Monday, May 16, 2011

Statement from State School Superintendent Dr. John Barge Regarding the Supreme Court's Ruling on the Charter Schools Commission

Below is a statement from State School Superintendent Dr. John Barge regarding the Supreme Court's ruling on the Charter Schools Commission.

"With today's Supreme Court ruling against the legality of the Charter Schools Commission, the state stands ready to help in whatever way necessary to ensure that the education of the students in these schools is not compromised," said Superintendent Barge. "I will be working closely with the State Board of Education to see what flexibility can be offered for these schools."

-----

Community News You Can Use
Click to read MORE news:
www.GeorgiaFrontPage.com
Twitter: @gafrontpage & @TheGATable @HookedonHistory
www.ArtsAcrossGeorgia.com
Twitter: @artsacrossga, @softnblue, @RimbomboAAG @FayetteFP

Graduation Test Scores Increase in English Language Arts, Science, and Social Studies

Results of the 2011 Georgia High School Graduation Tests (GHSGT) show student scores increased in all content areas where there is historical data - science, social studies and English language arts. Because this is the first year the more rigorous Georgia Performance Standards (GPS)-based mathematics GHSGT was given, there is no historical data to compare from year to year in that content area.

"The results of the 2011 GHSGT are very encouraging,” State School Superintendent Dr. John Barge said. "These scores give us a good indicator that students and teachers continue to rise to the challenge of a more rigorous curriculum.”

The percentage of students passing the English language arts GHSGT (91%) increased one percentage point from 2010. In science, 93% of students passed the test, an increase of three percentage points from last year. Finally, in social studies, 80% of students passed the GHSGT, a two percentage point increase over last year’s results.

For the first time this year, the GHSGT in mathematics is GPS-based. On the mathematics exam, 84% of students passed, an expected decrease from last year’s Quality Core Curriculum-based exam (91%).

In March 2011, the State Board of Education approved Superintendent Barge’s recommendation to allow school districts to teach math with an integrated or discrete delivery method.

"We know many students have struggled with the integrated approach to mathematics,” said Superintendent Barge. “A one-size-fits-all approach is not in the best interest of all of our students, but high expectations and our rigorous curriculum are right for all of them. We expected a decline in results for the math portion of the GHSGT, but based on feedback from school districts, we anticipated a more dramatic decline.”

Project ExPreSS Offered for Students Needing Remediation in Mathematics
The Exam Preparation for Student Success (ExPreSS) program 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 GHSGT.

About the Georgia High School Graduation Tests
The GHSGT are given to high school students for the first time in the spring of their junior year. All four portions of the test, plus the Georgia High School Writing Test, must be passed in order for a student to receive a full diploma from a Georgia public high school. Students can retake the GHSGT as many times as needed to pass the exams.

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

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

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

At their April 2011 meeting, the State Board of Education approved Superintendent Barge's recommendation to phase out the GHSGT beginning with students entering ninth grade for the first time in 2011. For details about the phase-out plan, visit http://www.gadoe.org/pea_communications.aspx?ViewMode=1&obj=2032.

-----

Community News You Can Use
Click to read MORE news:
www.GeorgiaFrontPage.com
Twitter: @gafrontpage & @TheGATable @HookedonHistory
www.ArtsAcrossGeorgia.com
Twitter: @artsacrossga, @softnblue, @RimbomboAAG @FayetteFP

AFC Praises Improvements to Georgia Tax Credit Scholarship Program

/PRNewswire/ -- The American Federation for Children today (May 13) praised its Georgia state allies, Governor Nathan Deal, and state legislators for the passage of revisions to a Georgia school choice program that will raise the cap on the number of eligible students, better secure their places in the program once admitted, and significantly increase the program's transparency and accountability.

Gov. Deal yesterday signed into law House Bill 325, which was passed with bipartisan support by state legislators late last month thanks in large part to the grassroots efforts of Center for Educated Georgia and the strong leadership from bill sponsors Sen. Chip Rogers, Rep. David Casas, Rep. Earl Ehrhart, and Rep. Delvis Dutton.

