Monday, August 31, 2009

UGA to host young students at Duke TIP Scholar Weekend Sept. 19-20

As many as 100 of the brightest middle and high school students in Georgia and nearby states will get their first taste of college courses during a Scholar Weekend Sept. 19-20 hosted by the University of Georgia College of Education’s Torrance Center for Creativity and Talent Development in partnership with Duke University and the Georgia Center for Continuing Education.

The UGA Scholar Weekend, directed by UGA’s Torrance Center for Creativity and Talent Development, is part of the Duke Talent Identification Program to identify academically talented children and provide resources to nurture and challenge each child’s abilities.

TIP scholars are identified through standardized test scores and invited to take the SAT or ACT in the 7th grade as part of the program. Those scoring exceptionally well are then invited to attend TIP’s Scholar Weekends where they are exposed to interesting and challenging topics not typically covered in middle or high school curricula.

This is the first of three Scholar Weekends planned this fall at UGA, which is one of only eight locations in the nation selected to be hosts. The second Scholar Weekend is scheduled for Oct. 17-18, and the third program will be held Dec. 5-6. Other sites include the University of South Carolina, Appalachian State University, New College in Sarasota, Fla., the University of Houston, the University of Kansas, Texas Christian University and Duke University’s main campus.

“The opportunities this program creates for UGA and its faculty are incredible,” said Elizabeth Connell, coordinator of educational programs in the Torrance Center. “Not only are exceptional students from around the state and surrounding states visiting our campus, they are learning from talented UGA faculty and graduate students, and experiencing the vast resources available through the university. It’s an excellent opportunity for recruitment of some of the best and brightest students to UGA’s programs.”

At TIP Scholar Weekends, students are introduced to the collegiate experience by participating in two days of intense study in one of the provided courses taught by UGA professors and Athens area school teachers. The overall goal is to enhance student skills, enrich the learning experience and foster an interest in college as well as specific collegiate majors.

The courses available for the Sept. 19 Scholar Weekend include “Introductory Robotics,” “Architecture: From Playhouses to Mansions,” “A Picture’s Worth a Thousand Words: Creative Writing and Photography,” “To Climb the Great Wall: Fun with Mandarin Chinese,” “CSI: Plant Pathology,” “Biofuels: The Next Step?,” “Rube Goldberg Challenge,” “Psychology, Human Experience and the U.S. Military,” and “The Physics of the Nintendo Wii.”

Tuition for the Scholar Weekend on Sept. 19-20 is $395 for day students and $425 for overnight students. Some financial aid is available. Registration ends Sept. 1.

For more information on these programs and a printable registration sheet, see the Torrance Center’s Web site at or call 706/542-5104.

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Thursday, August 27, 2009

NASA Accepting Applications for Aeronautics Scholarship Awards

/PRNewswire/ -- NASA's Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate will begin accepting scholarship applications on Sept. 1, 2009, for the 2010 academic year. The application deadline is Jan. 11, 2010.

"These scholarships are a fantastic way to support our brightest students and encourage them to finish their education, expose them to NASA's research programs and inspire them to pursue a career in aeronautics," said Jaiwon Shin, associate administrator for the Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington.

NASA expects to award 20 undergraduate and five graduate scholarships to students in aeronautics or related fields. Undergraduate students entering their second year of study will receive up to $15,000 per year for two years and the opportunity to receive a $10,000 stipend by interning at a NASA research center during the summer. Graduate students will receive up to $35,000 annually for up to three years, with an opportunity to receive a $10,000 stipend interning at a NASA research center up to two consecutive summers.

Students who have not committed to a specific academic institution or program still may apply. However, if accepted, they must be admitted by fall 2010 into a suitable aeronautical engineering program or related field of study at an accredited U.S. university. All applicants must be U.S. citizens. Scholarship money may be used for tuition and other school-related expenses.

NASA's Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate conducts cutting-edge, fundamental research in traditional and emerging disciplines. The intent is to help transform the nation's air transportation system and to support development of future air and space vehicles. Goals include improving airspace capacity and flexibility; aviation safety and aircraft performance; reducing overall noise, engine emissions and fuel usage.

For details about this scholarship program, including how to apply, visit:

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GSU awarded $250,000 to support educational opportunities for military vets

The U.S. Department of Education has awarded Georgia State University a $250,000 grant to operate a Veterans Upward Bound program to help military navigate leaving the battlefield and heading to the classroom as they leave the service.

Georgia State is the one of only seven colleges and universities in the nation to land and share in the award totaling $1.75 million. GSU is the only in Georgia.

“Georgia State has a long tradition of supporting veterans,” said GSU President Mark Becker. “This grant will assist in furthering the work we do for a most deserving segment of our society – the men and women who tirelessly serve our nation and protect our freedoms. We are most appreciative that the U.S. Department of Education selected Georgia State to provide support through the Veterans Upward Bound program for those who have served in the U.S. military.”

If approved by U.S. Congress, GSU’s award could total $1 million over the next four years.

The program will support military veterans with academic skills, refresher courses, counseling, and mentoring, and tutoring, among its services with the goal of increasing the rate of enrollment and degree completion.

“Offering this assistance is our responsibility and our duty to the men and women who served in our nation’s military,” U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said in a release. “Helping them access college is good for the nation that they will continue to serve as productive and participating members of the civilian community.”

Veterans Upward Bound emerged out of the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 and it is one of eight educational opportunity outreach programs designed to support and motivate students from disadvantaged backgrounds, including those with disabilities.

Georgia State, a leader in the enrollment of military veterans, will launch its Veterans Upward Bound program on campus on Sept. 1, said Everett Boyer, who will serve as project director. The program will operate out of the Office of Educational Opportunity and TRIO programs.

“This is a tremendous opportunity,” said Boyer. “With the new GI bill, this is an opportunity to help veterans re-enter the mainstream and transition from military to civilian life.”

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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Agnes Scott, Mercer Partner to Produce More Doctors for Rural Georgia

While the health care industry as a whole is suffering from a shortage of family practice and primary care doctors, rural communities face an even greater challenge in attracting qualified doctors. Only about 10 percent of doctors practice in rural America although around 25 percent of the nation’s population lives in a rural area, according to the federal Office of Rural Health Policy.

Now, Agnes Scott College and Mercer University are partnering to combat this trend.

In an effort to increase the number of prospective medical students pursuing careers in rural medicine, Agnes Scott and Mercer University School of Medicine have agreed to link Agnes Scott’s Post-Baccalaureate Pre-Medical Program with the medical school program. Students admitted to the Post-Bac Pre-Med Program who meet the requirements of the linkage agreement will be assured early acceptance into Mercer University School of Medicine.

To qualify for the Mercer linkage program, students must enter Agnes Scott’s Post-Bac Pre-Med program in June, be residents of the State of Georgia and be willing to practice primary care in rural or underserved Georgia.

“There’s a clear need for qualified physicians in rural communities,” said Dr. Maurice Clifton, associate dean of admissions and student affairs at the Mercer University School of Medicine. “Our partnership with Agnes Scott helps identify outstanding students with a non-traditional background who, after rigorous science preparation, will be ready for the medical school curriculum and who will go on to practice in rural and underserved communities of Georgia.”

The program’s main advantage for Agnes Scott Post-Bac Pre-Med students is that it allows them to enroll in medical school immediately after successfully completing the program, said Nancy Devino, director of Agnes Scott’s Science Center for Women and director of the Post-Bac Pre-Med Program. The traditional medical school application process can take up to a year, she added.

Agnes Scott’s Post-Bac Pre-Med Program is designed to help students with non-science backgrounds prepare for medical school by providing them with the prerequisite laboratory science courses. The one-year certificate program is the only one offered by a liberal arts college in Georgia.

“This partnership enhances the credibility of our program and provides outside validation of the quality of students who complete the program,” Devino said.

Once Agnes Scott Post-Bac Pre-Med students have been selected to join the linkage program, they must maintain an overall grade point average of 3.5 or greater in the program, complete all prerequisite science courses required by Mercer, complete all Agnes Scott Post-Bac Pre-Med Program requirements and earn an acceptable score on the MCAT. Students must also continue to demonstrate the personal, ethical and professional qualities necessary to become members of the student body of Mercer’s School of Medicine and fulfill their roles as future physicians.

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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

SAT: Georgia's Minority Students Outperform Nation

Minority students in Georgia public schools continue to outperform African-American and Hispanic students across the country on the SAT.

But, the College Board's 2009 SAT report also shows that Georgia must remain committed to closing the achievement gap and preparing all students for the 21st century.

