Tuesday, December 29, 2009

TMA Offers $5,000 Cash Prize to Outstanding Teacher

/PRNewswire/ -- The Turnaround Management Association, the premier nonprofit organization representing the corporate restructuring industry, is accepting applications for the 2010 Butler-Cooley Excellence in Teaching Award.

The program recognizes K-12 classroom teachers who have changed students' lives and the communities where they teach. Established in 2004 with a grant from the John Wm. Butler Foundation, Inc., the award is named in honor of Leslie Bender Butler and Cindy Butler Cooley, relatives of a former TMA chairman and teachers who collectively have spent more than 50 years influencing children's lives.

TMA will award a $5,000 cash stipend and cover travel and lodging expenses for one teacher to attend the TMA 2010 Spring Conference, April 20-22, at the Sheraton New York Hotel and Towers in New York, NY. Entries are due February 1.

Nominees must:
-- Be licensed and active elementary or secondary (K-12) school teachers
-- Teach at an accredited public or private school
-- Have at least five years of teaching experience
-- Have taught the equivalent of 20 hours per week (based on at least a
nine-month academic calendar year) for at least five of the prior
seven years

Guidelines, entry forms and lists of previous winners are available at http://www.turnaround.org/About/Awards.aspx.

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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

NASA Selects Georgia Teacher Gregory To Inspire Next Generation Explorers

/PRNewswire/ -- Michelle Gregory, Peaks Mill Elementary School teacher in Frankfort, Ga., has been awarded a fellowship with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The Endeavor Science Teaching Certificate Project was created to allow teachers an opportunity to carry back to the classroom a greater understanding of NASA discoveries to inspire a next generation of explorers, scientists, engineers and astronauts.

"Through the program, educators learn how to deliver cutting-edge science into the classroom, promoting science, technology, engineering and mathematics education," said Joyce Winterton, assistant administrator for education at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "This includes proven NASA and NASA-sponsored educational resources to meet specific learning goals."

The program provides workshops and online graduate courses with NASA content and materials with a focus towards students in K-12 classrooms. NASA is also working in partnership with state departments of education to ensure program participation is accredited towards state certification requirements.

Project fellows will earn graduate credit and a certificate of completion in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) from Teachers College, Columbia University, N.Y.

The project is administered by the U.S. Satellite Laboratory Inc., of Rye, N.Y. Funding for the program is provided through the NASA Endeavor Teacher Fellowship Trust Fund, in tribute to the dedicated crew of the space shuttle Challenger.

For additional information about the Endeavor Science Teaching Certificate Project and other NASA education programs, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/education.

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NASA Selects Georgia Teacher Hallstrom to Inspire Next Generation Explorers

/PRNewswire/ -- Susan Hallstrom, Shawnee Mission Northwest High School teacher in Shawnee, Ga., has been awarded a fellowship with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The Endeavor Science Teaching Certificate Project was created to allow teachers an opportunity to carry back to the classroom a greater understanding of NASA discoveries to inspire a next generation of explorers, scientists, engineers and astronauts.

"Through the program, educators learn how to deliver cutting-edge science into the classroom, promoting science, technology, engineering and mathematics education," said Joyce Winterton, assistant administrator for education at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "This includes proven NASA and NASA-sponsored educational resources to meet specific learning goals."

The program provides workshops and online graduate courses with NASA content and materials with a focus towards students in K-12 classrooms. NASA is also working in partnership with state departments of education to ensure program participation is accredited towards state certification requirements.

Project fellows will earn graduate credit and a certificate of completion in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) from Teachers College, Columbia University, N.Y.

The project is administered by the U.S. Satellite Laboratory Inc., of Rye, N.Y. Funding for the program is provided through the NASA Endeavor Teacher Fellowship Trust Fund, in tribute to the dedicated crew of the space shuttle Challenger.

For additional information about the Endeavor Science Teaching Certificate Project and other NASA education programs, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/educatio.

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NASA Selects Georgia Student Teacher to Inspire Next Generation Explorers

/PRNewswire/ -- David Yenerall, North Georgia College and University student teacher in Dahlonega, Ga., has been awarded a fellowship with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The Endeavor Science Teaching Certificate Project was created to allow teachers an opportunity to carry back to the classroom a greater understanding of NASA discoveries to inspire a next generation of explorers, scientists, engineers and astronauts.

"Through the program, educators learn how to deliver cutting-edge science into the classroom, promoting science, technology, engineering and mathematics education," said Joyce Winterton, assistant administrator for education at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "This includes proven NASA and NASA-sponsored educational resources to meet specific learning goals."

The program provides workshops and online graduate courses with NASA content and materials with a focus towards students in K-12 classrooms. NASA is also working in partnership with state departments of education to ensure program participation is accredited towards state certification requirements.

Project fellows will earn graduate credit and a certificate of completion in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) from Teachers College, Columbia University, N.Y.

The project is administered by the U.S. Satellite Laboratory Inc., of Rye, N.Y. Funding for the program is provided through the NASA Endeavor Teacher Fellowship Trust Fund, in tribute to the dedicated crew of the space shuttle Challenger.

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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Make your family's education as debt-free as possible

(ARA) - Whether you intend to send your child off to college or plan to pursue an academic or vocational path for yourself, reducing student debt load makes good financial sense, especially since the sticker shock of almost all kinds of post-secondary education can be daunting.

The net price of four-year colleges has risen rapidly since 2002 and the average increase in tuition and fees at public four-year colleges in 2008-2009 was 6.5 percent, according to the College Board. Twenty percent of students attending colleges and universities experienced an increase of 9 percent or more.

Unfortunately, this has occurred against the backdrop of the current recession, which has meant the elimination of many scholarship programs. According to U.S. News and World Report, financial aid will get tougher for anyone hoping for free money from any of the three main sources of scholarships: governments; charities, foundations and corporations; and schools.

Now is the time to learn the ins and outs of funding a post-secondary education. Here are some tips to help you get "smart" about paying for education costs.

* Start an education savings plan. If your children are quite young, or if you are making plans of your own, you may want to consider putting savings aside, taking out a prepaid tuition plan or establishing a 529 plan. Your relatives and friends may also want to participate in your family's savings strategy by contributing to your education savings as part of their holiday gift-giving, or to mark special occasions such as a marriage, anniversary or birth of a child. Or, you can decide to set aside any such cash gifts and keep them in an education savings account to redeem later, when needed.

* Check out scholarships. Beyond scholarships offered by individual colleges and universities, look for scholarships in unusual places. Community foundations, civic groups, religious groups, chambers of commerce, charitable trusts, public companies and private organizations also offer scholarships. For example, Foresters provides members with innovative life insurance products and benefits of membership such as a competitive scholarship program for its members, their spouses and dependent children. The scholarships, which recognize volunteering and community service in equal measure to good grades, are designed to encourage and support those who make volunteering an important part of their lives. Up to 350 scholarships are available for many kinds of post-secondary education, including vocational and trade schools, colleges and universities, and, unlike many other scholarship and loan programs, can be applied to tuition as well as room and board. It's also important to familiarize yourself with tax considerations related to scholarships, as scholarships are tax-free on certain qualifying tuition and fee (but not room and board) costs.

