Monday, September 27, 2010

GSU College of Law no. 1 in U.S. and Georgia for value

Georgia State University College of Law was ranked No. 1 in the country for its value, according to National Jurist, a magazine geared to law students. GSU jumped to the top of the pack from fourth last year.

Its top ranking represents a new milestone for the law school, which has earned a national reputation for more than just value since its founding in 1982.

"This national recognition strongly indicates we are succeeding in our core mission: to provide an outstanding legal education that is accessible and affordable," said GSU College of Law Dean Steve Kaminshine.

Brigham Young University and the University of Louisville law schools placed 2nd and 3rd. The only other law school in the state to make the list is the University of Georgia, which ranked 15th.

National Jurist based its selection on criteria including bar passage rates, average student debt after graduation, post-graduation employment rates, and the overall cost to attend. Many of the schools selected for the list are public institutions.

The bar passage rate for first-time takers is above the 90th percentile for almost all the top 20 schools ranked in National Jurist. Georgia State University's law students' bar passage rate is slightly above the 94th percentile, the report said, using data from the American Bar Association.

"Our strong performance on the bar exam is a reflection primarily of the students that we admit," Kaminshine said. "Even though we have no special bar preparation courses, our students consistently perform at the top of the state. We give our students a solid foundation, and they have a strong work ethic."

GSU's lower tuition costs mean students graduate with fewer debts to repay. The rankings looked at schools with post-graduation student debts of below $100,000 and factored in the in-state tuition rates at the top ranked institutions.

The university's location in the heart of downtown Atlanta also aids GSU law students with proximity to jobs. Many go on to work in local offices of international law firms, as well as in federal and state courts, which are at the doorstep of the university.

To qualify for the rankings, GSU law students' employment rate nine months after graduation had to be at least 85 percent of the class or higher.

The National Jurist rankings will be available in the magazine's October issue, and were published in the Fall edition of sister publication, preLaw magazine:

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Sunday, September 26, 2010

National High School Cyber Defense Competition Exceeds 450 Teams

competition/PRNewswire/ -- The Air Force Association announced today that CyberPatriot now has more than 450 teams registered to participate in the premier high school cyber defense competition. Only Iowa, Montana and Wyoming have yet to join the contest.

CyberPatriot is the nation's largest and fastest-growing high school cyber defense competition. With 47 states, Puerto Rico and U.S. Department of Defense Dependent Schools in Japan and Korea already represented, word is getting out to high school educators across the country. Teams have registered from public, private, parochial and home schools in many states in the competition's Open Division. Additionally, Junior ROTC units of all Services and Civil Air Patrol squadrons are rapidly filling the All-Service Division in the two-track competition.

CyberPatriot provides students interactive learning while competing virtually against their peers. Teams of five, with an approved coach (usually a teacher), learn to defend computer networks from real-life computer threat scenarios. In the preliminaries, hundreds of teams compete online using software provided by CyberPatriot to competitively solve vulnerabilities in a network. The top teams then compete again in a series of online rounds to determine the finalists for an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, DC and the Championship Round at the Gaylord National Convention Center in April 2011.

"CyberPatriot calls attention to one of the nation's most critical needs by exciting, educating and motivating the talent who will become the country's next generation of cyber leaders," said Bernie Skoch, CyberPatriot Commissioner. "Educators are continually learning about this great opportunity for their students, so we're excited to have this number of registered schools in our unique competition."

Coaches can learn more about CyberPatriot and sign up at Information is also available from the CyberPatriot staff at

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Friday, September 24, 2010

Governor Launches the Georgia S.H.A.P.E. Partnership

Governor Perdue also signs an Executive Order creating the Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness, Sports and Nutrition

Yesterday Governor Perdue announced the creation of the Georgia Student Health and Physical Education (SHAPE) Partnership, a public-private initiative that will launch a five-school system pilot program focused on fitness assessments in grades 1 – 12.

This partnership is the result of HB 229, signed by Governor Perdue during the 2009 legislative session, which focuses on student health and wellness by requiring all students in a physical education course to receive an annual fitness assessment.

“A big part of getting better in anything – school work, athletics or personal fitness – is knowing how you measure up and what you need to improve on,” said Governor Sonny Perdue. “The formula for a healthier Georgia starts with measuring fitness levels but it is sustained through healthy living choices.”

In June, the State Board of Education adopted the Fitnessgram program as the state’s physical fitness assessment tool. Five school systems were chosen to participate in this pilot program - Bibb, Hall, Gwinnett, Lowndes and White - before it goes statewide during the 2011-12 school year, as required by the SHAPE Act of 2009.

“Good nutritional and physical fitness habits help produce a more positive and well-rounded student in the classroom,” said State School Superintendent Brad Bryant. “We look forward to working with these five school systems to learn how to best implement this program statewide.”

The Georgia SHAPE Partnership includes the Governor’s Office, the Department of Education (DOE), the Division of Public Health within the Georgia Department of Community Health (DPH), the Georgia Children’s Health Alliance (GCHA) and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. Each organization will play a role in providing training, centralizing data, rewards and recognition and creating a sustainable plan for long-term results. The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation has given a $130,000 grant to support the Georgia SHAPE Partnership and this pilot program.

