Friday, December 26, 2008

Inflation Continues to Outpace Teacher Salary Growth

Teachers across the nation are continuing to lose spending power for themselves and their families as inflation continued to outpace teacher salaries last year, according to the National Education Association's update to the annual report Rankings and Estimates: Rankings of the States 2008 and Estimates of School Statistics 2009.

Over the decade from 1997-98 to 2007-08, in constant dollars, average salaries for public schoolteachers declined 1 percent while inflation increased 31.4 percent. Twenty-six states and the District of Columbia saw real declines in average teacher salaries over those years, adjusting for inflation.

"Public schoolteachers deserve professional pay for professional work," said NEA President Dennis Van Roekel. "If we are going to close the achievement gaps, reduce school dropouts and recruit and retain highly qualified teachers, we need to compensate teachers across the country fairly for the work they do."

According to the report, the average one-year increase in public schoolteacher salaries was 3.1 percent, while inflation increased 4.3 percent. The national average public schoolteacher salary for 2007-2008 was $52,308. State average public schoolteacher salaries ranged from those in California ($64,424), New York ($62,332) and Connecticut ($61,976) at the high end, to South Dakota ($36,674), North Dakota ($40,279) and Utah ($41,615) at the low end.

Rankings and Estimates provides statistics to raise public understanding of key issues affecting teaching and learning conditions in the nation's public schools. Teacher salaries and public education indicators including school enrollment, student-teacher ratios and school funding at the local, state and federal levels are reported in the annual state-by-state report. Among the other highlights:

" Public school enrollment - Public school enrollment was 48,949,723 million, up 0.3 percent over fall 2006. The largest percentage enrollment increases from fall 2006 to fall 2007 were in Nevada (3.5 percent), Arizona (2.5 percent), Delaware (2.1 percent) and Ohio (2.1 percent). Twenty states and the District of Columbia experienced declines in student enrollment in fall 2007. The greatest declines were in the District of Columbia (-3.6 percent), Michigan (-2.6 percent), Vermont (-2.0 percent) and North Dakota (-1.6 percent).
" Gender diversity in teaching - Males comprised 24.5 percent of public schoolteachers in 2008. Many of them taught in Kansas (33.6 percent), Oregon (31.6 percent), Alaska (30.9 percent) or Indiana (30.5 percent). States with the lowest percentage of male faculty were Arkansas (16.2 percent), Virginia (17.4 percent), Mississippi (17.5 percent), Louisiana (18 percent), South Carolina (18.5 percent) and Georgia (19.7 percent).
" Expenditures per student - The U.S. average per student expenditure for public elementary and secondary schools in 2007-08 fall enrollment was $9,963. States with the highest per student expenditures were New Jersey ($15,374), New York ($15,286), Vermont ($14,336), Wyoming ($13,967) and Massachusetts ($13,768). Arizona ($5,346), Utah ($5,734), Nevada ($7,133), Mississippi ($7, 175) and Idaho ($7, 305) had the lowest per student expenditures.
Rankings and Estimates has presented selected education statistics since the 1960s. The complete report can be found at http://www.nea.org/edstats/images/rankings08.pdf

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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Smart Money Magazine Re-Ranks UGA #4 After Data Submission Error

An error discovered in data submitted by the University of Georgia to Smart Money magazine has resulted in a re-ranking of the top four universities in the publication’s recent “Best Payback” list. UGA now is ranked fourth in the list on which it originally was placed first based on the inaccurate data. The magazine posted the correction to its website, http://www.smartmoney.com/, this afternoon.

“The data that UGA submitted to Smart Money magazine for this ranking was inadvertently in error, in that it failed to take into account the university’s transition from the quarter system to the semester system in 1998. That error skewed the calculation of the return on investment in a UGA education,” said UGA Vice President for Public Affairs Tom Jackson. “We regret the error and apologize to Smart Money and to the other institutions in the ranking.”

As a result of the re-ranking, the previous #2, #3 and #4 institutions move up to the top three spots, respectively. They are Texas A&M, the University of Texas at Austin, and Georgia Tech. No rankings other than the top four were affected by the data error.

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Emory Financial Aid: Resources Remain Strong

Emory University remains committed to "need blind" admissions and to meeting the full, demonstrated financial need for dependent, traditional undergraduate students during these challenging financial times.

"Emory, like all institutions and businesses, is having to adjust to a new economic reality and this will impact the budget in a variety of ways. However, financial aid is among our top priorities and we expect to devote more – not fewer – resources to financial aid in the coming years to ensure that all students who are admitted can attend independent of economic background," says Santa Ono, senior vice provost for undergraduate education.

Emory also is increasing accessibility for low- and middle-income students through the Emory Advantage grant and loan relief program as well as other financial aid programs. Overall, Emory's Office of Financial Aid is seeing increased demand for assistance due to the recent economic downturn. The financial aid staff is urging parents and students (prospective and current) to plan ahead to determine their budgets, apply early for aid and carefully weigh options.

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Monday, December 22, 2008

UCB Announces 2009 Rheumatoid Arthritis Scholarship Program

/PRNewswire/ -- Applications are now being accepted for the 2009 UCB Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) Scholarship Program. The program, now in its second year, will award 30, one-time scholarships of up to $10,000 each to patients diagnosed with RA or their immediate family members who are seeking an associate's, undergraduate, or graduate degree or enrolled in a trade school educational program. RA is a progressive autoimmune disease that causes chronic inflammation of the joints, often making even the simplest everyday tasks very difficult to undertake.

"The UCB Rheumatoid Arthritis Scholarship Program offers this award to students who demonstrate extraordinary strength and perseverance to fulfill their academic ambitions despite challenges posed by rheumatoid arthritis," said Michael Weinblatt, M.D., chairman of the scholarship selection board.

Applicants are selected by a group of nationally known rheumatologists, health care professionals and advocates. Applicants are judged on their academic ambition and their demonstrated ability to overcome the limitations associated with rheumatoid arthritis.

"The UCB RA scholarship reflects our company's commitment to provide patients and their families with resources to help them reach beyond the boundaries of their disease," said David Robinson, a vice president and general manager at UCB. "It is our goal that this scholarship program will enable the winners to further their education and enjoy the benefits that this accomplishment will offer."

More information about the program is available at www.reachbeyondra.com/scholarship or by calling 888.854.4996.

About the 2009 UCB Family RA Scholarship

This program is designed for students of any age who have been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) or the immediate family member of a person with rheumatoid arthritis. Applicants must be legal and permanent residents of the United States and must be diagnosed by a physician. Only those who are seeking an associate's, undergraduate, or graduate degree, or enrolled in a trade school educational program; or enrolled in/awaiting acceptance from a United States-based institution of higher education for the fall semester of 2009 may apply. Applicants must also be individuals who demonstrate academic ambition and embrace a way of life that overcomes the boundaries of living with RA. Employees of UCB and their immediate family members are not eligible for this scholarship.

Applications are available to download on www.reachbeyondra.com. Applicants must submit a hard copy of the application, along with all additional listed components, for eligibility. All applications must be postmarked by March 20, 2009; applications postmarked after this date will not be considered.

Selection of recipients will be at the sole discretion of a panel of judges comprised of medical professionals chosen by UCB. Winners will be notified by June 22, 2009 with both a personal telephone call from UCB and a confirmation letter.

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Sunday, December 21, 2008

GAE Members to Ask Obama for Piece of Stimulus Package for Georgia's Public Schools

The Georgia Association of Educators (GAE), realizing the urgency of the ongoing economic climate and its impact upon Georgia's families and public education system, has developed a plan to help Georgia obtain a piece of the economic stimulus package being proposed by the incoming Obama Administration. Its members will be asked to lobby their U.S Senators and Representatives on behalf of Georgia's families and public schools.

"Our students, our educators, and their respective families, like all Georgia citizens and their families, are living with the realities of today's economic difficulties," said GAE President Jeff Hubbard. "These difficulties, which are forecast to only worsen, will continue to have an impact upon our state's ability to fulfill its budgetary obligations, which will impact public education both directly and indirectly. Directly in the guise of k-12 through higher education line items that are being, and most likely will continue to be, reduced or possibly eliminated, and indirectly in other line items that affect Georgia's families abilities to obtain the basics they need, such as food stamps, nutrition assistance, and Medicaid, which can impact how well their children are prepared for school each day." Hubbard says that schools are seeing increasing numbers of children who are poor enough to qualify for free or reduced school meals or need donated school supplies because their families can no longer afford them.

According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, at least 41 states, including Georgia, faced or are facing shortfalls in their budgets for this year and/or next year. Over half the states had already cut spending, used reserves, or raised revenues in order to adopt a balanced budget for the current fiscal year. At least 16 states are cutting or proposing to cut K-12 and early education; several of them are also reducing access to child care and early education, and at least 17 states have implemented or proposed cuts to public colleges and universities. Hubbard said, "In all six of Gov. Purdue's budgets, the actual amount of money allocated for per pupil expenditures has continued to shrink leading to massive cuts in services and programs which our students desperately need to be competitive in this new global economy."

