Thursday, April 28, 2011

Accomplished Educator & Administrator Dr. Monica Henson to Lead Provost Academy Georgia

/PRNewswire/ -- The Executive Director of Georgia's new public online high school, Dr. Monica Henson brings not only her twenty-plus years of experience in education as both an administrator and teacher; but also her leadership and vision as an advocate in the use of innovative education technology to personalize and accelerate learning for students.

Education has experienced many changes in recent years, with the most significant being that today's high school students learn much differently than students did just ten years ago," Dr. Henson observed. "They have never known a world without computers or the internet so they are skilled at continuous interaction with technology, and can benefit from an education that utilizes stimulating virtual curriculum designed specifically for them."

Provost Academy is the new state-authorized public online high school that is free of charge to residents of Georgia. Backed by global education service provider, EdisonLearning, Provost Academy's unique individualized learning experience will combine a rigorous curriculum with a personal high-touch approach to help students achieve and succeed.

"We are extremely pleased and honored that Dr. Henson has accepted the leadership role at Provost Academy," said Sherri Brown Breunig, a long-time Georgia public school educator and chairman of the Provost Academy board. "She is a unique professional educator, with a vast knowledge of learning from middle school through college, and she will add tremendous value and quality to the education experience our students receive."

Dr. Henson, a resident of Jasper, Georgia, began her career as an English teacher in the Gwinnett County (GA) School District; she went on to work as a teacher and administrator in North Carolina, Florida, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and California, holding a series of progressively responsible positions, including department chair, dean of curriculum and instruction, principal, and regional director. A consultant to the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and a trainer and mentor for The New Teacher Project, Dr. Henson most recently provided a wide range of educational consulting services to traditional, charter and virtual schools.

A graduate of Western Carolina University, Dr. Henson also holds a M.A. degree in School Administration from Seton Hall University, an Ed.D. degree in Educational Leadership from Nova Southeastern University, and is a graduate from the Principals Executive Program of the James B. Hunt Institute for Educational Leadership and Policy at the University of North Carolina. In 2000, Dr. Henson attained certification from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.

Provost Academy Georgia is currently enrolling students in grades 9 through 12 for the school year starting this August. Since spaces are expected to fill quickly, interested families are encouraged to learn more now by calling the toll free number: 866-517-5582, or by visiting: www.ga.provostacademy.com .



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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Free High School Graduation Test Remediation Offered to Students

State School Superintendent Dr. John Barge announced that the Georgia Department of Education will be offering Project ExPreSS in mathematics for summer 2011.

Project ExPreSS (Exam Preparation for Student Success) is a free, two-week summer remediation program for Georgia public high school juniors who were first-time test-takers this year and did not pass the mathematics portion of the Georgia High School Graduation Tests (GHSGT).

"Due to the past success of Project ExPreSS in social studies and science, we feel this program is an opportunity to fill the gap in mathematics and help students succeed," said Superintendent Barge. "With this year being the first year that our students will take the Georgia Performance Standards-based GHSGT, we anticipate that some students will need remediation with our state's best teachers, which is exactly what Project ExPreSS provides."

Project ExPreSS in mathematics will be offered June 13-24, 2011, from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.

There are 40 high school host sites located throughout the state to make the program accessible to students statewide.

For more information on registration and site locations for the summer Project ExPreSS, visit https://www.georgiastandards.org/resources/Pages/Tools/ProjectExPreSS.aspx.

In addition to the summer Project Express in mathematics, an online tutorial of the GHSGT is available in all four content areas at https://www.georgiastandards.org/Resources/Pages/Tools/OnlineExPreSS.aspx.

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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Regents Approve Three Percent Tuition Increase For Fall 2011

The uncertainty of parents and students surrounding tuition at University System of Georgia colleges and universities this fall is over. The Board of Regents approved today an across the board tuition increase of just three percent, well below what had been predicted and the 35 percent increase that would have been needed to completely make up for budget shortfalls to the System.

As a continuing tool to help preserve academic quality and access, the board also voted to increase a special institutional fee that was implemented two years ago.

Tuition will not increase for the approximately 45,000 students who are still on the Board’s discontinued Guaranteed Tuition Plan; however, these students will pay the special institutional fee.

“The state, the University System, students and parents all continue to see very tight budgets and our tuition proposal reflects these realities,” said USG Chancellor Erroll B. Davis Jr. “We wanted a balanced strategy that meets the academic needs of our students while maintaining access and affordability.”

“As we have over the last three years, the System will offset the gap between revenues and expenditures with additional and pervasive cost-cutting measures at all institutions,” Davis said.