The bill strengthens and clarifies key provisions of the Georgia Scholarship Tax Credit Program, including the stipulation that students who enter the program can continue receiving scholarships until their high school graduation. The plan also calls for the program to expand its eligibility by eliminating the requirement that first-grade participants attend a public school the year prior to entering the scholarship program.

Other provisions include an increase in the amount of time donors have to make contributions, the ability for donors to contribute online, and a change in how individual scholarship amounts will be capped. Scholarship caps will now be based on the average per-student funding for public education in the state, the result of which will ensure that the state does not incur additional costs as a result of the program.

"This is an important step in ensuring that Georgia families are getting the access to educational options they deserve," said Betsy DeVos, chairman of the American Federation for Children. "We applaud state legislators and Governor Deal for helping make a great program that helps kids even better. These changes will benefit not only students and their families, but also the taxpayers of Georgia, too."

The new eligibility requirements and scholarship amounts are coupled with more stringent accountability standards for the Student Scholarship Organizations (SSOs)—the organizations to which donors contribute and that ultimately grant scholarships. SSOs must now maintain an independent board of directors with at least three members, in addition to the already existing requirements that they submit to annual audits and independent reviews of all financial statements.

House Bill 325 also gives authority to the state Department of Revenue to take punitive action against any SSO not in compliance with the law.

Enacted in 2008, the Georgia Scholarship Tax Credit Program currently serves over 6,000 students across the state, having more than doubled its enrollment from just a year ago. One of two school choice programs in the state, Georgia has nearly 9,000 students who are currently benefitting from school choice.

-----

Community News You Can Use
Click to read MORE news:
www.GeorgiaFrontPage.com
Twitter: @gafrontpage & @TheGATable @HookedonHistory
www.ArtsAcrossGeorgia.com
Twitter: @artsacrossga, @softnblue, @RimbomboAAG @FayetteFP

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Regents Approve ‘State College’ Status for Four USG Institutions

Four of the University System of Georgia’s (USG) current two-year colleges are set to offer limited bachelor’s degree programs, following approval today (May 10) by the Board of Regents to change their institutional mission to that of a “state college.”

The four institutions are Darton College in Albany, Georgia Highlands College in Rome, and in metropolitan Atlanta, both Atlanta Metropolitan College and Georgia Perimeter College.

“The Board’s actions reflect the evolving role of our access institutions as we identify specific job-related and economic development needs throughout the state,” said Rob Watts, chief operating officer for the USG. “Officials at these institutions have made a strong and data-driven case to the Board for the mission change and for the needs in these communities for specific baccalaureate degree programs.”

The state college sector was established in 1998 and categorizes two-year, associate-degree granting institutions that have been authorized by the Board to offer a limited number of four-year baccalaureate degree programs. The University System’s other institutional categories are: research universities, regional universities, state universities, and two-year colleges. With today’s actions, there are now 12 USG institutions in the state college sector.

Two of the mission changes – at Darton College and Georgia Highlands College – reflect the regents’ ongoing focus on meeting the growing need and ongoing shortages of healthcare professionals in Georgia, specifically in nursing.

Both institutions currently offer associate’s level nursing programs. The Board’s approval will allow them to offer a bachelor of science in nursing degree, targeted to existing holders of a registered nurse license and associate’s degree who wish to complete a bachelor’s degree.

In 2006, the Health Resources and Services Administration of the US Department of Health and Human Services reported that Georgia would have a deficit of nearly 38,000 registered nurses by 2020, absent any action by state leaders. Further, a 2010 report from the Institute of Medicine indicated the need for each state to raise the credentials of its nursing workforce towards the baccalaureate degree to improve quality of care, and reduce medical errors and costs.

A review of registered nurse job openings at area hospitals in Darton’s service area found that approximately 232 registered nurse positions exist at various hospitals and health-related agencies. Darton’s new nursing program will help to increase the production of nurses in the region, complementing the existing efforts of both Albany State University and Georgia Southwestern State University’s nursing degree programs.

Georgia Highlands College’s new nursing degree will help to meet the needs for nurses in north and northwest Georgia and serve the educational needs of local students who for time and financial limitations cannot pursue a baccalaureate degree outside the region served by the College.