"It is good news that our African-American and Hispanic students are doing better than their peers nationally," said State Superintendent of Schools Kathy Cox. "But Georgia is a very diverse state and if we are serious about raising our SAT scores, we must be fully committed to closing the achievement gap.”

Overall, Georgia, like the nation, saw a slight drop in the SAT scores of 2009 high school graduates.

Georgia's public, private and home school students scored 1,460 on the SAT, down six points from 2008. The national average was 1,509, down two points from the previous year. Public school students scored 1,450 on the exam, down three points from 2008. The national average score was 1,493, down two points from the previous year.

The Need to Close the Gap

The 2009 SAT report clearly shows that African-American and Hispanic students in Georgia's public schools are outperforming those subgroups nationally.

- African-American students in Georgia public schools scored 1,274, which was 10 points higher than the national average for African-American public school students (1,264).

- Hispanic public school students in Georgia scored a 1,412, which was 66 points higher than the national average (1,346).

The difference between the scores of African-American and white public school students -- called "the achievement gap" -- is 274 points in Georgia, which is 34 points smaller than the achievement gap nationwide (308). The gap between the scores of Hispanic and white public school students in Georgia is 136 points, 90 points lower than the nation (226).

However, Superintendent Cox pointed out that Georgia has very high minority participation on the SAT and the achievement gap impacts our overall SAT scores more than most other states.
“We certainly should be pleased that our achievement gap is smaller than the nation’s, but we should not be satisfied with 274 and 136 point gaps,” Superintendent Cox said. “As a state, we have made progress on many state and national tests, such as the ACT and the National Assessment of Educational Progress. But clearly we must maintain – and expand – our commitment to providing all students a world-class education.”

Superintendent Cox said a lot of work is already being done. For instance, the state has been pushing to increase the number of students who are taking Advanced Placement (AP) classes and the 2009 data shows that it is working. The number of students taking AP classes jumped more than 11 percent, overall. The biggest increase in enrollment was among African-American students (+16.2%) and Hispanic students (+19.3 percent). This is important because students who take even one year of AP classes in any subject will score higher on the SAT.

“Our school districts have been working to engage more of our minority students in rigorous classes,” Superintendent Cox said. “But I want us to come together and agree to redouble our efforts to close the achievement gap in Georgia once and for all. I am confident that working hand-in-hand we can make it happen.”

Over the next several weeks, Superintendent Cox said she will be in contact with local school districts, especially those with a high minority enrollment.

Raising Math Achievement

Superintendent Cox pointed out that, overall, Georgia trails the national average on the mathematics portion of the SAT by 24 points, which is far more than the state is trailing in reading (11 points) and writing (14 points).

"If we are going to improve student achievement, including our SAT scores, then we must be serious about improving math achievement in Georgia," Superintendent Cox said. "With our new curriculum, we are making sure that all students are getting a strong foundation in mathematics that will prepare them not only for the SAT, but for the colleges and careers of the 21st century."

The 2009 SAT Report to the Nation reflects the scores of last year's senior class. None of those students were taught using the state's new math curriculum, the Georgia Performance Standards (GPS). Implementation of the math GPS began with sixth-graders in 2005 and has been phased in one grade per year. Students in the class of 2012 will be the first graduating class to have been fully instructed in GPS mathematics during secondary school.

High Participation and Ongoing Analysis

Georgia remains one of 24 "high participation" states, where more than 40 percent of the students take the SAT. In Georgia, 71 percent of all students took the SAT, much higher than the national participation rate of 46 percent.

While overall SAT participation in Georgia went up slightly this year, participation in Georgia public schools dropped more than eight percent. Meanwhile, the number of public school students taking the ACT increased over 11 percent in 2009. (ACT RESULTS)

The state continues to offer all high school students free access to the College Board’s Official SAT Online Course. In 2008, students who used the course scored 48 points higher than those who did not.

“If you have a high school student, get them enrolled in this course today and make sure they start using it,” Superintendent Cox said. “This is an incredibly valuable tool that has a big impact on SAT performance.” For more information, go to:

The SAT is a college entrance exam that is developed, administered and scored by the College Board. The SAT is designed to test the subject matter learned by students in high school and the critical thinking skills necessary to succeed in college. The test has three sections – critical reading, mathematics and writing – each worth 800 points, for a highest possible score of 2,400.

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NEH Awards Grant to Mercer for Intensive Course on Southern History for Teachers

The National Endowment for the Humanities has awarded Mercer University $215,000 for an institute for high school teachers in summer 2010. The institute will be a five-week course on Southern history, titled “Cotton Culture in the South from the Civil War to the Civil Rights Movement,” and will be open to 22 high school teachers from across the country.

The institute begins in July 2010 and will be directed by Dr. Sarah E. Gardner, associate professor and chair of history and director of Mercer’s Southern Studies Program. Dr. Douglas Thompson, associate professor of interdisciplinary studies and Southern studies, and Dr. David A. Davis, assistant professor of English, will serve as the institute’s faculty. The institute will also include a number of guest faculty who are experts in Southern history and culture.

“The institute will create an engaged learning community of high school teachers, Mercer faculty and visiting experts who will share ideas about an extremely complex and often poorly understood aspect of Southern history and culture,” Dr. Davis said.

The NEH announced the grant last week as part of its Institutes for School Teachers program. The project was also selected for recognition as part of the NEH’s “We the People” Initiative, which funds programs “designed to encourage and enhance the teaching, study and understanding of American history, culture and democratic principles.”

“It was extremely rewarding to earn this grant with our first submission. Dr. Davis and Dr. Thompson did a wonderful job to create a curriculum that not only met the institute standards, but also earned recognition as a ‘We the People’ project,” Dr. Gardner said. “The NEH sees its ‘We the People’ initiative as a leader in ‘bringing about a renaissance in knowledge about American history and principles among all our citizens,’ so its recognition of our summer institute as playing a vital role in that mission is quite an honor.”

Dr. Thompson said that Mercer has long been a leading program for Southern studies at the undergraduate level, and bringing high school teachers to campus to experience the rigors of the program will be an excellent showcase for the program.

“This NEH grant will provide us a way to reach out to teachers to provide quality continuing education in the areas of history and literature and to highlight what Southern studies at Mercer has to offer their high school students,” Dr. Thompson said.

The institute is a natural for Mercer because of its history with Southern studies and because of Macon’s history, said Dr. Davis.

“The teachers participating in the institute will study the South’s history and culture during the crucial hundred years between the Civil War and the Civil Rights Movement through the lens of cotton, and they will see the connections between history, economics, labor, literature, religion and art,” Dr. Davis said. “We hope the institute will enhance the way high school teachers understand and explain Southern history and culture to their students, who will then better understand the complicated legacy of the cotton economy.”

The NEH grant is part of its Landmarks of American History and Culture: Summer Seminars and Institutes for School Teachers, which supports national faculty development programs in the humanities for school teachers. The seminars and institutes range from two to six weeks each and focus on significant humanities topics, texts and issues.

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Friday, August 21, 2009

'The Number Two Pencil Solution': One Public School Teacher's Fight to Fend off Forces Bent on Destroying Public Education for Good

/PRNewswire/ -- Author Harry Ernest Fitch is proud to announce the release of his new book, "The Number Two Pencil Solution" (published by iUniverse), a book that takes readers inside the ever-changing face of the U.S. public education system. Follow along as Dan Wilder, a public school English teacher, dedicated to overseeing merit and achievement in his language arts students, interacts with many of the new mandates and policies created by the likes of the No Child Left Behind Act. Discover for yourself how these new policies make it more of a challenge for educators to teach in the public school system.

From ever-increasing regulations and mandates, to opponents of public school funding, to rigid administrators and indulgent parents, Wilder faces a mounting battle against a relentless bureaucracy that he believes he fights alone, especially as he deals with his disintegrating marriage to Mary Elizabeth, a third grade teacher.

"Every child can learn!" The words burst from his lips in unbridled anger. "Let us do our jobs! The effective way we know how! The way education is headed, every child will pass. But their so-called success will be hollow. And the so-called brighter students will lose motivation. That's what dumbing down like this does."

As Dan Wilder senses the education he loves is vanishing and may be a symptom of the inevitability of change, he revisits his hometown, where he realizes the futility of his situation, leading him to commit his final symbolic act of defiance.

Dedicated to all teachers who strive for excellence against the rising tide of mediocrity within public education, Fitch welcomes all readers to read his book and realize what our underpaid and overworked staff of public educator's face each and every day they set foot into their classrooms.

