Saturday, May 30, 2009

Electronic Textbooks Offer Students Savings And Convenience

(NAPSI)-There's good news for students looking for ways to save--particularly on textbooks. Many are now enjoying the discounts and added convenience offered by electronic textbooks.

The College Board reports that students pay an average of $1,000 per year on traditional textbooks, more than 15 percent of the annual tuition at an average public school.

Fortunately, a growing number of higher-education textbook publishers are now offering eTextbooks as an alternative to the traditional, pricey print texts. CourseSmart, for example, currently offers students more than a third of all college textbooks as eTextbooks at an average discount of 50 percent.

These savings can help students avoid a reliance on end-of-semester bookstore buybacks, which can be significantly less than expected.

Lucky students may be able to recoup 50 percent of their up-front costs by selling their texts back to the bookstore, but most students know that they are more likely to get $5 or $10 back, or worse, find they can't sell back the book at all. With an eTextbook, the student saves 50 percent up front and eliminates the burden of trying to sell the book.

Savings alone, however, are not the only reason more students are turning to electronic texts. There is also added convenience.

For example, when students are studying and writing papers, instead of searching endlessly through a textbook or a semester's notes for a particular subject or passage, they can use a search function that enables students to immediately pinpoint all references to a particular subject throughout an entire text.

In addition, electronic textbooks share many characteristics with print textbooks, such as allowing students the ability to highlight important passages and take notes. Students can also cut and paste text into study guides, print out important pages and choose between online or downloadable formats to access their textbook.

Many students say there are physical benefits as well. If one big text is heavy, four can be a pain in the back-literally. Fortunately for students who use eTextbooks, all they need is a laptop to access the material they are looking for, at any time, anywhere.

On today's Wi-Fi-enabled campuses, laptop accessibility makes it possible to integrate the electronic textbook with other online learning resources, such as Blackboard, library databases, Wikipedia and Google.

Visit www.CourseSmart.com to learn more.

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Friday, May 29, 2009

Georgia State wins NASA grant to improve climate change education, monitor carbon dioxide

Georgia State University will use a recently awarded $499,950 grant from NASA to help improve learning about global climate change for high schoolers, undergraduates and teachers in training, in addition to purchasing a unique urban carbon dioxide monitor to further research and teaching in the field.

At its core, the initiative will use NASA data and other resources to engage students participating in a course on weather and climate.

In addition to more than 1,000 Georgia State students each year, including candidates for the Master of Arts in Teaching, the university will create new pathways for the participation of students in the Carver Early College program — which gives high school students the opportunity to take college classes at the university.

Teachers in training will also have an opportunity to earn a NASA Earth and Space Science Certificate via their work in the weather and climate course labs.

“Education about global climate change is essential for everyone in today’s world, and doing it in the compelling context of NASA research motivates learning in science, math and reading,” said Cherilynn Morrow, professor of physics and astronomy and leader of the Georgia State initiative.

“Additionally, companies considering locating in Georgia want to know that we have a workforce which has had educational access to excellent geosciences courses related to energy, climate and other disciplines,” Morrow said. “Climate change is a great interdisciplinary topic for all of the sciences.”

Georgia State is one of 22 institutions receiving a total of $6.4 million in grants to enhance climate science education and spark interest in science through the use of NASA’s Earth science resources, including observation data and NASA Earth system models.

Resources from the NASA grant will help enhance the content of one of the university’s introductory geosciences courses, which introduces weather and climate, by giving a hands-on experience with the data and tools professional scientists use to monitor climate change. Georgia State will work to recruit and support Carver Early College students to this course in hopes of exciting their interest in the sciences.

Graduate students in the Master of Arts in teaching program at Georgia State will have similar access to NASA resources to better prepare them to teach earth sciences through opportunities such as a summer institute at the university, Morrow said.

Funds will also go to the purchase of a carbon dioxide monitor which will be used in Atlanta’s urban environment. Data collected from this monitor will be used by students and teachers-in-training to learn more about a gas which contributes to climate change.

The Georgia State initiative will combine efforts of the Georgia State Department of Geosciences, the Georgia State College of Education, GSU’s Center for Teaching and Learning, the university’s Department of Physics and Astronomy, the University System of Georgia Early College Program, and the University System of Georgia Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Initiative.

"We have an extraordinary and talented array of partners involved in this effort that will enable us to make a difference statewide, not just at Georgia State," Morrow said.

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UWG: Stadium Funding, Construction on Pace

Summer is just kicking off, but it won’t be long until players, coaches and fans will be gearing up to kick off another football season at the University of West Georgia. And this coming season, the Wolves football program takes a major step forward with the opening of a new on-campus stadium that is generating excitement throughout the UWG athletics community.

The stadium will be the crown jewel of a $34 million, 250-acre athletics complex that will help promote UWG as a destination institution both academically and athletically.

The university, through private fundraising and student fees, has successfully financed the bulk of the project, and is continuing to generate sponsorship opportunities for the athletics complex and its individual components, which include an administrative field house, women’s sports field house, softball field, soccer field and two football practice fields.

“We are thrilled at the response we’ve received in our fundraising efforts for the stadium, and we are excited about how exceptionally well the entire project is progressing,” said Daryl Dickey, UWG football coach and acting athletics director. “But as we continue to build a place to call home, we need more help and would greatly appreciate any support that would be available from the community.”

Nicole Worthington, UWG’s director of development, said the stadium’s naming opportunities enable supporters to help extend the university’s reach athletically, which in turn allows it to enhance and promote its academic standing.

“This is a great time to honor someone by naming a skybox or other designated area of the athletics complex,” she said. “Since it’s still in construction, many of the naming opportunities are still available. We are definitely seeing renewed interest and enthusiasm as the opening day gets closer.”

Sponsorship opportunities include such plans as the chair-back program, which allows donors to have recognition plates placed on seats in the reserved seating section. At $2,500 per seat, this plan gives donors first access to the named seats with purchase of a season ticket package. The stadium will contain more than 1,000 of these designated seats.

Also available are Recognition Tiles, which are named brick tiles in the main entry corridor of the stadium that are available during construction and after completion of the complex, also at a contribution level of $2,500.

Honor Columns allow donors to have a recognition plate placed on the brick columns near the stadium, with priority placement based on the order and timing of the naming agreement. This arrangement is $25,000, and lets the donor purchase four season tickets and receive a parking pass.

The stadium also offers 12 VIP Suites, of which four are available, that would allow a $250,000 donor to have a recognition plate placed in the suite, and to have first access to lease the suite for an annual fee.

The stadium’s construction is proceeding on schedule, and the facility is set to be christened for the Wolves’ home opener on Sept. 5 against Lambuth University.

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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Ashworth College Adds Graduate Certificates to Master’s Program

Ashworth College announced today that it will be expanding its Master’s program, to include Graduate Certificate programs. The six new certificate programs join the existing Master of Science and Master of Business Administration degree programs.

Comprised of one semester’s worth of graduate level courses within a specific area of concentration, Ashworth’s Graduate Certificates will cover the following areas of specialty - Business Administration, Criminal Justice, Health Care Management, Human Resources Management, Management, and Marketing.

“Ashworth’s graduate-level certificate programs are a great alternative for bachelor’s degree holders who want to complete graduate level coursework in specific areas without completing an entire degree program, or for those who already have a master’s degree and want to branch out to a different area of expertise,” said F. Milton Miller, Ed.D., Ashworth Vice President of Education. “Students are able to select the courses of their choice to create a customized certificate program.”

“Another advantage to a certificate program is allowing students the opportunity to test the waters by completing a certificate program before committing to a full blown graduate degree program,” Miller added. “If a full degree makes sense in the future, students can transfer the credits to the corresponding Ashworth Master’s degree program.”

When developing Graduate Certificates, Ashworth College considered the perceived rigidity of a traditional Masters program, as well as cost and time commitments associated with a master’s degree. Ashworth limited the program to five courses within a specific area of specialization where students could create a customized program that fit their personal career goals.

“Our students are looking to move up in their existing careers,” commented Deepa Chadha, Ashworth Director of Degree Programs. “Depending on their career goals, and especially given the current economic climate, they believe that some level of higher education will give them the competitive advantage they need.”

As a leader in distance education, Ashworth’s programs are built around self-paced study. Compared to brick and mortar institutions, students do not attend classes (on site, conference call, online, etc.) and are not required to participate in group projects.

