Archive for the ‘Awards’ Category

Gov. Deal responds to concerns about HOPE Grant and lowers GPA requirement to 2.0

Gov. Nathan Deal has apparently heard some of the protests about the changes he made two years ago to HOPE, reversing his decision to require that even students going to the state’s technical colleges on HOPE Grants also have a 3.0 GPA.

The AJC reported that nearly 9,000 technical college students lost the award last year because they couldn’t meet the higher standard. Ron Jackson, the commissioner of the Technical College System of Georgia, told legislators last month that thousands of other students dropped out of the technical colleges or didn’t enroll because they couldn’t afford to pay what HOPE no longer covered.

The system’s enrollment dropped by about 24,500 students to 170,860 last year. Historically, nearly 75 percent of technical college students receive HOPE.

The change needs the Legislature’s approval, but has bi-partisan support and is expected to pass.

Now, the question is: Will Deal respond to complaints about how few rural students are getting the Zell …

Continue reading Gov. Deal responds to concerns about HOPE Grant and lowers GPA requirement to 2.0 »

Democrats want to tweak HOPE Scholarship again. Give full HOPE to top 3 percent of class

The Democrats in the Senate are getting busy on education issues.

One of their chief targets is the Zell Miller Scholarship, the top tier HOPE award that goes to high school graduates who perform well in both GPA and SAT. Democrats want to expand the scholarship to students who graduate in the top 3 percent, regardless of their SAT score.

Zell Miller scholars must graduate high school as the valedictorian or salutatorian, or with at least a 3.7 grade-point average and a 1200 on the SAT’s math and reading sections. While in college they must maintain a 3.3 GPA. HOPE scholars must maintain a 3.0. So far, 11,600 Zell Miller scholars receive payments through the program.

Most high school grads in the state don’t meet that higher bar but qualify for HOPE Lite if they have a 3.0 grade point average. HOPE Lite is based on available lottery funds and thus subject to fluctuations. The governor created two tiers of HOPE awards in 2011 to cut down on the scholarship program’s …

Continue reading Democrats want to tweak HOPE Scholarship again. Give full HOPE to top 3 percent of class »

More HOPE to go around this year because fewer students earned it in the first place. Time to consider need-based HOPE?

AJC reporter Laura Diamond is reporting that the slight rise in HOPE payouts this year is a result of fewer Georgia students receiving the scholarship as a result of state lawmakers making the award harder to earn and harder to keep.

I stand nearly alone on this issue here on the blog, but still contend that Georgia has to consider a need component to HOPE. On a personal level, I would love to see HOPE remain fully merit-based as I have twins who will be college bound in 2017.

But on a public policy level, I understand that Georgia must produce many more college graduates to remain economically competitive. And that means finding ways to prod more teens to consider going to college by making it economically feasible for them. (Research shows that finances play a significant role in preventing qualified kids from attending college.)

As it stands now, HOPE has a greater influence on where kids go to college rather than whether they go. Every economic forecast says that Georgia …

Continue reading More HOPE to go around this year because fewer students earned it in the first place. Time to consider need-based HOPE? »

Four Georgia districts strike out today in Race to the Top

While four Georgia districts were finalists in a new Race to the Top grant competition, none of them won.

Fulton County Board of Education, Haralson County School System, Morgan County Charter School System and Rockdale County Public Schools were among 61 applications selected as finalists in the Race to the Top-District competition but were not among the 16 winners announced today.

According to the announcement from the U.S. DOE:

The U.S. Department of Education announced today that 16 applicants—representing 55 school districts across 11 states and D.C.—have won the 2012 Race to the Top-District competition. These districts will share nearly $400 million to support locally developed plans to personalize and deepen student learning, directly improve student achievement and educator effectiveness, close achievement gaps, and prepare every student to succeed in college and their careers.

“Districts have been hungry to drive reform at the local level, and now these …

Continue reading Four Georgia districts strike out today in Race to the Top »

Congratulations to Lisa Bell of Muscogee County, Georgia’s 2012 Milken Educator

Lisa Bell is Georgia's only Milken Educator winner this year

Lisa Bell is Georgia's only Milken Educator winner this year

From DOE:

Lisa Bell, a teacher at Downtown Elementary Magnet Academy in Muscogee County Schools, was named Georgia’s 2012 National Milken Educator of the Year.

The prestigious national recognition from the Milken Family Foundation comes with a no-strings-attached cash prize of $25,000. Dr. Gary Stark, President and Chief Executive Officer of the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching, and State School Superintendent Dr. John Barge were among the leaders who participated in the surprise celebration.