The three percent tuition increase means that for the four research universities (Georgia Health Sciences University, Georgia State University, Georgia Institute of Technology and the University of Georgia), undergraduate tuition this fall will be $3,641 per semester, an increase of $106 from fall 2010.

A number of USG institutions have specialized missions and tuition rates. At Columbus State University, Georgia Southern University, Kennesaw State University, North Georgia College & State University, Valdosta State University and the University of West Georgia, students will pay $2,367 per semester, an increase of $69. Tuition will be $2,564 this fall at Southern Polytechnic State University, an increase of $75, and at Georgia College & State University $3,236, a $94 increase.

Undergraduate tuition at all other state universities will increase by $64 to $2,201 per semester. This includes Albany State University, Armstrong Atlantic State University, Augusta State University, Clayton State University, Fort Valley State University, Georgia Southwestern State University, and Savannah State University.

Undergraduate tuition at the state colleges will increase $41, to $1,388 per semester, including Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College (ABAC), the College of Coastal Georgia, Dalton State College, Gainesville State College, Gordon College, Macon State College and Middle Georgia College. Tuition at Georgia Gwinnett College will be $1,648 per semester this fall, a $48 increase.

Tuition at the two-year colleges will be $1,235, a $36 increase from fall 2009. This includes Atlanta Metropolitan College, Bainbridge College, Darton College, East Georgia College, Georgia Highlands College, Georgia Perimeter College, South Georgia College and Waycross College.

The special institutional fee will increase from $200 to $450 per semester at Georgia State, Georgia Health Sciences Univ. and UGA. The previously approved $200 special institutional fee at Georgia Tech will increase to $550 per semester.

At the other four-year institutions, the special institutional fee will increase from $150 to $250 per semester, and at the two-year institutions, from $100 to $200 per semester. The exceptions are Georgia Gwinnett and Coastal Georgia, where the special institutional fee will increase to $250 per semester.

The combined tuition and special institutional fee actions result in a weighted average increase of nine percent for all University System students. “The Board of Regents continues to be very concerned about affordability and access,” said Usha Ramachandran, the System’s chief financial officer, who made the budget and tuition recommendations to the Board.

Ramachandran said that three main factors drove the formulation of the tuition strategy approved by the regents. First was to maintain affordability and accessibility by keeping the overall increase in tuition and the special institutional fee to a single digit percentage, she said.

“Second, we also wanted to maintain the HOPE Scholarship payment for FY12 tuition as close to 90 percent of the FY11 tuition rate as possible,” Ramachandran said. Legislative changes this year to the popular merit scholarship program reduced the reimbursement rate for most students from 100 to 90 percent of current tuition rates. The board actions today on tuition will set HOPE reimbursement in FY12 at 87.4 percent of the new tuition rates.

“Our third priority is to maintain academic excellence at our 35 degree-granting institutions,” Ramachandran said. She noted that this is where the special institutional fee helps, as funds are used directly by institutions to support the cost of instruction – primarily by ensuring institutions have the needed faculty and student support services to meet the needs of a projected 320,000 students this coming fall.

The tuition and fees decisions reached during today’s regents’ meeting were just one part of Board actions on the University System’s Fiscal Year 2012 budget. FY12 state appropriations to the University System are $1.74 billion, a reduction of $208 million, or 10.7 percent from FY11 appropriations.

In addition, institutions for the first time will not see state funding for enrollment growth as $177 million in FY12 was not part of the final budget package. The absence of funds for enrollment growth, plus the institutional share of $146 million of the System’s reductions, and the elimination of $23 million in federal stimulus funding means the 35 colleges and universities have a $346 million shortfall in FY12.

The General Assembly also approved a capital budget for the USG that totals $180.9 million. This includes:

$45 million in Major Repair and Renovation (MRR) bond funds;

$4 million for equipment funds for previously funded projects at Atlanta Metropolitan College and North Georgia College & State University’s Forsyth County Campus;

$12.5 million for three infrastructure projects at Georgia Tech, Georgia Gwinnett College and South Georgia College;

$107.6 million for construction of 11 projects at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College, Armstrong Atlantic State University, Clayton State University, College of Coastal Georgia, Dalton State College, Georgia College & State University, Georgia Southern University, Georgia Southwestern State University, Kennesaw State University, University of West Georgia, and Savannah State University;

$3.2 million in design funds for a project at UGA; and

$8.65 million for projects related to the Agricultural Experiment Station, the Cooperative Extension Service, the 4H Rock Eagle complex and the Georgia Public Libraries.