In the Atlanta metro region, the change in mission status for Atlanta Metropolitan College, located in south Atlanta, and Georgia Perimeter College, which serves Atlanta’s northeast and eastern suburbs, will result in very different targeted bachelor’s degree offerings.

Atlanta Metro will offer its first bachelor of science with a major in the biological sciences. This degree is specifically designed to increase the pipeline of students who earn degrees in STEM disciplines – science, technology, engineering and mathematics. While the program as approved today by the Board does not include a teacher certification component, College officials have future plans to add this. Program graduates will have entry-level opportunities for immediate employment and offer the foundation for those students who seek a master’s or higher-level degrees.

At Georgia Perimeter, the Board has authorized the establishment of two bachelor degree programs: a bachelor of arts with a major in sign language interpreting and a bachelor of science with a major in health informatics.

While Georgia Perimeter currently offers an associate and certificate level program in sign language interpreting, a new requirement by the field’s national professional organization and certifying body that goes into effect in July 2012 will require candidates who wish to sit for the Registered Health Information Administration Certification exam to have earned a bachelor’s degree or higher. The new bachelor’s degree program at the College will ensure program graduates are eligible for certification.

The U.S. Bureau of Statistics in 2008 projected a need for additional health informatics specialists, who manage patient information systems. Students will be able to enroll in the program at any of the College’s five campuses.

The start date for the five new bachelor’s degree programs at the four institutions will vary, dependent upon review and approval from the relevant accrediting organizations.

-----

Community News You Can Use
Click to read MORE news:
www.GeorgiaFrontPage.com
Twitter: @gafrontpage & @TheGATable @HookedonHistory
www.ArtsAcrossGeorgia.com
Twitter: @artsacrossga, @softnblue, @RimbomboAAG @FayetteFP

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

America’s First ‘Green Flag’ Flies Over Sustainable Savannah School

Editor's Note:  Kudos to the Savannah Country Day School for this great accomplishment.  Click here if you want information on how to make your school and Ed-School.

Savannah Country Day School in Georgia was named the nation’s first Green Flag Eco-School in a ceremony yesterday (April 28), signifying exceptional achievement in ‘greening’ school grounds, operations and curricula. The school achieved this honor through a combination of excellence by “green” management of its facilities and grounds, providing opportunities for outdoor education and by integrating environmental learning throughout its curricula.

The Eco-Schools USA program, which is hosted by National Wildlife Federation, counts nearly 500 schools and some 205,000 students among its participants, but none has achieved the program’s highest honor, the Green Flag, until now.

“The Green Flag is special – and only awarded to those schools who have demonstrated a commitment to environmental sustainability and increasing environmental literacy for its students, faculty, and wider school community,” said Laura Hickey, Senior Director of Eco-Schools USA, on hand for the official flag-raising.

Also in attendance for the event were the City of Savannah’s Mayor Pro Tem, Edna Jackson, and Environmental Affairs Officer Laura Walker. Jackson congratulated the school and thanked cheering students and staff for helping to make Savannah a “Green City.”

To win the first Green Flag, Savannah Country Day School, which completed a Silver LEED-certified lower school building in 2008, tackled a variety of sustainability projects, including lunchroom recycling and composting programs, a well-tended vegetable garden, environmental current events coursework and school-supported ‘outdoor classroom time.’ This was in keeping with Eco-Schools USA’s uniquely holistic approach—‘greening’ the school building, the school grounds and the student curriculum and experience.

Hickey’s official certification tour of the school included a visit to the previously-certified NWF Schoolyard Habitat and a demonstration of cistern use and garden upkeep by a student Eco-Action Team, but 'green living isn't limited to a select group---or grade---of students at Savannah Country Day.

In kindergarten, students tend to a natural herb garden, moving on to a fruit orchard in first grade. Second-graders study monarch butterfly eggs, and third-graders take care of a full organic vegetable garden. The entire school supports composting of pre-consumer waste and participates in a "green hour" program allowing children to be outside every week for instruction time (in addition to recess).