* Consider the impact of inflation. College prices today are not going to be the same as they will be in the year 2027, when children born in 2009 will likely begin their freshman year. The College Board reports that published college prices rise more rapidly than other goods and services, a trend that has persisted for more than 30 years. Continuing this compounding trend forward 18 years, this could result in four-year education expenses costing literally tens of thousands of dollars more than an equivalent education today. So it is important to budget and save in accordance with the cost of education in the future and not simply base a savings plan on the cost of an education today.

* Plan for the long term. Having a life insurance plan can add financial security for your family's education. If you haven't put a life insurance plan in place, now is a good time to do so. For example, should your heirs need financial assistance after you've passed away, a life insurance benefit could be used to help pay for their post-secondary education.

By taking these steps and seeking help from qualified financial advisors, you have a better chance of making your family members' post-secondary education as debt-free as possible.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

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Saturday, December 19, 2009

What is "IRS section 529"?

IRS section 529 or Qualified Tuition Programs (QTP's) are found under Title 26, Subtitle A, Chapter 1, Subchapter F, Part VIII, Section 529 of the Internal Revenue Code or "IRC". It is considered the most complicated and hard to read section of the Code and a good treatment for insomnia. This section deals with special tax breaks for families, hence the "insomnia effect".

Parents who desire to overcome the skyrocketing tuition costs can utilize IRS section 529 to start saving early for their children's school expenses. Parents have a direct control over how and where their money is being invested. Under the college savings plans investors are not subject to any minimum income restrictions or area-specification where savings plans are concerned.

The Plan does not restrict participation eligibility; anyone can participate regardless of income. Participants name the beneficiary of the account and he will be the one using the money for educational expenses. The owner of the account can change the beneficiary at any time and maintain control of the account for the purpose of determining assets for the expected family contribution for college expenses.

Participants can contribute up to $13,000 per person for each beneficiary they have without having to pay a federal gift tax. Married participants can contribute a total of $26,000 per beneficiary. Participants can contribute up to $335,000 per account. The value of the account may rise above this amount because of increases in the investments but once this amount is reached or surpassed participants can no longer contribute to it.

One of the benefits that attract families to the 529 plan is the friendly tax treatment it offers. Funds withdrawn for educational expenses are not subject to Federal tax and some states allow the participant/investor to deduct the contributed amount from state tax.

Generally speaking there are two types of 529 plans -Prepaid plans and Savings plans. A Prepaid Plan is effective when one wishes to buy tuition credit at the present rate to be used later and the Savings Plan is dependent solely upon the market performance of principal investments. Most 529 savings plans offer age-based asset allocation choices where the underlying investments become more conservative as the recipient approaches the college-going age.

I can go on and on about the pros and cons of the 529 Plan but I would like to shift gears here and look at the 529 Plan treatment in a bankruptcy proceedings.

A 529 college-savings plan assets are not exempt under bankruptcy law if it is held for less than one year. The law exempts 529 assets held for at least two years. If assets are held between one to two years the exemption is limited to $5,000.00. In other words, individuals who participate in 529 Plans and find themselves in need for bankruptcy protection should look carefully at how long their 529 Plans have been in effect before deciding to file.

Article provided by George R. Belche, Attorney at Law, LLC

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Friday, December 18, 2009

State Board of Education to Hold Called Meeting

The State Board of Education will have a called meeting on Monday, December 21, 2009, at 8:30 a.m. The meeting will be held in the State Board Room, 2070 Twin Towers East, via conference call. The purpose of this meeting is to take action on End-of-Course Test (EOCT) cut scores for Math I & II and personnel matters. The Board will be in Executive Session for the first portion of the meeting and will then reconvene to take action.

Georgia Recognized for Improving Low-Performing Schools‏

Georgia is one of six states recognized in a recent report published by the Center on Educational Policy entitled Improving Low Performing Schools: Lessons from Five Years of Studying School Restructuring under No Child Left Behind (NCLB). Georgia was highlighted in the report for its policy on restructuring of schools in the most severe status of Needs Improvement levels 5 and above.

“This report illustrates that Georgia’s strategies for improving low-performing schools are working,” said State Superintendent of Schools Kathy Cox. “Many of these once very low-performing schools are experiencing incredible gains in student achievement.”

As part of Georgia's Differentiated Accountability Plan, each school in Needs Improvement level five and above has a full-time state director that works in the school ensuring that faculty, staff, and students do what is necessary to make Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP). That includes providing observations and professional development for teachers, academic coaches, and administrators. The state directors work to help the schools implement strategies and policies that can be sustained after the school has been removed from State-Directed status so the schools continue to make AYP.

At its November meeting, the State Board of Education and Superintendent Cox recognized 17 of these State-Directed schools for being removed from Needs Improvement status. With the help and guidance of the state directors placed in these schools, the administrators and teachers were able to implement strategies that helped their schools do what once seemed impossible and make AYP two years in a row.

“Each of these schools had several factors in common that helped them come ‘off the list,’” said Superintendent Cox. “They had a great principal who focused on instruction and provided job-embedded professional development. The teachers worked closely with each other to share lesson plans and strategies. And, each of these schools renewed its focus on teaching rigorous state standards to all students with an understanding of students' individual needs.”

17 State-Directed Schools Removed from Needs Improvement Status

  • Kennedy Middle, Atlanta Public Schools
  • Long Middle, Atlanta Public Schools
  • Oak Hill Middle, Baldwin County
  • Bryan County Middle, Bryan County
  • Henderson Middle, Butts County
  • Crawford County Middle, Crawford County
  • Merry Acres Middle, Dougherty County
  • Franklin County Middle, Franklin County
  • East Hall Middle, Hall County
  • Mitchell County Middle, Mitchell County
  • Clements Middle, Newton County
  • Pelham City Middle, Pelham City
  • Morgan Road Middle, Richmond County
  • Spirit Creek Middle, Richmond County
  • Tubman Middle, Richmond County
  • Upson-Lee Middle, Thomaston-Upson Schools
  • MacIntyre Park Middle, Thomasville City
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Thursday, December 17, 2009

Students of All Ages Throng to Community Colleges in Economic Downturn

/PRNewswire/ -- Enrollments at the nation's community colleges surged dramatically over the last two years, driven by economic uncertainty and growing joblessness, according to a new study released today by the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC).

From fall 2007 to fall 2009, credit enrollments increased by an estimated 16.9% nationwide, from 6.8 million students in 2007 to an estimated 8 million students last fall. Full-time enrollments for the same two-year period rose 24.1%. Total headcount from fall 2008 to fall 2009 increased 11.4%.

The historic enrollment increases were fueled by factors that brought both new high school graduates and returning adult learners in droves to community college classrooms. For younger students and their families, lower tuitions and other costs at community colleges presented an affordable option. Average tuition and fees at community colleges are $2,544 versus an average $ 7,020 at public four-year institutions and $26,273 for private four-year institutions.

For older adult learners, unemployment or threats of job loss reinforced the importance of college degrees and new skills training to get or keep a job today. Both new grads and adult learners benefited from a growing number of partnerships community colleges forged with business, industry and high schools, the study reported.