To address these urgent needs, GAE members are being asked to lobby their U.S. Congressional representatives on the following points:

* Initiatives to help boost pre-k education, including a limited-time program of federal matching funds designed to help states maintain pre-k services, while creating incentives for them to maintain existing investment levels. We also suggest funding programs to ensure that job training and assistance programs provide displaced workers who want to become early educators, particularly those who already have college degrees, access to the education they need to teach PK-3 students.
* Job creation through investments in infrastructure, including school construction. The Economic Policy Institute (EPI) has pointed to more than $100 billion in needed repairs to U.S. public schools ¨C well-defined projects that can be quickly implemented. EPI estimates that $20 billion in such infrastructure repairs would create 280,000 jobs.
* An increase in the federal share of the costs of educating students with disabilities. The federal funding shortfall for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act is straining state and school budgets and diverting resources from other critical programs. According to the National Governors Association, as a result of the subprime meltdown, the steady decline in housing values, and the rising costs of health care, state and local education budgets are under siege to cover basic operation costs, such as teacher salaries, transportation, and educational programming. Proposals to create a new glide path to attain the 40 percent federal commitment for special education cost about $19 billion over two years. This funding would go a long way to protecting elementary and secondary education from planned cuts over the next two years.
* Funding to close the Pell Grant shortfall. The credit crisis has made it more difficult for families to qualify for student loans and access higher education. At the same time, a large and growing number of people are going back to school as a way to increase their skills and earning potential. More than 786,000 applicants used the Pell Grant program than at the same point last year. As a result, the estimated Pell Grant shortfall is $3.5 billion in FY09, even after Congress provided $2.5 billion in the Continuing Resolution. At the current rate of increase, there will be 1.2 million more Pell Grant students. Congress could fund the Pell Grant shortfall and ensure adequate federal resources are available for all eligible students.
* Increases in food stamp benefits and other nutrition assistance for families struggling to survive in the face of rapidly rising food prices. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, food stamp caseloads have increased dramatically in recent months, rising by 2.6 million people or 9.6 percent between August 2007 and August 2008, the latest month for which data are available. In 25 states, at least one in every five children is receiving food stamps.
* An extension of unemployment assistance to those who have exhausted their benefits.
* A temporary increase in the federal Medicaid match (FMAP). According to the National Governors Association, 17 states have experienced FMAP declines over their federal FY 2008 FMAPs. Twelve of these states had also experienced FMAP declines in the previous fiscal year. Fourteen states are projected to have FMAP decreases in federal FY 2010. A temporary FMAP increase is a proven, effective way to provide relief to states and protect the health care of millions of Americans. In fact, Congress used this same approach to help states during the 2001-02 recession, when states facing high unemployment and weak tax revenues, combined with unexpected Medicaid growth, were forced to seek serious cutbacks in Medicaid costs.

"We invite all concerned Georgians to join us and contact their U.S. Congressional Delegation and ask that Georgia be included in any recovery package being developed," said Hubbard. "We also would implore our Georgia lawmakers to fairly and equitably distribute any additional funding that is successfully obtained, whether it is through federal stimulus or increased state tax revenue."

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Friday, December 19, 2008

Carnegie Foundation Selects Mercer for its National Community Engagement Designation

Mercer University has earned national recognition from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching for its commitment to community engagement, the foundation announced today.

Mercer is the only college in Georgia, and one of just 119 in the United States, to be selected by the foundation for its 2008 Community Engagement Classification. Mercer joins 76 other institutions identified in the 2006 selection process, including Emory University and Spelman College, the only other Georgia institutions to achieve the classification to date.

“Strong community engagement has long been a Mercer University hallmark,” said President William D. Underwood. “Robust service-learning programs, a culture of volunteerism and major institutional investments in the neighborhoods surrounding our campuses have all contributed to this designation by the Carnegie Foundation. This kind of national recognition is further validation of the institution’s commitment to community engagement.”

The foundation invited colleges and universities with an institutional focus on community engagement to apply for the classification, previously developed and offered in 2006 as part of an extensive restructuring of The Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. Unlike the Foundation’s other classifications that rely only on national data, this is an “elective” classification – institutions elected to participate by submitting extensive documentation describing the nature and scope of their engagement with the community. This approach enabled the foundation to address elements of institutional mission and distinctiveness that are not represented in the national data on colleges and universities.

This year, 147 institutions applied to document community engagement. Applications were reviewed by an expert advisory team and 119 were successfully classified as community engaged institutions. Mercer was one of only 51 private colleges and universities in the United States to achieve the designation.

“I have long known and taken pride in the commitment to service and community outreach exhibited by Mercer faculty and staff, but even I was surprised by the depth and broad scale of service-learning and community engagement revealed through the process of preparing our Carnegie application,” said Dr. Mary Alice Morgan, co-chair of the application committee and senior vice provost for service-learning. “This designation truly testifies to the ethics of community engagement that are a distinctive part of the Mercer mission and ethos.”

"Mercer has a long tradition of community engagement and learning based on that engagement and is proud to join the ranks of other fine institutions in this new classification, including Duke University, Tulane University and Emory,” said Dr. Peter Brown, chair of the application committee and senior vice provost. “With this national recognition, we will be able to more closely measure our progress and impact, as we pursue our goals of increased community engagement under the University’s 10-year strategic plan.”

In addition to its decades-long commitment to service-learning, which engages students in community service as part of their coursework, Mercer has a long history of partnering with organizations throughout the communities it serves to leverage University resources to advance those communities. Mercer’s partnerships with dozens of agencies and organizations bring in millions of dollars in grant funding to help the community, engage students in service-learning and aid in community-focused faculty research.

Because of those commitments, the foundation selected Mercer for the highest category, “Curricular Engagement and Outreach and Partnerships,” a combination of the two other categories within the classification. In Georgia, only Emory University shares this designation. According to the foundation, to be categorized in curricular engagement, schools must engage in teaching, learning and scholarship that addresses community needs, deepens students’ learning, enhances community well-being and enriches the scholarship of the institution. The outreach and partnerships category describes two different but related approaches to community engagement. The first focuses on the application and provision of institutional resources for community use with benefits to both campus and community. The latter focuses on collaborative interactions with community and related scholarship for the mutually beneficial exchange, exploration and application of knowledge, information and resources. Twenty-one schools were selected in only one category, including Spelman College, which is in the curricular engagement category.

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UGA's Terry College of Business Partners with Advanced Strategies Inc. to Offer Certificate Programs in Business Analysis

The University of Georgia's Terry College of Business is now offering certificate programs in business analysis, one of several new executive programs being launched in 2009, at the Terry Executive Education Center in Atlanta.

The certificate courses go beyond definitions and theory to teach the practical methods and skill development needed to carry out successful projects, starting with everyday projects and building up to complex, enterprise-wide initiatives and business transformations.

Terry's Office of Executive Programs has partnered with Advanced Strategies Inc. to teach the comprehensive Business Analysis Certificate Programs. Classes are continuous through 2010 and range from one- to three-week courses.

Courses in the certificate series include Business Analysis for Everyday Projects; Business Process Analysis and Facilitation for Major, Complex Projects; Business Analysis Leadership; Enterprise Transformation Analysis; and an Executive Forum on Identifying and Executing Enterprise Transformation Initiatives.

The programs are comprehensive not only in the topics covered, but also in providing a structured and well-defined career path. From being an analyst working on everyday projects to a "master business analyst" working on the most complex enterprise transformation initiatives, training and work experience at each level provide a solid basis for advancement to the next level of complexity and responsibility.

Business analysis instructors are experienced Advanced Strategies facilitators and trainers. As business analysis faculty, they lead the development of methodologies and training for business and technology transformation.

A senior manager with the Supreme Court in the state of Minnesota, who was a participant of the program, said, "The positive energy and excitement this training generated can't be bought and was, in large part, due to the facilitators and how the classes were taught."

Terry College and Advanced Strategies are also offering an executive forum where senior executives will meet for three days to address the critical issues facing enterprises in business transformation initiatives. The forum provides a unique, interactive opportunity to address challenges, such as maximizing delivery of business results, minimizing time to value, and affecting organizational change. The forum will be held March 3-5, and the registration fee is $3,750.

To register, go to www.terry.uga.edu/exec_ed/businessanalysis/. A 10 percent discount is offered to any company sending two or more participants. All classes, including the executive forum, will be held at the Terry Executive Education Center in the Buckhead district of Atlanta, located in the One Live Oak Building, 3475 Lenox Road. For more information, call 404/842-4853 or email executive_programs@terry.uga.edu.

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Sallie Mae Reminds Families: Paying for College in a Recession is Possible and Starts with the FAFSA

(BUSINESS WIRE)--A full 25 percent of families did not complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) last year, making them ineligible for federal financial aid to help pay for college, according to a recent study by Sallie Mae and Gallup on “How America Pays for College.” Sallie Mae, the nation’s leading saving- and paying-for-college company, reminds students that they may file a FAFSA beginning Jan. 1 and urges them to complete the form to qualify for federal financial aid for college.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, an estimated 15 million students file FAFSAs annually. The federal government, state governments and higher education institutions each award financial aid and rely on a student’s FAFSA information when making award determinations. Federal aid includes need- and non-need-based grants, scholarships, work-study and low-cost student loans.