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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Graduate Studies Open House Rescheduled to September 15

The Clayton State University School of Graduate Studies has re-scheduled its next monthly informational Open House. Originally planned for Tuesday, Sept. 8, the Open House will now be held on Tuesday, Sept. 15. The time and location remain the same -- from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. in room 101 of the University’s Harry S. Downs Center on the main campus in Morrow.

The Open House will give prospective graduate students a chance to learn more about the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies, Master of Arts in Teaching English, Master of Arts in Teaching Mathematics, Master of Business Administration, Master of Health Administration, and Master of Science in Nursing. The Clayton State School of Graduate Studies regularly holds open houses on the second Tuesday evening of each month.

The mission of graduate education at Clayton State is to stimulate, encourage and support efforts that build national distinction and that are characterized by innovation and by increasing contribution to the social, cultural, economic, health and technological development needs of Georgia and the nation. The University is committed to excellence, innovation and collaboration in research and in the preparation of professionals for the highest levels of practice.

Graduate education prepares: scholars in the arts, humanities, and the sciences who maintain and advance our understanding of the human condition; scientists, engineers, and other professionals needed by industry, government, and universities to conduct the nation's research and development; and scholars in all disciplines who become the faculties of our colleges and universities.

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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Clayton State University Department of Campus Life Presents Diversity and Multicultural Conference

The Clayton State University Department of Campus Life will be sponsoring its first Diversity and Multicultural Conference for students, faculty, staff and the public on Friday, Oct. 16, in the Student Activities Center Ballroom.

The Diversity and Multicultural Conference is a one-day event from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. designed to address the topics of cultural differences, bias behaviors and attitudes, privilege, power, race, social and world issues. Author Tim Wise will be the keynote speaker. The learning outcomes of the conference are to:

• Increase participants understanding of their own identity and culture.
• Help participants learn effective strategies to enhance communication and cross-cultural understanding in culturally diverse settings.
• Increase understanding of issues faced by underrepresented or oppressed groups, such as students of color, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students, and students with disabilities.
• Empower participants to challenge unfair, unjust, or uncivil behavior of other individuals or groups.
• Understand the impact of diversity in society.
• Learn how to integrate diversity into the classroom, student organization, and workplace.
• Become culturally competent leaders.

For more information, contact Lakiesa Cantey at

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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Georgia State Enrolls more than 30,000 Students this Fall

Georgia State University expects to enroll more than 30,000 students for the fall 2009 semester, breaking the institution’s records for undergraduate and graduate students.

As of Aug. 19, Georgia State had 22,587 undergraduates and 7,676 graduate students enrolled for a total of 30,263, an increase of 7 percent over last fall.

The overall student body for fall 2008 was 28,175 graduate and undergraduate students.

“We are delighted to enroll more than 30,000 students for the first time in our 96-year history,” Georgia State President Mark P. Becker said. “This milestone reflects both improvements in recruiting high ability students and the university’s efforts to provide the best possible educational experience in the heart of downtown Atlanta. Georgia State University is on the rise, and people are noticing.”

GSU will welcome its largest freshmen class this fall with 2,965 students, about 200 students more than last year. As the number of freshmen increase, so does their academic ability.

The fall 2009 freshman class has an average SAT score of 1089, up eight points from last fall, and a GPA of 3.35, compared with 3.32, the average GPA from fall 2008.

“We not only attracted more students overall but we’ve also seen an uptick in the quality of the pool, in terms of their GPA, SAT scores and academic accomplishments,” said Scott Burke, director of Undergraduate Admissions at GSU. “That’s attributed to a greater number of students interested in attending Georgia State and our recruitment efforts to bring higher quality students to the institution.”

The number of graduate students is increasing as well, with a record 2,020 new graduates students enrolled. Despite the economic downturn, students continue to enroll in GSU’s professional school graduate programs.

“Students are particularly seeking out graduate programs with assistantships and teaching opportunities,” said Timothy Renick, GSU associate provost and chief enrollment officer. “Georgia State is becoming a top choice for graduate students.”

The university also enrolled over 350 new international students, the highest number since before the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Like many public institutions, Georgia State is seeing an increase in student enrollments because of its affordability, an important factor in a recession. However, the university received a 21 percent increase in applications for the fall semester. Nationally, the average increase in applications to public institutions was 5 percent.

Over the last decade, GSU has made great strides, transforming from its commuter school roots into a major urban research university that meets the needs of both traditional and non-traditional students.

The new Panther football program, set to begin in fall 2010, and new construction projects, such as the Freshman Hall and the multi-million dollar science center, have created a buzz about GSU.

Georgia State will welcome students with a variety of activities this month.

New and returning students will have more than 40 events to enjoy in this year’s Panther Welcome program, which runs through Aug. 28. Events include GSU Idol, a casino night, movies, sessions on study tips and many more with activities and events designed to get students acquainted with campus services, involved in organizations and meeting new friends. For a complete list, visit

GSU students also can easily find answers to questions at the Mega One Stop Shop, held through Aug. 21 in the Student Center Ballroom. The shop is a centralized enrollment services center with advisors from academic programs, housing, financial aid, class registration, student accounts and more. It will be open 8:30 a.m. to 5:15 p.m. on Aug. 20-21. For more information, visit

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Emory Ranked 17th by U.S. News & World Report

For the 17th consecutive year, Emory University is among the top 20 national universities in U.S. News & World Report's annual "America's Best Colleges," ranking 17th. Emory's Goizueta Business School was 13th in the rankings of undergraduate business programs.

"While external recognition is gratifying, the true measure of a university is revealed in the work of its faculty, staff and students," said Provost Earl Lewis. "Emory is committed to combining its strengths and resources in pursuit of academic excellence in teaching, research and quality of the student experience."

Emory's rankings on the survey's components included 12th place in faculty resources, ahead of Stanford (14th), Johns Hopkins (22nd) and several other highly ranked universities. The faculty resources indicator is mainly derived from faculty compensation and class size distribution.

Emory was ranked 11th in the "Top Up-and-Coming Schools," a list of colleges and universities singled out in a survey of experts as having recently made the most promising and innovative changes in academics, faculty, students, campus or facilities.

Emory also was cited for its economic diversity, ranking 6th among national universities, with 14 percent of undergraduates receiving need-based Pell grants. In 2007, the university initiated Emory Advantage, a program of financial aid to help lower- and middle-income students and families reduce debt during the undergraduate years.

Emory ranked 12th in alumni giving, with an average of 37 percent of alumni contributing to the school over a two-year period.

The rankings appear today at

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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

ACT Participation Jumps, Scores Remain Steady

Black, Hispanic and White Students Outscore Peers Nationally

Georgia’s ACT scores remained steady in 2009 even as participation on the college entrance exam jumped by nearly nine percent in one year.

About 40 percent of Georgia’s 2009 graduating seniors took the ACT and had an average composite score of 20.6, the same as last year. The national average composite score was 21.1, also the same as 2008, according to ACT's annual report. Georgia seniors were tied for 40th on the ACT, up from 41st in 2008 and 47th in 2005.

“Even with a dramatic increase in participation, Georgia’s ACT scores held onto the gains we’ve made the past few years and our national rank improved,” said State Superintendent of Schools Kathy Cox.

Superintendent Cox pointed out that when the scores are broken down by race, Georgia students are actually outscoring the nation across the board. According to the 2009 ACT report:

- Georgia’s African American students had an average composite score of 17.4, higher than the national average of 16.9.

- Georgia’s Hispanic students had an average composite score of 20.0, higher than the national average of 18.7
- Georgia’s Caucasian students had an average composite score of 22.6, higher than the national average of 22.2

“When you get behind the numbers, you can see that Georgia students are actually outperforming their peers from across the nation,” Superintendent Cox said. “However, Georgia must remain focused and determined to provide all students with a high quality education so that we can close the achievement gap and prepare our students for the 21st century.”

The ACT is a curriculum-based achievement test designed to measure college readiness and preparation. The ACT includes four separate exams in English, reading, mathematics and science. There is also an optional writing portion. The exam is scored on a scale from 0 to 36.

Readiness and Rigor

The report provides strong evidence that Georgia is making the right moves in education by setting higher standards and raising expectations.

According to the ACT, 19 percent of Georgia seniors demonstrated college-readiness in all four areas of the test, the same as last year. Nationally, about 23 percent of ACT test-takers demonstrated college-readiness, also unchanged from 2008.

The ACT has identified six specific steps that states can take to better prepare their students for college and careers. Those recommendations include adopting a rigorous core curriculum for all students, establishing a longitudinal data system and defining college-and-career readiness.