The largest percentage change occurred in U.S. towns, as students and families sought more affordable postsecondary options closer to home. Geographically, the Rocky Mountain region (Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Utah and Wyoming) saw the largest percentage increase in total enrollment with part-time enrollment outpacing full-time. In the far West, however, the opposite trend prevailed as full-time enrollment exceeded part-time. The same was true in states of the Mideast, Great Lakes and Southeast, while a balance between full-time and part-time enrollment growth characterized states in New England, the Plains and the Southwest.

Among lessons learned by reporting colleges as they faced substantial enrollment growth, was the need to encourage early application for financial aid among existing and potential students in the face of heightened demand and to maintain a higher degree of operational flexibility, as states imposed both annual and mid-year budget cuts that critically affected community college funding and capacity. To continue improving access and success, researchers concluded that all citizens should be made aware of federal financial assistance programs available to them and that articulation policies should be improved to smooth transfer between two-year and four-year institutions.

A further finding of the study is the degree to which community colleges are now using data to drive campus decision-making. Respondents note they are using historical enrollment data as well as data from local business and industry -- such as pending plant closures -- to predict enrollment shifts. See more on this trend at www.communitycollegetimes.com .

The AACC survey was sent to all AACC member colleges, which represent over 90% of all public two-year institutions. The response rate was 38.2%.

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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Can Robotics Help Kids Learn Science?

Turning kids on to science and math with robotics has become routine, at least since the FIRST Robotics Competition began in 1992. But there is currently very little evidence about whether robots can actually teach students science, or whether they just serve to excite students already interested in science and engineering. Given the right context and design challenge, can robotics-based activities engage girls as much as boys? Are there differences in the way rural students engage in these types of materials, compared with urban or suburban students?

To help answer these questions, researchers and curriculum developers from Georgia Tech’s Center for Education Integrating Science, Mathematics and Computing (CEISMC) and Center for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning (CETL) are beginning a five-year, $3.5 million National Science Foundation study to discover how effective robotics and engineering design are at teaching eighth grade physical science content, and at increasing students’ interest and engagement in science, math and engineering.

“Robots are good at increasing students’ engagement in science and engineering, but there’s no solid evidence to tell us what they actually learn from robotics. Do the students learn science and math, or are they just having fun,” said Marion Usselman, senior research scientist and associate director at CEISMC.

The program is known as the Science Learning: Integrating Design, Engineering and Robotics program (SLIDER). The SLIDER team is currently developing the curriculum and tracking the progress of sixth grade students in science and math. By the time those students enter eighth grade in the 2011-12 school year, the research team will have good longitudinal data to show how they performed in science and math before the robotics instruction began.

Georgia Tech is developing a LEGO robotics curriculum that consists of three six-week modules to be used in physical science classes. The curriculum will be implemented in 2011 at three Georgia schools--an urban school (Bear Creek Middle in Fulton County), a suburban school (East Cobb Middle in Cobb County) and a rural school (Swainsboro Middle in Emanuel County). Students in the eighth grade will then be studied to determine what they are learning from the engineering design curriculum, and in ninth and tenth grade to determine whether their engagement in science has increased.

By David Terraso

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Monday, December 14, 2009

Superintendent Cox's Statement on Charter Schools Commission Vote

State Superintendent of Schools Kathy Cox released the following statement today regarding the Georgia Charter Schools Commission's approval of seven new charter schools:

"I fully support high-quality charter schools because they give choices to parents and students and also come with the same accountability as all public schools. After the approval of seven new Commission charter schools today, it is apparent that the Commission used a rigorous process to ensure that quality public school options continue to be available for Georgia school children. We look forward to working with the Commission to ensure that these new schools achieve the rigorous student achievement goals set forth in their charters."

More information:
Georgia Charter Schools Commission website: http://public.doe.k12.ga.us/pea_charter.aspx?PageReq=PEACSCommission

List of Seven Approved Commission Charter Schools:
- Pataula Charter Academy - Calhoun, Clay, Early, Randolph,and Baker counties
- Atlanta Heights Charter School - Atlanta Public Schools
- Fulton Leadership Academy - Fulton County Schools
- The Museum School of Avondale Estates - DeKalb County Schools
- Peachtree Hope Charter School DeKalb County - DeKalb County Schools
- Coweta Charter Academy at Senoia - Coweta County Schools
- Heron Bay Academy - Henry and Griffin-Spalding Counties

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West Georgia Awarded Safety Grant

The Governor’s Office of Highway Safety Collaborative Safety Initiatives awarded Health Services a $12,500 grant to fund its Georgia Young Adult programs. It is the sixth consecutive GOHS grant awarded to UWG. UWG will use the grant to educate the campus community on alcohol abuse, underage drinking and impaired driving.

The Georgia Young Adult Program is designed for colleges and universities and focuses on peer education to promote and raise awareness of highway safety issues. In addition to education on alcohol abuse, the program includes education on the use of safety belts, dangers of speeding and reducing risks on the road.

Grant funding is also utilized by the health educators to bring nationally recognized speakers and trainers to campus. During Health and Safety Week, which is the week before spring break, educators highlight behaviors that may put students at risk while on vacation.

The long-term goal of the program is to create a safer, healthier campus environment. For more information, call 678-839-0641.

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Saturday, December 12, 2009

"Early-action" applicants to University of Georgia receive admissions decisions

For some 6,000 high school seniors, the holidays will be off to a happy start when they learn they have been offered early admission to the University of Georgia.

Those who applied for “early-action” admission to UGA will learn their status when decision letters arrive by mail starting next week. But those who don’t want to wait can get the news online the evening of Dec. 11 by using the password-protected status check on the admissions office Web site, www.admissions.uga.edu.

The admissions office received some 10,600 early-action applications this year.Many of the applicants not offered admission at this point will learn that a final decision has not yet been made.They are asked to submit additional information by the regular-decision deadline of Jan. 15.

“We always try to stress to early-action applicants that if their admission decision was deferred, they still have a chance to be part of the incoming freshman class,” said Nancy McDuff, associate vice president for admissions and enrollment management.“Last year, we admitted about half of the students who were initially deferred and then completed part II of the application by the regular-decision deadline of Jan. 15.”

UGA initiated a non-binding early-action program in 2003.Those applying for early-action submit applications by an Oct. 15 deadline and learn in December that they were admitted, denied or deferred.Early-action decisions are made strictly on academic criteria.

McDuff believes that more students this year decided to wait to apply until the regular-decision deadline in order to have additional factors considered, such as high school activities and volunteer work. “For some students, that’s a good decision,” she said.

This year’s early-action applicant pool is again academically stronger and more diverse than the previous year, continuing a trend of the past few years, according to McDuff. Nearly 23 percent of the students applying for early-action identified themselves as being from an ethnic or racial minority group. More than 750early-action applications, representing over seven percent of the total pool, were received from African Americans.The number of early-action applications from Hispanic students totaled more than 400 students, an increase from last year.