“There is no greater cause than helping the children of our state become healthier and happier,” said Donna Hyland, President and CEO of Children's Healthcare of Atlanta. “This is an important first step for the children and families of our state. Working with the SHAPE Partnership, we can begin to change the future for the next generation of Georgians.”

Governor Perdue also signed an Executive Order creating the Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness, Sports and Nutrition in conjunction with the Georgia SHAPE Partnership. The Council will consist of public and private experts who are charged with advising the executive branch in areas focused on health and wellness and obesity, while also ensuring the sustainability of programs like the Georgia SHAPE Partnership.

About Fitnessgram

Fitnessgram was created in 1982 by The Cooper Institute to provide an easy way for physical education teachers to report to parents on children's fitness levels. Then and now, students are assessed in these areas of health-related fitness: cardiovascular fitness, muscle strength, muscular endurance, flexibility, and body composition. Scores are evaluated against objective criterion-based standards, called Healthy Fitness Zone standards, that indicate the level of fitness necessary for health. Fitnessgram software generates the student and parent reports, which contain objective, personalized feedback and positive reinforcement. These reports serve as a communications link between teachers and parents.

The Healthy Fitness Zone standards were developed by The Fitnessgram Scientific Advisory Board, a team of scientists and practitioners who are experts in the field of health and fitness, based on extensive research on the relationship between fitness, activity, and health.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Department of Defense to Award $45 Million in College Scholarships

/PRNewswire/ -- The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) is currently seeking scholarship applications from undergraduate and graduate students nationwide who are enrolled in science or technology programs for the prestigious Science, Mathematics and Research for Transformation (SMART) Scholarship for Service Program. SMART is an opportunity for students pursuing an undergraduate or graduate degree in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) disciplines to receive a full scholarship and be employed upon degree completion at a DoD research facility. The DOD expects to award 300 scholarships this year worth a total of $45 million.

"The SMART Scholarship Program is one of the nation's most generous scholarship programs funded by the Department of Defense to help support education and job placement for America's next generation of scientists and engineers," says Deborah Shifflett, SMART Program manager.

Scholarships awarded include a cash award of $25,000 to $41,000 a year, full tuition, required fees, health insurance allowance, and book allowance. The program is intended for citizens of the United States; students must be at least 18 years of age to be eligible for an award.

The SMART Program is administered by the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE ) and the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS). For more information, or to apply online, please visit: Applications must be received by December 1, 2010.

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HHS Announces National Effort to Reshape and Raise Quality in Head Start Programs

Today, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced new proposed regulations that for the first time require lower performing Head Start programs to compete against other entities for continued funding. The proposed regulations will be implemented with a number of new training and technical assistance initiatives to help Head Start grantees meet higher standards.

Under the proposed rules, Head Start grantees will be required to compete for their grants if they fall short of quality benchmarks, including classroom instruction and health and safety standards as well as financial accountability and integrity. Among the factors that will be considered is a classroom assessment that was developed by researchers at the University of Virginia and has been validated through rigorous research.

"These new regulations represent an important step in raising the bar on quality in Head Start programs," HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said. "Head Start has a critical mission - to help vulnerable children achieve their full potential. It is a top priority for the Obama Administration to ensure that the program fulfills that mission by holding programs accountable for classroom quality and high standards of program integrity."

Under the proposed rule, at least 25 percent of grantees will be required to compete for funding. This proposal goes beyond a recommendation from an advisory committee convened in early 2008 that 15 to 20 percent of programs compete for funding. The Head Start proposed rule is consistent with the Administration's broad commitment to hold those that receive federal funding accountable and to use competition to ensure that only the highest quality entities receive federal funding.

HHS is also announcing this week, four new national training and technical assistance centers which will identify and disseminate evidence-based best practices to local Head Start programs. Head Start training and technical assistance centers will support Head Start programs to bring best practices into Head Start classrooms around the country, promoting continuous improvement and innovation at the ground level. HHS is also placing expert mentors/coaches in a number of Head Start programs across the country to provide on-the-ground training to teachers and program directors, to help them improve their classrooms. Further, 10 exceptional local Head Start programs, each nominated by the governor in its state, are being named as Centers of Excellence and will provide peer-to-peer technical assistance. A goal of all of these training and technical assistance initiatives is to help Head Start grantees meet the standards articulated in the proposed rule that is also being released today.

"These important reforms will directly benefit the children and families we serve," said David Hansell, Acting Assistant Secretary for Children and Families. "Head Start and Early Head Start serve nearly a million of our most vulnerable children during the critical first few years of cognitive and social development. Holding programs accountable for meeting quality standards, and providing the help grantees need to meet these standards, will ensure that programs provide a quality Head Start experience that children need to be successful in school and life."

"A renewed era of innovation, improvement and integrity in Head Start is here," Secretary Sebelius said. "Helping all children realize their dreams and potential will help us build tomorrow's workforce, strengthen our economy, and fulfill American's promise. Giving poor children and families the tools they need to succeed is in everyone's best interest."