"The good news is that Georgia is already doing everything the ACT recommends and much more," said Superintendent Cox. "I know we are on the right path for education in Georgia and we are already seeing the results. But I am confident that in the not-too-distant future, Georgia will see even greater gains in student achievement."

Growing Numbers

The number of seniors taking the ACT has increased to over 36,000 -- up more than 50 percent since 2005. The number of African-American students taking the ACT has nearly doubled in that time with 11,759 of last year's seniors having taken the exam.

"More Georgia students take the SAT, but the numbers are getting closer," said Superintendent Cox. Additionally, she said, fewer students are taking the SAT a second or third time. Last year, about 55 percent of Georgia students took the SAT more than once, down eight points since 2005. Superintendent Cox said it appears that instead of taking the SAT a second time, some students are taking the ACT.

"We must make sure our students are ready for whatever exam they choose to take," Superintendent Cox said. “We know that our teachers, students and school communities are working harder than ever to make that happen.”

SAT scores will be released August 25 by the College Board.


- Georgia's ACT Report:
- National ACT Report:


- To download school and district scores, see this press release online at:


NOTE: The score for schools and district with 10 or fewer test-takers are not included.

TOP ACT HIGH SCHOOLS (average composite score)

District High School Score

MOST IMPROVED ACT SCHOOLS (one-year change, average composite score)

District High School Score Increase


TOP ACT SCHOOL DISTRICTS (average composite score)

District Score

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Fayette is a Top Performer on ACT

Just released 2009 ACT test scores show that Fayette County’s high school seniors are among the most prepared for college-level coursework in the state and nation.

Among the top performing school systems in Georgia, Fayette posted the highest composite score, 22.5, compared to the number of students tested, 1,027. Only two school systems posted higher scores than Fayette but with fewer students taking the test. Forsyth County posted 23.1 with 772 students tested and Heard County posted 23.2 with six students tested. Oconee County had the same score as Fayette but with only 190 students tested.

In comparison to state and national composite scores, state schools scored 20.1 and schools nationwide scored 21.1. That puts Fayette 1.9 points ahead of the state’s composite and 1.4 points ahead of the nation.

The number of Fayette’s seniors taking the test has increased to over 1,020 – up more than 80 percent since 2005. Compared to last year, the number of test takers jumped nearly 11 percent.

The ACT consists of curriculum-based tests of educational development in English, mathematics, reading and science designed to measure the skills needed for success in the first year of college coursework.

What the College Rankings Won't Tell You

/PRNewswire/ -- How much will it cost? How is it ranked? And how hard is it to get in? Many college guides and rankings answer these questions. But there is one question that none of them even ask: What will students learn?

A new, free website for parents and students,, does just that.

Launched today by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, will be featured in a full-page ad in U.S. News & World Report's 2010 college rankings, which are released tomorrow. The website evaluates colleges and universities based on their general education curricula: the core courses aimed at providing a strong foundation of knowledge. assigns each institution a grade from "A" to "F" based on how many of the following seven core subjects it requires: Composition, Mathematics, Science, Economics, Foreign Language, Literature, and American Government or History. Only a handful get A's.

"Employers are increasingly dissatisfied with college graduates who lack the basic knowledge and skills expected of any educated person," said ACTA president Anne D. Neal. "If our students are to compete successfully in the global marketplace, we simply can't leave their learning up to chance. As it is, thousands are paying dearly for a thin and patchy education."

Mel Elfin, founding editor of U.S. News & World Report's college rankings, praised the website as "an invaluable and unique additional resource for parents." "By focusing on what students are getting in the classroom, this new resource highlights what in the long run is far more important than the name of the institution on a graduate's diploma," said Elfin.

ACTA simultaneously released a printed report on general education, also entitled What Will They Learn?, which grades 100 leading colleges and universities in the same manner as the website. The low marks received by many institutions show students are graduating without math, science, and other fundamentals and underscore the urgent need for parents, students, and policymakers to focus on what colleges expect of their students.

How do the 100 colleges and universities fare?

-- 42 institutions receive a "D" or an "F" for requiring two or fewer
-- 5 institutions receive an "A" for requiring six subjects: Brooklyn
College, Texas A&M, UT-Austin, University of Arkansas, and West Point.
No institution requires all seven.
-- Paying a lot doesn't necessarily get you a lot: Average tuition at the
11 schools that require no subjects is $37,700. At the 5 schools that
get an "A", it's $5,400.
-- "Flagship" state universities do a markedly better job with general
education (average grade of "C") than the top liberal arts colleges
and national universities (with an "F" average) while charging much
lower tuition and fees.

Which important subjects are not being required?

-- Only 2 out of 100 require economics (University of Alaska-Fairbanks &
West Point)
-- Only 11 out of 100 require American government or history
-- Barely half -- 53 out of 100 -- require mathematics

"This study demonstrates that our colleges and universities have abdicated their responsibility to direct their students to the most important subjects," said Neal. "No eighteen-year-old, even the brightest, should have to determine which combination of courses comprises a comprehensive education. But most colleges are offering nothing more than a 'do-it-yourself' education."

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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Charter Schools Not "Struggling" Financially

Contrary to recent media report, study does not say state’s Start-Up charters are “struggling”

A study released last week by the Fiscal Research Center at Georgia State University found that the financial health of the state’s charter schools are mixed, which is counter to headlines that appeared in media reports about the study.

The study examined the financial stability of the 25 Independent Start-Up charter schools in Georgia during the 2006-2007 school year, the most recent time frame where complete financial data was available. Independent Start-Up charter schools are those that operate with full autonomy from a local school district. Media report not correct Though the headline of a media report framed the study as suggesting that charter schools are “struggling” financially, this is not the case.

The study stated that the “financial health of Georgia’s start-up charter schools in the 2006-07 school year [was] mixed,” and added that most had a “positive” financial position.The report also stated incorrectly that a total of eight charter schools in Georgia had shut down for financial reasons up through the 2006-2007 school year. What the Georgia State University Study actually reported was that of eight charter schools which closed in Georgia, just four had closed mainly for financial reasons.

Also, it is significant that not one school studied during that period has closed for financial reasons in the two years since the study (2007-2008 and 2008-2009).

Independent Start-Up charters underfundedFor those Independent Start-Up charter schools that are having some difficulties, this is due in large part to the fact that charter schools are underfunded by school districts on the front end, receiving less funding than the traditional public schools in their districts – a point which was raised in the study.

Additionally, charter schools must pay for acquiring and maintaining facilities out of their per-student funding as there are little to no funds available for facility costs. Also, charter schools that provide transportation do so at tremendous expense with little to no reimbursement for this service which is routinely provided by school districts for non-charter schools.

“Unfortunately, school districts see the charter schools as independent entities that they have ‘authorized,’ and do not support those schools at the same level as their ‘own’ traditional schools,” said Dr. Tony Roberts, Chief Executive Officer of the Georgia Charter Schools Association (GCSA). “In short, school districts should support their charter schools with the full range of administrative and support services, at district expense, and charter schools need and deserve the same per-pupil funding for instruction and facilities allotted to traditional public schools.”

Start-Up charters thriving academicallyIn spite of the funding inequity, the charter school movement is flourishing in Georgia. There are currently 115 charter schools throughout the state, up from 35 just five years ago. The state’s 34 Independent Start-Up charter schools are more than holding their own in terms of student achievement. A GCSA analysis of Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) data from the 2008-2009 school year found that 82 percent of Independent Start-Up charter schools and 81 percent of all Start-Up charter schools (which includes those fully supported by a school district) made AYP, compared to the state average of 79 percent for all schools.

“The Georgia Legislature, Department of Education and Board of Education should be commended for their support of quality Start-Up charter schools,” Dr. Roberts said. “Unlike traditional public schools, charter schools are held to the ultimate standard of accountability: live up to the terms of your charter and provide your students with a quality education, or close. Indeed, this is how it should be.”

Keys to financial stability for Independent Start-Up chartersIn order to help Start-Up charters continue to thrive and provide quality educational options for students, parents and communities across the state, several initiatives should be enacted:

· There should be some form of standardization mandated at the state level for financial reporting of charter schools. Without standardization and consistency, collection of the data and oversight is – and will continue to be – problematic.

· School systems authorizing charter schools need training on appropriate oversight of the schools. The school systems should support the charter schools by providing specific feedback related to financial reporting expectations, formats, etc., and need to be held accountable for appropriate oversight.

· Charter school boards and leaders need specific training on non-profit management. The Georgia Charter Schools Association offers this training on an on-going basis as a service.