Submitting the FAFSA early and before state and higher education institution deadlines maximizes a student’s chances of receiving the gift aid they are entitled to. Gift aid, such as grants and scholarships, is financial aid that does not have to be repaid. Last year, approximately $163 billion in student aid was awarded, according to the College Board, with grants comprising approximately 40 percent of that total.

“Don’t think for a second that you can’t pay for college in these difficult economic times,” said Martha Holler, spokeswoman for Sallie Mae. “You can, and it all starts with the FAFSA. Investing an hour or two to complete your FAFSA will pay off over a lifetime.”

Sallie Mae’s award-winning CollegeAnswer.com Web site has free tools and information to simplify the application process and help families navigate the financial aid process. Resources include sample FAFSAs in both English and Spanish, a list of state financial aid deadlines and a three-minute FAFSA podcast which can be downloaded to an MP3 player or computer. CollegeAnswer.com also contains the largest free online scholarship database, containing more than 2.8 million scholarships worth over $16 billion. Visit www.CollegeAnswer.com/fafsa for more information.

Sallie Mae recommends students and their parents gather relevant documents and information, including Social Security Number or alien registration card, driver's license, latest federal income tax return, W-2 forms, bank statements and investment information, before going online to www.fafsa.ed.gov to complete the application. This will help them complete the FAFSA in as little as an hour or two.

Students need to submit a FAFSA every year they are in college to receive federal student aid. Students who are already attending college and who are renewal-eligible for 2009-2010 will be sent a Renewal Reminder notification from the U.S. Department of Education. The Renewal FAFSA form is pre-populated with information from the student’s previous FAFSA.

Students and families completing the FAFSA will find Sallie Mae’s new Education Investment Planner useful. The free Planner helps students and families understand the total cost of college and how to pay for it without going beyond their means. The Planner estimates the total cost of a college degree, builds a plan to pay for college, and estimates the salary a graduate would need to keep repayment of student loans manageable. Visit www.SallieMae.com/plan for more information.

Sallie Mae always advises families to use its 1-2-3 approach to paying for college: first, use free money by filling out the FAFSA to access need-based grants, research and apply for scholarships. Then, supplement with current income, college savings, and an interest-free monthly tuition payment plan. Second, explore federal loans. Available to both students and parents, they can offer low, fixed interest rates and flexible repayment options. Third, fill any gap with private education loans. They are convenient and designed to help students meet the total cost of college.

The recent passage of the Higher Education Opportunity Act will simplify the federal student aid application process in the future. Sallie Mae strongly supports efforts to make applying for college financial aid quicker and easier for families. The new legislative changes include:

* Reducing the number of questions on the FAFSA form over the next five years.
* Revising the FAFSA form so that it contains consumer friendly language.
* Creating a two-page FAFSA-EZ form for low-income families.
* Simplifying the FAFSA re-application process.
* Sharing data from federal tax forms between the Internal Revenue Service and the U.S. Department of Education to further simplify the FAFSA process upon consent from students and their families.

In addition, the U.S. Department of Education is planning a $300-million upgrade of www.fafsa.ed.gov, the Web site students visit to complete the FAFSA. The upgrade will take place over the next five years.

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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Make Money This Holiday: Do You Qualify for AFSA's Scholarship Contest?

/PRNewswire/ -- Whether Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or Christmas, the holidays are a time of goodwill, cheer, and above all, giving. Therefore in the spirit of the season, the American Fire Sprinkler Association (AFSA) is spreading its goodwill and cheer by giving back to the community.

This Dallas-based trade group is calling for high school seniors to enter to win $20,000 in scholarships in its National Scholarship Contest, http://www.afsascholarship.org/. So with time off for the holidays, what better time for students to apply for scholarships, like AFSA's National Scholarship Contest, in hopes of winning one of life's most treasured gifts: an education?

More exciting than a Reindeer sweater, AFSA's National Scholarship Contest is the gift that keeps giving, guaranteed to give $20,000 this year, and that money can go a long way to put dreams of a further education within reach. Since 1996, AFSA has provided nearly a quarter of a million dollars in scholarships to help fulfill the educational dreams of students from across the nation.

This online contest is unlike many traditional scholarships. That's because instead of writing an essay, applicants will read one. That's right! To apply, students go online and read a short essay about sprinklers and fire safety. After finishing, they complete a ten-question quiz on what they just read. Each correct answer gives the student a chance at winning one of ten $2,000 scholarships (maximum 10 chances per entrant).

To be eligible, applicants must be a high school senior during the 2008-2009 academic year who will attend a U.S. college, university or trade school in fall 2009. Winners are randomly selected to receive a scholarship payable one-time directly to their respective institution of higher learning.

Year after year, students die in campus-related fires. Through this scholarship, AFSA hopes to create greater awareness - and therefore, a safer future - by educating students who otherwise may not recognize the importance of fire safety.

The AFSA Scholarship is open to U.S. citizens and legal residents. Deadline to entries is April 1, 2009. For details or to apply, visit http://www.afsascholarship.org/.

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UGA Research Foundation Receives $18.7 Million Gates Foundation Grant to Improve Control of Schistosomiasis

UGA Research Foundation Receives $18.7 Million Gates Foundation Grant to Improve Control of Schistosomiasis, a Debilitating and Neglected Tropical Disease

The University of Georgia Research Foundation has received a five-year, $18.7 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to research ways to reduce morbidity from schistosomiasis in low- and middle-income countries in Africa, the Middle East and the Americas. Researchers will develop and evaluate research-based approaches and diagnostic tools to identify, control and even eliminate schistosomiasis where feasible.

Dan Colley, director of UGA's Center for Tropical and Emerging Global Diseases, is principal investigator for the project, which will provide critical tools and an evidence base for decisions about controlling schistosomiasis. Colley, a microbiologist and immunologist in UGA's Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, has researched the disease for nearly 40 years.

"This grant significantly bolsters the University of Georgia's growing strength in public health and medical research," said UGA President Michael F. Adams. "It holds promise for great progress in eliminating a disease that causes suffering and economic hardship for millions around the world."

This is the largest grant UGA has received from the Gates Foundation, the first for medical research and the third-largest grant in UGA history.

The project grew out of a consensus research agenda developed in 2007 with broad input from the schistosomiasis research and control community. It focuses on operational research, and its overall goal is to answer key strategic questions about controlling schistosomiasis to ensure that future programs operate with increased efficacy, cost-effectiveness and sustainability.

"This grant will support and advance pioneering work on schistosomiasis under the technical guidance of Dan Colley," said UGA Vice-President for Research David Lee. "With his international leadership, this award will make great strides in addressing the widespread, debilitating impact of this infection. The University community is proud of Colley and others at the Center for Tropical and Emerging Global Diseases who work tirelessly to improve health conditions in the developing world."

Secondary goals for the project are to integrate global schistosomiasis control efforts with other programs, monitor the effectiveness of current treatments, develop survey and diagnostic tools and overcome barriers that currently prevent effective control.

Caused by several species of flatworms of the genus Schistosoma, this neglected tropical disease affects some 200 million people worldwide. It is most common in Africa, and to a lesser extent in Asia and South America. It is transmitted through a species of freshwater snails, which become infected through contaminated water and then multiply and release infected worms into the water. The worms enter through the skin as their human hosts wash clothes, swim, or fish.

While it has a relatively low mortality rate, schistosomiasis can damage internal organs and impair physical and cognitive development in children. Symptoms of infection include abdominal pain, cough, diarrhea, fever, fatigue, pulmonary hypertension and often an enlarged liver and spleen. The worms can live in the blood vessels of people for up to 40 years, leading to chronic illness.

"Mass drug control programs in several African countries already use the drug praziquantel to reduce mortality from schistosomiasis and to help stem the suffering," said Dan Colley, principal investigator on the grant and director of UGA's Center for Tropical and Global Emerging Diseases. "And while controlling schistosomiasis is a World Health Organization global priority, most endemic countries still lack adequate control programs, and the sustainability of existing programs is tenuous."

Colley will oversee a management team based at the Center for Tropical and Emerging Global Diseases, University of Georgia, but the consortium will involve partners from around the world. Much of the research will be carried out through subgrants to investigators at several federal, state and private institutions and laboratories and field sites in North America, South America, Europe and Africa.

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Georgia Southern University Students Spend Winter Break Serving Community

Sixteen Georgia Southern University students will spend the first days of their winter break revitalizing historical sites in Liberty County.

The Winter Break Service-Learning Trip is an opportunity for students to give of themselves during this holiday season. Students will work at five sites this Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday doing light construction and maintenance while learning about the historical significance of each location. The students will serve at the following Liberty County locations:

Geechee Kunda Cultural Center: This is a museum created to preserve an African-based culture that still exists in coastal Georgia.
Dorchester Academy: The academy was once a school for freed slaves and a retreat for Martin Luther King, Jr. It now serves as an African-American history museum.
Fort Morris: This American Revolutionary fort now serves as a museum.
Seabrook Village: This living history museum provides re-enactments of post-Civil War life in coastal Georgia.
LeConte-Woodmanston Botanical Garden: This nature preserve was founded by the LeConte family.

