The Georgia Department of Education held a public input session at Thomson High School last Wednesday regarding revisions to the state graduation rule. Approximately 35 school faculty, officials and parents from Columbia, Warren, McDuffie, Richmond, Putnam and Lincoln counties came to the meeting, which was one of 16 held across the state from May 29 until June 16.
Sue Snow, the GDOE Associate Superintendent for Standards-based Learning, gave a PowerPoint presentation explaining the proposed rule changes which are to be implemented with the freshman class in the 2008-2009 school year.
"Let me first say that it is not a rule yet," Dr. Snow said as she began her presentation. "It is a proposal. We are listening to input from (the general public). I want you to know that your input means a lot to us."
The graduation rule establishes the minimum academic requirements a student must meet in order to graduate from a Georgia public high school. According to information from the GDOE, a new graduation rule is needed to align with the state's revised and improved curriculum, the Georgia Performance Standards.
The changes include the total number of courses required for the core subjects. The revision drops the current two-tier system in which freshmen choose a college prep course of study or a tech/career path. Lower level courses will no longer be offered. Changes and provisions have also been made for students with disabilities.
"For too long, school have kept the doors closed on Advanced Placement classes and expected the student to knock and say 'Let me in,'" Dr. Snow said. "They need to open the doors and say 'Come on in ... you need to be in AP classes.'"
Questions from the audience included situational scenarios, such as integrating a new student from out of state, and the provision of additional support for students to reach the new higher standards.
In an interview after the meeting, Thomson High School Principal Rudy Falana said the new rule will not affect THS students because the school system has already been implementing these changes in anticipation of the state requirement. The lower level math courses were dropped last year with good results. In February of this year, the school board approved the plan to drop the lower level English courses for freshmen in the 2007-2008 school year, and continue with the consecutive grades as those students advance each year.
Georgia is one of 29 states that make up the American Diploma Project and adopting the new plan. The new graduation rule will be approved By the State Board of Education later this year.
It is not too late to give input on the changes. Those wishing to read the new rule or to make comments can do so on the state DOE website at http://public.doe.k12.ga.us/ and click on "comments sought on new graduation rule" on the home page. For more information on the American Diploma Project, visit www.achieve.org.
HAVE YOUR SAY
You can send comments to the The Georgia Department of Education By visiting http://public.doe.k12.ga.us/ and click on "comments sought on new graduation rule" on the home page.