“The large majority of public charter schools in Georgia are great stewards of the public funds entrusted to them,” Dr. Roberts said. “They stretch those dollars to achieve higher student achievement rates, higher graduation rates, and a higher percentage of schools making AYP. For this, the charter school community in Georgia should be commended and rewarded with higher funding levels.”
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Friday, August 14, 2009

Governor Creates Group to Look at Educational Abuse Policies

Will include a special look at alternative school settings, such as RESAs

Governor Sonny Perdue announced today that he has accepted the recommendations of the Office of the Child Advocate and created a working group to examine policies and procedures that are followed when cases of abuse are alleged in an educational environment.

“Any accusations of abuse by school personnel against children must be addressed strongly, rapidly and appropriately,” said Governor Perdue.

The Governor’s Working Group on Abuse in the Educational Setting will convene experienced school administrators and leaders along with law enforcement personnel to develop consistent statewide policies and protocols for addressing reports of child abuse by school employees.

The Governor has charged the working group with developing specific child abuse reporting and response procedures that can be adopted by every school system in the state. The group’s recommendations will include specific processes for parents and students to report abuse as well as protocols for school system management to use when taking personnel action involving accused employees and reporting the incident to law enforcement, system leadership and the Professional Standards Commission.

A specific task of the group will include developing protocols for addressing allegations abuse in special settings, such as those involving special educational programs operated by Regional Educational Services Agencies (RESAs).

“We must strike the right balance between protecting our students from abuse while also treating school employees fairly,” Governor Perdue added said. “This working group will establish the clear lines of authority and responsibility that will ensure these cases are addressed in a timely and appropriate manner.”

Governor Perdue’s formation of the working group comes in response to recommendations from the Office of the Child Advocate. In June, following a disturbing case alleging abuse of a child by school personnel, the Governor charged the State Child Advocate with determining whether Georgia’s laws and policies adequately address issues of abuse in the educational setting.

While the Child Advocate’s report found the state’s child abuse reporting and response laws adequate, it also found that a lack of clear responsibility for addressing allegations of abuse sometimes results in an ineffective response. The Governor’s action will help ensure that those responsible for addressing these allegations must respond quickly and adequately. The report is available online at .

The first meeting of the working group has been tentatively scheduled for late August. The members of the working group are:

o Matt Arthur, Superintendent, Rabun County Schools
o Emily Lembeck, Superintendent, Marietta City Schools
o Jeannie Edwards, Student Health Coordinator, Dawson County Schools
o Stephanie (Taylor) Williams, Ed.S., Early Intervention Program (EIP), Montgomery Elementary School, DeKalb County Schools
o Jay Fowler, Principal, Rocky Creek Elementary School, Henry County
o Pete Skandalakis, Coweta Judicial Circuit District Attorney
o Rachael Barron, Parent Representative, Atlanta
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Superintendent Cox and SBOE Recognize Excellence in Education

State Superintendent of Schools Kathy Cox and the State Board of Education (SBOE) recognized several schools and educators yesterday for their outstanding performance in Media Programs and World Languages.

Every other month, the SBOE and the Superintendent recognize students, teachers, administrators, schools and school systems for a variety of awards.

"It's important that we recognize people for their accomplishments and hard work," said Superintendent Cox. "Recognition is a motivator for people to continue doing everything they can to help us lead the nation in improving student achievement."

This month's honorees were for Exemplary Library Media Programs and World Language Programs.

For a list of names and details for each award, please go to the following link:
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Clayton State School of Graduate Studies Holding Open House on September 8

The Clayton State University School of Graduate Studies will be holding its next monthly informational Open House on Tuesday, Sept. 8 from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. in room 101 of the University’s Harry S. Downs Center on the main campus in Morrow.

The Open House will give prospective graduate students a chance to learn more about the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies, Master of Arts in Teaching English, Master of Arts in Teaching Mathematics, Master of Business Administration, Master of Health Administration, and Master of Science in Nursing. The Clayton State School of Graduate Studies regularly holds open houses on the second Tuesday evening of each month.

The mission of graduate education at Clayton State is to stimulate, encourage and support efforts that build national distinction and that are characterized by innovation and by increasing contribution to the social, cultural, economic, health and technological development needs of Georgia and the nation. The University is committed to excellence, innovation and collaboration in research and in the preparation of professionals for the highest levels of practice.

Graduate education prepares: scholars in the arts, humanities, and the sciences who maintain and advance our understanding of the human condition; scientists, engineers, and other professionals needed by industry, government, and universities to conduct the nation's research and development; and scholars in all disciplines who become the faculties of our colleges and universities.

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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Georgia Southern University to offer its first Ph.D. program

Georgia Southern University has received approval to offer its first ever Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree, a Ph.D. in Logistics/Supply Chain Management. Classes are scheduled to begin in Fall 2010.

“The approval of Georgia Southern's first Ph.D. degree can be included among many firsts for the university, such as achieving university status and recognition as a Doctoral-Research institution by the Carnegie Foundation. All are major milestones along the road of our more than 100 years of history,” said Georgia Southern President Bruce Grube.

While the new program is the University’s first Ph.D. program, it is also one of only two degrees in the state of Georgia to focus on the fast-growing field of logistics and supply chain management. University System of Georgia institutions offer more than 180 doctoral programs, but Georgia Southern will be the only university to offer the Ph.D. in logistics/supply chain management through its College of Business Administration.

“This is a major accomplishment for Georgia Southern, particularly as we continue to grow not only in size, but in quality,” said Gary Means, provost and vice president for academic affairs at Georgia Southern. “The Ph.D. builds on Georgia Southern’s already nationally-recognized College of Business Administration’s undergraduate degree program in logistics.”

The new degree program will train students for both advanced practice and academic positions, providing a tactical solution to the need for Georgia residents trained in logistics and materials management.

“With the Port of Savannah emerging as one of the largest ports in the country and Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson Airport’s prominence in air cargo, Georgia is home to many major distribution centers and trucking terminals,” said Ron Shiffler, dean of the College of Business Administration at Georgia Southern University. “Logistics is a critical function in the business economy and is expected to add more than 500,000 jobs during the next decade.”

“Employment opportunities for graduates in this field are abundant and in high-demand. Nationally, only a limited number of universities offer such a degree. In fact, existing doctoral programs are unable to supply enough graduates to meet current demand not to mention future expected growth,” said Jerry Wilson, chair and professor of logistics and marketing. “This program will provide a pathway for today’s professionals to teach future logistics students. In addition, those entering industry will be prepared to act as consultants and analysts helping develop Georgia’s preparedness to enhance the logistics and transportation industry.”

The College of Business Administration, which will offer the new degree, is recognized as one of the Best 296 Business Schools by Princeton Review.

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Thursday, August 13, 2009

Regents Approve FY11 Budget Request, FY10 Reduction Plans

The Board of Regents yesterday approved the Fiscal Year (FY) 2011 budget request for the University System of Georgia (USG) that includes dollars to support new students as well as the regents’ strategic thrust to expand medical education. The budget request totals $2.2 billion, a 6.8 percent increase, or $140.7 million, over the original FY 2010 base budget of $2.08 billion. Separately from the request for new dollars, the board also took action to approve measures to meet ongoing budget reductions, including employee furloughs and changes to employee health benefit plans.

The regents also approved a FY11 capital budget request of $275.6 million, which includes $19.7 million in equipment for six new facilities, $6.5 million in infrastructure needs for two facilities, $157.9 million in new construction or renovation for 10 projects designed and ready to be built, $68.9 million in both design and construction funds for seven projects, and $22.6 million for the design only of 11 projects.

The capital request also includes $75 million in funds for major repair and rehabilitation of existing System facilities.

“We are working to serve a significant and ongoing increase in student enrollment with a financial resource base that is certainly not keeping up with the growth in our student population,” said Chancellor Erroll B. Davis Jr. “Our challenge is premised on the fact that Georgia will need all of the college graduates we can produce – and more. Georgia will need everyone it can find with the education to move this state forward and continue its economic vitality and growth.”

The board’s approval of changes in employee health benefit programs and mandatory employee furloughs were necessary, according to USG officials, to help meet a five percent withholding by the Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget (OPB) of the System’s FY10 state cash allotments, which totals $115 million.

Along with all other state agencies, the USG was instructed by OPB to include with its budget request three reduction plans of four, six and eight percent. The three reduction plans, which include the three mandatory furlough days, total $94 million at the four percent level, $134 million at the six percent level and $176 million at the eight percent level.

