The Georgia Partnership For Excellence In Education is releasing its fourth annual report “The Economics of Education.”
Currently, the Partnership says only about 42 percent of Georgia’s adult population has education beyond high school. Meanwhile the state has a diversified economy that includes a growing high-tech sector, trade and transportation. And the state’s high school graduation rate is still less than 70 percent.
Partnership President Steve Dolinger says in the next ten years 60 to 80 percent of jobs in Georgia will require at least two years of college education. “And some of those jobs we don’t even know what they’re going to be. So we need kids that are pretty sharp, well-prepared with these higher college and career ready standards. “ he says. “So whether they immediately go into the workforce, or go on to a two year college or four years, we need more kids coming out of that pipeline. That’s what’s I think stressing the business community.”
Georgia is improving it’s high school graduation rate, but Dolinger says not all those kids are ready for college. He points out that many need remediation courses to get the skills they need to succeed. And he warns that poses the risk that students will get frustrated and drop out of college.
Dolinger says the state’s changing demographics also pose a challenge. “Some of our fastest growing populations of students are also the same groups of kids who are not graduating from high school. So we need to put some extra effort in that area.” He cites the growing number of low-income students and English language-learners. But Dolinger admits that Georgia is under-performing other states with similar demographics.
He says other states have had five components in place for a long time to help improve education, things that Georgia has now put into place. He praises college and career ready standards to raise the bar for students, a really strong curriculum, a clear accountability system in the college and career ready performance index, a statewide student data system that can determine what programs are showing results and a strong leadership training program for superintendents and principals.
Dolinger believes that ensuring students have quality teachers is the most important thing to improving education and keeping kids in school. He says to reach that goal, there needs to be better training for teachers and on-going professional development.
The Georgia Partnership for Excellence In Education is looking at bringing the Woodrow Wilson Fellows Program to Georgia. “There is a $30,000 a year stipend, almost a salary or scholarship that will be given to someone who wants to change careers. Could be going from engineering, a Georgia Power kind of employee, but wants to become a math or science teacher. They get their Master’s degree in math or science, then promise to teach for three years.” Dolinger says that scholar also has a mentor at the university level and another mentor at the local school where they are doing their practice teaching.
To see the report, go to www.gpee.org