The Georgia Department of Education (DOE) oversees all aspects of public education in the state. Created in 1870, the department ensures that education-related laws are obeyed and that state and federal education funds are properly allocated.
The state superintendent of schools heads the DOE and reports directly to the governor. The superintendent also serves as the chief executive officer for the state’s Board of Education, which is composed of fourteen members, each representing one of Georgia’s federal congressional districts. Richard Woods, the current superintendent, was elected in 2014. The Department of Education is divided into six offices: Teaching and Learning; Finance and Business Operations; Technology Services; Policy, Flexibility, and External Affairs; School Safety and Climate; and School Improvement.
The Office of Teaching and Learning oversees some of the DOE’s most publicly recognizable programs. In addition to helping in the development of kindergarten through secondary curriculum, it oversees the English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) program, the SAT and advanced placement programs, and the Career, Technical, and Agricultural Education (CTAE) program. The Office of Teaching and Learning manages the state’s educational testing services, including such mandatory tests as the Georgia Writing Assessments and the Georgia High School Graduation Tests. It also runs three state-operated schools for the blind and deaf: the Atlanta Area School for the Deaf in Clarkston, the Georgia School for the Deaf in Cave Spring, and the Georgia Academy for the Blind in Macon, which was established by the state legislature in 1852 and is the state’s only residential school for the blind.
The Office of Policy, Flexibility, and External Affairs is responsible for the development of education policy and supporting the department’s legislative priorities. It also oversees the state’s charter schools, home schools, and residential treatment facilities. The Office of Technology Services is primarily responsible for the Georgia Virtual School. Created in May 2005, when Governor Sonny Perdue signed the Georgia Virtual School bill, the Virtual School offers middle and high school level courses to students through the internet.
The Office of School Safety supports student wellbeing by offering training sessions to school personnel in a variety of topics, including bullying prevention, behavioral interventions, and emergency preparedness.The DOE also supervises students’ nutrition through several programs administered by the Office of Finance and Business Operations. The Office of School Improvement helps turnaround underperforming schools through programs that identify and address resource gaps.