James.qxp July August 2018 web - Page 44



Georgia has a well-documented history of dramatic
efforts and progress in education reform. We have also
seen improvements over time, moving up from the lower
tier of states to average or above average on many
national assessments.
However, there still is significant work to be done to
make Georgia a top-performing state where all children
have the same access to a high-quality education. The
Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education’s commitment to achieving this outcome spawned a two-year
research project that identified the shared policies of high
performing states, countries, and school systems. We
then created a framework to ensure that the same policies that enable and accelerate strong public education
nationally and globally are in place in Georgia. This
framework, called EdQuest Georgia, is built on seven core
policy areas that, when integrated together, drive education improvements. Core areas include: early foundations,
quality teachers, quality leaders, strong instructional systems, supportive learning environments, clear post-secondary pathways, and equitable and adequate funding.
EdQuest Georgia provides an overview of our education system and illustrates how the parts of the system fit
together and reinforce each other— like gears in an
engine. If one gear is stuck, the engine will not perform.
Rooted in best-practice research, EdQuest also highlights
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policy areas where Georgia is strong and should continue
the great work being done, as well as areas that require
attention to move the state forward.
Georgia needs a strong state policy framework to
ensure that each of the seven core areas is working in
concert to empower local leaders to make decisions that
best support their students. Local districts that are sustained by strong families, employ quality teachers and
leaders, provide supportive learning environments to their
students, are engaged with advanced instructional systems that provide clear pathways to post-secondary success, and have equitable access to resources are significantly more likely to be able to innovate, customize, and
meet the needs of their students.
Ultimately, we envision EdQuest as Georgia’s education compass, an instrument that can effectively guide us
in our quest to make Georgia one of the nation’s top performing states in education. Georgia voters have spoken
plainly: education is “the single most important issue.”
That being said, we need to hear our candidates articulate
a clear policy blueprint that will keep all the gears moving
forward to continue our educational gains. EdQuest
Georgia can serve as that blueprint for education policy.
Dr. Dana Rickman is the vice president of the Georgia Partnership in
Excellence in Education.

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