Archive for July, 2009

Can districts provide too much information?

The Georgia Board of Education is considering an amendment that would require school districts to communicate more with parents and community members before seeking increased flexibility under a new law.

The policy change concerns Investing in Educational Excellence or “IE2″ which allows school districts to be exempt from state rules over class size, teacher pay and other areas. In exchange for this freedom, school districts must promise to boost student achievement.

Before school districts can apply for this status they must hold a public hearing. The state is considering adding more guidelines after parents and other community members complained they didn’t get enough notice or information from their districts.

Gwinnett and Forsyth counties are the only IE2 districts in the state, but more are expected in coming years.

The intent of this policy change is needed, but everyone will have their own ideas of what is needed.

How much information is enough? Can districts ever …

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How did your school do on the CRCT?

The Georgia Department of Education released school-by-school CRCT results today. Search our database to see how your school performed.

Students in grades 1-8 take the tests to determine if they’ve learned what the state says they should know.

The state uses these results when determining whether elementary and middle schools met the testing goals mandated by No Child Left Behind.

I’m home sick and having trouble focusing on these scores. What do you guys make of the results? Any surprises?

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Where’s the love for French?

The father of child starting at Johns Creek High wrote an interesting letter questioning the school’s foreign language options.

The dad wrote that the school was supposed to offer Chinese and German, but not enough kids signed up for the classes. Instead the school will offer Spanish, French and Latin. Good options, but the dad’s son planned to take German.

The father writes that French is a waste of time for most students and that the school would be better off to teach German and Chinese.

Over the years I’ve often heard from parents upset with foreign language options at their high schools. Some want the classics — Latin, French and Spanish. Others wants schools to think more global and teach Chinese, Japanese and Arabic.

What languages do you think schools should offer? Should they focus on the classics or take a more global approach?

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Who is going to school online?

Summer school is looking different with more kids taking classes online instead of sitting in a brick-and-mortar classroom.

Students are taking classes online this summer because they failed a class or they want to replace a low grade. Some are trying to free up their schedules for electives.

Several school districts – Cobb, DeKalb, Fulton and Gwinnett – run their own online programs. The Georgia Department of Education also operates the Georgia Virtual School.

(There’s also a virtual charter school, the Georgia Virtual Academy.)

Online classes are more convenient for many kids and their families. Kids spend so much of their lives online it makes sense that they learn that way.

Does this type of learning work for everyone? Kids need to be more independent and they have to be good at managing their time.

What do you think of online learning? What types of classes do you think work best online?

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Worried about college budget cuts?

College students will see some changes when they show up for fall semester.

Classes will be bigger. Libraries and computer labs will have shorter hours. Fewer class sections will be offered. Equipment will be older.

Expect all that and more as colleges slashed their budgets because of cuts in state funding and declined revenue from endowments and other investments.

Students, parents and professors: How worried are you about these cuts?

What will this do to the quality of education students receive and their ability to graduate on time?

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How can Georgia improve middle schools?

Georgia was one of several states cited in a new report for having low math and reading standards in middle school.

The study from the Southern Regional Education Board — a nonprofit, nonpartisan group that advocates for education in Georgia and 15 other states – says weak standards fail to prepare students for the rigor of high school.

While schools and states have succeeded in boosting student achievement in elementary school, many studies and experts say problems develop when kids enter middle school.

Where do you see these gaps? Take reading. In Georgia, 88 percent of students passed the CRCT in 2007 but only 70 percent passed that year’s National Assessment of Educational Progress.

In math, the study noted students across the country are being pushed to learn algebra and other advanced lessons before they’ve mastered basic skills.

Georgia has introduced new math standards requiring middle school students to learn algebra and other topics previously taught in high …

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What new education laws go into effect today?

July 1 is the day new state laws go into effect. This year Georgians have 89 new laws, including several tied to schools.

The new school laws include:

HB 149 (the “Move on When Ready Act”) allows high school juniors and seniors to attend college and earn credit toward a high school and college diploma.

HB 251 allows families to transfer their child to any public school within their home district provided the campus has room. The bill’s sponsor and others have complained about the rules the state education department developed concerning this new law.

SB 8 allows students with allergies to administer epi-pen injections at school.

HB 280 provides salary increases for math and science teachers in 2010. No money has been set aside, but there has been some discussion about applying for stimulus money the U.S. Department of Education doles out for innovative programs.

What do you think of these new laws? Will these help schools or just create more headaches for teachers, principals …

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