Ashworth College

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"Celebration of Excellence" Honors Foster Youth Scholars

Graduating from high school and enrolling in college are milestones that most foster care youth don’t reach. Studies show that youth living in foster care are less likely to finish high school and more likely to end up homeless or in jail. Fewer than 3 percent of them earn college degrees.

Yet more than 300 Georgia foster care youth who beat the odds will be honored during the 17th Annual “Celebration of Excellence.” In addition, nearly 30 Georgia foster care youth will be awarded more than $75,000 in scholarships for their academic achievements.

Foster youth who have overcome obstacles to attain scholastic success will be recognized for their recent graduation from high school, vocational school, GED program or college during “Celebration of Excellence” on Wednesday, June 10. The “Celebration” will take place at the Rialto Theater for the Arts at Georgia State University at 6:30 p.m. This year’s event will feature live performances by Moving in The Spirit Youth Dance Ensemble, The Still Waters Youth Sinfo-Nia Orchestra, Innocence (Nno), Young Hip Hop Artist and others. There will also be a Definition of Excellence Photo Exhibit, which will highlight the social and professional achievements of current and former foster youth, and a video presentation of local and national celebrities congratulating these youth.

“Celebration of Excellence” is a statewide, annual event that honors young people in the foster care system who have made strides in their academic endeavors. This year, more than 300 students from across the state will be lauded for their success. The event is sponsored by the Georgia Department of Human Resources (DHR) Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS) and numerous community organizations and private businesses.

The “Celebration of Excellence” is the high point of a three-day Atlanta visit for youth transitioning out of the foster care system. These youth will also attend the Higher Education Institute, a two-day information and resource forum designed to teach the importance of professional etiquette, money management and understanding legal rights.

The “Celebration of Excellence” is organized by a coalition of public and private community partners across Georgia. The event is free, open to the public and is attended by professional athletes, celebrities, foster parents, child welfare workers, business leaders, child and legal advocates, and legislators throughout the state. For more information, please visit www.celebrationofexcellence.org.
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100 Percent of First Class at Carver Early College to Graduate May 28

High-school graduation is an important milestone in any high school senior’s life. But for 79 students slated to receive diplomas on May 28 from Atlanta’s Carver Early College High School, commencement will mark an achievement, not just for each individual, but also for a special program designed with them in mind.

These students are the first graduating class of the University System of Georgia’s (USG) Early College Initiative, which strives to raise the high-school and college graduation rates of underserved students. Each of the 79 students has been accepted to at least one two-year or four-year postsecondary institution, including several in the University System. They graduate not only with diplomas in hand but with college credits on their transcripts. And they leave no classmate behind – every single student who enrolled in Carver’s Early College program is graduating.

Launched in 2005 at Carver by the Atlanta Public Schools in partnership with Georgia State University, the initiative targets student populations underrepresented at USG institutions – low-income minority students, those for whom English is a second language and those who are the first in their family to attend college.

“At one time, Carver High School was rated among the lowest performing schools in the state, with a 36 percent graduation rate in 2004-05,” said USG Chancellor Erroll B. Davis Jr., who will be an honored guest on stage at the school’s 8:30 p.m. commencement at the Atlanta Civic Center. “The students in the first graduating class at Carver Early College are 100 percent minorities and 82 percent first-generation college students. This is a phenomenal achievement, truly remarkable.”

In 2004, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation awarded the University System’s Pre-School through College (P-16) Department a $2 million, five-year grant to support the opening of five early college schools. The Robert W. Woodruff Foundation provided an additional $2 million in matching funds to spread over the next three years.

Including Carver, there are now 12 early college schools throughout Georgia – each partnered with a USG institution – that essentially provide students with the opportunity to earn up to two years of college or an associate’s degree while attending high school. In addition to Carver, they are: Albany Early College, DeKalb Early College Academy (DECA), Early College Academy of Columbus (ECAC), Engineering Early College Academy at Maynard Jackson High School, Georgia College Early College (GCEC), Macon-Bibb Early College, Regional Early Admission for College Hopefuls (REACH) Early College, Risley Early College Academy (RECA), Savannah Early College Academy, Sumter County Schools-Georgia Southwestern Early College (SCS-GSW Early College) and Valdosta Early College Academy (VECA). For background information on these schools, go to http://www.gaearlycollege.org/earlysites/.

“The Georgia Early College Initiative is an intervention strategy for students who may not be well served by traditional middle and high schools,” said USG Early College Director Dawn Cooper. “The schools provide a rigorous course of study, high expectations and supportive, personalized learning. They strive to remove the financial, academic and psychological hurdles that prevent too many students from entering and succeeding in college.”

The salutatorian for the Carver Commencement is Derrick Standifer, who is the first in his family to attend college. Since transferring to Carver from Booker T. Washington High School as a sophomore, the 18-year-old has taken nine courses at Georgia State, completed a summer-study program in Panama and Costa Rica and served as a volunteer at Atlanta New Century Schools.

“I used to think of colleges in terms of football,” Standifer said. “Now I have a choice of completing my bachelor’s degree at a number of very good schools, including Howard University, Virginia State and Florida A&M. I really liked my economics course, and I really like tutoring, so I plan to be an economics teacher when I graduate.”

“The unique mission of the Early College High School Initiative is to raise the high-school graduation and postsecondary success rates of underserved youth, and to say we are extremely happy with the outcome at Carver is an understatement,” Cooper concluded.

The Carver graduates are still receiving acceptance letters and mulling over their decisions, but among the institutions they’ve been accepted to are the University of Georgia, the University of West Georgia, Georgia State, Albany State, Savannah State, Fort Valley State and Middle Georgia College.

“At Carver Early College, we are committed to the early-college model and the great opportunities it presents to high school students,” said Carver Principal Marcene Thornton. “We believe that this model has the potential not just to change the lives of individual students, but also the lives of families and generations to come. As we graduate Georgia’s first early-college students, we celebrate the success of the model and the profound possibilities it holds for changing lives through higher education.”

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Sunday, May 24, 2009

ARCHE Report Quantifies the Return on Investing in Education in Georgia

Number of school years has direct correlation to wide range of factors

The amount of education Georgians attain plays a major role in quality of life, job success and many other measures of prosperity for individuals and society, according to a report released last week by the Atlanta Regional Council for Higher Education.

“Higher Return: How Investing in Education Pays off For Georgia” – online at www.atlantahighered.org/ReturnOnInvestment – shows that education is a smart investment for Georgians and their state. It documents how education at all levels pays off for individuals in measures ranging from higher salaries to home ownership to children who tend to do better in school. Benefits to the state include a more talented workforce, higher tax revenues, lower spending for prisons and public assistance, and healthier citizens. Some findings:

· Georgia college graduates average twice the income – and half the unemployment – of high school graduates.
· One-fourth of adult Georgians who did not finish high school live in poverty.
· In Georgia homes where no one finished high school, over half of children under 17 live in poverty.
· On average, because of higher income, a Georgian with a bachelor’s degree pays 72 percent more in state and local taxes than a person with a high school degree.
· Eighty-six percent of prisoners in Georgia did not continue education past high school. Their incarceration costs Georgia nearly $800 million annually.
· The strong correlation between education and income is evident among Georgia counties, with only 11 of 159 counties exceeding the U.S. level for educational attainment.

The report, sponsored in part by the Georgia Power Foundation and the Robert W. Woodruff Foundation, analyzes data from the U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey and other federal and state government data sources. Data was compiled and analyzed for ARCHE by Human Capital Research Corporation.

“The numbers are dramatic – when we invest in education, as individuals and as a society, there are clear and measurable returns,” said ARCHE President Michael A. Gerber. “And if we fail to invest, we pay the costs.”

Better Jobs, Less Poverty

The report compares Georgia salaries for high school graduates to college grads in jobs ranging from auto mechanics to sales reps. One example: A retail salesperson with a bachelor’s degree makes on average more than twice as much ($53,121) than a salesperson with a high school diploma ($26,293).

The report also shows that the odds of living in poverty plummet as education levels rise. About one-fourth of adult Georgians who didn’t finish high school live in poverty. That percentage drops rapidly as education levels.

More Taxes Collected, Less Spent

The state is perhaps the biggest beneficiary of higher education levels. If just 1 percent of Georgia’s workers with high school diplomas moved to the bachelor’s degree category, Georgia would gain an additional $32 million more per year in state and local taxes ($1.2 billion over a 40-year working-life period).