Looking in detail at the FY11 budget request, the regents approved a request for $140.7 million in new dollars. This includes $107.8 million for student enrollment increases in fall 2008, $5.7 million in funds for the operation of new building space in the system, $21.3 million for increases in the employer share of health insurance premiums, $4.4 million in benefit costs for USG retirees, $900,000 to continue the Regents’ continued two-year-old effort to expand medical education, and $625,000 in new dollars for the Georgia Public Library Service.

Vice Chancellor for Fiscal Affairs Usha Ramachandran said that the increase of $107.8 million in the request is a function of the System’s funding formula, a mathematical formula that factors in student credit hours to arrive at needed state funding to support student instruction. “For the new budget request, the formula increase is based upon an enrollment increase of 5.6 percent, which generated an increase of 398,000 in the number of credit hours students took,” she said.

The new dollars, if recommended by the Governor and approved by the General Assembly, would provide critical state support for these new students. However the new funds are based on fall 2008 enrollment, not the students enrolled in fall 2010, when the funds will be available. “We appreciate the support of the Governor and the General Assembly for the formula funding, and recognize how important it is for us as stewards to be extremely efficient in the use of these dollars,” Ramachandran said.

The System-level reduction plans approved today by the regents spell out how reductions will be accomplished at each of the percentage levels requested by the Governor. While these three plans were approved in concept, the reality of the current five percent withholding of state funds required the board to approve today actions that will take place in the coming months to meet what is a new $115 million reduction in the USG’s FY10 state appropriation.

Therefore, the board approved six mandatory furlough days for faculty and staff. This will affect all 40,000 USG employees, except the lowest paid (annual salary of $23,660 or lower), and is the equivalent of up to a three percent pay cut. These six furlough days will be implemented over the remainder of the FY10 fiscal year, but will, according to Davis, not affect classes or employee retirement plans.

The board also approved changes in health insurance programs affecting almost 5,000 employees enrolled in the USG’s indemnity plan, which will be eliminated. Other changes will encourage retirees to move to Medicare Plan B, seed the high deductible PPO plan to encourage more employees to switch to this plan and make other structural changes in the System’s health insurance plans. These will go into effect this fiscal year.

These two changes – furloughs and health care plans – will generate $43.5 million of the $115 million currently being withheld and are part of the four, six and eight percent reduction plans that will be submitted to OPB. The remaining $71 million of the current $115 million being withheld from the USG will be generated at the institutional level and could include layoffs and new employee furloughs, internal reorganizations, an increased focus on energy conservation and the elimination of low-enrollment programs.

These actions at the system and institutional level will meet the $94 million four percent reduction plan amount.

To reach a six percent reduction level ($134 million) the System will:
Look to institutions to impose additional furloughs, new layoffs of employees, the elimination of positions and other actions institutions can identify to generate savings.

To reach the eight percent reduction level ($175 million) the System will:
In the spring semester of 2010 increase the institutional mandatory fee first implemented in January 2009 by $150 at the four research universities and some comprehensive institutions; by $100 at all other comprehensive four-year institutions; and by $75 at the state and two-year colleges. The changes to the mandatory fees will result in a cumulative total of $250, $175, and $125.
Place a moratorium on other institutional mandatory student fee increases with the exception of public-private venture projects for FY11.

“These are difficult reductions for all,” said Davis. “We are spreading the pain among our employees and withholding the direct financial pain to our students as an absolute, last resort. But we are committed to serving our students – all of our students – with continued high academic quality.”

Ramachandran was joined in presenting the budget recommendations by Linda Daniels, vice chancellor for Facilities, Wayne Guthrie, vice chancellor for Human Resources and Tom Scheer, associate vice chancellor for Life and Health Benefits.

Yesterday’s actions on the FY11 operating and capital budget requests now go to OPB for incorporation into the overall state budget recommendations the Governor will present to the General Assembly in January 2010. Any action regarding reductions at the four, six and eight percent levels will depend upon the final decisions by the Governor and General Assembly.

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Tech Offers Assistance to GIs

Beginning this month, qualified U.S. veterans who currently attend or wish to attend the Georgia Institute of Technology can apply for the Yellow Ribbon GI Education Enhancement Program, according to the Institute’s Veterans Services office.

At Tech, the Yellow Ribbon Program covers qualified in-state and out-of-state veterans’ tuition and fees for undergraduate, professional and other graduate degrees.

To be eligible for the Yellow Ribbon Program, veterans must qualify 100 percent for the Post 9/11 GI Bill, meaning they must have served at least 36 months of active duty since Sept. 10, 2001. Other provisions for disabled veterans also apply and can be found online at the Department of Veterans Affairs Web site.

The Yellow Ribbon Program, part of the Post 9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2008, allows degree-granting institutions in the United States to voluntarily enter into an agreement with the Veterans Administration (VA) to fund tuition expenses that exceed the highest public in-state undergraduate tuition rate.

Tech joins more than 1,100 colleges and universities that have signed up to take part in the initiative.

Information on the Yellow Ribbon Program at Tech is available through Veterans Services in the Registrar’s Office. For more information on the program, contact VA Coordinator Tammy Dennis at 404-894-4953 or

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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

First Ph.D. in Nursing Students Coming to Mercer’s Atlanta Campus

The first six candidates in the Georgia Baptist College of Nursing’s new Ph.D. in nursing program will come to campus for the first time as a group on Thursday and Friday, Aug. 13-14, for a computer training and orientation. The dynamic new program at Mercer University will feature a distance-learning delivery method for much of the coursework, allowing the students to continue in their positions as nurses and nursing educators. The program is only the fourth Ph.D. in nursing to be offered in Georgia, which is facing a critical shortage of nurse educators.

The students in the program will meet at the campus several times per semester and will also work remotely in virtual classrooms and via specialized Internet-based educational software. The inaugural class for the Doctor of Philosophy in nursing program brings together nurses from out of state, as well as those from more rural areas of the state.

“We had to design the program around the needs of working educators and nurses, because the nursing and nurse educator shortages in this area are so great our program had to be flexible enough to allow the students to remain at their jobs,” said Dr. Linda A. Streit, interim dean and associate dean for graduate programs at Georgia Baptist. “The students will have two days on campus for orientation and training to prepare for the coming semester.”

The program is designed to be done in a hybrid format and completed in 24 months, depending on the length of time taken on dissertation research. The program will create high-performing nursing educators and researchers to address the urgent need for nursing educators and leaders.

The program will prepare its graduates to:
• address the pressing need for advanced expertise in the application of theories and conceptual models to nursing education, practice and research;
• conduct research that advances nursing knowledge;
• evaluate the influences of ethical, social, political, demographic and economic issues on health care and nursing;
• assume leadership roles in education, practice and research to improve health care.

Dr. Streit also worked to secure grant funding to support students in the program through the Nurse Faculty Loan Program, a federal program designed to increase the number of nursing students pursuing careers as full-time faculty in schools of nursing. Funds from the program are administered by the Bureau of Health Professions, Health Resources and Service Administration.

The loan program offers significant loan forgiveness to students in master’s and doctoral nursing programs who train for, and become, full-time as faculty in nursing programs upon graduation. The new Ph.D. in nursing program was tailored to meet the needs of students pursuing this program, Dr. Streit said.

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HHS Announces $13.4 Million in Financial Assistance to Support Nurses

HHS Deputy Secretary Bill Corr today announced the release of $13.4 million for loan repayments to nurses who agree to practice in facilities with critical shortages and for schools of nursing to provide loans to students who will become nurse faculty. The funds were made
available by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), signed Feb. 17, 2009, by President Obama.

"The need for more nurses is great. Over the next decade, nurse retirements and an aging U.S. population, among other factors, will create the need for hundreds of thousands of new nurses," Deputy Secretary Corr said. "The awards from these two HRSA programs will help us meet projected demand for their services."

The awards come from two programs administered by HHS' Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA): the Nurse Education Loan Repayment Program and the Nurse Faculty Loan Program.

* Funding announced today under the Nurse Education Loan Repayment Program (NELRP) totals $8.1 million. Those funds, awarded competitively, will help 100 registered nurses pay their nursing education debts. The program repays 60 percent of the loan balance of registered nurses in exchange for two years of service at facilities with a critical shortage of nurses. (For a list of facilities employing the first 100 NELRP award winners from ARRA funds, see the attached
table.) Participants may be eligible to work a third year and receive additional repayment assistance.

