Continuing to improve school learning environments vital to student success

For Immediate Release
October 20, 2017

ATLANTA – Our schools’ learning environments play a large role in how well our students excel says Dr. Sid Chapman, president of the Georgia Association of Educators (GAE).  “While there are so many moving parts to creating a successful school, a key factor remains creating an environment that is safe, nurturing and supportive for both students and teachers.  This ensures educators have the maximum opportunity to prepare for, reach, and teach their students.”

“Our most successful public schools and systems have instilled manageable class sizes and duty-free planning time for teachers along with appropriate disciplinary procedures and academic standards,” said Chapman.  “Running a school is like running a microcosm of society.  For it to be successful you need the administrative support to ensure as many aspects as possible are being addressed.  In today’s schools this includes ensuring equity in the administration of classroom resources, including access to technology.”

To these points GAE supports the consensus of research which indicates that class size reduction in the early grades leads to higher student achievement, and the significant effects of class size reduction on student achievement appear when class size is reduced to between 15 and 20 students.

GAE also supports:

  • providing duty-free planning and lunch time each day for all educators. Any effective endeavor owes its success to proper planning.  Teachers are professional educators and understand the importance of planning periods in order to properly prepare to educate their students.  Planning time equals improved student achievement and learning;
  • removing non-instructional assignments from teachers during the work day. Teachers are also assigned bus duty, cafeteria duty, hall duty, restroom monitoring duty, and attendance at pep rallies and athletic events.  Teachers performing non-instructional duties take valuable time away from instructing students, providing special instructional assistance, and developing ways to improve students’ achievement.  School boards need to fund additional paraprofessional positions for essential nonteaching duties; and
  • the continued decrease in mandatory high-stakes testing. The recent passage of SB 364, that reduces the testing requirement, along with the push during the Obama Administration to reduce the amount of high stakes testing, are being well-received by the public education community overall.  Continued warnings to lawmakers about the over-use and over-emphasis of “toxic” high-stakes standardized testing have seemingly been received. Teachers did not choose this profession to drill students in ‘high-stakes’ testing content. They want to teach, accurately assess, and look for the light bulb to come on. Testing should be used as a diagnostic instrument, not to punish and blame.  Tests, in the proper context, are great indicators of success when used prudently for determining students’ standings and what assistance he or she may need.