On the other hand, people with lower levels of education receive the majority of spending for public assistance and prisons. In addition, about 64 cents of every dollar Georgia spends on public assistance goes to citizens with a high school diploma or less.

Key Determinant of Well Being

Chart after chart in the report shows education as key to a better quality of life:
· Homeownership, the American dream, has a strong correlation to education level.
· States that rank low in education levels rank higher in households that have difficulty providing enough food for all members.
· Georgia students who have college-educated parents score higher on the SAT.
· Georgians 65 and older with more education are less likely to report difficulty performing a wide range of activities.

The Atlanta Regional Council for Higher Education brings together 19 Atlanta-area public and private colleges and universities. Founded in 1938, ARCHE builds awareness of the size, scope, impact and value of higher education and helps its members share strengths through cooperative programs. Visit www.atlantahighered.org for information about ARCHE, its members, and its reports.
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Saturday, May 23, 2009

GCSA Announces Scholarship Awards for Rising Seniors at Five Charter High Schools

One student in each school will receive $500 for application, admissions expenses, or tuition, books, or room and board

The Georgia Charter Schools Association announces the establishment of a new scholarship opportunity for a deserving member of the Class of 2010 in each one of the state's independent charter high schools. The GCSA Scholars Award are five, $500 scholarship grants – for a total of $2,500 – for one rising senior each at Baconton Community Charter School in Baconton, Charter Conservatory for Liberal Arts & Technology in Statesboro, Destiny Academy of Excellence in Ellenwood, Technology Enriched Accelerated Charter High (TEACH) in Alpharetta and Tech High School in Atlanta.

The grants are for the purpose of offsetting some of the expenses that occur during the college application and admissions process (application fees, SAT/ACT prep course fees, campus visit expenses, etc.), or can be put toward tuition, textbooks or room and board.

“We know that in many instances, the chances most traditional public school students have to receive various types of grant opportunities are not always widely available to students in independent charter high schools, even though they are just as deserving,” said GCSA Board Chair BJ Van Gundy. “The Association is proud to offer this initiative for our members, and we hope to grow this scholarship fund in order to allow for more awards each year.”

Administrators at each school will select a winner based on scholastic promise and financial need. The award winners will be announced later this summer.
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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

84% of States Fail to Provide Students an Opportunity to Learn

/PRNewswire / -- With national and state policymakers focused on student achievement and school innovation, a new analysis of state-collected education data reveals that 84 percent of states fail to provide students access to a moderately proficient public education system. Moreover, as the nation celebrates the 55th anniversary of the landmark Brown v. Board of Education U.S. Supreme Court decision, the study shows minority and low-income students have only half the opportunity to learn in our public schools as their White non-Latino peers.

The data was summarized in Lost Opportunity: A 50-State Report on the Opportunity to Learn in America, a state-by-state study released today by the Schott Foundation for Public Education. The study analyzed student performance data reported by state departments of education to determine both the quality of and access to instruction provided in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

"This serves as a wake-up call to every governor, legislature, state education commissioner, and schools superintendent that falsely believes we are getting the job done in our classrooms," said Dr. John Jackson, President and CEO of the Schott Foundation. "According to their own data, only eight states are providing a moderately proficient, high-access public education to all. After a decade of leaving no child behind, we are finding an entire generation of students is again all but forgotten."

The Schott Foundation provided a state-by-state comparison of both academic proficiency (percentage of students scoring at or above proficient on eighth grade NAEP reading measures) and access (as measured by the Schott Foundation's Opportunity to Learn Index, or OTLI). Idaho, Maine, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Oregon, Washington, Vermont, and Virginia were the only states identified as providing both a moderate-proficiency and high-access education for all students.

Rounding out the bottom, eight states - Arizona, Arkansas, Illinois, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, Rhode Island, Texas, and West Virginia, along with the District of Columbia - appear to provide low-proficiency and low-access education, according to their own data.

"To raise student performance and close the achievement gap, we must first address the growing opportunity gap," Jackson said. "In far too many states, students are being denied access to the resources that provide a meaningful opportunity to learn. There is no substitute for opportunity, not in our schools, not in our workplaces, and not in our society. That is our American dream. No one should be satisfied with the level of educational quality and access we are providing to our children. This data defines a community in crisis, not one of achievement for all."

Sixteen states were found to provide a moderately proficient education for most students but demonstrated low access when providing that education to historically disadvantaged students. These states included: Connecticut, Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

Seventeen states were found to provide high-access, but low-proficiency education to their students. These states included: Alabama, Alaska, California, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Tennessee, and Utah.

The state-by-state data, disaggregated by race, ethnicity, and income, can be found at www.otlstatereport.org.

"Over the past decade, we have declared that data is king in education improvement," Jackson said. "The state data is clear. If you are a Black, Latino, Native American, or low-income student in this country, odds are you are not receiving high-quality learning opportunities. After more than a half century, we are still not providing truly equal educational opportunities to all students. After more than a quarter century, our nation is still very much at risk. Quality for a few and access for some is hardly the standard to which we should hold our states and school districts."

Delving deeper into the state-provided data, only six states offer Black students a relatively equal opportunity to learn, compared to their White, non-Latino peers. Eighty percent of states fail to offer Latino students a fairly good opportunity to learn, while nearly 80 percent of states fail to offer low-income students a strong opportunity to learn. Low-income students have the highest opportunity learn in those states with low minority populations.

The report highlights the educational and economic effects of that gap. California and New York each account for 15 percent of the nation's nearly $60 billion annual economic burden attributable to opportunity to learn inequities. Texas accounts for an additional 12 percent. The next three states -- Illinois, Michigan and Pennsylvania -- account for 5 percent each. New York's share of the economic effect of inequity is nearly three times its percentage of the national population.

"We are far behind as a nation; proficiency should not be the benchmark but as the President has stated, increasing college degree attainment is the goal. Yet, in the 21st century, states are failing to provide students access to the resources needed to even meet the lower, 'proficient' standard which is unfair and against our national interest," Jackson stated.

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Monday, May 18, 2009

Dr. Thomas Hynes Officially Joins Clayton State as Interim President

Dr. Thomas J. (Tim) Hynes Jr., officially began his tenure as the interim president of Clayton State University today.

“Colleagues: I am honored to have this chance to join the Clayton State University community,” says Hynes of his appointment.

Hynes held his position as provost and vice president for academic affairs and professor of Mass Communications at the University of West Georgia (UWG) for all but two years since 1996. On two occasions, during the 1999/2000 and 2006/2007 academic years, Hynes served as acting president of UWG when President Dr. Beheruz N. Sethna was called to the University System Office to serve as acting senior vice chancellor for academic affairs.

University System of Georgia Chief Academic Officer Dr. Susan Herbst commented upon announcing Hynes’ appointment this past January, “We are extremely fortunate to be able to call on Dr. Hynes’ strong leadership skills during this transition. Clayton State University has a great deal of momentum going for it, and I am confident that the institution will be in excellent hands under Dr. Hynes.”

Hynes previously served as interim dean of the University of Louisville from 1990 to 1996. Before that, he was associate dean of the university from 1988 to 1990 and had been a member of the University of Louisville faculty since 1978. Prior to that, he taught at Baylor University, the University of Massachusetts (UM) and the University of North Carolina (UNC). During his tenure at UWG, he has taught at least one course each year at the undergraduate level.

Hynes was a member of the Board of Regents Advisory Committee that developed the 1998 Regents’ Principles for the Preparation of Teachers. Still in use today, these principles guarantee the quality of all teachers prepared by the University System of Georgia.

Hynes holds an undergraduate degree in Mathematics and a Ph.D. in Communications Studies from UM and a Master of Arts degree in speech from UNC. In 2005, he earned a certificate of participation in the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Institute for Educational Management, and in 2003, he participated in the American Institute for Managing Diversity’s Diversity Leadership Academy.

A unit of the University System of Georgia, Clayton State University is an outstanding, comprehensive metropolitan university located 15 miles southeast of downtown Atlanta.
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Friday, May 15, 2009

Teachers' Time to Learn

The University of West Georgia and the College of Education will host its annual Learning Festival on Wednesday and Thursday, June 3-4 at the Education Center. The festival is free and the community is invited to attend.

The two-day conference is an exceptional opportunity for administrators, teachers, parents, homeschoolers and community residents to learn and share a wide range of teaching experiences.