This trip is sponsored by Georgia Southern University’s Office of Student Leadership and Civic Engagement which provides students opportunities to volunteer and serve the community in a variety of ways.

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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Georgia State Awarded $2.1 Million in International Projects

Georgia State University was awarded three of the 19 new USAID-supported partnerships granted in 2008 through the group Higher Education for Development, including nearly $1.5 million to bolster Alexandria University’s executive MBA program in Egypt.

Higher Education for Development works with the support of the U.S. Agency for International Development and higher education institutions in the U.S. and overseas to address global social and economic needs.

The two-year partnership between the J. Mack Robinson College of Business and Alexandria University will allow Robinson College faculty to help revamp the Egyptian school’s EMBA curriculum and help train its faculty, said Bijan Fazlollahi, professor and director of Robinson’s Center for Business Development in Transitional Economies.

“We’re trying to make it the kind of program that fits the business world,” Fazlollahi said.
Georgia State was also awarded nearly $400,000 for a three-year partnership with Cairo University. Jorge Martinez, the director of the International Studies Program at the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, said the partnership will help the Cairo economics and political science faculty boost its curriculum and become a regional hub for economic research.

“We want to share our experience and knowledge base with their faculty,” Martinez said.
Georgia State was also granted $250,000 through a partnership with the Universidad Pedagógica Nacional of Mexico in a project to strengthen the English language teaching curricula at UPN and provide the foundation for an English teacher education program.

In all, Georgia State was awarded more than $2.1 million in HED projects in 2008, and received the largest project awarded this year.

“The diversity and high caliber of award winners in this year’s HED competitions is impressive,” said Terry Hartle, HED board chair and senior vice president of government and public affairs for the American Council on Education. “It’s a testament to the remarkable contributions that higher education has to make for the development of countries and communities."

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Make Holiday Gift-Giving Easy This Year By Contributing to the Path2College 529 Savings Plan for Your Loved Ones

(BUSINESS WIRE)--Are you looking for the perfect holiday gift this year? Something that is simple and that you can get without even leaving the comfort of your home, yet a gift that is meaningful and lasts a lifetime? Then what better way to make a long-lasting difference for your child or grandchild than opening or contributing to the Path2College 529 Savings Plan for your holiday gift this year.

“The gift of a college education is priceless, it lasts a lifetime, and every penny saved today can make an impact in your loved one’s financial future,” said Chuck Penuel, Director of the Path2College 529 Plan. “Research by the College Board says that an individual with a four-year college degree will earn approximately $1 million more than a high-school graduate over the course of a lifetime. That means saving for college today could be one of the best holiday shopping decisions you can make to help a young person you love.”

Penuel said that one of the easiest ways to help save early for the future costs of college tuition and other qualified expenses, such as certain room and board and books and fees, for colleges in Georgia and nationwide, is through the Path2College 529 Plan. The plan, which is offered by the State of Georgia and managed by TIAA-CREF, offers seven investment options, low annual asset-based fees, and no sign-up, maintenance or third-party sales fees. Any earnings in the Path2College 529 Plan are federal income tax-exempt, and withdrawals for these qualified expenses are also tax free.

“The Path2College 529 Plan is easy to use and understand, and it makes gift-giving this holiday season simple,” said Penuel. “It is easy to contribute to an existing account or to open a new account. And with the experience of TIAA-CREF, and a program that has almost 100,000 accounts and over a half billion in assets, Georgia families can feel more secure in choosing the Path2College 529 Plan for their college savings.”

At www.path2college529.com, anyone can start an account for a beneficiary or contribute to a loved one’s account by printing a personalized gift certificate to present to the recipient. Simply go to the Web site, and click on Print a Gift of Education Certificate. Print and fill in the Certificate and then give your contribution and the Certificate to your loved one. Or, call (877) 424-4377 and one of our college savings specialists will assist you. An account can be started or contributed to in amounts as small as $25.

Once an account is established, additional contributions can be made to the account through check or electronic funds transfer. You may contribute as little as $25 per investment option, and you can establish convenient monthly, semi-monthly or quarterly contributions all year-round from your checking or savings account.

“There are numerous benefits to 529 plans,” said Penuel. “If a financial emergency occurs, you can take the money out of the account, with some penalties of course. Your non-qualified withdrawal is subject to federal income taxes as well as an additional 10% federal tax, but it is still accessible if it’s needed. A Path2College 529 Plan account is also transferable, so if your child decides not to attend college, you can transfer it to another eligible member of the family. It’s an excellent program to help your loved one get on the right path. And as the account owner, the parent retains control of the account.”

For more information on the Path2College 529 Plan, visit: www.path2college529.com or call (877) 424-4377.

Consider the investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses before investing in the Path2College 529 Plan. Please visit www.path2college529.com for a Disclosure Booklet containing this and other information. Read it carefully.

Before investing in a 529 plan, you should consider whether the state you or your Beneficiary reside in or have taxable income in has a 529 plan that offers favorable state income tax or other benefits that are only available if you invest in that state’s 529 plan.

We are required to notify you that the tax information contained herein is not intended to be used, and cannot be used, by any taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding tax penalties. It was written to support the promotion of the Path2College 529 Plan. Taxpayers should seek advice based on their own particular circumstances from an independent tax advisor.

Account value for the Investment Options is not guaranteed and will fluctuate based upon a number of factors, including general market conditions.

© 2008 TIAA-CREF Tuition Financing, Inc., program manager. TIAA-CREF Individual & Institutional Services, LLC, member FINRA, distributes the Path2College 529 Plan.

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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Georgia Tech Ranks Fourth Nationally Among Smart Money’s Best Values

Georgia Tech ranks fourth nationally among Smart Money magazine’s best values for universities. Smart Money teamed up with Payscale.com to rate universities’ payback by looking at tuition costs and alumni salaries. The article shows why some public schools have a better payback for students than their private counterparts. The University of Georgia, Texas A&M and the University of Texas at Austin top the list.

You can find more information in the January 2009 issue of Smart Money Magazine.

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UGA to Host TEAMS Competition for Area High School Students

Georgia high school students will have an opportunity to participate in a unique learning experience when the University of Georgia hosts a Junior Engineering Technical Society's TEAMS competition on Thursday, Feb. 19.

TEAMS, which stands for Tests of Engineering, Aptitude, Mathematics and Science, brings math and science to life for students, fostering creativity, critical thinking, teamwork and problem solving, said John Mativo, an assistant professor in the College of Education's department of workforce education, leadership and social foundations; and member in the faculty of engineering. Mativo will be working with Chi Thai, an associate professor in the department of biological and agricultural engineering, which is co-sponsoring the project.

The one-day competition will feature high school students (grades 9-12) participating in teams of four to eight members, using real-world applications of math and science to solve some of today's greatest engineering challenges. The TEAMS 2009 theme is "Behind the Scenes: Theme Parks."

There are two parts: a 90-minute, 80 multiple choice question session and a 90-minute, open-ended, four-question session.

"This competition can inspire your students far beyond the classroom by helping them see the wonders math and science can bring to life such as roller coasters, monitoring equipment in hospitals, at play grounds and more," said Mativo. "When students compete in TEAMS they learn the answer to that age-old question, 'When will I ever use this?' And the answer is as an engineer."

The competition benefits students by showing them why math and science matters in the real world. Its academic rigor challenges students with new academic topics and presents new ideas. In addition, participants get inside information about college scholarships and could win great prizes, said Mativo.

More than 14,000 students across the country compete annually in TEAMS competitions. Questions are aligned with national education standards. UGA is one of three sites hosting the competition in Georgia. Other sites are Atlanta University Center and Savannah State University.

Although space is limited, there is still time to register. The deadline for registration is Jan. 22. Schools already registered to participate include: A. R. Johnson Health Science and Engineering Magnet High School, Cross Creek High School, Grayson High School, Hephzibah High School, Lucy C. Laney High School and The Academy of Richmond County.

To register or see more information, see www.jets.org/teams/index.cfm.

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Monday, December 15, 2008

Secretary Handel Opens Submission Period for the Georgia Distinguished Educator of the Year Award

Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel and the Georgia Commission on the Holocaust today opened the submission period for Georgia Distinguished Educator of the Year Award. The award is presented to educators who incorporate the Holocaust, character education and diversity in their curriculum.

“The Holocaust was a very important chapter in history. Mixing its lessons with lessons about character education and diversity will help our children understand the threats to freedom we face today,” said Secretary Handel.

Sponsored by the Georgia Power Company, the Distinguished Educator of the Year awards are presented to three educators: one full-time Georgia teacher from the elementary school level (K-5), middle school level (6-8) and high school level (9-12). Educators in public, private, charter, and parochial schools are eligible.

The awards will be presented at the State Capitol of Georgia during the Days of Remembrance Observance on April 24, 2009. Along with this recognition the three educators will receive $1,000 and a plaque to hang in their school.

Teachers must submit an original or adapted lesson plan of rationale, strategies, objectives, materials, procedures, methods of assessment, and impact on students. Each educator is also required to include administrator, peer, parent, and student recommendations. All entries must be postmarked by March 27, 2009 and sent to: Georgia Commission on the Holocaust, Thomas B. Murphy Holocaust Teachers Training & Resource Center, Ingram Library, University of West Georgia, Carrollton, Georgia 30118.