Dubbed “the Oscars of teaching” by Teacher Magazine, the Milken Educator Awards program was conceived by Lowell Milken to recognize the importance of outstanding educators and encourage talented young people to enter the teaching profession. Unlike most teaching awards, the Milken Educator Awards have no formal nomination or application process. Each year exceptional teachers, principals and specialists — …

Continue reading Congratulations to Lisa Bell of Muscogee County, Georgia’s 2012 Milken Educator »

Race to the Top news: Fulton, Haralson, Morgan and Rockdale are finalists for millions in district grants

The US DOE is busy making news today, including the announcement that the Fulton County Board of Education, Haralson County School System, Morgan County Charter School System and Rockdale County Public Schools are among 61 applications selected as finalists in the Race to the Top-District competition.

Georgia is already a state Race to the Top winner in the state contest, but these systems submitted applications for a pool of money targeting smaller-scale reforms.

In explaining this district-level contest, US DOE says: The Race to the Top District competition will build on the lessons learned from the State-level competitions and support bold, locally directed improvements in teaching and learning that will directly improve student achievement and teacher effectiveness. More specifically, Race to the Top District will reward those LEAs that have the leadership and vision to implement the strategies, structures and systems of support to move beyond one-size–fits-all …

Continue reading Race to the Top news: Fulton, Haralson, Morgan and Rockdale are finalists for millions in district grants »

Congrats: DeKalb, Gwinnett, Rockdale, Oconee, Worth, Madison and Walker counties earn spots on AP honor roll

Seven Georgia districts were recognized today by the College Board on the 3rd Annual AP District Honor Roll for simultaneously increasing access to AP courses while increasing the percentage of students earning scores of 3 or higher on AP Exams.

They are DeKalb, Gwinnett, Walker, Oconee, Madison, Rockdale and Worth counties.

DeKalb sent me a release on its inclusion on the honor roll:

According to the College Board, only about half of African-American, Hispanic and Native American students with a high degree of readiness for AP actually participate, often because the courses aren’t offered.

In DeKalb, where 88 percent of the student population is non-white and 71.13 percent of students receive free or reduced-price meals, AP classes are offered at 23 schools.

“We are ecstatic to receive this high level state and national recognition for our students and the district,” said Superintendent Dr. Cheryl Atkinson. “We know that by providing support and access to these high-level …

Continue reading Congrats: DeKalb, Gwinnett, Rockdale, Oconee, Worth, Madison and Walker counties earn spots on AP honor roll »

College students today: A study in contradictions

In a culture where everyone wins a trophy, where A’s outnumber C’s on report cards and where a child’s self-esteem is as polished as the family silver, it’s not surprising that young people feel good about themselves.

Do they feel too good?

Yes, says Arthur Levine, co-author of the new book, “Generation on a Tightrope: A Portrait of Today’s College Student,” a snapshot of the values, lives and aspirations of students enrolled in college between 2005 through current students.

“This is a generation of kids never permitted to skin their knees. If everyone won an award and you never really had to deal with adversity, why wouldn’t you think you were great?” asks Levine, president of the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation and president emeritus of Teachers College, Columbia University.

That coddling, evidenced by parents still intervening for their kids with messy college roommates or demanding professors, is extending adolescence and delaying adulthood for the tightrope …

Continue reading College students today: A study in contradictions »

Pre-k turns 20: Should it be an equal priority to HOPE?

Pre-k has waiting lists throughout the state. Does it deserve more funding?  (AJC file)

Pre-k has waiting lists throughout the state. Does it deserve more funding? (AJC file)

Bobby Cagle, commissioner of Bright from the Start: Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning, met with the AJC a few weeks ago and talked about his first 18 months in the job.

“What we do is setting the stage for the future success of the children we serve. And that is the economic engine that is going to drive us in future years,” he said during the hour long session.

Pre-k began as a pilot 20 years ago with 750 4-years-olds from low-income Georgia families. Today, the program serves more than 84,000 children. Now open to all 4-year-olds regardless of household income, the program has waiting lists in many areas of the state.

Pre-k is funded by the Georgia Lottery, which also underwrites the HOPE Scholarship. A new report by the Georgia Budget & Policy Institute questions the funding ratio used to dispense lottery dollars to pre-k and HOPE.  The study cautions:

Georgia’s …

Continue reading Pre-k turns 20: Should it be an equal priority to HOPE? »

Retired teacher: Make admins teach. Reduce testing. Eliminate gifted. Restore recess.

Retired Atlanta Public Schools teacher Scott Stephens — he taught English for 15 years at Grady High School and taught for a decade in Fulton County  — sent me a list of reforms.  I thought it was a great list and have his permission to share it here:

Courtesy of Scott Stephens:

1. All certified personnel at a school, including academy leaders, graduation coaches, instructional coaches, assistant principals and principals, should teach at least one class during the school year. This would be of benefit in two ways. First, it would help reduce class size and, most important, it would provide administrators with continued input from the classroom. I believe that when a number of people are at school, but not teaching, morale is adversely affected.

2. All students (K-12) need daily physical activity, both recess and structured physical education. Many students need to get rid of excess energy. Others need to lose weight and get in shape. Further, many discipline problems …

Continue reading Retired teacher: Make admins teach. Reduce testing. Eliminate gifted. Restore recess. »