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Mornings unPHILtered - Candidates: AYP needs overhaul
School super hopefuls say more learning and less testing, needed
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    Shows on “Mornings unPHILtered” this week continue to focus on the state of education in Georgia. The first guest was Beth Farokhi, a Democratic candidate for the office of State School Superintendent.
    Show host Phil Boyum asked Farokhi what she thought of the Criterion Referenced Competency Test (CRCT) and the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). Farokhi said they require the schools to constantly assess their student's progress through testing, not necessarily assessing what was actually learned.
    She advocates implementing the “growth model” type of test created by the state of North Carolina for the NCLB requirements.
    Asked by Boyum about the Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) standards, Farokhi said AYP has many faults, the largest being a failure to consider factors like testing special needs students, without punishing an entire school system.
    Boyum asked her about “Merit Pay,” and Farokhi said “Pay for Performance” should evaluate teachers on other facets of their job instead of standardized tests only, and include fellow teachers in the evaluation process.
    She said she supports Charter Schools and alternative educational paths, but the schools should not take money from public schools and put public money in quasi-private schools.
    Farokhi indicated she has a real problem with the new “Integrated Math” curriculum.
    Under the new rules, Farokhi said high schoolers will need four math courses to graduate. She said she favors getting a group of experts to consider exactly what math courses students in a technical track should have to take.
    Boyum next welcomed Joe Martin, who most recently was the executive director of the Georgia School Funding Association, which works to improve the educational opportunities for all of Georgia's students.
    Martin is no stranger to running for the seat, as in 1998, he won the Democratic nomination for the office of State School Superintendent and did well in the general election.
    Asked about the CRCT tests in Georgia, Martin said school superintendents of many school systems have told him that they have to reduce the amount of classroom teaching time in order to prepare for the tests.
    Martin said it is imperative to focus on the earliest years of a child's education so that they can read and write by the end of the third year in school. He said that the new larger size elementary schools are driven by a desire to reduce the cost of education.
    Martin said in these formative years, it is essential that the state ensure that students have small classrooms so they can get the personal attention they need. Asked how education can move away from the AYP tests, Martin said Georgia can’t do away with them completely, but we can de-emphasize them.
    Concerning “Merit Pay,” Martin said that performance of teachers shouldn't be tied to a standardized test, but rather through how they demonstrate over time what they have done to expand and improve the education of their students.
    Asked about the future of Charter Schools, Martin said that he is a big supporter of charter schools. He said they provide innovative ways to learn to students who don't necessarily thrive in the regular school environment.
    He said the idea of the “Integrated Math” curriculum was well-intentioned but it has become clear that as written it just won’t work. He said the schools need to be allowed to use the curriculum that has proven over time that it does work.
    “Mornings unPHILtered” airs live Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. on and also simulcast on WWNS-AM 1240 on the radio. You also can listen anytime at on

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