Archive for the ‘Awards’ Category

US DOE awards Georgia $17.2 million for low performing schools

From US Department of Education:

Today, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced that Georgia will receive $17.2 million to turn around its persistently lowest achieving schools through the Education Department’s School Improvement Grant  program. Georgia is one of 13 states that will receive SIG funding.

Six of the states, including Georgia, will receive awards to run a new competition for previously unfunded schools, and six states will receive continuation funds for the third year of implementing a SIG model.

Along with Georgia, the states receiving new awards are: Illinois—$22.2 million; Kansas—$4 million; Massachusetts—$7.2 million; Nevada—$3.8 million and North Carolina—$14.3 million. The seven states receiving continuation awards are: Arkansas—$5.3 million; Delaware—$1.4 million; Florida—$26.8 million; Montana—$1.5 million; New Jersey—$10.4 million; Oregon—$5.4 million; and Washington—$7.8 million.

“When schools fail, our children and our neighborhoods suffer,” …

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Legislators lower bar to earn HOPE Grant for technical colleges

More technical college students will now receive the HOPE Grant.

The General Assembly passed a bill tonight that lowers the GPA necessary to win the lottery-funded grant, which applies to technical colleges.

House Bill 372 qualifies students for the grant if they maintain a 2.0 grade-point average. The current mandate is 3.0, but the change would reinstate the rule that existed before lawmakers overhauled HOPE two years ago.

The change reflects concerns that too many technical college students dropped out or chose not to enroll because they couldn’t meet the higher bar. The new standard is estimated to allow between 2, 500 and 5,000 students to re-enroll in the grant program.

The HOPE Scholarship, which is used by University System of Georgia students, would keep its 3.0 GPA requirement. Both awards cover most of the in-state tuition.

–from Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled  blog

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The top HOPE Scholarships: Are the best and the brightest in Fulton and Gwinnett? Is rural Georgia shortchanged?

artchangeThe Georgia Senate debated the qualifications to become a Zell Miller scholar this afternoon while discussing House Bill 131, which accords high school students who take dual enrollment college classes the same .5 boost in their final grade that Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate students now earn.

Ultimately, the Senate approved the grade boost for dual enrollment, but voted 33-15 against against an amendment  to change how the Zell Miller Scholarship is calculated so that more rural Georgia students would qualify.

Only one group of Georgia college students — those who graduated high school with a 3.7 or higher GPA  and scored at least 1200 on the math and reading portions of the SAT test or a 26 on the ACT –   now earn full tuition under the changes made to the lottery-funded HOPE Scholarship. These students are known as Zell Miller Scholars. Zell Miller is also extended to all high school valedictorians and salutatorians.

State Sen. Jason Carter, …

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President of Agnes Scott and college trustee: Cutting aid to private college students will cost more than it saves

Here is a guest column on the planned cut to tuition assistance given by the state to Georgia students who attend private in-state colleges. The authors are Beth Holder, a trustee and alumna of Agnes Scott College, and Elizabeth Kiss, president of Agnes Scott.

According to the AJC:

House budget writers reduced the  Tuition Equalization Grant — money paid to all private college students — from $700 to $500. The subsidy program has been around for about 40 years and is meant to help private college students pay tuition.

The $6 million saved by reducing the grant would be plowed into the Technical College System of Georgia. Deal proposed a $24 million cut in technical college funding because of an enrollment drop at the schools. Technical colleges, like University System of Georgia schools, are funded largely based on enrollment.

The cut has alarmed private colleges, which contend that the money is often a factor in a student’s ability to enroll.

By Beth Holder and …

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State spelling champ from Wesleyan School in Gwinnett: The essence of his win: quiddity

 Nicholas Poulos from the Wesleyan School got both "quiddity" and "fibrinogen" right to become state spelling bee champ Friday. (AJC/Johnny Crawford)

Nicholas Poulos from the Wesleyan School got both "quiddity" and "fibrinogen" right to become state spelling bee champ Friday. (AJC/Johnny Crawford)

From the Georgia Association of Educators:

Close to 250 words and 26 rounds. That’s how long it took 13-year-old Nicholas Poulos from The Wesleyan School in Gwinnett County to best the 19 other competitors and go on to become the winner of the 52nd Annual Georgia Association of Educators State Spelling Bee. He will now represent Georgia in the Scripps National Spelling Bee Championships in Washington, D.C., May 28-30.

It was in the 25th round that the field was narrowed down to Nicholas and 12-year-old Rohan Ramdeholl from North Gwinnett Middle School. Nicolas and Rohan both missed the words “fuguist” and “epaxial.” Rohan was then given “quiddity” but spelled it with one “d.” Nicholas spelled it correctly and was given the word “fibrinogen” which he spelled correctly to become state champion. Rounds 20 and up proved to be the …

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Guest column: Fix, don’t expand, Georgia’s troubled private school tax credit program.