* Funds announced today under the Nurse Faculty Loan Program (NFLP) total $5.3 million. Those funds go to schools of nursing to support the training of 500 masters and doctoral nursing students who plan to become nurse faculty after completing their education. Following graduation, loan recipients may cancel up to 85 percent of the loan principal and interest in exchange for four years of service as a full-time nursing faculty at a school of nursing. (For a list of universities that received NFLP funds, see the attached table.)

Approximately 50,000 individuals interested in going to nursing school are turned away due to insufficient capacity at schools of nursing. The two main factors limiting the ability to train more nurses are a faculty shortage and insufficient clinical training sites.

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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Financial health of new Georgia charter schools falters

Charter schools in Georgia, the majority of which are in metro Atlanta, may be outscoring their public school peers on testing but many are not making the grade when it comes to financial health, according to a new Georgia State University study.

Andrew Young School of Policy Studies Professor Cynthia S. Searcy, co-author of the study, said that more than 40 percent of start-up charter schools in Georgia operated with deficits or in the red during the 2006-2007 school year, the latest dates the data was available at the time of the study. During the timeframe of the study, two charter schools closed, including one for financial difficulties.

“If we don’t know how these start-ups are faring financially, how can we detect financial stress early to help keep their doors open,” said Searcy. “Given the budget crisis all schools are facing, we need to have more conversations on how to help charter schools reduce costs or enhance revenues if we expect to use them as vehicles for educational innovation.”

Among the other findings: few opportunities exist for economies of size for these small, independent schools and size directly correlates to charter school financial health.

“Small enrollments can put schools at risk of closure because they have less per-pupil revenue to spread over their fixed costs,” Searcy said. “Since charter start-ups spend $1 of every $8 on management and administration costs, they might benefit from shared services with their local school district or other charter schools.”

Additionally, because there are no uniform practices of reporting financial information or specific deadlines, it closes the opportunity to develop any meaningful financial indicator system to detect financial stress early in a school’s operation, the study found.

Searcy, along with the study’s co-author William D. Duncombe, a professor at Syracuse University, studied audited financial statements from 25 Georgia start-up schools in the 2006-2007 school year. Since 1998, 34 start-up charter schools have opened and dozens of others have been authorized. Up to 2007, a total of five had closed.

Recent legislation authorized the creation of entire charter school districts and a total of 115 charter schools are or will be open this school year.

“Georgia is on the cusp of expanding the number of charter schools,” Searcy said. “Understanding their financial health is more important than ever.”

For a complete copy of the study, please go to

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Monday, August 10, 2009

More than 6,300 new undergraduates to be enrolled at UGA this fall

The University of Georgia expects to enroll more than 6,300 new undergraduate students this fall, including just over 4,700 new freshmen and 1,600 new transfer students.Approximately 680 of the new students began their studies during the summer and almost 5,700 will begin classes this August.

This is a growth of about 75 new students over last fall.Another 1,000 new undergraduates (200 of them freshmen) are expected to enroll in January for the spring term, bringing the overall total to more than 7,300—an increase of about 300 over the new undergraduates enrolled during the 2008-09 academic year.

Although final statistics will not be available until mid-October, the admissions office has compiled data based on the students who enrolled over the summer or who attended or registered for orientation for fall semester as of the end of July.

The entering freshmen are expected to have a strong grade point average of 3.83 (the mid 50 percentile range is 3.68-4.0) compared to 3.80 last year. The SAT average has risen from 1253 to 1263 (mid 50 percentile of 1160-1360) for the Critical Reading and Math combined, while scores on the new Writing section rose from 609 to 613. For those students who took the ACT, the mean score this year was 28, with a mid 50 percentile range of 26-30.

The 520 students expected to enroll in UGA’s nationally recognized Honors Program have a GPA of 4.09 (with a mid 50 percentile range of 3.96-4.14) and SAT average of 1463 (mid 50 percentile range of 1430-1490 on the Critical Reading and Math components). The ACT average is 32 (mid 50 percent range of 31-33).

Twenty-two percent of the entering freshmen self-identified as other than Caucasian. The number of African-American freshmen is expected to be 362 (7.6 percent). A total of 144 Hispanic students (3 percent of the class) are expected to enroll.

The class is diverse in other factors: 190 of the incoming freshmen represent 58 different countries and almost 7 percent come from homes where English is not the native language. The students come from more than 400 Georgia high schools in 136 counties. Just under 13 percent of the new class is from out of state, although more than 48 percent have social security numbers initially issued in other states, indicating continued in-migration to Georgia from other parts of the country.

“An interesting statistic this year is that 6 percent of the new freshmen are the first generation in their families to attend college,” said Nancy McDuff, associate vice president of admissions and enrollment management.

The number of applications received for this year’s freshman class—more than 17,900—is the highest recorded at UGA for a new class, following several years of record applications. Since 2003, applications for UGA’s freshman class have increased by more than 50 percent.

The rigor of students’ high school curriculum continues to be a key factor in admissions decisions, with some 95 percent enrolled in College Board Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate classes while in high school.

Five percent of the incoming freshmen (243) were first or second in their graduating class and 54 percent were in the top 10 percent of their class. More than 1,400 (31 percent) of the students completed high school with a 4.0 GPA. Several students had perfect scores on the SAT or ACT, and 102 had perfect scores on at least one of the components of the SAT. Nearly 10 percent of the students started college while still in high school.

While many of the incoming students have not yet decided on a major, the most popular intended majors (listed alphabetically) are art, biology, business, chemistry, international affairs, pharmacy, political science and psychology, following a similar pattern to previous years.

Although legacy is not a factor in admissions decisions, some 30 percent of the students have parents or siblings who attended UGA.

The new incoming transfer students have an earned college GPA of 3.4 on work completed prior to enrolling.They are almost evenly divided between males and females and 19 percent are non-Caucasian.About 92 percent are Georgia residents.

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Sunday, August 9, 2009

Ashworth Partners with CareerBuilder to give 2009 Graduates Practical Advice on Using the Internet to Find their Next Job

Ashworth College today announced that as part of the 2009 Graduation activities, Ashworth College and® will host a career workshop for graduates and guests.

For the second consecutive year, Ashworth has tapped the resources of CareerBuilder to provide a value-add for its graduates in the form of a career workshop. The workshop will take place prior to the ceremony on August 15, 2009 at the Gwinnett Center in Duluth, GA.

Open only to graduates and guests, the session will include tips on interviewing, resume writing, and how to best utilize the Internet as part of a job search. A leader in distance education, Ashworth will host recent graduates from each of its high school, career school and college diploma and degree programs.

"The Internet has dramatically changed the way people find jobs," said Bill Mahoney, CareerBuilder Account Management Director. "In today’s highly competitive job market, you need to use all the online resources available to you to maximize your visibility. The most successful online job hunters are those who customize their resumes for every position and repackage their skills to appeal to the widest range of potential employers."

"Revisiting your social networking profile to promote your skills and accomplishments and convey a professional image is also important," Mahoney explained, indicating that many hiring managers today research profiles on social sites like Facebook and MySpace. Candidates who forget to clean up "digital dirt" can end up losing out on an opportunity.
The ceremony will follow the workshop.

"The Internet has changed the way many people find jobs, but not everyone knows how to use it to their advantage," commented Dr. F. Milton Miller, Ed.D, Ashworth Vice President, Education. "Now that our students have completed their education we want to help them succeed by giving them as many tools as we can. We are fortunate to partner with an expert like®."

Workshop topics will include:
Interview skills
Salary negotiation
What makes an effective resume
Job outlook for recent graduates
Using the Internet as part of your job search
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Clayton State Alumni Association to Hold “Monday Mixer” in Morrow, August 24

Clayton State University’s Alumni Association will host its first “Monday Mixer” at 6 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 24 at Boston’s Restaurant & Sports Bar in Morrow.

“The Monday Mixer will be a social event, allowing our alumni, our community, and our university friends a chance to reconnect in an informal social manner,” says Gid Rowell, director of Alumni Relations. “Monday Mixers” will be held on a monthly basis at restaurants in the Southern Crescent. The Alumni Association plans to rotate the event monthly between restaurants in Clayton, Fayette and Henry counties.

“The Monday Mixers will be beneficial to both the Alumni Association and the Clayton State University community, allowing alumni and friends to meet and greet in an informal way,” Rowell says. “They will also provide an opportunity to share information about the University and Alumni Association. “We’re hoping to congregate at restaurants with open porches or decks -- weather permitting – the perfect setting for food and friends, with a laid back, enjoy yourself atmosphere that will make Mondays seem a little easier to get through.”The Mixers will be casual, free from admission and without an agenda. No advance registration is necessary.