Guest speakers include State Superintendent of Schools Kathy Cox, 2008 National Teacher of the Year Michael Geisen of Prineville, OR, and 2009 State Teacher of the Year Leanne Maule from Cartersville High School.

Learning Festival 2009 will offer participants a conference-style program on reading and math pedagogy in the classroom with approximately four concurrent sessions available throughout the day.

Topics include Creating and Using Building Profiles of ELL Student Proficiency to Support Instruction, molecular mechanics and civic projects for middle and high school students.

PLU and graduate credits will be available to participants. A PLU is a unit of credit granted to Georgia educators based on 10 contact hours of formal instruction or its equivalent.

Coordinators hope classroom teachers will realize their contribution to the quality of life in area schools and their communities as well as be inspired and renewed.

Registration is ongoing. For more information or to register, go to www.westga.edu/~festival.

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Special education expert, consultant highlight CSSE Summer Institute June 8-9

University of Illinois special education professor Lisa Monda-Amaya and educational consultant Ron Walker will be the keynote speakers at the first Communication Sciences and Special Education Summer Institute June 8-9 at the University of Georgia.

Nearly 200 early interventionists, speech-language pathologists and special educators from around the state are expected to focus on topics such as intervention and treatment skills, working with children and families of diverse backgrounds and collaboration.

“By connecting research and practice, this inaugural event will provide cutting edge information pertinent to an interdisciplinary audience of professionals interested in individuals (ages birth through school-age) with developmental disabilities and special needs,” said Laura Clark, project coordinator for UGA’s SPECTRUM (Special Education Training and Mentoring on the Web) program.

The conference’s break-out sessions include topics such as Strengthening Partnerships: Effective Collaboration and Co-teaching; Stimulating Language in Bilingual Infants and Toddlers; The New Wave: What Special Educators Need to Know about the Law; and Teaching the Many, While Disciplining the Few.

Monda-Amaya, an expert in strategies to keep students with disabilities in the general classroom, has coordinated teacher preparation programs in the department of special education for nearly 18 of her 20 years at the University of Illinois and has published her research in journals such as Exceptional Children and Special Education.

She has been heavily involved in teacher preparation and certification activities at the state level and has worked to influence policy decisions in Illinois. She has served as an officer on the National Board of the Teacher Education Division of the Council for Exceptional Children for four years and in the Illinois Teacher Education Division for 14 years.

Walker is president of Walker Educational Consulting, Inc., which is the educational consultant for the National Professionals’ Consortium on Attention Deficit Disorders.

Walker’s career in education spans three decades and began in the classroom where he taught at both elementary and secondary levels. He was an administrator at Woodward Academy in Atlanta, where he directed a program for college-bound learning disabled students; he was a middle school principal; and he directed both day and boarding programs for the DePaul School in Louisville, Ky. Walker has spent the last 15 years working with more than 700 school districts in more than 30 states, giving workshops, providing school consultation and speaking at conferences.

The two-day conference, a special College of Education Centennial event hosted by the department of communication sciences and special education, will be held at the Georgia Center for Continuing Education Conference Center and Hotel.

Registration costs $275 and the deadline is June 1. For more information or to register, see www.georgiacenter.uga.edu/conferences/2009/Jun/08/csse_summer.phtml.

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Thursday, May 14, 2009

University of Georgia Launches MyUGA Student Portal on uPortal 3 Open Source Platform

Unicon, Inc., a leading provider of software consulting services for the education market, congratulates the University of Georgia for the successful launch of its next-generation MyUGA Web site based on the open source uPortal 3 platform. MyUGA is a single web site designed primarily for students and providing aggregated access to offer a diverse set of resources and web-based services such as electronic mail, course information, student services news, announcements, events, campus maps, etc. Unicon, a Jasig Approved uPortal Solutions Provider, worked closely with the university’s IT staff for the portal’s planning, configuration, implementation, branding, and training. Representatives from the University of Georgia and Unicon will jointly present a seminar featuring real-world examples of their experiences titled, “MyUGA: Open Source uPortal Implementation at University of Georgia”, at the EDUCAUSE Southeast Regional Conference 2009 on June 2, 2009. More information on the conference, visit: http://net.educause.edu/serc09.

“We are very pleased with the successful launch of our MyUGA next-generation student portal based on uPortal. This open source solution provides us with a secure and scalable enterprise platform with the capability to evolve and expand our online services in the future,” said Rehan Khan, Associate CIO, University of Georgia. “Working with Unicon’s excellent professional services team for our portal implementation was a good choice for us. It enabled our internal IT staff to stay focused on the critical areas of their responsibility, and we could still meet our goals and deadlines for launching MyUGA.”

"Jasig is excited to see another leading higher education institution utilize uPortal 3 as the enterprise platform for their student portal,” said Jonathan Markow, Executive Director of Jasig. "We welcome the University of Georgia to the uPortal community of users worldwide, and congratulate them on their successful launch of MyUGA.”

“The University of Georgia demonstrates sound technological and fiscal judgment by utilizing the open source uPortal 3 platform for its MyUGA next-generation student portal,” said John C. Blakley, CEO of Unicon, Inc. “Unicon worked closely with the university’s Enterprise Information Technology Services staff and Application Development and Database Management group during the implementation, and congratulates both teams on their excellent work and collaboration.”

University of Georgia and Unicon Present at EDUCAUSE Southeast Regional Conference 2009


Tuesday, June 02, 2009, 8:30 a.m. - 9:15 a.m.


Session Title:
“MyUGA: Open Source uPortal Implementation at University of Georgia”

Presenters:
Rehan Khan, Associate CIO, University of Georgia
Sriman Ravi, IT Manager, University of Georgia
Stephanie LeSueur, Sales Consultant, Unicon, Inc.

Abstract: This presentation will discuss implementing a state-of-the-art portal solution at UGA that replaced the previous portal. It will detail all aspects of the system development life cycle and project management related to the implementation to help beginners and users who are currently implementing a portal solution understand how they can use an open source portal solution or a best-practice approach to portal implementation. Technical as well as project-related details will be covered.

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Georgia Graduation Test Scores Continue to Improve

Georgia's high school students continue to show steady progress on the Georgia High School Graduation Tests (GHSGT), including the science and English exams that are aligned to the state's more rigorous curriculum. State Superintendent of Schools Kathy Cox released the statewide results at today's State Board of Education meeting.

The percentage of students meeting standards on the GHSGT rose from the previous year in all four subject areas; mathematics, science, English language arts, and social studies. The pass rate on the science exam rose two points to 88 percent and on the English language arts exam rose one point to 90 percent.

"The results of the 2009 GHSGT show that our students continue to make steady progress in all areas of the curriculum," Superintendent Cox said. "This is especially noteworthy in the areas of science and English language arts, which are fully aligned to our new curriculum, the Georgia Performance Standards."

Superintendent Cox pointed out that the percentage of students performing at the very highest level on the English language arts and science exams rose significantly from 2008. On the science GHSGT, 15 percent of the students scored at the "honors" level, an increase of three points from 2008. On the English language arts GHSGT, 14 percent of the students scored at the honors level, an increase of four points from 2008.

"These exams are more rigorous and require students to demonstrate a deeper knowledge of the subject, but student achievement continues to rise in these areas," Superintendent Cox said. "The credit belongs to the teachers, students and school leaders who are working very hard to fully implement the new Georgia Performance Standards."

Superintendent Cox was also pleased that scores increased in most subgroups when compared to 2008. For instance:
- The pass rate for Students with Disabilities rose three points to 55 percent on the science GHSGT and rose four points to 63 percent on the mathematics GHSGT.
- The pass rate for English Language Learners rose six points to 59 percent on the English language arts GHSGT and 11 points to 62 percent on the social studies GHSGT.
- The pass rate for Hispanic students rose on all four tests and the pass rate for African American students rose on the social studies and mathematics exams.

ABOUT THE GEORGIA HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATION TESTS
The GHSGT are given to high school students for the first time in the spring of their junior year. All four portions of the test, plus the Georgia High School Writing Test, must be passed in order for a student to receive a full diploma from a Georgia public school. Students can retake the GHSGT as many times as they like if they do not pass specific exams.

Since 2005, the state has been implementing the Georgia Performance Standards (GPS), a more rigorous and focused curriculum in the core areas of mathematics, English language arts, social studies and science. As the curriculum is phased in, the state's tests are being aligned to match the curriculum.