Hillel Y. Levin is an associate professor of law at the University of Georgia Law School. He teaches courses on administrative law, civil procedure, constitutional law and legislation.

In this essay, Levin discusses the tax credit for private school scholarships, which has been the subject of several AJC investigations. Here is one. Here is a blog on abuses in the program.

By Hillel Y. Levin

Five years ago, Georgia’s legislature enacted a program that gives taxpayers a tax credit for donating to student scholarship organizations (SSOs) affiliated with private schools.

The stated purpose of the program—to provide scholarships for underprivileged children to attend expensive private schools—is a worthy one. But this goal has been undermined by a lack of transparency and by aggressive efforts by some private schools to funnel SSO funds to middle- and even upper-class students. Indeed, there is scant evidence that any disadvantaged children have escaped poor public schools …

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Private school tax credit: A $170 million tax diversion that Georgia lawmakers cloak in secrecy. Why?

State Rep. Edward Lindsey, R-Atlanta, met with the AJC Friday for a general discussion on education issues in the state.

By design, it is impossible to know how the $170 million in private school tax credit has been spent or on whom (AJC file photo)

By design, it is impossible to know how the $170 million in private school tax credits have been spent or on whom. (AJC file photo)

Among his concerns: Whether the private school scholarship tax credit is working as it was presented to the General Assembly  — as a means to help low-income kids whose parents had no other way to afford private schools.

“I want us to make sure the money is going to the kids I have envisioned so they can have better choices,” he said. Lindsey said he disagrees with state Rep. Earl Ehrhart, R-Powder Springs, who recently said the scholarship “was never sold” as a program to benefit only low-income students.

“Rep. Ehrhart and I don’t always agree,” said Lindsey.

The AJC has done several good stories on the tax credit and the challenges — deliberately injected into the law –  in figuring out how the money was being spent and on …

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A great ‘Jeopardy!’ answer in episode featuring local 13-year-old Westminster student

Nilai Sarda, a freshman at the Westminster Schools, won $26,400 with a third-place finish in the JEOPARDY! Teen Tournament

Nilai Sarda, a freshman at the Westminster Schools, won $26,400 with a third-place finish in the "Jeopardy!" Teen Tournament

Remember the name of Nilai Sarda. The 13-year-old won $26,400 on the teen version of  “Jeopardy!” this week that featured a surprising answer from the teen who eventually won.

(The video here reveals how first place finisher Leonard Cooper, a senior at eStem High Public Charter School in Little Rock, Ark., delighted the audience with his cool performance and his final answer. He didn’t know the final question but he bet wisely.)

In 2011, Nilai won second place in the National Geography Bee.

At the time, Nilai described a study regimen that included 45 minutes on weekdays and two to three hours on weekends. Nilai said he created computer profiles for every country in the world.

I expect Nilai will win a lot more top prizes before he finishes high school. (I wouldn’t be surprised to someday read about his perfect score on the SAT someday.)

Here is the …

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A tornado, a dark hall and frightened children. A school saddles up to meet the challenges.

Jim Arnold leads the Pelham City Schools in Mitchell County, Ga. He is a frequent essayist on this blog. Here is his latest piece:

By Jim Arnold

Public school teachers are fighting battles on many fronts. These challenges have been presented and debated again and again. Everyone seems to have an answer but no one can present a viable solution. Many believe that teachers and public school students are being held hostage by state and federal politicians to promote an agenda of privatization; others are convinced the public schools are irretrievably broken and beyond redemption.

Furlough days that directly affect teacher pay and quality of life, denigration of public schools and of the teaching profession, the use of public schools as instruments of social experimentation and reform, the imposition of more and more standardized tests as an educational end unto itself rather than a means to improve achievement, the threat of tying meaningless test scores to teacher evaluations, …

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Democrats: Governor’s changes to HOPE Grant still leave students “out in the cold.”

The Senate Democrats offered this response to the governor’s plan to lower the GPA for HOPE grants for students in technical colleges, which have reported a steep decline since Nathan Deal imposed a 3.0 GPA requirement.

Senate Democrats said Gov. Deal’s proposal to lower the grade point average requirement in Georgia’s HOPE Grant for students in the technical college system is a reasonable first step, but doesn’t go far enough to repair the broken HOPE Grant and Scholarship programs.

Sen. Vincent Fort, D-Atlanta, whip of the Senate Democratic Caucus, is an author of Senate Bill 59 that would reduce the GPA from 3.0 to 2.0 for a HOPE Grant recipient. The measure is similar to the Gov. Deal’s recent HOPE Grant proposal. But Fort said real HOPE reform is a multi-prong approach that requires the state’s leadership to account for all current and future students and requires changes across the grant and scholarship spectrum.

“The purpose of the HOPE Grant and the HOPE Scholarship …

Continue reading Democrats: Governor’s changes to HOPE Grant still leave students “out in the cold.” »