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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

UGA places in two categories in new Kaplan/'Newsweek' college rankings

The University of Georgia made two top 25 lists in the fall 2010 “Finding the Right College for You” guide released this week by Kaplan and Newsweek.

Earning the 20th spot on the “Most Desirable Large Schools” list and 24th place on the “Stocked with Jocks” list, UGA is one of only a few universities or colleges with more than one rating in the new guide, which seeks to address the real-life concerns that prospective college students have when selecting a school.

To rank large schools, or those with more than 10,000 students, the Newsweek/Kaplan team considered test scores, endowment, student-to-faulty ratio, retention and climate and the quality of the facilities to gauge desirability.

The “Stocked with Jocks” list ranks the best schools for athletes, according to the group’s website. To rank schools, the Newsweek/Kaplan team considered the percentage of students serving on varsity teams, the number of varsity and intramural sports offered on the campus and the amountof money spent on athletics compared to instruction.

The “Finding the Right College for You” guide debuted its college rankings this year, in categories not traditionally found in similar publications. Each of the categories is meant to guide high school students and their parents as they select the right college by covering all the aspects of undergraduate life.

For more information on the rankings, see

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Georgia Health Sciences University Name Approved By Regents

What’s in a name? When it comes to telling the full story of the missions of its 35 colleges and universities, plenty, according to the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia (USG). The board approved today a request from the Medical College of Georgia (MCG) to change its name to Georgia Health Sciences University (GHSU).

“The new name more accurately reflects and encompasses the broad and growing health sciences teaching and research mission we have, not just in Augusta, but statewide,” said USG Chancellor Erroll B. Davis Jr.

Board Chair Willis Potts said, “Georgia Health Sciences University truly indicates the institution’s status as a comprehensive health sciences university that benefits the citizens of this state and nation as a whole and the board’s approval is a testament to our commitment to its mission.” The name change will take effect February 1, 2011.

The regents’ action today, while changing the name of the broader institution, will allow MCG President Ricardo Azziz to retain the historic name Medical College of Georgia for the university’s School of Medicine. MCG’s other four schools will change their designations to colleges.

“Georgia Health Sciences University better defines our institution as what it is – a comprehensive health sciences university and a modern academic health center,” said Azziz. “In this competitive world of rankings and reputation, we believe the new change will allow us to achieve the national prominence and recognition that this university community so richly deserves.”

The name change will not affect the MCG Health System or MCG Health. Both entities will retain their names, a reflection of their strong connection to the university’s medical school.

The board’s action today follows three independent studies conducted since 2007, all of which supported the renaming. Earlier this year, the possibility of a name change resurfaced during a MCG Health System retreat. Azziz and other MCG officials have engaged the university’s many constituent groups, including alumni, students, faculty, staff, corporate and community leaders, in the dialogue leading up to today’s board approval.

Founded in 1828 as the Medical Academy of Georgia, the university has been renamed five times in its 182-year history. It was first named Medical College of Georgia in 1833 and has been called MCG continuously since 1950.

A website featuring frequently asked questions is available at:

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More Than 470 Schools Nationwide Now Using Bible Literacy Project's Curriculum, The Bible and Its Influence

/PRNewswire/ -- Bible Literacy Project (BLP), publisher of the only student textbook designed for public school courses on the Bible, announced today that 470 schools in 43 states nationwide are now using its course. Texas leads the nation in implementation of Bible literacy courses, with more than 100 schools now using the textbook, while Georgia boasts 51 schools. (See a map of your state's use of Bible literacy courses at

Eight states now have more than 5% of public high schools teaching this course: Georgia (12.3%), Alabama (9.1%), Indiana (8.2%), Texas (7.5%), South Carolina (7.0%), Tennessee (6.0%), North Carolina (5.8%) and Kentucky (5.0%).

In addition, The Bible and Its Influence is achieving acceptance in larger districts. This fall, this course will be taught in 30 districts with enrollment of more than 20,000 students. "Larger school districts often require a district-wide curriculum review, with public review and comment on the curriculum and multiple layers of approval," said Chuck Stetson, BLP's CEO. "Our track record of successful implementation and strong community support has given larger districts confidence that our materials meet the educational needs of their diverse student populations."

Among the new schools offering the course this fall are 15 pilot schools, which have received free textbooks from BLP to encourage the introduction of the textbook in their area. BLP plans to continue this program throughout the 2010-11 school year for districts that qualify.

This fall, Oklahoma implements HB 2321, a law encouraging public school districts to offer Bible literacy courses. BLP will be working with educators across the state to implement this course in their districts. Oklahoma joins Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas in passing legislation to support Bible literacy in public schools. While teaching about the Bible is legal nationwide, these five states have used legislation to raise public awareness and to promote statewide implementation of these courses.

During this school year, Bible Literacy Project will be attending 26 conventions nationwide to reach school board members, superintendents, curriculum developers, and English teachers with information about the textbook.

