Barge wrote to federal officials Friday saying that attorneys for Georgia schools have warned that including student input in teacher evaluations is legally risky.
“I will not waste taxpayer dollars to defend a system that we have been warned will not work,” he wrote.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that Georgia’s pledge to implement a new teacher evaluation system that included student surveys was one reason it won a $400 million federal grant through the Race to the Top program. Tinkering with its plans got $33 million of the grant placed on “high risk” status by the U.S. Department of Education.
Barge said the grant application was written by a different administration and was Georgia’s best estimate of how the state could achieve the goals in the application. Georgia officials now believe the surveys, particularly from younger students, should not be used as an official part of the evaluation system and should be only informational.
Deputy Superintendent Teresa McCartney said the state is worried about teachers suing if they are denied a raise or face sanction because of student surveys, which in the initial plan accounted for 10 percent of a teacher’s evaluation.
Liz Utrup, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Education, said it has created an amendment process to help states work through problems that arise.
Georgia has until Aug. 1 to lay out how it plans to alter its evaluation system.