Since the GHSGT assess cumulative knowledge, the new curriculum must be in place for three years before the exams can be fully aligned to the GPS. The science and English language arts GHSGT were aligned to the GPS for the first time in spring, 2008. The social studies exam will transition to a GPS test in spring, 2010 and the mathematics exam will transition in spring, 2011.

The new, GPS-aligned tests are graded on four scoring levels – below proficiency, basic proficiency, advanced proficiency and honors. The tests aligned to the old curriculum are scored on three levels – did not pass, pass and pass plus.

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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

I-Scream, You-Scream, We All Scream For College Savings!

Path2College Partners with Sonic® and Bright from the Start to Reward Pre-K Students with
a FREE Vanilla Twist


Spring is in the air. From kindergartners to high school seniors, Georgia’s youth are busting out of their desks ready to enjoy the warm sunny days of summer vacation. But before that final bell rings, the Path2College 529 Plan has partnered up with Sonic®, America’s Drive-In®, to kick-off summer by rewarding rising kindergarten students with a FREE vanilla cone at participating Sonic locations. Starting May 1 through June 30, 2009, parents can go to www.Path2College529.com to print a coupon for their eligible children.

The Path2College 529 Plan, Georgia’s tax-advantaged higher education savings plan, is an opportunity for parents, grandparents, family and friends to prepare financially for their loved one’s college education expenses. “With the cost of education skyrocketing, it is essential that parents start saving early,” notes Chuck Penuel, Director of Path2College. “We have teamed up with Sonic to reach parents of young children throughout Georgia and make them aware of the Path2College 529 Plan as an important tool in their college savings strategy.”

“Sonic® is proud to partner with Path2College to focus attention on the importance of saving for higher education,” notes Dominic Losacco, vice president of customer engagement for Sonic. “Partnering with organizations that benefit families and further education is Sonic’s way of saying thank you to our loyal customers and employees in the communities we serve.” With more than 3,500 locations nationwide, Sonic’s smiling Carhops serve up a delicious menu of meal and drink options, made-to-order.

“We share Path2College’s commitment to the education of Georgia’s children,” said Dr. Holly Robinson, Commissioner of Bright from the Start: Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning. “Together, we can all work to help ensure bright futures for our youngest citizens.”

Bright from the Start is pleased to team up with Path2College and Sonic to extend the free vanilla cone offer to families throughout the state.

To download a FREE buy-one-get-one-free Vanilla cone coupon and to learn why more than 100,000 Georgian’s have already started investing with Path2College, visit: www.Path2College529.com.

Consider the investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses before investing in the Path2College 529 Plan.

Please visit www.path2college529.com for a Disclosure Booklet containing this and other information. Read it carefully.

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

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

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

© 2009 TIAA-CREF Tuition Financing, Inc., program manager. TIAA-CREF Individual & Institutional Services, LLC, member FINRA, distributes the Path2College 529 Plan.
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Graduation Test Results Continue to Improve

Student achievement increases in all subject areas

Georgia's high school students continue to show steady progress on the Georgia High School Graduation Tests (GHSGT), including the science and English exams that are aligned to the state's more rigorous curriculum. State Superintendent of Schools Kathy Cox released the statewide results at today's State Board of Education meeting.

The percentage of students meeting standards on the GHSGT rose from the previous year in all four subject areas; mathematics, science, English language arts, and social studies. The pass rate on the science exam rose two points to 88 percent and on the English language arts exam rose one point to 90 percent.

"The results of the 2009 GHSGT show that our students continue to make steady progress in all areas of the curriculum," Superintendent Cox said. "This is especially noteworthy in the areas of science and English language arts, which are fully aligned to our new curriculum, the Georgia Performance Standards."

Superintendent Cox pointed out that the percentage of students performing at the very highest level on the English language arts and science exams rose significantly from 2008. On the science GHSGT, 15 percent of the students scored at the "honors" level, an increase of three points from 2008. On the English language arts GHSGT, 14 percent of the students scored at the honors level, an increase of four points from 2008.

"These exams are more rigorous and require students to demonstrate a deeper knowledge of the subject, but student achievement continues to rise in these areas," Superintendent Cox said. "The credit belongs to the teachers, students and school leaders who are working very hard to fully implement the new Georgia Performance Standards."

Superintendent Cox was also pleased that scores increased in most subgroups when compared to 2008. For instance:

- The pass rate for Students with Disabilities rose three points to 55 percent on the science GHSGT and rose four points to 63 percent on the mathematics GHSGT.
- The pass rate for English Language Learners rose six points to 59 percent on the English language arts GHSGT and 11 points to 62 percent on the social studies GHSGT.
- The pass rate for Hispanic students rose on all four tests and the pass rate for African American students rose on the social studies and mathematics exams.
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Education Secretary Duncan Names Governor Perdue to National Assessment Governing Board

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has appointed Governor Sonny Perdue to the National Assessment Governing Board. The board sets policy for the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), sometimes referred to as “The Nation's Report Card.”

The 26-member panel includes a bipartisan group of governors, state legislators, local and state school officials, educators, business representatives and other citizens. While members are chosen by the secretary of education, the board remains independent of the department.

“Governor Perdue will be a great addition to the board,” Secretary Duncan said. “During his two terms as governor, he has maintained and expanded on ambitious initiatives to improve education for children from the cradle to college. We look forward to his contributions to the board.”

The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) is the only continuing assessment administered to a representative sample of students in each state in various subject areas, including mathematics, reading, science, writing, the arts, civics, economics, geography, and U.S. history.

“NAEP is considered the gold standard in terms of measuring our progress in education across states,” Governor Perdue said. “Georgia’s math and reading NAEP scores have risen to an all-time high and are now at or near national averages in many categories. I appreciate the opportunity and look forward to serving on the National Assessment Governing Board.”

The governing board's responsibilities include:

· Selecting subject areas to be assessed
· Setting appropriate student achievement levels
· Developing assessment objectives and test specifications
· Developing a process for the review of the assessment
· Designing the assessment methodology
· Developing guidelines for reporting NAEP results
· Developing standards and procedures for interstate, regional and national comparisons
· Determining the appropriateness of all assessment items and ensuring the assessment items are free from bias and are secular, neutral, and non-ideological
· Taking actions to improve the form, content, use, and reporting of results of the national assessment

For more information on NAEP, see http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/about/#overview . For details on the board, visit www.nagb.org/ .
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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Georgia Board of Regents Approve Faculty Contract Modification

The Board of Regents approved a plan today that gives University System of Georgia (USG) presidents the authority to furlough any and all employees, including faculty, should the need arise.

University System officials noted that there are no plans to furlough contract employees in the current fiscal year, which ends on June 30, 2009. The regents’ action provides presidents another tool that could be used in meeting any future budget reductions.

“This gives our presidents the flexibility to make furlough decisions for their respective institutions, if the state revenue situation continues to worsen,” said USG Chancellor Erroll B. Davis Jr.

Davis noted that the board’s action changes a situation in which one fourth of the University System’s approximately 40,000 employees are excluded by contract from furloughs, but these employees account for approximately one-half of all personnel costs.

“Currently our faculty cannot be furloughed because of legal contracts we sign with them on an annual basis,” Davis said. “The board’s action allows us to insert language into all faculty contracts that clearly outlines that furloughs are a possibility and to which the signer of a contract agrees.”

The specific contract language approved by the regents is: “Notwithstanding any other provision of this contract, for Fiscal Year 2009-2010, the Board of Regents has authorized the president to implement a mandatory furlough program requiring employees to take not more than 10 days of unpaid annual leave. In the event it becomes necessary for the president to exercise this authority, employee furloughs will be implemented in accordance with guidelines promulgated by the Office of the Chancellor.”

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Linda Bleicken Named President of Armstrong Atlantic State University

The Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia today named Dr. Linda Bleicken, provost and vice president for academic affairs at Georgia Southern University in Statesboro since 2005, president of Armstrong Atlantic State University (AASU) in Savannah.

“Dr. Bleicken has the fortitude and compassion a leader needs in these challenging times. She has a depth of experience that allows her to have a well-rounded understanding of the direction and goals of the University System of Georgia,” said Chancellor Erroll Davis. “I have no doubt that she will be a great partner for the board in carrying out its strategic goals and policies while leading AASU into the next successful stage of its existence.”

Regent Wanda Rodwell, chair of the Special Regents’ Committee for the presidential search at AASU, added that Bleicken “comes equipped with all the necessary tools and skills to lead. The committee was extremely impressed with her accomplishments and her readiness for this new position.”