Because only seven states remain in the organization's quest to be utilized in all 50 states, Bible Literacy Project is offering a free class set of textbooks to the first public school in Delaware, Iowa, Montana, Nevada, Rhode Island, Utah, and Wyoming ready to teach the course. "When one school implements the course, we quickly make contact with neighboring schools who want to try it too," said Stetson. "We welcome the opportunity to show these remaining states the strength of our program."

Bible Literacy Project is a non-partisan, non-profit endeavor to encourage and facilitate the academic study of the Bible in public schools. Along with the First Amendment Center, the Bible Literacy Project co-published The Bible and Public Schools: A First Amendment Guide, the historic 1999 statement that established guidelines for teaching about the Bible in public schools. The Guide was endorsed by 21 leading organizations, including the National School Boards Association and the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. In 2005, the Bible Literacy Project published The Bible and Its Influence, the first student textbook for academic study of the Bible in public high schools in the last 30 years. Since its publication, this program has gained national recognition for its scholarly approach to teaching about the Bible in compliance with First Amendment guidelines. Designed for high school students in grades 9-12, and enjoyed equally by college students and adult learners, The Bible and Its Influence can be taught as an English, social studies, or humanities elective. Bible Literacy Project ( is a division of Essentials in Education, an educational publisher.

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Monday, September 13, 2010

2010 College-Bound Seniors Results Underscore Importance of Academic Rigor

/PRNewswire/ -- More college-bound students in the class of 2010 took the SAT® than in any other high school graduating class in history, the College Board announced today. Nearly 1.6 million students from this year's graduating class participated in the college-going process by taking the SAT, and their overall performance underscored the critical role that course-taking patterns and academic rigor play in college readiness.

"Engaging students with more rigorous course work and demanding higher standards are critical in providing America's students with an education that will prepare them to compete in the 21st-century economy," said College Board President Gaston Caperton. "This report confirms that there are no tricks and there are no shortcuts to college readiness. Students who take more rigorous courses in high school are more prepared to succeed in college and beyond."

Impact of Course-Taking Patterns on College Readiness

Students in the class of 2010 who reported completing a core curriculum -- defined as four or more years of English, three or more years of mathematics, three or more years of natural science, and three or more years of social science and history -- scored, on average, 151 points higher on the SAT than those who did not complete a core curriculum.

Academic Intensity Influences SAT Performance

In addition to course-taking patterns, the rigor of a student's course work also plays a critical role in college readiness. As in previous years, students in the class of 2010 who reported taking the most demanding honors or Advanced Placement® courses performed better on the SAT.

"The SAT is a proven indicator of college readiness and a valuable tool in connecting students to college success and opportunity," said Laurence Bunin, senior vice president of the College Board's College Connection & Success System. "It is critical that all students -- especially those traditionally underrepresented in higher education -- have access to the curriculum that best prepares them for college. That is why the College Board has worked so closely on the Common Core State Standards Initiative and why we have expanded our fee-waiver program. Every student in America should have access to a world-class education that will prepare them to compete in a global economy."

SAT Alignment to the Common Core State Standards

The College Board has been one of the original partner organizations in the Common Core State Standards Initiative (CCSS) since its launch in spring 2009. As part of this partnership, the College Board helped draft the original College and Career Readiness Standards, provided feedback on the K-12 standards and served on the advisory group that guided the initiative. Currently, 37 states have officially adopted the Common Core State Standards, and the College Board is committed to helping states and districts understand how to implement these new common standards.

The College Board has prepared an alignment study, to be released this fall, that examines the relationship between the Common Core State Standards and the SAT in the areas of critical reading, writing and mathematics. The study concludes that all of the knowledge and skills topics tested on the SAT are represented in the Common Core State Standards. The SAT's alignment with the CCSS means that states and districts that have adopted the Common Core State Standards can incorporate the SAT into their assessment implementation plans. Furthermore, states and districts can be confident that students whose curriculum is tied to the Common Core State Standards will be acquiring the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed on the SAT.

The PSAT/NMSQT® Provides Path to SAT Success

In addition to a core curriculum and rigorous course work, the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT®) is another important step on the path to college readiness. The PSAT/NMSQT provides valuable tools that can help students and educators identify the students' academic strengths and weaknesses in time to prepare for the SAT and education opportunities beyond high school. Of the SAT takers in the class of 2010, 80.8 percent reported taking the PSAT/NMSQT.

The PSAT/NMSQT measures the same skills as the SAT, and students who take the PSAT/NMSQT generally perform better on the SAT. Students in the class of 2010 who took the PSAT/NMSQT before taking the SAT had a higher combined score of 146 points, on average, than students who did not take the PSAT/NMSQT.

SAT Fee-Waiver Program Benefits 1 in 5 Students

In keeping with its mission to connect students to college success and opportunity, the College Board provides SAT fee waivers to low-income students for whom exam fees would present an unnecessary barrier in the college-going process. Nearly 1 out of every 5 students in the 2010 cohort who took the SAT utilized fee waivers, and the College Board granted more than $30 million in fee waivers and related services to qualifying students in the class of 2010.