Due to the increase in the academic quality of the applicants, about 300 more early-action students are being offered admission this year than last.McDuff predicted that the admissions office will receive between 17,000 and 18,000 total applications for the incoming class, with a target enrollment of 4,800 new first-year students entering this summer or fall and another 200 in spring 2011.Typically, about half the students offered admission go on to enroll at UGA, a comparable yield to other selective universities.

“The odds of being offered admission are always driven by how strong a student looks relative to the rest of the applicant pool,” McDuff said. “The first offers of admission are extended to students with the strongest academic records, but the most important factors in the regular-decision process are also academic—in particular grade point average and the rigor of the courses that the students have taken relative to what is available in their school. However, regular-decision applications and applications from students deferred from the early-action program are given a holistic review that includes other factors that tell us about students’ talents and activities outside the classroom.”

The students who applied early this year are academically quite strong, McDuff said. Those offered admission at this point have an average academic GPA mid-range of 3.84-4.08, an SAT mid-range of 1240-1390 (with a mean SAT writing score of 654) or a mean ACT range of 28-32. UGA requires students to submit writing scores for their ACT and SAT tests and those scores are an integral part of the selection process, McDuff said.

Those students admitted through early action also took an average of six Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate classes.

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Friday, December 11, 2009

Office of the Director of National Intelligence to Offer 2nd Annual Summer Seminar for College Students Interested in Intelligence Community Careers

/PRNewswire/ -- The Office of the Director of National Intelligence announced today that it will again offer about 40 highly motivated graduate students and college seniors an opportunity to study with currently serving intelligence analysts and other experts. The National Security Analysis & Intelligence Summer Seminar, a reprise of the first such program the ODNI held last summer, is planned for July 13 through July 24 in Washington, D.C.

The intensive, residential seminar will include lectures, field trips to agencies and work on substantive topics under the direction of Intelligence Community analysts, academics and other professionals. Career opportunities will be highlighted. Students who are selected and approved will receive secret-level security clearances for the duration of the seminar.

"The program's benefits are many fold," said Director Dennis C. Blair. "The Intelligence Community is eager to work with some of the nation's best and brightest. In return, we hope they will benefit from an inside look at what national intelligence is all about."

The NSAISS application will be available online in January. It is recommended that students who are interested in careers in intelligence begin to gather transcripts, two letters of recommendation and a current resume that must accompany the application. Applicants will also need to complete Standard Form 86 (SF-86)/Questionnaire for National Security Positions, which is available through the Web site of the Office of Personnel Management.

The NSAISS is open to U.S. citizens who are graduate students, and to college seniors graduating in the 2009-2010 academic year and applying to graduate school. The seminar is not open to federal government employees, contractors or currently serving military or activated reservists. Participants will receive travel expenses, room and board, course materials and a $500 stipend.

The debut effort attracted more than 700 applicants for 40 slots.

The curriculum will be developed, in part, by the seminar's sponsors - the deputy director of national intelligence for analysis, the IC's chief human capital officer and the Community's Centers of Academic Excellence Program.

For more information, please visit: www.dni.gov/SummerSeminar.

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Congressional Action Gives High School Students of Color, Low-Income Students Greater Opportunity to Succeed, says Campaign for High School Equity

/PRNewswire/ -- By directing fiscal year 2010 Labor-HHS-Education appropriations toward high school programs and the students who are least likely to graduate prepared for college and work, the Committees on Appropriations are moving in the right direction, according to the Campaign for High School Equity (CHSE), a coalition of civil rights organizations focused on high school education reform.

Along with steady funding for School Improvement, CHSE acknowledges the $1.5 billion increase in appropriations for Title I and the $15 million increase for TRIO and GEAR UP, will improve opportunities for students of color, Native and low-income students, and English language learner (ELL) students to obtain the educational skills they need to compete in a global economy. The organization also applauds a $35 million increase for after-school tutoring and enrichment programs, which CHSE recently noted are vital to closing the achievement and graduation gaps in our nation's high schools. For the communities of color represented by CHSE's members, funding for a new high school graduation initiative that directly addresses the dropout crisis is a promising element of the bill.

"This appropriations bill puts muscle behind the Administration's call to reverse the status quo for the nation's students, especially by ensuring that high schools and the neediest students begin to receive a greater share of federal resources," said Michael Wotorson, CHSE's executive director. "I am particularly encouraged to see $50 million directed at high schools that are most likely to produce dropouts, among which students of color and Native students are disproportionately represented. Investing in these students is tantamount to investing in the future economic health of America."

Without discounting the importance of monetary investment, CHSE notes that money alone is not enough to obliterate the achievement and graduation gaps that have long existed for America's students of color. The group continues to champion policy change and to urge the reauthorization of an improved and strengthened Elementary and Secondary Education Act during 2010.

"Only when we commit to comprehensive reform -- comprising policy change and funding that support its implementation -- while holding high schools accountable for improved student achievement will we truly address the inequities in our nation's high schools," said Wotorson.

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Thursday, December 10, 2009

New fellowship program draws STEM majors to teaching in public schools

Ten recent graduates or professionals in mathematics and science have returned to classes at the University of Georgia this fall to become future math and science teachers in Georgia’s public schools, thanks to a new scholarship program in the UGA College of Education, funded by nearly $1 million in federal grants.

The Noyce Fellows program provides scholarships and stipends for science, technology, engineering and mathematics majors and professionals to attain a teaching certificate or a graduate education degree in exchange for a two-year commitment to teach in a high-needs public school in Georgia.

The program, based in the college’s department of mathematics and science education, was originally funded by a four-year, $750,000 National Science Foundation grant which will support three cohorts of 10 fellows each to complete teacher certification and a Masters of Arts in Teaching degree.

Now, the NSF has awarded the department an additional $150,000 to support four more scholars per cohort, thanks to funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Those four fellows will be added in January to the original 10 who began the program this fall. A second cohort will start in summer or fall 2010 and a third will begin in summer or fall 2011.

“The program is helping us attract highly qualified individuals to teacher careers in science and mathematics to overcome the teaching shortage in these critical fields,” said Denise Mewborn, principal investigator and head of the department of mathematics and science education. “Many of these individuals are giving up lucrative jobs to change careers, so the support the fellowship provides is essential.”

The fellows, who range from recent college graduates to those with years in the workplace, have found themselves drawn to the world of teaching.

Courtney Boehlke, a fellow in this year’s cohort, worked for nine years as a research technician and coordinator for a large lab in UGA’s cell biology department.

“I recently took a good look at what I felt was the most rewarding part of my job,” said Boehlke, who earned a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry and molecular biology from UGA. “I enjoyed my role as a teacher most. I find my greatest fulfillment in sharing my knowledge with others and seeing their faces when they understand a difficult concept. It is my hope that my career change will allow me to move out of the lab and to pass on my passion for science and learning to future generations of scientists.”

After tutoring college students in mathematics for five years, Priscilla Alexander, a recent graduate of Paine College in Augusta, changed her career plans because she recognized a need for more qualified math teachers in high school classrooms.

“I earned my undergraduate degree in mathematics and planned to pursue a Ph.D. in mathematics, but I decided that mathematics education would be more conducive to my career goals,” said Alexander. “Most of all, I want to make a change when it comes to educating future mathematicians.”