“The Commission’s mission initiatives are designed to reinforce the message that understanding, respect, compassion and personal responsibility must always triumph over intolerance, hatred, ruthlessness and apathy. In the spirit of this mission the Commission will honor three Georgia educators who demonstrate excellence and creativity in the development and presentation of lessons in the Holocaust, character education, or diversity,” said Sylvia Wygoda, Executive Director of the Georgia Commission on the Holocaust.

For more contest information, please call (404) 370-3056 or visit the Georgia Commission on the Holocaust website at www.holocaust.georgia.gov.
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Gwinnett Tech is One of Nation's Fastest-Growing Two-Year Colleges

Gwinnett Technical College is among the fastest-growing public two-year colleges in the nation, according to an annual analysis by Community College Week Magazine. GTC ranks 20th in the country with 12.6 percent enrollment growth.

In total, six Technical College System of Georgia colleges have been named in two categories of the top fifty fastest-growing public two-year colleges in the nation. The magazine based its report on the percentage of enrollment change among 1,153 colleges in the two-year period including fall 2006 and fall 2007.

"Gwinnett Tech has recorded double-digit enrollment growth for seven consecutive quarters – almost two years. Although registration for Winter Quarter is still on-going, it appears this strong enrollment trend will continue into 2009," says Sharon Bartels, Gwinnett Tech president. "Most importantly, these trends tell us that we're meeting our goal of providing relevant knowledge and real world workforce education to ensure that our students are successful."

Five other Georgia technical colleges making the top 50 list, with enrollments of between 2,500 and 4,999 students, include Griffin Technical College (4th), West Central Technical College (8th), Middle Georgia Technical College (28th), and Columbus Technical College (47th). East Central Technical College was the 29th among two-year colleges with enrollments of 2,500 or less.

The full report is available online at www.ccweek.com

"The kind of phenomenal growth that these six colleges are experiencing is a reflection of what's happening in enrollment throughout the Technical College System of Georgia," said TCSG Commissioner Ron Jackson. "More and more students are turning to Georgia's technical colleges to get the kind of 21st Century education and training that's vital to their success in today's highly competitive workforce.

Gwinnett Tech offers more than 45 degree, diploma and certificate program options. For more information, call 770-962-7580 or visit www.gwinnetttech.edu.
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Saturday, December 13, 2008

A Commencement and a Commencement at Clayton State

Clayton State University’s annual Fall Commencement on Thursday, Dec. 11 proved to be a commencement in more ways than one. Perhaps Dr. Tom Barnett, faculty marshal, the University’s senior faculty member, and first director of the University’s first graduate program, said it best…

“Today marks the commencement of Clayton State as a full service university.”

Barnett was speaking on several levels. To the 350 or so assembled graduates at the two commencement ceremonies. To Anna Cox, the Jonesboro High School Latin teacher who received Clayton State’s first master’s level degree. To anyone interested in graduate-level education. As Clayton State President Dr. Thomas K. Harden, who presided at the dual ceremonies, noted, “the 21st Century will be the century of graduate and professional education. We must meet the needs of a global-based economy.”

It was indeed, as Harden noted in his remarks to the graduates, a very special day for Clayton State University.

While a total of 600 graduates were recognized in the Commencement program, there was no doubt that Cox, who received the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies (MALS) in her hooding ceremony at the first session, was first among the graduates in more ways than one. The University’s first master’s graduate, and the first individual to receive a degree on Dec. 11, Cox was assisted in the hooding ceremony by Dr. Gwen Jones-Harold, her thesis director, and Dr. Nasser Momayezi, dean of the School of Arts & Sciences. Also looking on were Dean of the School of Graduate Studies Dr. Thomas Eaves, Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Dr. Sharon Hoffman, current MALS program director Dr. Wendy Burns-Ardolino, Clayton State Instructor of Speech Communications Larry Wiley (Cox’s father) and fellow Jonesboro High School teacher Andrew Cox (her husband).

Barnett, the original director of the MALS program, and Hoffman spoke to all the graduates on the significance of both the occasion and graduate-level education. Barnett noted that the University now has more than 70 graduate-level faculty, has received almost 500 applications for its four current graduate programs and has enrolled more than 150 graduate students. With two Masters of Arts in Teaching degrees (Math and English) enrolling students in 2009, a proposal in to the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia for an M.S. in Dental Hygiene, and masters programs in Psychology and Archival Studies under development, Thursday was clearly just the start of something big at Clayton State. However, as is always the case with a major step for any organization, there has to be someone to take the first step.

“We acknowledge and celebrate her accomplishment,” said Barnett of Cox. “Congratulations, Anna. You are a pioneer. You will blaze the trail for those who will follow.”

A unit of the University System of Georgia, Clayton State University is an outstanding comprehensive metropolitan university located 15 miles southeast of downtown Atlanta.
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Friday, December 12, 2008

Holocaust Center Sponsors Art, Writing Contest for Georgia Students

The Georgia Commission on the Holocaust and the Thomas B. Murphy Holocaust Teacher Training and Resource Center are sponsoring a statewide art and writing contest for Georgia middle and high school students.

The Holocaust Resource Center, located in the Ingram Library on the University of West Georgia campus, is sponsored by the Georgia Commission on the Holocaust and is the only public institution of its kind in the country.

“The Georgia Commission on the Holocaust Art and Writing Contest teaches lessons about the dangers of hate and discrimination,” said Secretary of State Karen Handel. “I thank the commission for their diligence in promoting the importance of moral courage and for their continued sponsorship of this contest. This competition provides an opportunity for students to study history and apply these lessons to current events through writing and art.”

In its 14th year, the contest is a cooperative effort between the state Department of Education and the Georgia Commission on the Holocaust. Students may submit artwork and writing entries that cover the theme of “What are the Lessons of the Holocaust?”

Writing entries will be judged on content, originality, quality of expression and historical accuracy. Art entries will be judged on creativity, artistic excellence and thematic content. The contest submission form can be downloaded at www.holocaust.georgia.gov.

Winning students and their teachers will be awarded at the state capitol during the official state observance of the Days of Remembrance program on April 24. Four students and their teachers will receive a trip to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., for their first place awards.

All art and writing entries must be postmarked no later than March 13 and sent to: Georgia Commission on the Holocaust, Thomas B. Murphy Center, Ingram Library, University of West Georgia, Carrollton, GA 30118.

For more contest information, call 404-370-3056 or visit www.holocaust.georgia.gov. For more information on the Holocaust Resource Center, visit www.westga.edu/~holocaust or call 678-839-6350.

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Title I Distinguished Schools and Districts Awarded

State Superintendent of Schools Kathy Cox officially named Georgia's four Title I Distinguished Districts and two National Title I Distinguished Schools today at the State Board of Education meeting.

"These districts and schools are a prime example of the impact high expectations, hard work and collaboration can have on student achievement," Superintendent Cox said. "I'm thrilled to recognize the educators, students and parents in these schools and school districts."

Title I schools have a significant population of students who are economically disadvantaged and receive federal money to assist with the education of these students. The two National Title I Distinguished Schools were among 777 Georgia Title I Distinguished Schools last school year. Title I Distinguished Schools have made Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) at least three years in a row.

"These 777 schools don't accept excuses," Superintendent Cox said. "There are high standards for students and high expectations for teachers. These schools are focused and determined -- and they are getting results."

Title I Distinguished Schools that have made AYP for three consecutive years are awarded a certificate, while those who have made AYP four or more years receive a monetary award, paid for out of federal funds. A list of Georgia Title I Distinguished Schools is attached.

TITLE I DISTINGUISHED DISTRICTS

The Title I Distinguished District award is given to four school systems in four different size categories -- Large District, Medium District, Small District and Very Small District. The awarded districts have closed the achievement gap the most between economically disadvantaged students and students who are not economically disadvantaged in each category. The results of the reading, English language arts and mathematics portions of the Criterion-Referenced Competency Test (CRCT) and the Georgia High School Graduation Test (GHSGT) are used to determine achievement.

The 2008 Title I Distinguished Districts are:

- Large District: Hall County
- Medium District: Gainesville City
- Small District: Mitchell County
- Very Small District: Evans County

The winning districts will each receive $50,000 from federal funds.

NATIONAL TITLE I DISTINGUISHED SCHOOLS

The National Title I Distinguished Schools program recognizes two schools that receive Title I funding. One school is recognized for closing the achievement gap between economically disadvantaged students and students that are not economically disadvantaged. The other school is recognized for exceeding the benchmarks required to make AYP. The CRCT and GHSGT results in reading, English language arts and mathematics are used to determine the winning schools.

The two National Title I Distinguished Schools are:
- Gap Change: Southside Middle School, Dougherty County
- Exceeds AYP: Banks Stephens Middle School, Monroe County Each of these schools will receive $15,000 in federal funds.
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About 2,260 Eligible to Receive Degrees at UGA Commencement Ceremonies Dec. 19

About 2,260 University of Georgia students will be eligible to receive degrees at UGA's fall semester commencement ceremonies Dec. 19 in Stegeman Coliseum.