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Thursday, April 14, 2011

State Board of Education Approves Plan to Phase Out Graduation Test

The State Board of Education today(April 13) approved State School Superintendent Dr. John Barge's plan to phase out the Georgia High School Graduation Test (GHSGT). Students who enter high school in fall 2011 will no longer take the GHSGT in English, math, social studies and science, in order to graduate. This new plan will require students to pass all required courses, and the End-of-Course Tests (EOCT) would now count 20% of a student's final grade, rather than the current 15% weight.

"Georgia has been trying to eliminate the Georgia High School Graduation Test for over a decade," said Superintendent Barge. "I appreciate the State Board's vote that finally allows us to move away from the GHSGT. I don't believe the GHSGT is nearly as good an indicator of how much a student has learned as our End-of-Course Tests. The EOCTs are much more rigorous, and they test a student immediately following a course, rather than waiting until a student's Junior year to determine whether or not he or she has mastered the content of our curriculum."

Today's vote by the State Board of Education formally changed two rules: Rule 160-3-1-.07 TESTING PROGRAMS and Rule 160-4-2-.13 STATEWIDE PASSING SCORE. With these rule amendments, students entering ninth grade on or after July 1, 2011 no longer must take or pass the GHSGT to receive a high school diploma. The rule amendments also reflect the change in the EOCT accounting for 20% of a student's final course grade. Students must pass all required courses, including those courses with EOCT.

These rule amendments also allow flexibility for students who entered ninth grade between July 1, 2008 and June 30, 2011 to meet graduation requirements by either passing the GHSGT or at least one of the two equivalent end of course tests in each corresponding content area.

Every student must continue to complete all applicable course requirements as well as taking and passing the Georgia High School Writing Test.


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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Arizona Adopts Education Savings Accounts To Aid Special Needs Students

Goldwater Institute developed innovative approach that will provide flexibility and more options for learning

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed today a powerful law to help families with special needs children obtain the best possible education regardless of the physical setting for that instruction. This program replaces school tuition vouchers, which the Arizona Supreme Court ruled in 2009 violate the state constitution.

Senate Bill 1553 establishes education savings accounts for special needs students so their families can find a better answer when a traditional public school has failed to meet their needs. An estimated 17,000 students will be eligible to sign up for an account.

The Goldwater Institute developed the framework of education savings for students such as Lee Zwagerman, whose future could have been defined only by his Asperger syndrome. Lee’s mild autism prevented him from adapting as the public schools he attended got bigger and some of his classmates treated him badly. Feeling trapped and isolated, Lee retreated into himself.

Still, Lee’s parents never would have enrolled him in a specialized education program at a private school. They couldn’t afford it. But in 2006, the state of Arizona established private school tuition vouchers for students with specialized needs, just in time for Lee to start high school at a smaller, private campus.

Four years later, Lee’s grades are good, he has performed in the high school choir, and he plans to attend college after graduation this spring.

But after the Arizona Supreme Court struck down education vouchers, other students haven’t had the same opportunity as Lee. That worries his mom, Myra Zwagerman.

“Not every public school is for every child, or even for two children from the same family or the same value system,” Myra Zwagerman said. “I don’t think Lee would be interested in college now if he had stayed in public school.”

This is where education savings accounts come in. Unlike school vouchers, education savings accounts will help students with disabilities enroll for individual online classes, receive instruction at home or attend private schools. Enrolled students also can start taking college classes while still finishing high school, or save the money in their accounts to attend college full-time after they graduate.

In 2005, Goldwater Institute senior fellow Dan Lips first introduced the concept of funding individual accounts for families to pursue the many alternatives available to a traditional public classroom. A 2010 follow-up report by Institute senior fellow Matthew Ladner and legal scholar Nick Dranias explains such accounts will truly empower families and resolve the legal issues identified by the state Supreme Court.

“The Court said school vouchers for special needs children had to be struck down because parents really could only use them at certain private schools,” Mr. Dranias said. “Education savings accounts provide the answer that the Supreme Court asked for, by giving families real control of their education dollars to spend on a wide range of options.”

“By adopting the first education savings account program in the country, Arizona again has moved into the national forefront of education reform,” said Darcy Olsen, president and CEO of the Goldwater Institute. Florida, Colorado, and several other states are following Arizona’s lead by also looking closely at implementing this program.

“Arizona adopted several time-tested policies in 2010 to address the fundamental problem that 44 percent of Arizona’s fourth-grade students in public school can’t read,” Ms. Olsen said. “Education savings accounts build on those policies by giving disadvantaged children access to the instruction most effective for them.”

SB1553 requires the state to fund an education savings account at 10 percent less than the state would otherwise spend to educate that particular student each year. This means the program saves money as well.