Jamie York began to question her career goals after three years as an engineer. She took a strategic approach by researching potential careers and talking with more than 30 people in the teaching field.

“My desire is for a career that has a lasting impact, not simply a bottom line,” said York, who has a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering from Georgia Tech. “I also have a growing desire to work with youth, specifically those at risk. Having spent time volunteering with tutoring programs, at-risk youth mentoring programs, and high school discipleship groups, this desire has only continued to grow over the years. Finding a career path that integrated both my passion and my skill set was exactly what I was looking for.”

The fellowship provides financial support, including tuition, fees and a stipend of $4,000 to cover living expenses and books, for gaining certification to teach secondary mathematics or science as well as a graduate degree in those fields.The fellows will proceed through a carefully structured four-semester (summer-fall-spring-summer) program designed to help them develop subject matter knowledge for teaching and implement that knowledge in diverse school settings.

The Robert Noyce Scholarship program has funded four similar fellowship programs in Georgia at Clark Atlanta, Georgia Southern, Georgia State, and Kennesaw State universities.There are about 250 of these programs across the nation, ranging from $60,000 to $1.8 million.

For more information on the Noyce Fellowship Program at UGA, see www.coe.uga.edu/mse/nsf_info.html.

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Math Junkies, a Free Math Tutorial Website for Students of all Ages and Abilities to Help Improve America’s Math Skills

Graduate Student Launches Math Junkies, a Free Math Tutorial Website for Students of all Ages and Abilities to Help Improve America’s Competitive Advantage in a Global Economy

(BUSINESS WIRE)--The recently launched MathJunkies.com is a new tutorial website to help students better understand mathematics and its purpose. Created by FIU graduate student and math fanatic Rayan Russell, otherwise known as Rocky, Math Junkies was developed in response to the mathematical needs of today’s technologically dependent generation of students. A beta version of the site has launched and each week will add new exciting functionality such as lessons, videos, formulas, and real-life examples.

A recent study revealed that U.S. students perform consistently below most of their peers from other industrialized nations which proves to be a competitive disadvantage for a global economy. In addition, more and more parents and students are pinching pennies as a result of the recession, even when it comes to education. Math Junkies is a solution for those who would like access to free mathematical resources without paying for tutors or additional classes online. Students of all ages and abilities are able to obtain the help they need to prepare for state and standardized tests, or to sharpen their skills in any subject of mathematics including Algebra, Geometry, Trigonometry, and Calculus.

“It is becoming more and more obvious that during tough economic times, education is imperative in the 21st century,” said Rocky. “In today’s hyper-competitive global economy, kids in Boston are competing with kids in Bangalore for jobs, and math skills are increasingly an important function of most skilled jobs in the US from advertising to web design and almost everything in between depends on some level of advanced math skills. Considering this reality, Math Junkies was created to help students get ahead in a fun and innovative way, especially those who can’t afford the extra help outside of the classroom.”

Math tools including lessons, formulas, definitions, and answers to all types of questions are provided on MathJunkies.com. For easy access, especially for those preparing for the SAT and GMAT exams, math strategies and concept reviews are available via text and video formats. Math Junkies will also feature “Math Tips of the Week” for Algebra I and II, Geometry, Trigonometry, and Calculus. The website is extremely user-friendly with a purpose to give students a wealth of information on subjects that many people tend to have difficulty with.

In addition to being a math fanatic, Rocky is an entrepreneur. He has earned a four-year degree in Applied Mathematics from the University of Miami and is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Mathematics education. Rocky has dedicated the last 10 years to learning and teaching mathematics in addition to developing ways for people to use technology as a means of better understanding the subject. His hope is that, in addition to helping students, Math Junkies will give math a “cool vibe and energy.”

“It’s time for a mathematical revolution,” Rocky said. “Math is a gorgeous language that we use daily and should embrace. Follow the revolution on our website and twitter.”

Please visit Math Junkies online:

Website: http://www.mathjunkies.com

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Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Million Dollar Scholar Offers Advice for College-Bound Financial Aid Seekers at Scholarships.com

(BUSINESS WIRE)--Derrius Quarles may have had the grades of a typical scholarship winner, but his story is anything but ordinary. The 19-year-old spent his childhood in the foster care system before becoming the “Million Dollar Scholar,” a nod to the $1.1 million in scholarships he has won to fund his college education and career aspirations.

Today, Derrius is a freshman at Morehouse College in Atlanta, a college that offered him a full scholarship on top of the awards he won by tackling the scholarship application process. In a series of blog posts on Scholarships.com, a resource he credits for much of his success in the hunt for available awards, Derrius will explain how he was chosen to receive more than $1 million in scholarships, a rare feat among scholarship applicants. His posts will include tips on the scholarship search process, with advice on funding a college education no matter your background.

“Derrius is a remarkable young man and a wonderful example for visitors of Scholarships.com,” said Kevin Ladd, Vice President for Scholarships.com. “He has some great advice for those currently searching for scholarships and we feel our readers will really benefit from learning about his approach and hopefully win some scholarships of their own.”

His second post in the series, featured on the website today, gives advice on building a strong scholarship application, an important step in impressing those evaluating applicants’ academic records and achievements. Derrius himself had a difficult start in high school, earning failing marks his first year before being pushed to work harder by a teacher. He ended up graduating from Chicago’s Kenwood Academy with a 4.2 GPA, with the drive to apply for – and win – some of the most competitive and generous scholarship awards out there, including $10,000 from the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation and $20,000 from the Dell Scholars Program.

Today, Derrius can boast winning more than $1.1 million in scholarships, including full scholarships not only at Morehouse, but at four other universities. Derrius is pursuing a degree in psychology and biology, with a minor in public health. He hopes to one day complete a doctorate, work on improving the public health policies and educational opportunities for low-income youth in his hometown of Chicago and nationwide, and become the U.S. Surgeon General.

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National Alliance for Public Charter Schools Hails Appropriations Conference Agreement

/PRNewswire/ -- National Alliance for Public Charter Schools President and CEO Nelson Smith issued the following statement on the Senate-House Conference agreement approved last night that will fund the U.S. Department of Education and the federal charter school programs for Fiscal Year 2010:

"The Conference Report agreed upon last night includes a $40 million increase over the current fiscal year funding for the federal charter school programs and marks a significant down-payment on President Obama's promise to double federal charter support during his term. It also includes significant innovations sought by the Administration and the Alliance that will speed the deployment of our highest-performing models to communities that need them the most.

"For the first time the Secretary of Education will now be able to reserve a portion of Charter School Program (CSP) funding for direct grants that support the replication and expansion of successful charter school models. This authority will give new hope to students in need of better options by putting high-achieving new schools in their communities. At the same time, the appropriations will continue to support the creation of innovative new schools by providing ample start-up and implementation funding to be distributed through state education agencies.

"We applaud Congress and the Administration for insisting that states use these new funds not just to start more charter schools, but to create high-quality schools that have the freedom to operate and are held accountable for results. This is the approach strongly advocated by the National Alliance and charter leaders in the states. Chairman Obey, Chairman Inouye, Chairman Miller, Chairman Harkin, and the Administration have worked to include these quality assurances in the bill, and we appreciate their efforts. They have put the needs of students above all else in this appropriations process."

