest to me what your recommendations might include. Thanks.

  2. Are you kidding me? You are going to complain about giving back $10 million (that is part of the $200 million WE NEVER GOT from RttT) for not implementing one of the dumbest programs ever designed? As a teacher in Georgia I can tell you not only did this plan open the state up to lawsuits galore, it added so much work to the administrators and teachers it was laughable. It continues to be laughable. I had children in my class take a survey about how effective I was as a teacher. They were asked if I was “mean.” Seriously? I would imagine some thought I was when they failed to hand in homework. Instead of bitching about the $10 million we handed back, how about you look at the missing $200 million, that is HALF of what RttT was supposed to give us. We will never see it. We aren’t stupid.

  3. @Meg,
    Thank you for commenting. Yes, I take issue with the entire mismanagement that led to this forfeiture. I noted explicitly that the evaluation system was doomed. The salient point is that the DOE leadership created the behemoth evaluation model that they could not implement; eventually leading to the loss of money for merit teacher pay. As I stated in my post:

    “Georgia’s Department of Education created the very evaluation system they failed to implement. The evaluation system had problems from the start. The length of the 358-page evaluation handbook is a clue that the system may have failed under the weight of its own complexity.

    Given that it is National School Choice Week, the story of a failed evaluation system is ironic. The simplicity and equilibrium of parent choice in education as a metric and driver of success is all the more compelling, compared to the byzantine and lengthy teacher evaluation system created by bureaucrats.”

    Also, please note that my post was to bring attention to the recent event, publicized in an Education Week article. The point of their article was about the $10 million forfeiture, and so my post was congruent with that.

  4. This is a mixed bag to me.

    Yes. The proposed teacher evaluation system (KEYS) was laughable. That said, I agree with the decision not to tie pay to student performance as the proposed RTTT evaluation did.

    However, for Georgia’s Department of Education not even attempt to communicate with the U.S. Department of Education is a failure.

The comments are closed.

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