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Friday, January 25, 2013 - 12:00pm

Georgia Schools Improving

Georgia’s top education official says the state’s schools are improving by every national standard. State school superintendent John Barge told policy makers Friday that’s because education and business officials are doing a better job of working together.

Barge says Georgia now ranks 44th in the nation for scores on the Scholastic Aptitude Test.

Speaking at an education conference in Atlanta organized by the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute, he said that’s up from 48th.

“I’ve been in public education in Georgia for 22 years, and I’ve never seen Georgia move four places in one year,” he said.

But Barge said there's more work to be done. Georgia’s dropout rate, for example, doesn’t rank where it should. He says students drop out of high school because it bores them and doesn’t seem relevant to the jobs they want.

“I wake up every morning thinking about relevance and how can we make education relevant to our young people,” he said.

Georgia business leaders at the conference said they have some ideas about how they can help improve student achievement.

Mike Wiggins is with Southwire, which makes wire used to transmit electricity. His Carrolton company hires high school students to work in its factory while they’re still attending classes.

The program, called 12 For Life, gives students real-world skills while also providing a paycheck.

“The key to our success is a real and enduring partnership – a real partnership and I get real peeved when people throw that word around and don’t have a clue what it means -- between business and education in Carroll County,” he said.

Business leaders say school officials need to do a better job of listening to what executives want in employees. Some school officials agree. Barge said some in his field only give lip service to working with the business community.