Bleicken will assume her post on July 1, 2009, according to University System of Georgia Executive Vice Chancellor and Chief Academic Officer Susan Herbst. She will replace AASU President Dr. Thomas Z. Jones, who will retire June 30, 2009, after nine years in office.

Bleicken’s service to Georgia Southern — an institution with 17,764 students and eight colleges — includes administrative appointments as: a member of the university’s management faculty since 1990; acting provost and vice president for academic affairs from July 2004 to January 2005; vice president for student affairs and enrollment management from 2001 to 2004; associate provost for enrollment management and information technology from 2000 to 2001; acting provost and vice president for academic affairs from 1998 to 2000; associate dean of the College of Business Administration from 1995 to 1998; and acting chair of the Department of Management from 1994 to 1995.

In addition, she has served the University System of Georgia as a member of its Health Professions Task Force (2006), Core Curriculum Committee (2007-2008), Graduation Rate Task Force (2004), Tuition Rate Task Force (2004) and the Task Force to Develop eCore®, the USG’s electronic core curriculum (2000).

Bleicken holds a Ph.D. in management earned in 1990, a master of science degree in management also earned in 1990 and a bachelor of business administration degree in marketing earned magna cum laude in 1984, all conferred by Georgia State University.

“I am honored to be selected to serve as the next president of Armstrong Atlantic State University,” said Bleicken. “As a long-term citizen of coastal Georgia, I have an abiding respect for this region’s legacy of accomplishment and for its potential and aspirations. I look forward to forging even stronger partnerships between the University and the community.”

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Atlanta Christian College Awards Diplomas to 58 Students

Atlanta Christian College awarded diplomas to 58 students during its commencement exercises on May 9. Nearly half the students graduated with honors.

The commencement speaker was Cam Huxford, a 1978 graduate and College trustee, who is senior pastor of Savannah Christian Church in Savannah, Ga. After graduating from Atlanta Christian College, Huxford did graduate work at Emmanuel School of Religion. He later served as senior pastor of Betaw Christian Church and Rock Hill Christian Church. He was called to serve at Savannah Christian in 1984. Under his leadership, the church has grown from 260 members to more than 5,000.

Huxford currently serves on the Christian Standard Publishing Committee, the North American Christian Convention board of stewards, and the ACC board of trustees. His son, Garrett Huxford, was among Saturday’s graduates.

Huxford began his address by explaining to the graduates that exactly 31 years ago, he was sitting where they were sitting – facing the excitement and nervousness that comes with graduating from college.

“You’ve been stretched and shaped by a challenging environment that has prepared you to begin your adventure,” he said. “This is a Christian college, and you have a unique position. None of us knows what the future holds, but you have an opportunity to life your life in a way that makes a difference forever – for eternity.”

Huxford encouraged the graduates to follow Christ’s example and be intentional, bold and creative in reaching out to those who don’t know Him. “It doesn’t matter what you do for a living, this opportunity is before you,” he said. “You can give people a gift that’s greater than any gift they can get anywhere.”

“Thirty days before my graduation, I didn’t have a clue what I was going to do,” Huxford explained. “But I was certain God had called me into ministry, and I was certain I had been well prepared at Atlanta Christian College.”

Finally, he reminded the graduates, “Times are uncertain; God is not.”

Huxford’s commencement address was followed by the conferring of degrees and a farewell from the Class of 2009, presented by Miles Barnes, of LaGrange, Ga., president of the Student Government Association. Barnes reminded his fellow graudates that ACC had helped them grow up, shaping their lives and their faith in a significant way.

“Faculty, staff, trustees, and parents especially, your contributions to ACC and to us have done so much more than just give us an education,” Barnes said. “You have given us the opportunity to become men and women in Christ. And for that I am proud to say that I am graduating from Atlanta Christian College.”

The 2009 Hathcock Award winners were also announced during the ceremony. This award, named for Judge T. O. Hathcock, ACC’s founder, is the highest honor the College awards to a graduating senior. Seniors are nominated by the administrative cabinet and selected by the faculty. Not more than five percent of the graduating class may receive the award. It is given based on the qualities of scholarship, character and servant leadership. This year’s recipients were Stephanie Duttweiler, of Hampton, Ga., and Jeffrey Morgan, of Newnan, Ga.

This spring also marked the first graduates for one of ACC’s newest majors, child and youth development.

Atlanta Christian College’s mission is to educate students for Christ-centered service and leadership throughout the world. Founded in 1937, the College enrolls more than 600 students. The College’s board of trustees is currently in the process of selecting a new location for the main campus in order to accommodate further growth. Atlanta Christian College is affiliated with the Christian Churches and Churches of Christ.

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University System of Georgia a National Leader in Increasing Production of Teachers, Especially Minorities

Though much work remains, the University System of Georgia (USG) has made great strides in its efforts to produce teachers to work in Georgia's K-12 schools, according to officials in charge of the System's educator-preparation program. This includes not only graduating more teachers but improving diversity and the retention of teachers in K-12 schools.

During an update today to the Board of Regents' Academic Affairs Committee, Dr. Marti Venn, senior executive director of educator preparation and program improvement in the Department of P-16 Initiatives, reported that the USG produced 4,236 teachers in 2008, an increase of 11 percent over 2007, despite budget constraints. The number of minority teachers in those ranks also increased by 31 percent during the same period.

"These are among the highest such increases in the country," said Venn, who noted that, since 2002, when the Regents' Principles for the Preparation of Educators for the Schools took effect, nearly 25,000 new teachers have rolled off the University System's production line and into classrooms, a 59 percent increase, overall.

But quantity is just part of the teacher-preparation equation. "USG quality translates into more teachers in the classroom, higher retention rates and high customer satisfaction," Venn said. "Teachers prepared by USG institutions are highly sought after – the overwhelming majority of USG-prepared teachers (79 percent in 2007) are hired immediately upon completion of their programs. The two-year retention rate for USG-prepared teachers is 89 percent compared to 76 percent for non-USG graduates. And 98 percent of school administrators hiring our graduates – our customers – would recommend to their peers the USG institution that prepared them."

Referring to the USG's ongoing commitment to meet 80 percent of the state's need for teachers by 2020, Venn said, "Will we meet our goal simply by churning out large numbers of new teachers? Absolutely not. We will use a three-tiered approach to continue to strengthen our efforts to ensure that by the year 2020 there will be sufficient numbers of qualified teachers in the every classroom in Georgia. First, we will continue to ramp up our efforts to recruit and train new teachers; we will provide professional-development opportunities in order to retain good teachers; and we will retrain teachers to meet school needs."

This plan will be accomplished through "the innovative and pioneering work taking place on USG campuses throughout the state and with the help of our K-12 partners and those at the state level – the Department of Education, the Professional Standards Commission and the Student Finance Commission," Venn added.

As Georgia's need for more qualified teachers has grown along with its burgeoning population, the USG has responded by adding new teacher-preparation programs at Dalton State College (2004), Georgia Gwinnett College and Macon State College (2005), Gainesville State College and Gordon College (2006) and the College of Coastal Georgia and Middle Georgia College (2008).

In 2008, 17 USG institutions were involved in preparing educators, and work is under way to add four more to the list. Among the 17 campuses preparing teachers, the percentage of new teachers produced in 2007 working in Georgia public schools in 2008 ranged from 66 percent to 100 percent, and at nine of these campuses, it was greater than 80 percent.

The USG has also responded to Georgia's increased need for teachers by:
increasing its production of minority teachers by 54 percent since 2004. Georgia State University and Albany State University have been so successful that they now rank No. 12 and No. 14 nationally in this regard; and
developing innovative ways of delivering programs, such as offering online master's degrees in teaching through www.GeorgiaONmyLINE.org and "one-stop shopping" for teaching programs and resources at www.destinationteaching.org, which has been heavily used by career-changers considering teaching options.

For more details about the increase in the number of teachers produced and indicators of the quality of these USG graduates, the just-released 2008 Report on the Preparation of New Teachers by University System of Georgia Institutions is posted online at www.usg.edu/p16/resources/PDFs/2008_teacher_prep_report.pdf

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Claxton Memorial Scholarship Established at University of West Georgia

The University of West Georgia is privileged to announce the establishment of the Robert Ray and Bula Adams Claxton Memorial Scholarship. Dr. Robert H. Claxton, professor emeritus of history at UWG, created the scholarship to honor his parents, Robert Ray and Bula Adams Claxton.