SAT Participation Increases

Nearly 1.6 million students in the class of 2010 participated in the college-going process by taking the SAT during high school. In addition to being the largest class of SAT takers ever, the class of 2010 has the distinction of being the most diverse group of test-takers in the 84-year history of the SAT. Of the SAT takers in the class of 2010, 41.5 percent were minority students, up from 40.0 percent in 2009 and 28.6 percent in 2000. In the last decade, minority participation in the SAT grew 78.3 percent.

SAT Performance Stable as More Students Test

This year's college-bound seniors averaged 501 in critical reading, 516 in mathematics and 492 in writing. On a long-term basis, students' mathematics scores have experienced an upward trend and are now two points higher than in 2000 and 15 points higher than in 1990, while students' critical reading scores have declined four points in the last decade but are one point higher than in 1990.

Research Continues to Demonstrate the Value of the SAT in College Admission and Retention

The SAT is an extremely valuable tool for determining students' college readiness. Last year the College Board released an updated validity study showing that the SAT and high school grade point average (HSGPA) are equally predictive in determining first-year college grade point average (FYGPA). As always, the combination of SAT scores and HSGPA is the best predictor of FYGPA.

The SAT is also useful in predicting college success beyond the first year. An upcoming research study examining the validity of the SAT in predicting second-year cumulative GPA shows that the SAT remains a strong predictor of college success even into a student's second year in college. Future research will examine the predictive validity of the SAT in terms of college grade point average through the third and fourth years, and finally graduation.

College completion is at the top of College Board and national education agendas. Student retention into the second and third years of college is a critical step toward achieving higher graduation rates. College Board research demonstrates that the SAT can be used by admission personnel to help predict the likelihood that a student will return to school. Research on second-year retention (2009) and third-year retention (in press) shows that SAT performance is related to a students' likelihood of returning to school, even after accounting for HSGPA.

The 2010 College-Bound Seniors Total Group Profile Report and the State Profile Reports are available at The 1,597,329 SAT takers in the class of 2010 include all students who took the SAT through June 2010. The college-bound seniors cohort traditionally has included students who tested through March of their senior year. However, the College Board has observed a trend in which more students are taking the SAT for the first time in May or June of their senior year and is expanding the cohort to include this group of college-bound students. Trend data in the 2010 College-Bound Seniors Total Group Profile Report and the 2010 College-Bound Seniors State Profile Reports include students in the class of 2010 who took the SAT through March of their senior year. Beginning in 2011, college-bound seniors trend data will include students who took the SAT through June of their senior year.

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Thursday, September 9, 2010

Survey: Americans Demand Choice When Making Educational Investment Decisions

/PRNewswire/ -- A new study conducted online by Harris Interactive on behalf of the Career College Association (CCA) shows that the American people overwhelmingly believe that the government should not interfere with their educational investment choices. Specifically, 63% think that the decision of how much debt one can take out to pay for education should be left up to students, regardless of debt-to-earnings ratios.

In anticipation of new Department of Education "gainful employment" regulations obstructing students' access to federal aid, this poll demonstrates the need to pull the emergency brake and reevaluate the proposals.

"It's no surprise that aspiring students do not want the government meddling in their educational decisions. No one should ever be told that higher education is not attainable on the count of financial limitations. Federal regulators are attempting to mandate arbitrary and widespread rules limiting educational opportunities to thousands, and the public is having none of it," said Harris N. Miller, president of the Career College Association.

Additionally, at a time when a large majority (80 percent) wants to either increase or maintain current levels of Pell Grant funding, the federal government now may be cutting access to hundreds of thousands of potential students. These students simply want to make their own decisions where to attend school, and 76% of those polled agree that students who receive Pell Grants should have that freedom of choice.

Other findings in the poll include:
-- Only 26% of those who agree that debt should be tied to earnings
believe a debt-earnings ratio should be based on salary through the
first three years immediately following graduation; 74% said a
debt-earnings ratio should, at a minimum, encompass the first seven
years of earnings;
-- 74% of U.S. adults believe placement rate for an institution is an
important indicator of the quality of a higher education institution;
only 44% believe default rates on student loans are an important
quality indicator;
-- 87% said that the Pell Grant program should be funded to allow the
same number, or more, low income students to attend a college or
-- 80% of those who agree that debt should be tied to earnings said that
if a debt-earnings ratio were to be established, such a ratio should
be applied to both career-focused and academic-focused fields and

Survey Methodology

This survey was conducted online within the United States between September 1-3, 2010 among 2,258 adults (aged 18 and over) by Harris Interactive on behalf of CCA via its Quick Query omnibus product. Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. For complete survey methodology, click here.

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New Statewide Agreements in Three States Improve Access to Textbooks for Disabled College Students

/PRNewswire/ -- Students with disabilities such as blindness and dyslexia at hundreds of colleges and universities in three states now have quicker and easier access to alternative college textbooks as the result of agreements for those states to fund access to the alternative textbooks for colleges and universities.

Separate statewide agreements for colleges and universities in Georgia and Ohio, as well as 112 community colleges in the California system, have been finalized to fund memberships in the AccessText Network, a national online database of alternative college materials. The AccessText Network makes it quicker and easier for students with disabilities such as blindness, dyslexia, or physical impairments that prevent the use of traditional hardcopy textbooks, to get the alternative electronic textbooks they need for college.

