James.qxp July August 2018 web - Page 19



ublic education is “good and getting better”
declares Georgia School Superintendent
Richard Woods. The reason? Putting the focus
back on the children and away from the tests.
“In education, we are finally talking about the
children again,” says the state’s top school chief who
was elected four years ago. “We are making sure the
focus of education is in the right place.
We’re making sure these children
are ready for life when they
leave school, and that’s the
bottom line.”
“I believe that in a few more years
we will be the envy of public education—
not just across the southeast, but across
the nation.” A bold prediction—
especially since the Republican is up for reelection this November and voters will be
scrutinizing his record.
Woods believes this renewed focus on the child leads
to more opportunities for more students. He refers to dual
enrollment which allows more students to graduate high
school while earning an associate degree or completing
two years of basic college classes. There are also
opportunities like taking classes in fine arts or personal
finance— or participating in apprenticeships or
internships that prepare them for the workforce
immediately after graduation.
G r a d uat i o n R at e S u c c e s s
The proof of the success could be in the numbers.
Georgia’s 80 percent graduation rate is the highest it has
ever been. In 2015 the rate was 72 percent. The
graduation rate for students taking at least one Advanced
Placement (AP) course is 98 percent, and the rate for
students taking at least one Career Tech Agricultural
Education (CTAE) course is 96 percent.
Georgia’s CTAE program is drawing a lot of
attention on its own. Woods describes it as “one of the
most successful programs in K-12 education.” Georgia
offers courses in over 130 Career Pathways in 17 Career
Clusters, and Woods says 35,503 students have earned
industry recognized certifications. Pathways are
developed in direct collaboration with business and
industry, the University System and the Technical
College System.
The Georgia Department of Education has also
introduced a new Career Ready Diploma Seal. It is
awarded to graduating high school
students who complete a series
of accomplishments as
outlined and engage in
activities, courses and
experiences that foster career
readiness. “The diploma seal is a
signal to employers that a student
is prepared to participate in the
workforce,” says Dr. Barbara Wall,
Deputy Superintendent for CTAE
in Georgia.
Sponsors of the diploma seal
program include 3,000 construction industry
representatives and members of the skilled-trade
associations, the Georgia Association of Manufacturers,
the Georgia Apartment Association Foundation and the
Atlanta Metro Chamber of Commerce.
D ua l e n ro l l m e n t & t e s t p ro g r e s s
Dual enrollment is at an all-time high in Georgia.
More high school students are graduating with an
associate degree or two years of college courses under
their belts. Middle school students are spending half of
their class time taking high school classes. And these
students don’t have to take as many tests as before.
“If a student is taking a college-level course, they
don’t have to return to their high school for the
Milestones tests,” Woods says. “The same for middle
school students who are taking high school level courses.
They don’t have to come back and take the middle school
Milestones tests. It reduces redundancy in tests and is a
J U LY / A U G U S T 2 0 1 8
19

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