Students need to be prepared for college
Like most states Georgia revenues have declined since 2008. Education budgets at both K-12 and post-secondary levels have dwindled. While the budget for fiscal year 2013 granted modest increases for K-12 and higher education, the cuts from prior years have not been restored. For K-12 education Georgia allotted $7.17 billion to educate 1.66 million students.
At the same time new curriculum initiatives nationwide are imposed on schools, public outcry against school taxes for seniors understandably emerges, anger at increased millage rates mounts and the stakes mount in Georgia with special schools legislation on the fall ballot.
It boils down to productivity. If schools turn out graduates with SAT sub scores approaching 800, ACT composites at 26 and above, core area GPAs of 3.5 and higher on a 4.0 scale and earned work ready credentials from industry certified programs, then the public would probably feel less agitated about the $7.17 billion dollar figure for fiscal year 2013.
To promote college access former Gov. Sonny Perdue implemented a range of programs intended to prepare more students for post-secondary options. Driven by efforts to improve Georgia's bleak SAT scores the state created the GAcollege411.org portal which houses free access to SAT and ACT sample tests, information on entrance requirements, programs, costs and campuses of nearly 100 public and private colleges in Georgia.
Under Bridge Act legislation, House Bill 400, students should be creating profiles at GACollege411 as early as the late elementary years.
Additionally, Georgia provided free SAT and ACT coaching to students, initiated competition for schools with the highest SAT scores, increased access to Advanced Placement courses and provided all Georgia sophomores the opportunity to take the PSAT/NMSQT at state expense.
And since 2010 the Georgia Legislature has enacted several House bills to spur early participation in college. House Bill 149, the Dual Enrollment Rule, stabilized the conversion of Carnegie Units from a .6 to 1.0 match to a 1.0 to 1.0 match, helping early college students to rapidly move out of high school and to freshman status once a graduation date appears on the high school transcript.
Spurred by Jan Jones, HB 149 also created the Move on When Ready Act which allows students who meet eligibility to completely leave high school and finish their coursework in the college setting only to return for EOCT exams and commencement.
House Bill 186 fully funds Dual Enrollment and requires school personnel to notify all eligible students in grades 8 11 of all early college options no later than April 1st of each school year.
Finally, House Bill 326 removed Accel funding, the funding mechanism for most Dual Enrollment students, from statutory and placed it into the general fund thereby no longer penalizing early college students through reduction of their 127 lifetime potential HOPE credits.
Georgia legislators have spread a mighty fine table of guaranteed tuition funding for high school students who demonstrate eligibility for early access to college. Have secondary schools prepared them to eat from it?Jeff Meadors represents District 1 on the Newton County Board of Education. He may be reached at Jeffrey.firstname.lastname@example.org.