"With these statewide membership agreements in the AccessText Network, thousands of college students who used to wait weeks or even months for their alternative textbooks now have a streamlined process, allowing them to receive their course materials in just a few days," said Tom Allen, president and chief executive officer of the Association of American Publishers, whose higher education members donated almost $1 million to launch the non-profit venture. "I congratulate the funders of these memberships in the AccessText Network. It will help level the playing field for disabled students in these states, helping them achieve their higher education goals."

The three statewide agreements being announced for the AccessText Network:
-- California - The agreement will provide memberships for the Alternate
Text Production Center, which serves the 112 community colleges in the
-- Georgia - The agreement will provide memberships for 50 colleges and
universities in the state through the Alternative Media Access Center.
The membership for Georgia's colleges and universities is funded by
the Georgia Board of Regents.
-- Ohio - The membership for The University System of Ohio's colleges and
universities, funded through a joint initiative of the State Board of
Regents and the state's Rehabilitation Services Commission, will
provide membership for 61 public colleges and universities in the

"Textbook publishers are dedicated to helping all students succeed, and we are proud to see the AccessText Network being utilized in these states to make college education a reality for thousands of students with disabilities," Allen said.

Christopher Lee, director of AMAC, said the new network is fulfilling orders for students in about four days on average. "In the past, the system was so slow and bureaucratic that disabled students were often still waiting for their alternative textbooks several weeks into the semester," Lee said. "That's an unacceptable scenario for any student striving to succeed in college."

The AccessText Network is operated by the Alternative Media Access Center (AMAC) in Atlanta. The Network has more than 500 colleges and universities in 49 states enrolled to participate in the system. There are more than 360,000 textbook titles available through the Network.

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Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Lack of Funding Limits Community College Ability to Meet National Need

/PRNewswire/ -- Community colleges have for decades received the short end of the funding stick--both at state and national levels. Now a new policy brief from the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) points to the consequences of that funding disparity--both for student access and for the nation's economic progress.

Doing More With Less: The Inequitable Funding of Community Colleges paints a bleak and worsening scenario for the institutions that currently educate almost half of all U.S. undergraduates and the highest percentages of first-generation and minority students. During the current economic recession, community college enrollments have surged an average 17% over the last two years, as students and families sought a lower-cost college option. But heightened student demand--coupled with persistent state budget cuts--is now impacting core college activities, the brief asserts, as course reductions, enrollment caps and other cost-saving measures result in denied access for thousands of students.

Ironically, the unremitting belt-tightening on community college campuses comes at a time when both the Obama administration and leading foundations have identified these low-cost, highly accessible institutions as a key solution to increasing the numbers of college-educated Americans over the next decade to ensure U.S. global competitiveness.

Following are key findings from the study.

For the full brief, see

-- Community colleges received just 27% of total federal, state, and
local revenues for public degree-granting institutions from 2007 to
2008, while serving 43% of all U.S. undergraduates.
-- State investment in public higher education has consistently declined,
from 7% in 1989 to 5.4% in 1993 to 4.5% in 2008. (Community colleges
receive close to 60% of operating funds from state and local sources.)
-- Of the $36.4 billion invested directly in higher education by the
federal government, community colleges received significantly less
than did other higher ed sectors for grant programs such as Academic
Competitiveness, SMART and TEACH grants and Federal Work-Study.
-- While community colleges committed a higher percentage of dollars to
instruction (44.5%) than did other sectors of higher education, they
have been unable to allocate adequate amounts to other activities with
demonstrated impact on student success, such as counseling, especially
in advising students how to navigate the complex financial aid
process. Of Pell-eligible students, only 58% at community colleges
applied for financial aid compared to 77% at 4-year public
institutions and 84% at private 4-year institutions.
-- Reduced capacity has especially affected the numbers of students
admitted to high-demand programs such as health care, for which
community colleges prepare more than half of new
professionals--despite a projected need for workers to fill 2.7
million jobs over the next 8 years.

The American Association of Community Colleges is a national organization representing the nation's close to 1,200 community, junior and technical colleges and their more than 12 million students. Community colleges are the largest and fastest growing sector of U.S. higher education.

This policy brief was supported in part by Lumina Foundation for Education. The views expressed in this publication are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Lumina Foundation for Education, its officers, or employees. Lumina Foundation for Education works to ensure that 60% of Americans have high-quality degrees or credentials by 2025. 

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Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Georgia Tech and Kaist Partner to Offer Dual Degrees

The Georgia Institute of Technology and the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) have announced dual degree programs in electrical and computer engineering (ECE). The new programs will be offered at two campus locations: Georgia Tech’s main campus in Atlanta and at KAIST in Daejeon, Republic of Korea.

All lectures at KAIST will be presented in English to better serve a growing number of students from overseas. Undergraduate students may earn either a bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering or computer engineering from Georgia Tech in tandem with the bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering from KAIST. While in the dual undergraduate degree program, students spend two years each at both Georgia Tech and KAIST. For the master’s dual degree program in ECE, students spend two semesters each at both institutions. Participating students must satisfy the graduation requirements established by both universities in order to earn degrees from both institutions.