Some 1,650 seniors will be eligible to participate in the ceremony for undergraduates at 9:30 a.m. Donald Eastman, president of Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Fla., will be the speaker. Before going to Eckerd in 2001, Eastman was at UGA for 10 years where he served as vice president for development and university relations and vice president for strategic planning and public affairs.

An estimated 614 candidates for master's, doctoral and specialist in education degrees are eligible to participate in the graduate ceremony at 2:30 p.m. Harriet Mayor Fulbright, president of the J. William and Harriet Fulbright Center in Arlington, Va., will speak. The widow of the late U.S. Sen. J. William Fulbright, Harriet Fulbright is an educator and arts advocate who lectures worldwide on the importance of international education and collaboration.

The student speaker for the undergraduate ceremony will be Abi Oyegun of Lithonia, who will graduate with degrees in psychology and sociology. Oyegun volunteers with Students Helping Teachers, teaches in UGA's McPhaul Child Development Center and works with an organization called Invisible Children that helps raise awareness of underprivileged children around the world.

Also during the undergraduate ceremony, nine students will be recognized as First Honor Graduates for having maintained a perfect 4.0 grade point average. They are Katie L. Barter, Peachtree City; Caitlin A. Burns, Duluth; Shannon Chen, Athens; Sarah M. Craig, Lawrenceville; Christina L. Dobbs, Calhoun; Sion Kim, Hartwell; Caryn D. Rosing, Atlanta; Channell V. Singh, Hinesville; and Lauren E. Williams, Athens.

Because Dec. 19 is a Friday, a normal workday, some of the usual parking patterns on South Campus near the coliseum will be adjusted. The South Parking Deck (zone S-11) and Carlton Street Deck (zone S-15) will be open at no charge for visitors and guests attending commencement. The Hoke Smith lot (S-12) will be reserved for handicapped guests with proper handicapped placards. The McPhaul Center lot (S-10) will be reserved for members of the commencement platform party.

Both the undergraduate and graduate commencement ceremonies will be broadcast live on UGA's cable television station, channel 15 on the Charter cable system, and will be streamed in a webcast accessible via a link on UGA's Web site home page, www.uga.edu .

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Fayette County PR Department Earns State Recognition

The Fayette County School System’s public relations department has received five awards from the Georgia School Public Relations Association (GSPRA) for distinguished achievement in writing, graphic design and electronic communications.

Entries are judged on content, use of graphics/special effects and color, layout and usefulness to the intended audience. A press release on the Starr’s Mill High Child Care Center and the teacher recruitment brochure each received a Gold Award of Excellence; the financial summary and a Channel 24 video on the Starr’s Mill High Child Care Center each received a Silver Award of Merit and a press release on the Holocaust Memorial at Rising Starr Middle received a Bronze Award of Merit.

“This recognition is truly an honor. The competition is very rigorous with entries competing against each other without the size of the school system or public relations department taken into consideration. Knowing that our projects went up against those from bigger systems with more resources and larger public relations departments makes these awards even more meaningful,” says Melinda Berry-Dreisbach, public information specialist.

The public relations department has received both national and state awards for its communication materials since the office opened in 2001. All totaled, the department has been awarded 61 national and state honors.

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Thursday, December 11, 2008

Nearly 32,000 People Informed about Higher Education Options This Year with The Sallie Mae Fund’s Paying for College Workshops

(BUSINESS WIRE)--The Sallie Mae Fund has recently completed its 133rd “Paying for College” workshop of the year, providing nearly 32,000 people with college-going information. The free workshops are designed to educate families, particularly Latino, African-American, and low-income students and parents, about their options for attending, saving and paying for higher education. More than $61,500 in scholarships was awarded to attendees of Paying for College events in 2008.

"Most parents of college bound kids are feeling financial jitters in this shaky economy,” said Representative Sam Johnson of Texas, who partnered with The Fund for a workshop in his district. “Many parents and kids may be wondering - and perhaps fearing - how will they pay for everything in these lean economic times. For some, getting into a good school isn't the hard part - paying for it is. The Paying for College seminars helped a lot of folks learn more about their financial options."

The Sallie Mae Fund, a charitable organization sponsored by Sallie Mae, supports programs and initiatives that help open doors to higher education. Each Paying for College workshop features important information on scholarships, grants and other aid, as well as the opportunity for parents and students to have their questions answered by financial aid experts. The program is rooted in research, which found that lack of information about financial aid for college was a key factor preventing many promising students from seeking higher education. Nearly three out of four young adults would have been more likely to attend college if they had been aware of their financial aid options. Since 2004, The Sallie Mae Fund has delivered more than 1,600 free financial aid workshops in English and Spanish for more than 155,000 students and parents of underserved communities.

“Especially in today’s economic climate, it is vital to help families understand all of the options available to them to help pay for college,” said Erin Korsvall, vice president of The Sallie Mae Fund. “Bridging the information gap puts students one step closer to achieving their dreams of a higher education.”

The likelihood that a ninth grader in the United States will enroll in college four years later is less than 40 percent, with students from low-income and minority families even less likely to do so. The Sallie Mae Fund’s Paying for College workshops are designed to increase those numbers. The presentation’s message of attainability is being heard: 84 percent of families who participated in a Paying for College workshop said they believed they would be able to pay for college, as opposed to 29 percent prior to attending the event.

“Money has always been and will always be a major issue in life,” said one student who won early acceptance into the University of Texas at Austin. “But, thanks to the generous contributions of organizations such as The Sallie Mae Fund, there will be more and more low-income students going further in life.”

In each community, The Fund collaborated with school districts, high schools, and community groups to reach families most in need of financial aid information. Nationally, the effort has been made possible with the partnership of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute, National Association for College Admission Counseling, National Council for Community and Education Partnerships, MTV Tr3s, and Project GRAD USA. A number of Congressional offices also participated, including Reps. Artur Davis (D-AL.), David Dreier (R-CA), Randy Forbes (R-VA), Gene Green (D-TX), Sam Johnson (R-TX), Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), and Chris Shays (R-CT).

Through each Paying for College workshop, The Sallie Mae Fund is responding to studies indicating that minorities are lagging behind in higher education. According to the U.S. Department of Education, Hispanics have among the lowest educational achievement levels of all minority groups. If current trends continue, of every 100 Hispanic children entering kindergarten, 63 will graduate from high school and only 11 will obtain a bachelor's degree by the age of 29. African-Americans also graduate from college at lower than average rates. If current trends continue, of every 100 kindergarteners who are African-American, 87 will graduate from high school, but only 18 will achieve a bachelor's degree by age 29.

Graduating from college pays lifelong dividends: according to the U.S. Census Bureau, college graduates on average earn over $1 million more during their lifetimes than high school dropouts.

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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

“The Future is Now!” Young Harris College Awarded Four-Year Status

Young Harris College earned approval December 9 from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) to begin offering bachelor’s degrees in the fall of 2009.

The announcement came at the end of the 2008 SACS Annual Meeting in San Antonio, Texas. “This is a great day in Young Harris College history,” said Jerry Nix, chairman of the Board of Trustees and CFO of Genuine Parts Company. “It is a testimony to the strength of the faculty, staff and students of the college.”

SACS approved Young Harris’ plans to offer bachelor’s degrees in biology, business and public policy, English and music. These degrees represent a major in each of the college’s four academic divisions.

“We are pleased to offer our students the opportunity to stay at Young Harris and earn their bachelor’s degree,” said Young Harris President Cathy Cox. “And this is only the beginning. Our Strategic Plan calls for adding majors on a regular basis over the next few years.”

Young Harris is in an unprecedented building program to support the anticipated growth of the college. A new 200-bed residence hall is under construction and will be completed in time for the fall 2009 session. The Board of Trustees has approved several additional buildings. These include a recreation center, a campus center (that will include a student center, dining hall and library) and an administration building. Additional buildings will follow in the next decade as part of a comprehensive master plan for the beautiful mountain campus.

The college is also adding faculty at a record pace. A dozen new faculty members were hired for the 2008-2009 school year and a dozen more are slated to be brought on board for 2009-2010.

Young Harris College provides an outstanding opportunity for students in Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee. For students in those areas, Young Harris is a close, convenient choice for college. Now, the opportunity to earn a four-year degree makes Young Harris an even more attractive option.

Sophomore Meg Patterson, a biology major, plans to stay and earn her bachelor’s degree at Young Harris. “The science department is really strong here. The one-on-one interaction with the faculty is very important to me and I know I can get that here at Young Harris.”

“It is important to note,” President Cox added, “that as we grow and add degrees, our vision is to maintain the traditions and unique environment that make Young Harris so distinctive. We currently enroll 650 students. Our goal is to eventually grow the college to a total student body between 1,200 and 1,500. It is important that our students continue to benefit from small classes and personal interaction with our distinguished faculty.”

Many current Young Harris students have already indicated they will return next fall to complete their degrees. As the number of four-year majors grows, more students will choose to stay at, or transfer to, Young Harris College.

“Young Harris College provides one of the best opportunities in private higher education in Georgia,” stated President Cox. “We look forward to welcoming our first junior class next fall.”

