Monday, April 20, 2009

Governor Perdue Announces Final Recommendations of Tough Choices or Tough Times Working Group

Governor Sonny Perdue today announced the final recommendations of the Tough Choices or Tough Times working group. The working group was tasked with investigating innovative ways to create long-term, comprehensive education reform to make Georgia more globally competitive. The group, which was chaired by Dr. Charles Knapp and Dean Alford, reviewed the national Tough Choices or Tough Times report to determine how Georgia might improve its education practices.

“These recommendations provide a useful framework for addressing critical areas such as teacher preparation and gauging when high school students are ready for additional challenges,” said Governor Perdue. “I applaud the working group for taking a long-term view of improvements needed in our education system and providing recommendations to produce high achieving students prepared for the 21st century.”
Key findings of the working group fall into three area
s of recommendations; Move on When Ready, Recruiting and Retaining World Class Teachers, and Development of Students’ Analytical and Creative Problem-Solving Skills.

“We hope these recommendations will bring about a serious and productive debate on these important issues,” said Dr. Charles Knapp. “There is much work left to be done.”

In addition to receiving the group’s findings, the Governor also asked the group to continue to meet and develop more recommendations for transforming education in Georgia.

“If Georgia is to compete in the global economy we have to increase graduation rates and increase the number of students in our post secondary programs,” said Dean Alford. “This work was intended to begin a serious dialogue on how we must change the ‘educational model’ to make major strides in the outcome of our educational system.”

In addition to receiving the group’s findings, the Governor also asked the group to continue to meet and develop more recommendations for transforming education in Georgia.

“If Georgia is to compete in the global economy we have to increase graduation rates and increase the number of students in our post secondary programs,” said Dean Alford. “This work was intended to begin a serious dialogue on how we must change the ‘educational model’ to make major strides in the outcome of our educational system.”

Complete findings of the working group are attached and will be posted at http://www.gaosa.org/toughtimes.aspx. A summary of the findings is below:

Move On When Ready Recommendations:

A. Adopt a statewide definition of “ready”.
B. Identify an appropriate assessment or method to determine students’ readiness.
C. Ensure that all students in Georgia have access to post-secondary options in high school.
D. Either (a) create a comprehensive community college system by merging the technical colleges and two-year colleges so there is a seamless entry point for all students, or, if the two systems are to maintain their separate identities, (b) create and enforce pathways for student transfer between institutions and systems by forming comprehensive articulation agreements that clearly establish procedures governing the transfer of credits from one institution or system to another and (c) ensure that all duplication of teaching and administrative resources between TCSG and USG institutions has been removed.
E. Determine an appropriate funding mechanism for dual enrollment that allows the funding to follow the students and incentivizes the sending institution to promote the effort.
F. Explore public/private partnerships to fund several demonstration sites around the state.

Recruiting and Retaining World Class Teachers Recommendation:

A. Prepare secondary teachers first in a core subject area (e.g. biology, history). Teach pedagogy skills through traditional Colleges of Education, technical colleges, or private providers.
B. Encourage and support the PSC’s work to make alternative routes to teaching more accessible through a value-added teacher evaluation system, teacher leadership programs, and restructuring the teacher compensation system.

Development of students’ analytical and creative problem-solving skills

A. Refine the Georgia Performance Standards and corresponding assessments to further emphasize problem solving and critical thinking skills.

Members of the working group included:

· Dr. Charles Knapp – (Co-Chair), Chair of the New Commission on the Skills of the American Workforce (which produced the Tough Choices or Tough Times report), President Emeritus of UGA, and Chairman of the East Lake Foundation
· Dean Alford – (Co-Chair), Chair of the IE2 task force, former state legislator, former State Board of Education member, current member of the Technical College System of Georgia Board, businessman
· Julia Bernath – Board Member, Fulton County Schools
· Veronica Biggins – Senior Partner , HNCL Executive and Board Search Firm
· Dr. Michael Bull – Superintendent, Glynn County Schools
· Representative Brooks Coleman – Chair, Georgia House Education Committee
· Tim Connell – President, Georgia Student Finance Commission
· Kathy Cox – State Superintendent of Schools
· Stephanie Laverne Haynes - Master Teacher/Academic Coach, Clifton Ridge Middle School, Jones County
· Kelly Henson – Executive Secretary, Georgia Professional Standards Commission
· Dr. Susan Herbst – Executive Vice-Chancellor, University System of Georgia
· Molly Howard - Principal, Jefferson County High School, 2007 National School Principal of the Year
· Ron Jackson – Commissioner, Technical College System of Georgia
· Representative Jan Jones – Chair, Georgia House Education Appropriations Sub-Committee
· Senator Dan Moody – Chair, Georgia Senate Education Appropriations Sub-Committee
· Jose Perez – State Board of Education member
· Jennifer Rippner Buck – Senior Policy Advisory, Education Counsel LLC
· Dr. Holly Robinson - Commissioner, Bright From the Start – Department of Early Care and Learning
· Dr. Ben Scafidi – Associate Professor of Economics, Georgia College and State University
· Ed Smith – Superintendent, Troup County Schools
· Carl Swearingen – Chair of the Technical College System of Georgia Board, businessman
· Senator Dan Weber – Chair, Georgia Senate Education Committee
· Alvin Wilbanks – Superintendent, Gwinnett County Schools
· Kathleen Boyle Mathers – Executive Director, Governor’s Office of Student Achievement
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