Showing posts with label georgia education. Show all posts
Showing posts with label georgia education. Show all posts

Thursday, August 11, 2016

What is the Future of Georgia’s HOPE Scholarships?

The Committee to Preserve HOPE Scholarships has issued a new report saying that in 2018, funds for the general HOPE Scholarships will start to decline.  By 2022, funds for full-tuition Zell Miller Scholarships will exceed HOPE, and by 2028, HOPE could be in the red despite an expanding lottery.

“While the Georgia Lottery remains popular, the lottery proceeds cannot grow as fast as tuition at Georgia colleges and universities, along with other uses such as the state’s Pre-K and HOPE Grant programs,” explained Michael Wald, an independent economic analyst who reviewed the data that supported the report’s conclusions.

The report estimates that annual increases of 7.5% in tuition costs and 6% in Zell Miller Scholars, while expecting a 2.5% increase in lottery funds.

"Despite a tidal wave of cash from the Georgia Lottery, demand for tuition assistance among Georgia families is overtaking the ability to fund the scholarships as intended," according to Chip Lake, President of the Committee to Preserve HOPE Scholarships as reported on WXIA-TV.

The Georgia Student Finance Commission released a statement to 11Alive's Ryan Kruger saying: 

“The Committee to Preserve HOPE Scholarships is a private entity with no affiliation with the Georgia Student Finance Commission (GSFC). We just received this report and look forward to analyzing it over the coming days. As with any long-term projection, it is critical to understand that there are many factors that can impact program costs – tuition, enrollment, etc.”

A 2013 study by David Sjoquist and John Winters on “The Effects of HOPE on Post-Schooling Retention in the Georgia Workforce” listed the objectives of the HOPE Scholarship program as:

• Increasing academic achievement of high school and college students by promoting and rewarding academic excellence.
• Increasing the percentage of high school students who attend college by making college more affordable.
• Increasing the percentage of the “best and brightest” students who stay in-state to go to college.
• Increasing the quality of the workforce, in part by retaining the “best and the brightest” after they graduate from college.

Their study concluded that “HOPE altered the composition of students enrolled in the USG [University System of Georgia] and that the students who enrolled in the USG because of the HOPE Scholarship are less attached to living and working in the state after college than students who would have attended the USG regardless of HOPE. Policymakers should be conscious of post-schooling retention probabilities when making efforts to attract certain students to attend college in their state.”

A 2011 study by James Condon, published in the Journal of Student Financial Aid found that “the HOPE Scholarship Program has been a tremendous asset to the state of Georgia. The program has been so successful that other states have attempted to model their own programs after it.”

If The Committee to Preserve HOPE Scholarships is correct that the HOPE program will run out of money by the time current kindergarten students are ready to enroll in college, the question remains whether the HOPE program has proved its value and should be preserved or be allowed to phase out as funds fail to keep pace with costs?

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Education in Georgia: The first test results are not encouraging

Georgia has released its first set of test results from its new Georgia Milestones Assessment System.

The tests are meant to give educators and parents a better idea as to how well students are being prepared for their futures. The new tests replace the state’s old Criterion-Referenced Competency Test (CRCT).

According to Georgia State Superintendent Richard Woods, “Under the CRCT, Georgia had some of the lowest expectations in the nation for its students. Too many students were labeled as proficient when, in reality, they had not fully mastered the standards and needed additional support. That hurt our kids, who need to be competitive with others across the country and hurt our teachers by making it difficult for them to have a true picture of the academic strengths and weakness of their students.”

While it is commendable that Georgia take a stronger interest in preparing its students for a competitive global workplace, the results from this first set of tests are not encouraging.

Using four levels of performance, students needed to score in one of the top two levels to show they were ready to advance to the next grade. For those subjects showing the best results (biology, U.S. history, and economics/business) at the high school level, fewer than 40 percent of students were ready to be promoted to the next grade level.

In mathematics, 38 to 39 percent of students across the state in the 3rd, 4th, and 5th grades were ready to be promoted. Unfortunately, this dropped down 34 percent when high school students were tested on their knowledge of coordinate algebra, and dropped to 33 percent when they were tested on analytic geometry.
Source: Georgia Department of Education

In English and language arts, the results were slightly better with 38 percent of 9th grade students passing literature and composition and 35 percent of high school students passing American literature and composition.

Employers consistently complain that new workers lack the skills needed to be productive. Companies are reluctant to spend the money to train workers knowing that once trained, these same workers can leave for better paying jobs.

That leaves it up to the state and individuals. If Georgia wants to compete in a global economy, the state has two choices. It can better prepare its future workforce for jobs that will demand greater verbal and mathematical skills, or it can continue to rely on attracting better trained workers from out of state as it has over the past decades. For example, in Atlanta, the engine of Georgia’s job growth, only a little more than half of its residents were born in Georgia.

The problem with this second approach is that it must then compete with the other 49 states, as well as other nations, to both attract companies to the state as well as people to staff those positions when they come to Georgia. The result can be a very expensive form of economic development; more expensive than building a world-class education system.

The role between education and economic development is clear. As a first step that recognizes the importance of education to the state’s economy, the Georgia Department of Education has hired an economic development specialist to work with business executives. It is a good start, but preparing students for those jobs by giving them the needed skills is vital.

Now that we have a more honest assessment of future employees’ skills, it is up to everyone in the state to choose whether to take the challenge or hope for the continued importation of skilled labor to meet Georgia employers’ future needs.