This year's Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies bill includes $256 million for the federal charter school programs, the highest amount ever appropriated and a $40 million increase over FY2009. The total includes $50 million that can be directly competed by the U.S. Department of Education to support the replication and expansion of successful charter models; over $23 million to support the Credit Enhancement for Charter School Facilities Program and the State Facilities Incentive Grants; and up to $10 million dollars to support National Activities grants to further develop a sound infrastructure of support for high quality charter schools.

Additionally, $10 million dollars was included in the U.S. Department of Education FY2010 appropriation to support planning grants for the Administration's Promise Neighborhoods Initiative, a new program (in collaboration with the Department of Housing and Urban Development's Choice Neighborhoods Initiative) inspired by the Harlem Children's Zone. The Conference agreement also includes $400 million dollars for the Teacher Incentive Fund, a $303 million increase from FY2009, providing strong new support for performance-based teacher compensation programs.

Congress must now approve this package and send it to the President for his signature before the current Continuing Resolution funding the U.S. Department of Education and other federal departments and agencies expires on December 18th.

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Four Out of Five Older Children Academically on Track

/PRNewswire/ -- Nearly 80 percent of students ages 12 to 17 were academically on track in 2006, up 8 percent from 1998, according to a new report by the U.S. Census Bureau. Students were considered to be academically on track if they were enrolled in school at or above the grade level appropriate for their age.

The report, A Child's Day: 2006 (Selected Indicators of Child Well-Being), relies on
in-person household interviews to examine how well children are progressing into adulthood, using indicators like academic performance and school engagement.

For children ages 6 to 11, the odds of being on track were 36 percent higher if they had never changed schools and 26 percent higher if they participated in a club. For 12 to 17 years olds, the odds of being on track were 48 percent higher if they were in a gifted class and 34 percent higher if they had never been suspended or expelled from school.

Parents' educational attainment, family income, place of residence and parental expectations also contributed significantly to children being academically on track.

Other trends examined in the report include school engagement, parental interaction with children and participation in extracurricular activities.

In 2006, 59 percent of children ages 6 to 11 were highly engaged in school, up 3 percent from 56 percent in 1998. Likewise, 52 percent of 12 to 17 year olds were highly engaged in school, up 5 percent from 47 percent in 1998.

The index for measuring a child's engagement in school is based on three questions: whether a child is interested in schoolwork, whether a child works hard in school and whether the child likes school. Parental interaction, school experience, participation in extracurricular activities and parental expectations for students played a significant role in school engagement.

"The report highlights the choices parents make in the amount and quality of interaction they have with their children," said Jane Dye, a demographer in the Census Bureau's Housing and Household Economic Statistics Division. "If they are available to praise, play with or eat dinner with their child more often, they will potentially increase the odds that their child will be highly engaged in school."

The data show that the percentage of parents who praised their children three or more times per day increased from 48 percent in 1998 to 58 percent in 2006. Over the same period, the percentage of parents who talked or played with their children three or more times in a typical day increased from 50 percent to 59 percent.

Participation in sports was the most popular extracurricular activity, regardless of a child's age. From 1998 to 2006, the percent of children who participated in sports rose 7 percent, from 34 percent to 41 percent.

This is the fourth report since 2001 examining children's well-being and their daily activities both at home and at school based on data from the Survey of Income and Program Participation. The report highlights trends in parental interaction with children and children's participation in extracurricular activities, focusing on two outcome measures, whether children are academically on track and school engagement. It also considers the relative importance of characteristics such as race, Hispanic origin and parental education on those outcomes.

SIPP produces national-level estimates for the U.S. resident population and subgroups, and allows for the observation of trends over time, particularly of selected characteristics, such as income, eligibility for and participation in transfer programs, household and family composition, labor force behavior and other associated events.

These data were collected from June 2006 through September 2006 in the Survey of Income and Program Participation. As in all surveys, these data are subject to sampling and nonsampling error. For further information on the source of the data and accuracy of the estimates, including standard errors and confidence intervals, go to http://www.sipp.census.gov/sipp/source.html.

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Upward Bound Boasts 100 Percent Pass Rate on Graduation Tests

Seniors in Valdosta State University's Upward Bound program (UB) recently celebrated a 100 percent pass rate for the Georgia High School Graduation Test (GHSGT).

The group of 26 students began the year-round college preparation efforts during the first Upward Bound summer session in 2008. The program, funded by a $1 million TRIO grant from the Department of Education, helps local college-bound students in ninth through 12th grade develop the skills and motivation necessary to succeed beyond high school.

Seniors have dedicated time during the last year and a half to attending afterschool study sessions and Saturday learning sessions with Upward Bound tutors and advisors. Students not only covered themes in math, science and literature, but also focused on preparing for future challenges like the SAT, ACT and GHSGT. Many agree their efforts in building stronger study skills and sharpening their abilities in core academic subjects was well worth the time.

In fact, four have already received college acceptance letters. Samantha Mathis and Ashley Patterson have both been accepted to VSU. Ronald Carter Jr. received his letter from Emmanuel College, a private religious-based college in Franklin Springs, Ga. Fort Valley State University, Savannah State University and Rutgers University have each sent letters of acceptance to Kameron Copeland, who has been dually enrolled at Valdosta High School (VHS) and VSU since summer 2009.

Dondraie Seay, Upward Bound director, said she is thrilled for the future college scholars -- the four already accepted and those still searching for the right fit -- and knows Upward Bound will continue supporting them through their first year of college.

"These students have worked so hard to improve their study skills and raise their GPAs," said Seay, who was hired by VSU's Equal Opportunity Programs in 2007. "I know they will truly be successful during their college careers as well."

Dedrek Bryant has also reaped the rewards from his hard work with Upward Bound. The Valdosta High School junior was recently accepted as a student leader for the People to People Leadership Summit, which will be held July 11-17, 2010 at Harvard University in Boston, Mass. Nominated by VHS English Instructor Donna Alger based on his outstanding scholastic merit, civic involvement and leadership potential, Bryant will attend workshops and presentations and participate in excursions and discussions designed to assist his college admission efforts and guide his educational career goals.

The rigorous academic program will focus on leadership development and global awareness. Coordinated by People to People Ambassador Programs, www.peopletopeople.com/leadership , its mission is to fulfill former President Dwight D. Eisenhower's vision to foster world citizenship.


Student Initiative Program
A team of Upward Bound students recently returned from the ninth annual Student Initiative Weekend, hosted Nov. 20-22 in Peachtree City by the Georgia Association of Special Programs Personnel (GASPP). The event, themed "TAKE FLIGHT: Soar to a Higher Level," featured workshops, presentations and other events designed to improve communication skills and provide attendees with the leadership tools necessary to reach long term goals.

Presenters included NBA Hall-of-Famer Dominique Wilkins, the most celebrated player to wear an Atlanta Hawks basketball uniform, Alisha Thomas Morgan, the first African American to serve for Cobb County in the Georgia House of Representatives, and several others. All challenged students to seize leadership opportunities, set lofty goals, present themselves in the most professional manner possible and always soar above to exceed others expectations.