Also, SB1553 requires the state to conduct random audits of education savings accounts to be certain the funds are spent appropriately.
The Goldwater Institute is an independent government watchdog that develops innovative, principled solutions to issues facing the states and whose work is made possible by the generosity of its supporters.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Georgia Virtual School Registration Now Open

Registration for Georgia Virtual School, the online grades 6-12 program offered by the Georgia Department of Education, is now open to all public school students for the Summer 2011, Fall 2011 and Spring 2012 semesters. A waitlisted registration process is also available now for Private and Home School students.

"My vision is to Make Education Work for All Georgians," said State School Superintendent Dr. John Barge. "A major component to making it work for our students is to offer more relevant courses. The Georgia Virtual School is a perfect way for students to take courses that may not currently be offered in their school. I encourage parents and students to look into all of the courses available and enroll today."

Georgia Virtual School courses are fully accredited and aligned to state standards. Courses are taught by highly qualified, Georgia certified teachers. The program offers a complete high school curriculum with Advanced Placement and college prep level courses. This spring, over 8,000 students will have successfully completed courses this school year, enabling students to graduate on schedule and to access challenging courses. The twenty-two Advanced Placement offerings give all Georgia students options and opportunities often not available at their local school. Six world languages including Latin, Spanish, French, German, Japanese and Chinese are some of the most popular offerings.

The middle school program is offered during the summer and includes the 6th, 7th and 8th Grade Language Arts, Science and Mathematics courses. These courses have been optimized for our middle school students in the state who face possible retention or who need remediation. For districts considering eliminating or reducing summer school programs, Georgia Virtual School provides a cost-effective option.

Georgia Virtual School can help local schools solve unique scheduling issues confronting students. This includes accommodating students who have transferred as well as those in hospital homebound or alternative school environments. Additionally, districts can save money by using Georgia Virtual School classes for courses with a low enrollment. Some schools even devote a computer lab to a variety of Georgia Virtual classes during one period of the day enabling them to dramatically increase their course offerings.

Georgia Virtual Learning is committed to the education of all Georgia students. By providing resources linked to the Georgia Performance Standards (GPS), teachers, parents, and students will have access to course material that can be used in the classroom or at home. For more information about Georgia Virtual Learning, their programs and free shared resources, visit their website at www.gavirtuallearning.org. 

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15 Most Off-Beat College Scholarships for 2011-2012

/PRNewswire/ -- Predicting the future, baking an apple pie, knitting wool garments, sporting a milk mustache while performing community service and singing The National Anthem with sincerity are just some of the ways in which college-bound students are funding their education in 2011 according to Aristotle Circle, the leading expert network of college admissions counselors and financial aid advisors who researched the top 15 most unusual college scholarship opportunities for the 2011-2012 academic year. Helping Santa find the perfect Christmas tree brings $10,000, while sleeping in a loft bed can collect $500.

1. The Klingon Language Institute $500 KOR Scholarship (language study);
2. National Marbles Tournament $5,000 Scholarship;
3. Chick & Sophie Major's Duck Calling $1,500 Scholarship;
4. The "Duct Tape" Stuck-On-Prom Scholarship ($6,000 per couple);
5. Why Milk's "SAMMY" $7,500 Scholarship (Scholar-Athlete-Milk-Mustache);
6. Dr. Seuss' 'Oh the Places You Will Go' $5,000 Scholarship;
7. Patrick Kerr $5,000 Skateboard Scholarship;
8. Culinary Institute of America $25,000 Best Apple Pie Recipe Scholarship;
9. Parapsychology Foundation's Scholarship (studying paranormal activity);
10. The Sheep Association's "Make It With Wool" $2,000 Scholarship;
11. Mycological Society of America $500 Scholarship (study mold/spores/fungus);
12. Coven of Sacred Waters $500 Scholarship (amounts vary for Pagan/Wiccas only);
13. NCTA's Help Santa Find The Perfect Christmas Tree $10,000 Scholarship;
14. American Association of Candy Technologists $10,000 Scholarship
15. Icy Frost Bridge Scholarship (for females who sing The National Anthem with sincerity!)


Aristotle Circle expert Rod Bugarin, former admissions and financial aid director, Columbia University, explains: "With college costs at an all-time high and family financial resources stretched to the breaking point, Aristotle Circle has experts to help students find the right college, while advising them on how to be competitive for merit and need-based scholarships."

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Friday, April 1, 2011

New USG Website Outlines HOPE Scholarship Changes for USG Students

The newly enacted changes to the HOPE scholarship program will affect both current and incoming students to University System of Georgia (USG) institutions. The USG has created a special website that highlights the HOPE changes affecting USG students, which can be accessed at: http://www.usg.edu/student_affairs/students/how_hope_changes_will_affect_usg_students/

This website does not include changes affecting students attending either a public technical college or a private college or university.

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