Among the more unique elements of sustainable life at Savannah Country Day School is lunchtime, which goes well beyond the usual tater-tots and milk cartons: produce from the school garden is regularly prepared and served to students in the dining hall, with dishes containing it identified with a "From Here" label. The school chef often creates a display of garden vegetables to entice youngsters to try them, and local food vendors are celebrated with "Meet the Farmer" signage. All kitchen scraps and food waste are added to the school's compost pile. The school's dining program is managed by SAGE Dining Services.

Many schools have implemented the Eco-Schools USA program, some earning Bronze- and Silver-level awards for their progress (Georgia alone boasts 14 Eco-Schools). The heretofore unclaimed Green Flag requires a rigorous combination of environmental audits, curriculum reinvention and internal and external monitoring.

The program is designed to help schools in a variety of ways, including saving money, reducing waste and improving student academic performance and environmental awareness (more benefits listed here). Once a school has registered and implemented the Seven Steps of the program, it can apply for an Eco-Schools award. A school is considered to be a permanent Eco-School once it has gained its fourth Green Flag.

The Eco-Schools program is an international network of 38,000 K-12 schools in 51 countries, started in 1994 by the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) with support by the European Commission. It was named by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) as a model initiative for Education for Sustainable Development in 2003. NWF was named the stateside host in 2008, thus formally launching Eco-Schools USA.

The award came just days after the U.S. Department of Education announced the creation of the Green Ribbon Schools program, which will similarly recognize schools that have taken great strides in greening their curricula, buildings, school grounds and overall building operations. That program, which is to be modeled on the nearly 30-year-old Blue Ribbon Schools program that recognizes schools whose student bodies have displayed high academic achievement or improvement, will help establish guidelines for overall sustainability in American schools. NWF and other organizations had pushed for the implementation of that program for the past year.

“American schools already led the way on innovation,” said Kevin Coyle, Vice President for Education and Training at NWF. “Now, in addition to revamping their buildings and grounds, they are increasingly setting a high standard for sustainability education and becoming truly green.”

By Max Greenberg
National Wildlife Federation

Source:  National Wildlife Federation

-----

Community News You Can Use
Click to read MORE news:
www.GeorgiaFrontPage.com
Twitter: @gafrontpage & @TheGATable @HookedonHistory
www.ArtsAcrossGeorgia.com
Twitter: @artsacrossga, @softnblue, @RimbomboAAG @FayetteFP

Monday, May 9, 2011

Southern Polytechnic State University and High Museum of Art Form a Unique Alliance

/PRNewswire/ -- Southern Polytechnic State University (SPSU) has established a unique affiliation with the High Museum of Art in Atlanta that will give students and faculty access to the museum's exhibitions, collections and programs.

"I'm happy to note that we are the first University System of Georgia institution to have such an affiliation," said Dr. Zvi Szafran, vice president for academic affairs.

He cited the following benefits to the university:

* Faculty members will be able to take their classes on field trips to the museum at no cost to the students or faculty members.
* Students can visit the High Museum of Art free of charge at any time by showing their SPSU ID; faculty members will receive a discount with ID on daily tickets and on individual, dual or family memberships.
* The museum will conduct two SPSU campus lectures or programs per year at SPSU and will provide faculty members and students with access to visiting artists and scholars.
* The museum will provide internships in Collections and Exhibitions, Education, Marketing and Communications, or Advancement for up to two undergraduate students per year (one per semester).
* The museum will host an SPSU event each year. The first one will take place on June 8, when participants of the Polytechnic Summit will tour the "Modern by Design" exhibition of work from the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) just days after it opens at the High Museum of Art.


"This partnership truly allows for the integration of the visual arts into the educational curriculum of SPSU," added Dr. Szafran.

Aside from gaining interns, the museum will also benefit in another way from the expertise available at SPSU. A few select students in SPSU's mechatronics program with training in robotics are assisting with the installation and maintenance of one of the pieces in the MoMA exhibition. "Digital Matter" is a major work of art by iconic Dutch designer Joris Laarman. This kinetic installation features a robot that will construct, disassemble and reconstruct a piece of furniture over an extended period of time.