“Neither of my parents finished high school. Like many at that time, college was not really an option for them,” said Claxton. “I think they would be pleased that something was being done for education in their names.”

The memorial scholarship will be awarded to a student majoring in history at UWG. A committee of faculty in the Department of History will annually select the recipient.

Robert Ray Claxton was born in Buffalo, N.Y. in 1891. During his lifetime, Claxton witnessed many historical events, including the swearing in of President Theodore Roosevelt after the assassination of William McKinley.

Bula Adams Claxton was born in Porterville, N.Y. in 1900. Her education included attending the Marilla District No. 7 School and East Aurora High School. She later became the Porterville postmaster serving for nearly 20 years.

“This year marks the 50th anniversary of my graduating from high school and the 50th year of UWG granting history degrees,” said Claxton. “Now seems like a good time to think about the past and who helped get us here. Knowing where we come from helps prepare us for the future and what we can do to help future generations.”

For more information on this scholarship, call 678-839-6582.

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Monday, May 11, 2009

Georgia's "Race to the Top" by State Superintendent Kathy Cox

Georgia is in a "Race to the Top" and, in many respects, we're leading the way.

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced recently that $5 billion in grants are being made available to states that – in his words – adopt "college and career-ready internationally benchmarked standards" and "state of the art data collection systems, assessments and curricula to meet these higher standards."

To me, it sounds like Secretary Duncan was reading straight from our Strategic Plan. For six years, Georgia has been focused on implementing a world-class curriculum, raising expectations and using quality data to make decisions. We have received high marks for the policies and standards we’ve put in place from groups across the nation.

But the journey to “the top” is not always smooth and raising standards is not easy. The truth is that the material that Georgia students are learning today is more rigorous than it has ever been and, consequently, the assessments they are taking are more difficult.

Over the past few years, we’ve seen the pass rates on our state tests – like the CRCT and End of Course Tests – drop in the first year we’ve implemented our new curriculum and given the new state exams. This is to be expected: Whenever you raise the bar, there’s going to be a temporary drop in the number of people that can reach that bar. That’s true in any situation.

The good news is that in the second and third year of the new curriculum we have seen test scores increase in all subjects and all grades.

However, in all the focus on tests, pass rates and percentages, it’s easy to forget the big picture: The mission of our public school system is to prepare students to be successful in life. In the 21st century we must make sure our students have higher order thinking and analytical skills, the ability to communicate clearly and a deeper understanding of mathematics and science.

We could certainly keep our standards low and get high test scores that make everyone feel good, but how does that help our students? Ultimately, we would be setting them up for failure later as they go on in their education and in life.

Instead, we are following a national, bipartisan call for higher standards and higher expectations for all students, regardless of whether they plan to attend college, go right into the workplace or both.

So, what does this rigor look like?

Most of this year’s 9th graders took the new Mathematics I or Accelerated Mathematics I classes, which include parts of Algebra, Geometry and Statistics. These new courses are certainly more challenging than the old Algebra I class, as is the new Mathematics I End of Course Test (EOCT).

This is a “field test” year for the Math I EOCT, so the results won’t count, but I’m sure any 9th grader will tell you the test was very challenging (and I’m sure I’ll get a full report from my 9th grader!)

In the coming weeks we will release some of the questions from the Math I EOCT to give the public an idea of what we are asking students to learn. When you see the questions, I think you’ll agree that we are asking our students to learn more rigorous mathematics.

Georgia is not going down this road alone. There are 35 states across the USA that are raising standards and asking all students – regardless of their plans after high school – to take a rigorous core of classes in mathematics, science, English language arts and social studies.

But in Georgia, we are ahead of the game and are combining those core academics with improved Career, Technical and Agricultural Education programs, increased public school choice options and innovative approaches that allow school-level educators to decide what is best for their students.

So, as the results of our state tests roll in over the next several weeks and months, please keep this in mind: If our students are going to win the race to the top, we must be dedicated to giving them the tools and information they need to run that race.

It won’t always be easy but, in the end, it will be worth it.

Kathy Cox, a parent and a veteran classroom teacher, is Georgia’s Superintendent of Schools.

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Friday, May 8, 2009

New G.I. Bill Benefits Expected to Attract More Veterans to Georgia Southern University

Georgia Southern University expects to see more military veterans enroll as students this fall thanks to benefits from the new G.I. Bill that goes into effect on August 1.

“In terms of education benefits, this is the best G.I. Bill ever offered,” said Lt. Col. George Fredrick, ROTC director and professor of military science at Georgia Southern.

The new G.I. Bill, also known as the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill, goes well beyond helping to pay for tuition. Veterans who have served at least three years of active duty after Sept. 11, 2001, will get full tuition and fees, a new monthly housing stipend, a $1,000 a year stipend for books and supplies, and the option to transfer benefits to a spouse or dependent child. Active duty veterans serving more than 90 days, but less than three years of post-9/11 active duty service, are eligible for a percentage (40-90 percent) of those benefits.

“The No. 1 aspect about the new G.I. Bill is that it will pay the veteran's or dependant's tuition up-front to the institution of choice. That has been a really big issue in the past,” said Sharonica Daniels, Georgia Southern University’s veterans coordinator.

Georgia Southern University’s Offices of Admissions, Registrar and Dean of Students will work together to meet the veterans’ needs. “As a member of SOC (Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges), Georgia Southern provides veterans with the appropriate evaluation of their training, experience, prior study, admissions practices, transfer of credit, and recognition of other forms of learning, including military experience as well as other services the same manner as if they were regular students,” Daniels said.

Veterans who are interested in attending Georgia Southern University this fall and have not already applied are encouraged to do so as soon as possible. Veterans who don’t apply in a timely enough manner may have to pay tuition themselves and then be reimbursed.

“Since the new G.I. Bill was signed (by President Bush in June 2008), I have been getting feedback from veterans who plan on taking advantage of it,” Daniels said. “It will be interesting to see the final number of enrollees using the new G.I. Bill come August 17 (the first day of fall classes).”

For more information about the new G.I. Bill, contact Daniels at 912-478-5154 or sdaniels@georgiasouthern.edu. Also, the University System of Georgia devotes a section of its web site to information for veterans: http://www.usg.edu/veterans.phtml.

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Thursday, May 7, 2009

Clayton State Spring Commencement Honors Starr, Lee

Stockbridge and Clayton State’s Dolores Cox to Receive Second MALS Graduate Degree

Clayton State University will honor two of the seminal figures in the history of the University and Clayton County at its annual Spring Commencement ceremonies on Saturday, May 9.

In addition to Clayton State students receiving master’s, bachelors and associates degrees, the University will be awarding honorary doctorates to the late State Senator Terrell Starr and retired State Representative William J. “Bill” Lee. Both of these long-time public servants (Starr 38 years in the Senate, Lee 42 years in the House) were instrumental in the selection and location of a new University System of Georgia junior college in Clayton County in the 1960s. Although Starr passed away unexpectedly on Sunday, Apr. 19, 2009, that college, now Clayton State University, will go forward with its plans to honor this long-time public servant. Starr’s honorary doctorate will be awarded posthumously at the noon ceremony to his son, Terry Starr. Also present will be wife Celeste Starr and daughter JoAnn McJenkin. Lee will also be present to also receive his honorary degree.

The University’s dual spring commencement ceremonies will be held in the Athletics & Fitness Center. The first ceremony will be held at 9 a.m., the second starts at noon. Graduates of the College of Arts & Sciences will receive their diplomas at the noon ceremony, while graduates of the University’s other four schools – Business, Nursing, Information & Mathematical Sciences, and Professional Studies -- will take part in the 9 a.m. ceremony.

A total of 628 students will be eligible to graduate, including 32 students receiving master’s degrees. Thirty-one of the master’s recipients will be in the 9 a.m. ceremony as the first cohort from the Master’s of Business Administration program. The lone master’s degree awarded at noon will go to Dolores Cox (Stockbridge), communications coordinator in the Clayton State Office of University Image and Communications, and the second graduate of the University’s Master’s of Arts in Liberal Studies program.

Among the undergraduates receiving degrees at noon will be two more staff members from the Clayton State Division of External Relations, student assistants Ciji Fox (Stockbridge) and Tiffany Whidby (Morrow).