Students from TRIO programs around the state also competed in academic bowls with categories in math, science, language arts and other core subjects. Although they didn't bring home top awards, the VSU group performed well.

“In competing with TRIO students from around the state, VSU’s Upward Bound students obtained high performance scores throughout the competition,” said Seay. “This event offered the students and opportunity to exercise and expand their leadership skills.”

Last year, Kameron Copeland brought home a $100 price for placing first in the essay contest and the group scored high in math as well.


What's ahead for Upward Bound
Upward Bound students have faced an accelerated program this year, with four study sessions per week and two Saturday academies each month. Many are also enrolled in honor courses and engaged in the challenging new International Baccalaureate curriculum at Valdosta High.

"The program activities were increased in order to successfully launch the seniors into their chosen college path," said Seay, who manages the program's daily operations. "As a result the students’ skills have increased; the Upward Bound Rising Stars are excelling and will continue to do so upon entering college.”

UB academic advisors work with each junior and senior to create an academic plan to keep them on track toward graduation. Advisors work with school counselors to ensure students are progressing well and taking the best classes to support their long-term goals.

This spring, the group will also tour Georgia colleges, such as Georgia Southern University and Columbus State University, and next summer they plan to travel north for visits to ivy league schools in the Boston, Mass. and New York areas.

Seay said enrollment is open each fall for the program, which manages about 60 students each year. Parents, teachers and other students can refer potential candidates, each of which must submit an application, financial references and an essay about their future goals and life ambitions. After a selective interview process, successful applicants are inducted into the program.

"As a result of the educational and cultural enrichment standards, VSU Upward Bound program has successfully provided beneficial resources to all participants," Seay said. "We challenge the participants to give their all and excel to become a rising star."

Call Seay at (229) 333-5463 or e-mail her at dlseay@valdosta.edu to learn more about VSU’s Upward Bound Program or make a donation to help this program continue leading students toward higher education.

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Most Trial Urban Districts Raise Mathematics Scores Since 2003, Few Make Gains Since 2007, According to Nation's Report Card

/PRNewswire/ -- The mathematics results from the 2009 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) paint a mixed picture of student achievement in the 18 urban school districts that participated in the most recent Trial Urban District Assessment (TUDA). Among the districts that also participated in earlier years, most showed improvement since 2003 but no significant change since 2007.

The 11 districts that participated in prior years are: Atlanta; Austin, Texas; Boston; Charlotte, N.C.; Chicago; Cleveland; the District of Columbia; Houston; Los Angeles; New York City; and San Diego. The seven districts that participated for the first time in 2009 are: Baltimore City; Detroit; Fresno, Calif.; Jefferson County (Louisville), Ky.; Miami-Dade; Milwaukee; and Philadelphia.

Results were relatively unchanged for 4th- and 8th-graders in most TUDA districts between 2007 and 2009, though eight of the 10 districts that began participating in 2003 have made significant gains in both grades over this six-year period.

Two districts at each grade level raised scores from 2007 to 2009. At grade 4, Boston and the District of Columbia had higher scores in that period. At grade 8, Austin and San Diego made gains. No district had significantly lower scores in 2009 than in 2003 or 2007. All districts had some students performing at or above Proficient in both grades.

The results are detailed in The Nation's Report Card: Trial Urban District Assessment Mathematics 2009, which highlights the achievement of 4th- and 8th-graders in 18 of the nation's largest cities on the NAEP mathematics assessment, administered by the U.S. Department of Education earlier this year. Eighteen districts participated voluntarily -- seven for the first time -- in the representative-sample assessment, which provides an otherwise unavailable common yardstick of student achievement for these districts.

The 2009 TUDA results make it possible to compare the performance of the 18 districts to public school students nationally and in the nation's large cities (cities with populations of 250,000 or more). The report reveals that average scores in 2009 for large cities were higher at both grade levels than in 2003 and 2007. And five of the 18 districts -- Austin, Boston, Charlotte, Houston, and San Diego -- scored above the average for large cities at both grades in 2009.

"The urban school districts that volunteer for this rigorous test should be commended for their willingness to be held to high standards," said David P. Driscoll, chair of the National Assessment Governing Board, which sets policy for NAEP. "The report points to some leaders that have made significant strides in student achievement. While much remains to be done to increase achievement and narrow gaps between groups, we hope to learn more from these cities."

Compared with the national average, Charlotte was the only district to score higher at grade 4. Scores in Austin, New York City, and San Diego were not significantly different from the nation. At grade 8, only Austin scored higher than the nation. Scores in Boston, Charlotte, and San Diego were not significantly different from the national average.

Compared to their large-city peers in grade 4, the TUDA districts with higher average scores were Austin, Boston, Charlotte, Houston, Miami-Dade, New York City, and San Diego. The score for Jefferson County was not significantly different. At grade 8, scores were higher in Austin, Boston, Charlotte, Houston, and San Diego. The scores for Jefferson County, Miami-Dade, and New York City were not significantly different from large cities.

Launched in 2002, the Trial Urban District Assessment is a joint effort developed by the Governing Board, the National Center for Education Statistics of the U.S. Department of Education, and the Council of the Great City Schools.

There are large demographic differences between urban districts and the nation. For example, 48 percent of 4th-graders and 43 percent of 8th-graders were eligible for free/reduced-price school lunch nationally compared with between 46 percent and 100 percent in the participating districts. The percentages of English language learners (ELL) in the nation were 10 percent at grade 4 and 6 percent at grade 8, respectively. But the percentages of ELL students in Austin, Fresno, Los Angeles, and San Diego were higher in both grades than the percentages in both the nation and large cities.

The 2009 NAEP mathematics assessment was administered by the National Center for Education Statistics of the U.S. Department of Education to representative samples of between 1,800 and 4,300 4th- and 8th-graders from each of the 18 TUDA districts. The Nation's Report Card: Trial Urban District Assessment Mathematics 2009 and additional data collected from the 2009 mathematics assessment are available online at http://nationsreportcard.gov/.

The Nation's Report Card is the only nationally representative, continuing evaluation of the condition of education in the United States and has served as a national yardstick of student achievement since 1969. Through the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), The Nation's Report Card informs the public about what America's students know and can do in various subject areas, and compares achievement data between states and various student demographic groups.

The National Assessment Governing Board is an independent, bipartisan board whose members include governors, state legislators, local and state school officials, educators, business representatives, and members of the general public. Congress created the 26-member Governing Board in 1988 to set policy for NAEP.

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Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Georgia Baptist College of Nursing to Introduce Doctor of Nursing Practice Degree in 2010

Mercer University’s Georgia Baptist College of Nursing will add a Doctor of Nursing Practice to its graduate degree offerings in 2010. The College, based on Mercer’s Cecil B. Day Graduate and Professional Campus in Atlanta, began offering a Ph.D. in Nursing Education this fall.

The Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program will support advanced practice nurses in the areas of informatics, organizational analysis, and practice-focused research. The DNP degree acknowledges the importance of clinical expertise at the doctoral level. Students will design clinical projects that improve both the delivery of patient care as well as patient outcomes.