"Our affiliation with the High Museum of Art is a win-win," said Dr. Szafran. "Both institutions benefit from each others' unique strengths. We're expecting that many interesting collaborations will result from this alliance.

-----

Community News You Can Use
Click to read MORE news:
www.GeorgiaFrontPage.com
Twitter: @gafrontpage & @TheGATable @HookedonHistory
www.ArtsAcrossGeorgia.com
Twitter: @artsacrossga, @softnblue, @RimbomboAAG @FayetteFP

State Board of Education Approves Waiver Requests For School Systems Impacted by Violent Storms

The State Board of Education today (May 6) unanimously approved State School Superintendent Dr. John Barge’s recommendation to grant requests from five local school systems to waive the required number of instructional days as a result of the violent storms that swept through Georgia last week. Dade, Floyd, Meriwether, Spalding, and Walker County School Systems suffered severe damage to several school buildings during the April 27th storms that have forced them to use up their allotted emergency days. At a special called meeting today, the board voted to allow these five systems to waive the 180 school-day equivalent so that they will not be required to make up these lost days.

“These schools and communities have been struck by a terrible tragedy," said Superintendent Barge. "While we cannot replace the lives that were lost or undo the damage that was done, we can provide the flexibility they need to help facilitate rebuilding and recovery. The families and communities affected by this tragedy are in our prayers. We hope today’s action will make this recovery process a little easier for them.”

Today’s board vote specifically waived SBOE Rule 160-5-1-.02 School Day and School Year for Students and Employees. For the individual waiver requests, please visit https://eboard.eboardsolutions.com/meetings/viewmeetingOrder.aspx?S=1262&MID=19505.

-----

Community News You Can Use
Click to read MORE news:
www.GeorgiaFrontPage.com
Twitter: @gafrontpage & @TheGATable @HookedonHistory
www.ArtsAcrossGeorgia.com
Twitter: @artsacrossga, @softnblue, @RimbomboAAG @FayetteFP

2012 Georgia Teacher of the Year Named

Jadun O. McCarthy, an English Language Arts teacher from Northeast Health Science Magnet High School in Bibb County, has been named the 2012 Georgia Teacher of the Year.

Mr. McCarthy was named the winner of the award at the annual Georgia Teacher of the Year banquet held at the Georgia World Congress Center. As Georgia Teacher of the Year, he will serve as an advocate for public education in Georgia.

"Jadun McCarthy is going to be a great representative of the teaching profession in Georgia," said State School Superintendent Dr. John Barge. "He has such a compelling story about how education has impacted his life."

A product of the Bibb County School District, Mr. McCarthy initially was going to pursue a career in law. The night of his graduation from the University of Georgia School of Law, he realized that, instead of working in a system that locks up people, he would rather follow in the footsteps of the people who provided him the tools to be successful: his teachers.

"I wanted to have the same influence on someone that many of my wonderful teachers had on me. I wanted to stop some young man or young woman from stumbling onto the wrong path," says Mr. McCarthy. "I wanted to be a teacher."

Mr. McCarthy serves as the Academic Bowl Team Head Coach, chairs the school's 'Bridging the Gap' Eight-Step Process Achievement Initiative team, and is a member of the Georgia Association of Educators. Since 2007, he has been recognized each year as one of Northeast High School's End of Course Test Start Teachers. He also serves as the Junior and Senior Class Advisor, coordinates the Junior/Senior Prom and all Senior activities, including the annual Senior Class Trip to Orlando. Students have recognized him as the 2008, 2009, and 2010 Advisor of the Year.

As Georgia Teacher of the Year, Mr. McCarthy will represent Georgia teachers by speaking to the public about the teaching profession and possibly conducting workshops and programs for educators. He will also compete for the 2012 National Teacher of the Year.

-----

Community News You Can Use
Click to read MORE news:
www.GeorgiaFrontPage.com
Twitter: @gafrontpage & @TheGATable @HookedonHistory
www.ArtsAcrossGeorgia.com
Twitter: @artsacrossga, @softnblue, @RimbomboAAG @FayetteFP