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Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Johnson Controls Announces Call for Creative Energy Projects Entries

/PRNewswire/ -- Johnson Controls (NYSE:JCI) , the global multi-industrial leader in energy efficiency and sustainability, has developed an innovative program to engage kindergarten through 12th grade students across North America in developing ways to make the environment more energy efficient.

"Students play an important role in using energy resources wisely, which reinforces our business of providing energy efficiency solutions for consumers and businesses," said C. David Myers, president, Building Efficiency, Johnson Controls. "Each year, we continue to be impressed by the enthusiasm and ingenuity students and teachers exhibit in demonstrating ways to preserve the environment and conserve energy."

This is the eighth year for the Igniting Creative Energy competition, which provides national winners with valuable educational experiences including the opportunity to meet national leaders and energy policymakers in Washington, D.C. The Challenge, a program developed and funded by Johnson Controls and the National Energy Foundation, is a competition that encourages students to learn more about energy and the environment.

According to Bob Poulson, president of the National Energy Foundation, "It's vital to instill in students the idea that they can creatively contribute to conserving natural resources. It results in improved leadership, character development and service to others, not to mention a better environment."

Student entries should demonstrate an understanding of what an individual, family or group can do in their home, school or community to conserve energy and help the environment. Students may choose to express their ideas in any creative format such as science projects, essays, stories, artwork, photographs, music, videos, web based applications, multimedia projects, etc. They may also submit recent service projects.

Contest Rules and Prizes

The Challenge is open to all students in grades K-12 in the U.S. and Canada, excluding Quebec. All entries are due by March 13, 2009; and winners will be announced April 17, 2009.

A total of four grand prizes will be awarded to three students and one teacher. Three students, one in each grade cluster, whose work best addresses the Challenge criteria, will receive a hosted trip to Washington, D.C. for themselves and a parent or legal guardian. Also, the teacher with the highest average score of student work from 15 or more qualifying entries will also receive a trip for two to Washington, D.C. for the same rewarding educational experience. While in Washington, D.C., students will share their winning Challenge entries with government and energy leaders during the 20th Annual Energy Efficiency Forum, June 15-16, at the National Press Club.

In addition to the national winners, the highest scoring student in each state or province will be recognized. Schools may also be eligible to receive a $1,000 U.S. charitable donation to help beautify their school, educate their students, or impact their community.

Official rules about the contest and a downloadable entry form can be found at the official Challenge Web site, http://www.ignitingcreativeenergy.org/.

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AccessText Network Created in Collaboration with University of Georgia Will Improve Student Access to College Textbook Content

The Association of American Publishers has signed an agreement with the Alternative Media Access Center, an initiative of the Georgia Board of Regents and the University of Georgia, to develop and launch the AccessText Network, a comprehensive, national online system that will make it easier and quicker for students with print-related disabilities, such as blindness, to obtain the textbooks they need for their college courses.

The program at UGA is part of the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences.


"AMAC is energized about working in conjunction with the disability community to guarantee AccessText becomes the conduit between the publishing world and post-secondary institutions' disability programs nationwide," said Christopher Lee, department head and director of AMAC."We are charged with making AccessText the national nucleus of post-secondary distribution of approved alternative textbook file exchanges, training and technical support. Our goal is to make the college disability professional's job easier and, in the long run, help save institutions from the high cost of producing electronic textbooks for their students with disabilities."

Many college students with disabilities are struggling to use required or recommended print textbooks that are essential to their course success, said Patricia Schroeder, AAP's president and chief executive officer.

"By improving the efficiencies of our present process, AccessText will facilitate quicker access to content for more students," she said.

The new AccessText Network will improve the way electronic versions of print textbooks are delivered to campus-based disability student service offices from publishers and streamline the permission process for scanning copies of print textbooks when publisher files are unavailable.

"This project would have not been possible without the early support and direction of Noel Gregg, director of the Franklin UGA Regents Center for Learning Disorders," said Lee. "The AMAC project was incubated under that center, and Noel was a co-founder of AMAC making the project a reality."

The network, scheduled for beta launch in February 2009, will ensure that institutions can more easily obtain information about publishers' course materials, request electronic text files and use more efficient acquisition and distribution channels.

AccessText Network is being funded through donations from publishers Cengage Learning; CQ Press; Macmillan; McGraw-Hill Education; Pearson; Reed Elsevier Inc.; John Wiley & Sons; and W.W. Norton.

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Monday, December 8, 2008

Milk-Drinking Scholar Athletes May Score Cash For College

(NAPSI)-High school athletes who drink milk to stay fit have the chance to score some extra cash for college. The National Milk Mustache "got milk?" Campaign, in partnership with USA TODAY, has launched the 12th annual Scholar Athlete Milk Mustache of the Year (SAMMY) Award program. Applications are available at sammy.bodybymilk.com through March 6, 2009.

The SAMMY Awards reward high school senior student athletes who demonstrate excellence in academics, athletics, community service and leadership, and include milk as part of their healthy lifestyles. Twenty-five winning teens will earn a $7,500 scholarship, attend an awards ceremony with celebrity guests at The Milk House at ESPN's Wide World of Sports in Orlando, and appear in their own milk mustache ad.

The unique scholarship educates teens on the importance of making smart choices-like drinking low-fat milk, eating right and staying active.

High school seniors interested in applying for the 2009 SAMMY Awards program should visit sammy.bodybymilk.com. All applicants are required to describe in 75 words or less how they incorporate milk into their everyday life and training regimen.

The $7,500 scholarship recognizes exceptional student athletes and promotes nutrition and good health.

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Trustees Approve Two Ph.D. Programs, Elect New Board Members And Officers

Mercer trustees at their annual meeting on December4th approved new Ph.D. programs in nursing and curriculum and instruction, welcomed 10 new board members, elected officers for 2009, and recognized an outgoing board member as a Life Trustee.

The new doctoral programs – Mercer’s third and fourth – fulfill objectives in the University’s recently-adopted 10-year strategic plan to expand Ph.D. offerings.

The Ph.D. in nursing is designed to address a critical shortage of nurse educators in Georgia, which is contributing to a shortage of nurses. According to a recent report issued by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, faculty shortages at nursing schools across the country are limiting student enrollment at a time when the demand for nurses is at its highest level. The program is expected to enroll its first students in Fall 2009 at the University’s Georgia Baptist College of Nursing in Atlanta.

The curriculum and instruction doctoral program joins an existing Ph.D. program in educational leadership (P-12 school leadership and higher education leadership tracks) — offered through Mercer’s Tift College of Education — that currently enrolls more than 100 students.

Communities across the nation are experiencing dramatic shortages of highly qualified educators who have a commitment to lifelong teaching and learning. The Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction will help address this vital need by promoting the exchange of new ideas and possibilities across university, P-12, political and community settings. The first students in the program, which will be offered on both the Macon and Atlanta campuses, are expected to enroll in Fall 2009.

Mercer’s first Ph.D. program – in pharmaceutical sciences – was launched in 1995.

New trustees elected to serve five-year terms include James A. Bishop, Sea Island; G. Marshall Butler, Forsyth; Dwight J. Davis, Atlanta; Judge Walter Homer Drake Jr., Newnan; William A. Fickling Jr., Macon; David E. Hudson, Augusta; J. Reg Murphy, Sea Island; Rev. Julie Pennington-Russell, Decatur; and Judge W. Louis Sands, Albany. A.V. Elliott of Macon was elected to serve the unexpired term of Milton Ferrell, who died earlier this month and was memorialized at today’s meeting.

Judge Drake was unanimously elected to serve as chairman of the Board of Trustees for 2009. Atlanta attorney Diane Owens was elected chair of the board’s Executive Committee. Other committee chairs for 2009 include: Miriam M. (Mimi) Holland, Educational Policy Committee; Roddy J.H. Clark, University Honors Committee; Cathy Callaway Adams, Audit Committee; L. Richard Plunkett, Finance, Investment and Property Committee; Richard A. (Doc) Schneider, Development Committee; and W. Anthony (Tony) Moye, Athletics Committee.

Atlanta attorney Robert L. Steed, whose term on the board expires this month, was unanimously elected a Life Trustee, a designation only conveyed to seven individuals in the University’s 175-year history. Steed, a former chairman of the Board of Trustees, has served several terms on Mercer’s governing board. He holds undergraduate and law degrees from Mercer and was awarded an honorary doctor of laws degree by the University in 1979.

Other trustees rotating off the board this month include Malcolm S. Burgess Jr., Macon; Mary Jane Cardwell, Waycross; the Rev. James C. Elder Jr., Columbus; James H. Hall III, Virginia Beach, Va.; Robert F. Hatcher, Macon; David E. Linch, Atlanta; Howell L. Watkins II, Miami, Fla.; and H. Al Williams, Macon. Hatcher was recognized at the conclusion of the trustees meeting for his service over the past year as chairman of the board.

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Georgia High School Writing Scores Rise

Students increase score by 2 points to 219, which meets the standards set.

Georgia's High School students showed steady improvement on the state's writing test this fall.

Eighty-nine percent of students met or exceeded standards on the Georgia High School Writing Test (GHSWT) -- up one percentage point from fall, 2007. Many of Georgia's student subgroups showed dramatic gains, including English Language Learners and Students with Disabilities.