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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Auction to Benefit Non-Profit Scholarship Foundation

Astronauts Offer Artifacts for Charity-Online Catalog

An online auction, featuring space artifacts that have flown as far as the moon, opened its registration last week at and posted its online catalog.

The auction, which benefits the nonprofit Astronaut Scholarship Foundation, is comprised of 30 lots of memorabilia donated by hero astronauts, including many Apollo legends. Items include an American flag which flew to the moon aboard Apollo 14, a Command Module Hand Controller, hero astronaut autographed prints and more!

Nowhere else in the world have 40 American icons come together to offer such extraordinary items or their signatures for such a worthy cause. All auction proceeds go directly to support the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation’s mission of offering scholarships to top science and engineering college students pursuing degrees in science and technology. To date the Foundation has dispersed more than $2.8 million to students nationwide.

Online bidding opens on September 4, 2009, 9 AM EDT and closes on September 12, 2009, 5 PM EDT. Interested persons are required to register to receive a virtual paddle number before bidding. Winning bids, over fair market value, will be considered a charitable donation.

The Astronaut Scholarship Foundation (ASF) is a 501(c)(3), nonprofit organization established in 1984 by the six surviving members of America’s original Mercury astronauts. Its mission is to aid the United States in retaining its world leadership in science and technology by providing scholarships for college students who exhibit motivation, imagination, and exceptional performance in these fields. ASF funds 19 $10,000 scholarships annually and has awarded more than $2.8 million to deserving students nationwide. Today, more than 80 astronauts from the Gemini, Apollo, Skylab, Space Shuttle and Space Station programs have joined in this educational endeavor. For more information, call 321-455-7012 or log on to
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Please research all information and any organization prior to donating or contacting. The Georgia Front Page and the Fayette Front Page share information as provided from a variety of sources. We do not necessarily support, endorse or research the legitimacy of the various organization's information prior to including. We can not be held responsible for the reliability of the information or outcomes if you choose to donate or follow up with the organization (s).

Friday, August 7, 2009

Updated Federal Guidelines for 2009 H1N1 Influenza in Schools Offer Many Options

Updated federal guidelines offer state and local public health and school officials a range of options for responding to 2009 H1N1 influenza in schools, depending on how severe the flu may be in their communities. The guidance says officials should balance the risk of flu in their communities with the disruption that school dismissals will cause in education and the wider community.

The guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) was announced today at a joint news conference by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Education Secretary Arne Duncan, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, and CDC Director Thomas R. Frieden, M.D., M.P.H.

The school guidance is a part of a broader national framework to respond to novel H1N1 influenza, which includes encouraging people to be vaccinated against the virus and to take other actions to avoid infection. The CDC anticipates more illness after the school year starts, because flu typically is transmitted more easily in the fall and winter.

``We’re going to continue to do everything possible to keep our children – and all Americans – healthy and safe this fall,’’ Secretary Sebelius said. ``But all Americans also have a part to play. The best way to prevent the spread of flu is vaccination. A seasonal flu vaccine is ready to go, and we should have one for the 2009 H1N1 flu by mid-October.’’

“The federal government continues to coordinate closely with state and local governments, school districts and the private sector on H1N1 preparation as we head into the fall flu season—and the upcoming school year,” said Secretary Napolitano. “Readiness for H1N1 is a shared responsibility, and the guidance released today provides communities with the tools they need to protect the health of their students and teachers.”

For an outbreak similar in severity to the spring 2009 H1N1 infection, the guidelines recommend basic good hygiene, such as hand washing. In addition, students or staff members with flu-like illness (showing symptoms of flu) should stay home at least 24 hours after fever symptoms have ended.

“We can all work to keep our children healthy now by practicing prevention, close monitoring, and using common sense,” Secretary Duncan said. “We hope no schools have to close. But if they do, we need to make sure that children keep learning.”

The guidelines also recommend schools have plans in place to deal with possible infection. For instance, people with flu-like illness should be sent to a room away from other people until they can be sent home. Schools should have plans for continuing the education of students who are at home, through phone calls, homework packets, Internet lessons and other approaches. And schools should have contingency plans to fill important positions such as school nurses.

If H1N1 flu causes higher rates of severe illness, hospitalizations and deaths, school officials could add to or intensify their responses, the guidelines say. Under these conditions, the guidelines advise parents to check their children every morning for illness, and keep the children home if they have a fever.

In addition, schools could begin actively screening students upon arrival and sending ill students home immediately. If one family member is ill, students should stay home for five days from the day the illness develops, the guidelines say.

“Influenza can be unpredictable, so preparation and planning are key,” said Dr. Frieden. “We can't stop the tide of flu, but we can reduce the number of people who become very ill by preparing well and acting effectively.”

For more information visit

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National Report Gives Georgia Higher Education High Marks for Accountability

Georgia is one of only 10 states in the U.S. commended in a new education report for measuring how well its college students perform, using this tracking data to drive policy decisions and providing the information gathered in a useful format to students, their parents, the news media and others. Education Sector, a Washington-based think tank promoting education reform, analyzed educational accountability systems across the nation at the request of a number of respected education foundations and found varied results in its report, “Ready to Assemble: Grading State Higher Education Accountability Systems.”

Education Sector’s survey, released in June, determined that 38 states have little or no system for measuring learning outcomes, and 36 states have yet to develop a method for linking college funding to performance. Among the reputable major players in the education arena funding the survey were the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Lumina Foundation for Education and KnowledgeWorks Foundation.

“To be clear, we did not evaluate state results in terms of their various higher-education outcomes, but rather the breadth, accuracy and strength of their systems designed to hold institutions accountable for results,” said Kevin Carey, policy director for Education Sector.
“Measuring educational outcomes and reporting the results is critical to improving educational attainment rates,” said Dr. Susan Herbst, the USG’s chief academic officer and executive vice chancellor. “The public cannot call for improvements if it does not clearly and easily know that improvements are needed.”

She added that “Georgia’s good standing in this report reflects all the efforts of the University System of Georgia (USG) and its partners in education, such as the Georgia Department of Education and the Office of Student Achievement (OSA). It really shows the effects of our work with the Alliance of Education Agency Heads (AEAH). We still have work to do, of course, but we’re pleased with our progress to date.”

“The Alliance’s number-one goal is to increase the high-school graduation rate, decrease the high-school dropout rate and increase postsecondary enrollment and success,” said AEAH Director Amy Mast. “Tracking college and career readiness is one of our primary strategies, and the Education Sector report reflects how important it is to report data clearly and ensure it is accessible to students, teachers, parents, board members, policymakers and the public. The strength of our partnership between all seven of the state's education agencies, the Governor's Office and business partners is to prioritize the importance of measuring and reporting education data to show where we are improving and where we need to continue focusing our efforts in Georgia.”

Education Sector measured states in 21 categories of accountability, analyzing any systems that might be in place to assess areas like affordability, degree production, research and scholarship. States that promote or require the use of assessment tools, and take steps to publicize the information, were given the highest marks. Those that had few tools for assessment and did little to spread information were graded lower on the three-grade scale. The highest grade, “Best Practice,” was given to 10 states with well-developed reporting mechanisms, including Georgia. The second ranking, “In Progress,” was given to 27 states that have less complete efforts underway. The lowest score, “Needs Improvement,” went to 13 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico, where little is being done in the way of accountability, according to Education Sector.

In addition to giving Georgia an overall “Best Practice” ranking and another for gathering information overall, the report gives both the USG and Gov. Sonny Perdue’s Office of Student Achievement (OSA) high marks for measuring student progression and educational attainment. Georgia was one of only six states to earn the “Best Practice” designation in this category.
The report also commended the USG for measuring and making accessible to the public in a user-friendly way the number of degrees awarded by institution, academic discipline, race/ethnicity and gender, as well as the economic impact of the University System on the state.

In addition, the USG won notice in the report for having developed transparency measures, such as the information portal “USG by the Numbers,” that allow students and others to examine and evaluate these data. USG by the Numbers, along with the USG’s Information Digest, enrollment and degrees-conferred reports and other accountability documents, can be accessed at

“Only three states — Texas, Minnesota and Georgia — earned our ‘best practice’ label for developing particularly user-friendly Web sites to transmit accountability information,” Education Sector’s Kevin Carey said. “Minnesota and Georgia have each constructed innovative ways to display information. Georgia’s looks like a scoreboard for a major sport and lets users compare results to state, regional and national averages.”

Georgia’s scorecard in the report contains four “Best Practice” and 12 “In Progress” rankings.

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