“One of the goals in our strategic plan is to support Georgia Tech’s objective to become a global university,” said Gary S. May, professor and Steve W. Chaddick School Chair of Electrical and Computing Engineering.  “We feel that these dual degree programs will help prepare our students to become leaders who will contribute to cultural, political, educational, economic and high-tech concerns in their home countries. In addition, collaborations between the two institutes will create opportunities to educate students who possess the skills for excelling in a dynamic global environment.”

Georgia Tech students participating in the dual bachelor’s degree program will spend their first and fourth years in Atlanta and their second and third years at KAIST. KAIST students spend their first two years in Daejeon and the final two in Atlanta. For the dual master’s program, Georgia Tech students will complete their first year at Georgia Tech and second year at KAIST, while KAIST students will complete the first year at KAIST and second year at Georgia Tech.

“KAIST’s proximity to many governmental research facilities, funding agencies and headquarters of many high- tech companies provides a rich resource for student internships and faculty research collaboration opportunities.” said Sung Kyu Lim, ECE associate professor and KAIST dual degree program director. “In addition, KAIST is near the National Research Foundation of Korea, which is comparable to our National Science Foundation. This symbolizes the strategic importance of KAIST as the leading national research institute in Korea.”

Key areas of interest at KAIST and local industries are information technology, biotechnology and nanotechnology. With approximately 8,000 students, KAIST is home to one of the top science and engineering programs in South Korea and Asia. 

The new programs, pending final approval by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, are scheduled to start in Spring 2011 for the dual BS and Fall 2011 for the dual MS. In addition, since costs for the new degree programs will primarily be covered by tuition, they will be revenue neutral.

The application deadline for the inaugural class is October 1, 2010, for the dual BS and December 1, 2010, for the dual MS. For more information, you may e-mail the program director, Sung Kyu Lim, at or call 404-894-0373.

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Sunday, September 5, 2010

WND: Judge cites homeschoolers for violating U.N. mandate

An international organization that has fought pitched battles over parents' rights to educate their own children in Germany, Sweden and the United States, as well as lesser fights in a number of other countries, is taking on officialdom in Botswana after police there grilled homeschoolers, confiscated their teaching materials and ordered them to appear in court.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Sallie Mae Encourages Parents to Make a Commitment to Save for College During September’s National College Savings Month

(BUSINESS WIRE)--Parents overwhelmingly agree that a college degree is more important now than ever, yet few have a plan on how to pay for it, according to research conducted by Sallie Mae and Gallup. Sallie Mae, the nation’s saving, planning and paying for education company, encourages parents to make a commitment to save for college and recommends several tips to meet the challenge.

“Parents, have a choice – pay interest on college loans, or potentially earn it on college savings”

“Parents, have a choice – pay interest on college loans, or potentially earn it on college savings,” said Albert L. Lord, CEO. “We want to help families of all income levels save responsibly. Even saving little by little now can make a big difference by the time the college tuition bill is due.”

As children head back to school, Sallie Mae urges parents to use these tips and tools to get back to saving for their child’s college education during September’s National College Savings Month.

· Build a plan. First, understand the full cost of college and build a plan to save for it. Sallie Mae’s free Education Investment Planner helps calculate future college costs and an age-based estimate how much to save. Families can create a savings goal and set up automatic deposits of $25 or more each month or deposit money annually as budgets allows.

· Saving isn’t taxing when you use a 529 college savings plan. 529 college savings plans are tax-advantaged ways to save for college. Most 529 plans are sponsored by a state and many offer a state tax incentive or other benefits to residents. Family members can enroll in any 529 plan, regardless of the state of residence, and the account is easily transferrable to another beneficiary who is a family member (as defined in federal tax code) without taxes or penalties. Earnings grow free of federal income taxes as long as withdrawals are used for qualified education expenses, and many states offer residents a tax break or matching grants for investments made.*

Contributions to a 529 can be up to $13,000 for a single person or $26,000 for a married couple filing jointly in a single year without incurring a gift tax. An individual can also make a five year contribution at one time for $65,000 if single or $130,000 if married and filing jointly to a 529 plan account beneficiary without incurring gift taxes in most circumstances.

· Get by with a little help from your (family and) friends. Grandparents, aunts, uncles and friends can open a 529 college savings plan on behalf of a future student or, in most circumstances, contribute directly to an existing 529 account. Upromise Investments account holders can easily encourage family members and friends to contribute a gift of college savings through Ugift. Since 2008, more than $12 million has been gifted using Ugift.

· Put your employer to work. Check your benefits at work as many companies offer employees the ability to contribute to a 529 plan through ongoing payroll deduction. If not, talk to them about providing company-wide education and a benefit to help employees contribute to a 529 plan through payroll deduction.

· Bank on it: Most parents save for college using two to three savings vehicles. FDIC-insured high-interest savings accounts and Certificate of Deposit accounts from Sallie Mae are low-risk investment options with competitive interest rates, no monthly fees and no minimums. In addition, the High-Yield savings accounts offer the ability to earn extra Upromise rewards to bolster your savings.