"Our high schools are doing an excellent job teaching our students the importance of writing and the results are showing on the GHSWT," said State Superintendent of Schools Kathy Cox. "Using our new curriculum, the Georgia Performance Standards, Georgia is growing a strong generation of writers and communicators."

More than 106,000 students took the GHSWT this fall, of which 96,444 were first-time test takers in grade 11. The pass rate for first-time test takers was 91 percent.

The pass rate for English Language Learners was 65 percent, a jump of 12 percentage points from last year. The pass rate for Students with Disabilities was 60 percent, an increase of five percentage points. The scores of African-American (85 percent) and Hispanic (82 percent) students each rose two percentage points, while the pass rate of white students held steady at 93 percent.

"We are seeing high achievement and improvement across the board on the writing test," Superintendent Cox said.

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Saturday, December 6, 2008

Clayton State's School of Business on Radio Sunday

Jacob Chacko and Mike Tidwell will be discussing The School of Business and Clayton State University on The Joel Miller Radio Show tomorrow (Sunday) from 2 p.m. -3 p.m. (EST).

The station is WCFO-AM and can be found at 1160 AM. You can also listen live online at http://www.newstalk1160.com/.

This is the station that carries other business and social-oriented programs like Lou Dobbs, Bill O’Reilly, Dr. Laura, Dennis Miller, and Notre Dame Football.

Friday, December 5, 2008

TCSG State Board Reaffirms Technical College Merger Plan

The state board of the Technical College System of Georgia voted today to reaffirm the system's plan to will merge the administrations of 13 of the state's 33 state technical colleges.

The 13 colleges will become six colleges on July 1, 2009.

"The administrative mergers mean more efficient use of college resources, greater cost-effectiveness in how we administer the campuses, and improved opportunities for our first priority, which is always our students," said TCSG Board Chairman Carl Swearingen. "This transformation is vitally important if we are to build the strong and talented workforce that Georgia needs to compete in the 21st Century global economy."

The board's vote follows a decision made during their November meeting to examine the merger concerns that were raised by a state legislator.

The following technical colleges will be merged under the plan:

- Appalachian Tech, Chattahoochee Tech and North Metro Tech
- Coosa Valley Tech and Northwestern Tech
- East Central Tech and Valdosta Tech
- Flint River Tech and Griffin Tech
- Southeastern Tech and Swainsboro Tech
- West Central Tech and West Georgia Tech

New names for the merged colleges are still to be determined by the combined colleges' boards of directors.

The TCSG state board also voted today to approve Commissioner Ron Jackson's selections for the leadership of three of the merged colleges.

Dr. Bobby Arnold, who is currently the president of Griffin Technical College, will be the president-designee for the combined Griffin and Flint River technical colleges. James Wheeless, currently the vice president for student affairs at Flint River Tech, was named interim president of Flint River effective January 1, 2009; he will become the campus provost in July.

Dr. Cathy Mitchell, the president of Southeastern Technical College, is the president-designee for the combined Southeastern and Swainsboro technical colleges. Larry Calhoun, president of Swainsboro Tech, will be the provost over the Swainsboro campus.

Dr. Skip Sullivan, the president of West Central Tech, will become the president-designee for the combined West Central and West Georgia technical colleges. Perrin Alford, the current interim president at West Georgia, will become the campus provost.

"Presidents Arnold, Mitchell and Sullivan are strong leaders and dedicated educators who will work closely with their provosts and guide their respective colleges through the merger process. Each is fully committed to ensuring absolute success on every campus and in every community," said Jackson.

The TCSG state board has already approved president-designees for two other mergers: Dr. Sanford Chandler over Appalachian, Chattahoochee and North Metro, and Dr. Craig McDaniel over Coosa Valley and Northwestern.

A president-designee has yet to be named for the East Central and Valdosta merger.
In other business, the state board voted to raise the technical colleges' tuition cap from 12 hours to 15 hours. Currently, full-time technical college students pay an average of $432 for 12 credit hours; they are not charged for additional credit hours.

Now, those taking between 13 and 15 credit hours will see the cost rise by as much as $108.
Two-thirds of Georgia's technical college students are taking 12 credit hours or less and will be unaffected by the increase. Of the remaining third, many will see the extra cost covered by the HOPE grant.

Less than 10% of the TCSG's quarterly enrollment, or approximately 9,000 students, will incur the additional out-of-pocket expense.

The increase will take effect beginning with the Winter Quarter 2009. It is expected to generate an extra $10 million annually for the technical college system.

Despite the credit hour increase for some students, the cost of a Georgia technical college education remains among the lowest in the nation, and most of those costs are paid for under the Georgia HOPE and federal Pell grants.
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U.S. News Media Group Names 2009 America's Best High Schools

Congratulations to Davidson Magnet School in Augusta, GA with its number 89 ranking in the nation!

Congratulations to these Georgia schools for making the list as well.

Appling County High School (Appling County)
Bowdon High School (Carroll County)
Calhoun High School (Gordon County)
Clinch County High School (Clinch County)
Columbus High School (Muscogee County)
Davidson Magnet School (Richmond County)
East Hall High School (Hall County)
Elberta Open Campus High School (Houston County)
Etowah High School (Cherokee County)
Gainesville High School (Hall County)
Greene County High School (Greene County)
Johnson Magnet (Richmond County)
Long County High School (Long County)
Margaret Harris High School (Dekalb County)
Mitchell-Baker High School (Mitchell County)
Peach County High School (Peach County)
Pierce County High School (Pierce County)
Rome High School (Floyd County)
Savannah Arts Academy (Chatham County)
Schley Middle High School (Schley County)
Seminole County Middle/High School (Seminole County)
Southside High School (Fulton County)
Telfair County High School (Telfair County)
Ware Magnet School (Ware County)
Washington-Wilkes High School (Wilkes County)
Woody Gap High/Elementary School (Union County)

/PRNewswire/ -- U.S. News Media Group today released its second annual survey of America's Best High Schools, available online at www.usnews.com/highschools and on newsstands December 8, 2008. Based on an in-depth methodology by School Evaluation Services (www.schoolmatters.com), the list recognizes more than 1,900 schools in 48 states*, up from the 1,600 schools in 40 states recognized by U.S. News in 2007. The high schools listed fall into one of four categories of distinction: Gold, Silver, Bronze, or Honorable Mention.

This year's ranking criteria include increased measures of college readiness, and the 2009 list demonstrated an 11-percent increase in the number of top-performing schools (Gold and Silver medal). This increase shows that a greater number of schools are providing students with access to college-level coursework and, more importantly, that these same students are demonstrating mastery of the coursework, which will benefit their work towards higher education.

"In just its second year, America's Best High Schools has proven to be a trusted source for educators, students, and especially parents making important decisions about their children's educational future," said Brian Kelly, editor, U.S.News & World Report. "Not only do our rankings highlight schools succeeding at the highest national level, but the Best High School package also allows communities and states to compare schools at a local level and measure why some are doing so well. This is the most comprehensive and inclusive information on hundreds of high schools nationwide."

Kelly noted the significant increase in the number of states providing information for the rankings and U.S. News' role in fostering transparency among America's most important institutions, saying, "Just as U.S. News has increased transparency in the health sector through its rankings of hospitals and health plans, and in the higher education sector through its rankings of colleges and graduate schools, its participation in the evaluation of America's high schools are helping to shine a light on how these schools prepare our children for college, and for life."

Since the release of the 2008 high school rankings, U.S. News and School Evaluation Services have developed the methodology to include the International Baccalaureate program as a measure of college readiness. In addition, an honorable mention distinction has been added to recognize schools that were able to achieve high levels of college readiness but only partially met state test performance criteria.

A high school is recognized as a top school if it:
1. Attains performance levels that exceed statistical expectations given
the school's student body, as measured by state accountability test
scores for all the school's students in the core subjects of reading
and math;
2. Achieves proficiency rates on state tests for their least advantaged
student groups that exceed state averages; and
3. Prepares its students for college, as measured by student participation
in and performance on Advanced Placement (AP) and/or International
Baccalaureate (IB) exams.



The 100 top-performing high schools were given a distinction of "Gold" and are listed numerically. The remaining 504 schools meeting all three criteria have been designated "Silver" high schools.

Additionally, 1,321 high schools were identified as "Bronze" schools for their performance on state tests. These Bronze high schools met the first two criteria of this methodology but did not meet the college-readiness criteria based on AP or IB exams. While AP and IB are by far the most widely used college-level programs in the country, there are schools that focus on providing students with access to alternative college-level programs.

Finally, 17 schools received honorable mentions. As previously described, the "honorable mention" distinction recognizes schools that were able to achieve high levels of college readiness but only partially met state test performance criteria.

Using this methodology, more than 21,000 high schools were analyzed for inclusion in the 2009 edition. Highlights of analytical findings include:

-- 604 high schools met all three of the demanding top schools criteria
(Gold and Silver categories)
-- Nearly 10 percent of top schools have minority populations of 75
percent or greater
-- Five percent of the top schools are charter schools
-- More than 75 percent of the top schools have open admissions
-- 20 percent of the top schools are located in large cities (populations
of 250,000 or more)

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