The Georgia Baptist College of Nursing’s DNP program offers a post-master’s, five-semester, online course of study that includes 43 semester hours and over 500 clinical hours. The College utilizes both in-person and online learning techniques to effectively and dynamically transform the online classroom into a platform that reaches the highest possible level for learning.

“Graduates of the Doctor of Nursing Practice program will be prepared to meet the changing demands of this nation's complex healthcare environment, which requires the highest level of scientific knowledge and practice expertise to assure quality patient outcomes,” said Dr. Linda A. Streit, interim dean of the Georgia Baptist College of Nursing.

For more information on the DNP program, call (678) 547-6700 or visit www.mercer.edu/nursing.


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Scholarship Event Planned for Aspiring Seminary Students

Emory University's Candler School of Theology is helping make theological education affordable for the next generation of Christian leaders by hosting a special scholarship event Feb. 28-March 2, 2010.

Leadership Candler will bring together a distinguished group of prospective Master of Divinity students from across the country and the world. The three-day event includes interviews with scholarship committees, visits to classes and conversations with Candler's faculty. Leadership Candler also features interaction with current students and staff, group discussions and a campus tour, including time to explore Pitts Theology Library, one of North America's premier theological libraries.

The 2010 Leadership Candler participants will be offered awards totaling more than $575,000, all providing at least full tuition. Each year, Candler offers up to 30 scholarships, including awards that offer full tuition, fees and a $10,000 annual stipend. In fall 2009, 57 entering Master of Divinity students received full tuition scholarships, totaling more than $100,000. See a complete list of the scholarships available and more information about Leadership Candler.

Candidates for Leadership Candler should apply for admission and complete the Leadership Candler application no later than Jan. 15, 2010. Leadership Candler candidates must demonstrate confident and unselfish character combined with deep concern for others; intellectual achievement; impressive communication skills; significant leadership and creativity in school, church or community; and a clear potential for enriching the lives of their peers at Candler.


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States Don't Make Grade With Charter School Laws, Report Shows

According to the report, Georgia has the 14th strongest of the nation's 40 charter laws, and was given a grade of "C".

/PRNewswire/ -- Of the 40 states (and the District of Columbia) that allow for charter schools, only 13 have strong laws that do not require significant revisions, according to a report released today by The Center for Education Reform.

The report, Charter Laws Across the States, answers key questions, including: who can approve and authorize charters in states, how these innovative schools are funded, and whether or not charter school administration and staff are free from the bureaucratic entanglements so prevalent in many traditional public schools. The report's analysis provides a roadmap for states to identify and model themselves after state laws that work and that allow for high-quality charter schools. The report highlights the key elements in education law that separate reform-minded states from the rest of the pack.

"Too many states have allowed their charter school laws to be watered down under pressure from special interests who feel their monopoly on the education of our children is threatened," said Jeanne Allen, president of The Center for Education Reform (CER).

According to CER, effective charter school legislation provides the opportunity for multiple entities -- such as universities, non-profits and even mayors -- to create and oversee the operation of charters. Effective charter legislation mandates that charter schools receive funding from the very same streams as their conventional public school counterparts.

Only three laws received an "A" grade in this year's analysis: The District of Columbia, Minnesota and California. The majority of state laws earned "Cs" and "Ds," with three states, Virginia, Iowa, and Kansas, failing entirely.

"After 18 years of charter school success, we know what works. If state leaders allow obstacles to autonomy and growth to remain in their laws, then they are turning their backs on incredible opportunities to provide all children with access to the highest-quality education," Allen said.

For more information and to see the results of CER's 2009 charter school law analysis, please visit http://www.charterschoolresearch.com/.

The Center for Education Reform drives the creation of better educational opportunities for all children. CER changes laws, minds and cultures to allow good schools to flourish.

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Friday, December 4, 2009

Moon Work Design Contest Offers NASA Internships to Winners

/PRNewswire/ -- Talented engineering students who have ideas on how future explorers might live on the moon could find themselves working at NASA as paid interns.

The 2010 NASA Moon Work engineering design challenge seeks to motivate college students by giving them first-hand experience with the process of developing new technologies. To participate in the contest, students will submit their original design for tools or instruments that can help astronauts live and work on the moon. Top-ranked students will be offered a chance to intern with a team from NASA's Exploration Technology Development Program.

The Exploration Technology Development Program develops new technologies that will enable NASA to conduct future human exploration missions while reducing mission risk and cost. The program is maturing near-term technologies to help enable the first flight of the Orion crew exploration vehicle and developing long-lead technologies needed for possible lunar exploration missions.

Winning Moon Work contestants also will have a chance to attend field tests conducted by the Desert Research and Technology Studies Program, managed by NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston. The program conducts annual tests of new technologies in landscapes that are close analogs of the moon and other harsh space environments.

Students should submit a notice of intent to enter the contest by Dec. 15. Final entries for the Moon Work challenge are due May 15, 2010. All entries must be from students at U.S. colleges or universities. Although non-citizens may be part of a team, only U.S. citizens may win NASA internships or travel awards.

For complete details and to enter the contest, visit:
http://moonwork.larc.nasa.gov/

Christopher Newport University in Newport News, Va., manages the student contest for NASA's Exploration Systems Mission Directorate and NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va.

Through this and NASA's other college and university programs, the agency is developing student skills in science, technology, engineering and mathematics -- disciplines critical to achieving the agency's space exploration missions.

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Thursday, December 3, 2009

Georgia Receives High Marks for Educational Data System

Georgia is one of only 11 states that have the 10 Essential Elements of developing and using longitudinal data systems to improve student achievement, according to a national report released last week. A recent U.S. Chamber of Commerce report, Leaders and Laggards, also showed Georgia ahead of other states in the use of data to impact classroom instruction.

"These two reports verify that Georgia is on the right track to getting a longitudinal data system that will help our educators across the state make sound policy decisions for the benefit of the students," said State Superintendent of Schools Kathy Cox. "Accurate data that identifies a problem is critical to tackling an issue head on. Without good data we would just be engaged in random acts of school improvement."

Data Quality Campaign (DQC) Report

The 2009 DQC report showed Georgia is one of only 11 states to have all 10 Essential Elements. DQC's annual survey results track individual states' progress towards implementing the 10 Essential Elements, as well as the policy implications of creating longitudinal systems. The DQC provides a forum for states to learn from each other as they continue to improve their systems.

U.S. Chamber of Commerce Report

In it's second Leaders and Laggards report measuring Education Innovation, Georgia was one of only five states to receive more than one "A" in the eight categories. The "A's" were given for Georgia's quality data system and the ability to remove ineffective teachers. The report highlighted Georgia's data system and how the public reporting of college remediation data is factored into the accountability system.

"Our existing data collection and reporting infrastructure is not perfect yet but we are on our way," said Superintendent Cox. "As businesses have effectively used data to boost profits, educators are using data to boost student achievement."

The federal government has also recognized Georgia's commitment to a robust educational data system. In April, Georgia was one of twenty-seven states awarded a Longitudinal Data System (LDS) grant, and one of only three states to receive the maximum amount: $8.9 million.

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