· Saving is rewarding with Sallie Mae’s Upromise: Earn extra money for college through Upromise. Joining Upromise is free and rewards members for eligible everyday spending with hundreds of participating merchants or making purchases with the Upromise World MasterCard. During the month of September, more than 200 online participating merchants such as, and will increase contributions. Earnings can be invested in certain tax-deferred 529 plans, deposited in a high-yield savings account, used to pay down an eligible student loan; or simply used for college or other expenses. Even friends and family can sign up to help.

· Kids’ contributions are meaningful: Kids as young as school-aged can contribute to their future by setting aside money from a weekly allowance for college. For older kids, suggest depositing money earned baby-sitting, from summer jobs or working part-time into their college savings account. Not only will it add up over time, but also will it be a weekly reminder of the child’s goal to attend college and teach an important lesson on saving.

*Earnings on non-qualified withdrawals may be subject to federal income tax and a 10% federal penalty tax, as well as state and local income taxes. The availability of tax or other benefits may be contingent on meeting other requirements.

When you invest in a 529 college savings plan you are purchasing municipal securities whose value will vary with market conditions. Investment returns are not FDIC insured, and carry no bank guarantee, and you could lose money by investing in a 529 college savings plan.

For more information about 529 college savings plans managed or administered by Upromise Investments, Inc. call 1.877.529.2980. Investment objectives, risks, charges, expenses, and other important information are included in a 529 college savings plan's offering statement; read and consider it carefully before investing.

Before investing in any 529 plan, you should consider whether your or the designated beneficiary's home state offers a 529 plan that provides its taxpayers with state tax and other benefits that are only available through the home state's 529 plan.

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Wednesday, September 1, 2010

NASA Accepting Applications For Aeronautics Scholarships

/PRNewswire/ -- NASA's Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate is accepting scholarship applications for the 2011 academic year. The application deadline is Jan. 17, 2011.

"We want more students to pursue careers in aeronautics," said Jaiwon Shin, associate administrator for the Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "By offering these scholarships, we are extending to students not just an opportunity to become familiar with NASA's research, but also an extra dose of inspiration. Scholarships are an excellent way for us to attract talented young innovators to our work force."

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

Graduate students will receive up to $35,000 per year for up to three years, with an opportunity to receive a $10,000 stipend interning at a NASA research center for up to two consecutive summers.

Students who have not committed to a specific academic institution or program still may apply. However, if accepted, they must be admitted by fall 2011 into a suitable aeronautical engineering program or related field of study at an accredited U.S. university. All applicants must be U.S. citizens. Scholarship money may be used for tuition and other school-related expenses.

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

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

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State Education Ranking Shows Vermont #1, South Carolina Last

Georgia ranked 27 in student performance and received an overall grade of "C".

/PRNewswire-/ -- The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) released today its Report Card on American Education: K-12 State Performance, Progress, and Reform, a comprehensive overview of education achievement levels within the 50 states and the District of Columbia (D.C.). In its 16th edition, the Report Card ranks academic proficiency and education reform along rigorous standards, holding each state responsible for its transitions -- whether positive or negative. It discusses what resources are being wasted, what students are being left behind, and what administrators, parents, and teachers can do make a difference in real education.

Authors Dr. Matthew Ladner, Andrew T. LeFevre, and Dan Lips rank states based on student performance and their corresponding improvements on the fourth- and eighth-grade reading and mathematics National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), which are nationally administered exams, with Vermont coming in first and South Carolina last. The authors also graded each state (A to F) based on its education reform policies including academic standards, school choice programs, charter schools, online learning, and that state's ability to hire good teachers and fire bad ones. Florida is the clear leader, based on the reforms implemented over the past decade.

Student Performance
  Top                                    Bottom
1. Vermont                      51. South Carolina
2. Massachusetts             50. West Virginia
3. Florida                        49. Michigan
4. New Hampshire          48. New Mexico
5. New York                    47. Louisiana

State Grades
  Top                                  Bottom
"B+" Florida              "D" Nebraska
"B" Colorado             "D" North Dakota
"B" Louisiana             "D" Rhode Island
"B" Minnesota            "D" Tennessee
"B" Missouri               "D" Vermont
"B" New Mexico
"B" South Carolina

"Ensuring students receive a first-rate education isn't a matter of more money; it's a matter of policy. Spending more money on a broken system does not guarantee higher student achievement," said Colorado State Sen. Nancy Spence, who co-chairs ALEC's Education Task Force. "When states are facing the largest budget deficits in recent memory, we need to focus on reforms that work. We can no longer throw more money at a failing system and expect change."

"The design of the Report Card isn't merely to show which state has had the best performing students. We wanted to give legislators the tools they need to fix their state's education system," said Ladner, one of the book's authors. "This report highlights the most promising and effective reforms that will give all students access to an outstanding education."

The report provides extensive information on different reform initiatives.

The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is the nation's largest nonpartisan, individual membership organization of state legislators.

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