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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UGA College of Education to host math, science academy for high school students

For three weeks this summer, about 60 Athens area high school students will have a unique opportunity to learn more about mathematics and science, and possible careers in those fields, during a Summer Academy hosted by the University of Georgia College of Education.

The free, three-week program involves sessions from 8:30 a.m. to noon from July 6-24, and is open for college-bound high school juniors and seniors in Athens and Northeast Georgia.

“Students will encounter topics that they would not usually find in high school, such as electron microscopy, veterinary science and the mathematics of body mechanics,” said Corey Buxton, an associate professor in the department of elementary and social studies education. “They will have access to tools, technologies and instructors usually reserved for university students. They will gain valuable career information that should expand their understanding of the range of available careers involving mathematics and science.”

As part of the final week, students will create project presentations of their work to share with younger children from Athens-Clarke County Recreation and Leisure summer programs and the Athens Boys and Girls Club, allowing them to experience the engagement and challenge of teaching.

The program, funded by a state Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Initiative grant is one of dozens of efforts by UGA to promote interest, enthusiasm and engagement in the fields of science and math.

Georgia faces a critical shortage of certified teachers in mathematics and science. In 2008, 14.3 percent of all Georgia math teachers were not fully certified, according to the Georgia Professional Standards Commission. Another 18.6 percent of physical science teachers and 16.2 percent of life sciences teachers lacked full certification, the commission said.

“Middle school and high school math and science are projected to be critical need teaching areas for the foreseeable future,” said Buxton.

For college-bound high school students, a career in teaching science and math in public schools will soon become even more enticing. The state recently approved a pay boost for math and science teachers beginning in the 2010 school year.

The measure allows new secondary school teachers with proper math or science certification to start at the salary of a fifth year teacher. That’s an increase of about $4,561, to $37,985 a year, under the state salary schedule. The teacher’s salary would then continue to rise a step every year for five years. After that, the increase would be tied to student performance.

The new Georgia legislation focuses on high schools but would also reward elementary school teachers who increase their competency in math and science by handing them a $1,000 annual bonus if they earn an endorsement from the Professional Standards Commission.

The Summer Academy will be held mainly in Aderhold Hall on the UGA campus. However, field trips and project presentations off campus will be included. Those interested in participating should contact Joe Long at drlong@uga.edu to register for this free program.

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Georgia adopts new federal guidance on school closures

The Department of Human Resources (DHR), Division of Public Health (GDPH) has adopted newly released federal guidance regarding schools and childcare closures as it relates to the novel H1N1 influenza virus.

The CDC’s updated guidelines do not advise school closure for suspected or confirmed cases of H1N1 unless there is a magnitude of faculty or student absenteeism that interferes with the school’s ability to function.

Based on CDC’s revised guidelines, GDPH has notified the Georgia High School Association and the headmaster at Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy in Henry County to recommend the school resume classes. GDPH continues to recommend any student or staff with flu-like symptoms stay home.

DHR Division of Public Health reported two additional confirmed cases of novel H1N1 novel virus today.

"The third Georgia case is a three-year old patient and the fourth case is a 36-year-old pregnant woman who is resting at home,” said Dr. Sandra Elizabeth Ford, Acting Director of the Division of Public Health. “Neither of these cases required hospitalization. Both patients are following treatment prescribed by their doctors”

Most people can recuperate from H1N1 novel virus at home just as with seasonal flu. Like seasonal flu, the H1N1 novel virus in humans can vary in severity from mild to severe.

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Wednesday, May 6, 2009

More students earning online degrees from Georgia Southern University

When Alex Giles receives his degree from Georgia Southern University on May 9, he won’t be the typical graduate.

Giles is already well-established in his career field. He is 46 years old. And he took Georgia Southern classes while living and working about 300 miles from the campus.

Giles is one of 72 online graduates who will receive their degrees Saturday, the most ever for the University. Georgia Southern offers nine graduate programs, two undergraduate programs and three “blended” programs online.

“These online degree programs allow working adults and those who are outside of our campus area to complete their degrees. We offer flexibility and high-quality programs that meet the needs of adult learners wishing to further their careers,” said Gary Means, dean of continuing education and public services.

“I never felt like I was far away, even from 300 miles away,” Giles said.

When he decided four years ago to become a nursing instructor, Giles already had bachelor’s and master’s degrees in psychology and an associate degree in nursing, and had worked for several years in the medical field. However, he knew he needed even more education and training.

“Everyone knows about the nursing shortage, but an even bigger need is nursing faculty,” said Giles, who teaches at a technical college in Acworth, Ga. “I knew I had to get my BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing) if I was going to go further in the teaching field.”

Giles enrolled in the Georgia Southern School of Nursing’s RN-to-BSN Program, which is offered completely online. He is one of 13 RN-BSN graduates this spring, from 12 different counties and 13 cities in Georgia.

“The RN-BSN Program at Georgia Southern provides an opportunity for registered nurses to earn a BSN degree from a Carnegie Doctoral-Research university without having to travel long distances, in many cases, to class. Registered nurses often consider online education their only or best choice for earning a BSN degree,” said June Alberto, nursing professor and RN-BSN program director.

“I looked at a lot of online programs, and I wanted a traditional academic program,” Giles said. “I never expected an online program to be structured so well and supported so well as Georgia Southern’s.”

While working full-time in Acworth, Giles took five online classes per semester to earn his BSN degree in one year. At the end of each semester, he would come to the Georgia Southern campus to present a project or assignment and to interact with instructors and other classmates. Giles described earning his online degree as “a challenge, but it was worth it.”

Although Giles has earned his Georgia Southern degree completely online, he never had any doubt that he would attend Commencement at Paulson Stadium.

“I wouldn’t miss it. That’s my school,” said Giles, who now plans to pursue his master’s degree in nursing.

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UGA to award degrees to about 4,850 at commencement ceremonies May 9

The University of Georgia will confer degrees on about 4,850 undergraduate and graduate students at spring commencement ceremonies May 9.

An estimated 3,700 undergraduates will be eligible to receive bachelor’s degrees at the undergraduate ceremony at 9:30 a.m. The ceremony will be held in Sanford Stadium unless weather conditions are deemed to be severe, in which case the ceremony will be held in Stegeman Coliseum in two sessions, beginning at 9:30 and 11:30 a.m.

Severe weather is defined as rain accompanied by high winds, thunder and lightning. If rain is falling but conditions are not considered severe, candidates will be given a poncho to wear during the ceremony. There will not be a student processional and candidates will go directly to their school’s or college’s designated seating section on the field.

A decision to move to Stegeman Coliseum will be made by 6:30 a.m. and will be posted on the UGA home page, http://www.uga.edu/, by 7 a.m. Local radio stations will be notified of the move but may not be able to broadcast the information because their weekend operations are computerized.

About 1,155 candidates for master’s, doctoral and specialist in education degrees will be eligible to participate in the ceremony for graduate students at 2:30 p.m. in Stegeman Coliseum.

U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston of Savannah will speak at the undergraduate ceremony. Kingston, who received an economics degree from UGA in 1978, is a member of the House Appropriations Committee and has been a strong ally for UGA in obtaining grants and appropriations from federal agencies for research in agriculture and science and for construction of major facilities.

Mary Virginia Terry of Jacksonville, Fla., will receive the honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree at the ceremony. Terry and her late husband, Herman, have been major supporters of UGA for 55 years and are namesakes of the Terry College of Business. Mrs. Terry is an emeritus trustee of the Arch Foundation of the University of Georgia.

The student speaker for the undergraduate ceremony will be Mary Catherine McLean of Moultrie, who will receive a degree in history. A HOPE Scholar and Dean’s List student, McLean has studied at Oxford University in England and was on the Student Government Association executive board. She was president of Phi Alpha Theta history honor society and was a Leadership UGA Fellow.

Twenty-five seniors who have maintained perfect 4.0 grade point averages will be recognized as First Honor Graduates.

The undergraduate ceremony will be broadcast in the Tate Student Center Theatre and on televisions in the student center. It will also be broadcast on Charter cable channel 15 and will be streamed live on the internet from the UGA home page.

The speaker for the ceremony for graduate students will be Stan Collender, a partner at Qorvis Communications. Collender has a 30-year background in financial and public affairs communications and is an expert on federal fiscal and monetary policies. He writes a column on fiscal matters for the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call and is founder of “Capital Gains and Games,” a popular financial and political blog.

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