New report focuses on key education issues facing Georgia in 2013

ATLANTA -- An educational report highlights key issues to watch in Georgia this year.

The Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education recently published its annual Top Ten Issues to Watch report, which is used as resource by a wide variety of education stakeholders.

"Georgia has been working hard to implement policies that increase rigor and accountability and produce better outcomes for kids," said Dana Rickman, the Georgia Partnership's policy and research director, in a press release. "This edition provides a detailed look at those policies, how they are being implemented and what Georgia needs to do to ensure positive changes for our students."

Topics addressed this year include (in no particular ranked order):

-- Funding: How do We Pay for K-12 Education?

-- Race to the Top: Looking Back ... Looking Forward

Georgia is halfway through implementing the $400 million federal grant, Rickman said at a recent media symposium.

-- The No Child Left Behind Waiver: What Grade did Your School Get?

Rickman reported that schools will be scored based on a complicated College and Career Ready Performance Index that will score schools and systems on a scale of 0 to 100 points based on areas such as End of Course Tests and graduation rates in high schools and Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests and predictors of graduation at the elementary and middle schools.

Schools will receive an overall score, and individual scores in achievement, progress, achievement gap closure and exceeding the bar, as well as ratings in financial efficiency and school climate.

-- Our Demographics: The Changing Face of Georgia's Schools

Over the last 10 years, demographics have shifted among the state and nation, Rickman reported.

-- Elevating Low-Performing Schools: Keys to a Successful Turnaround

-- Help Wanted: Hiring 250,000 New Graduates

By 2020, more than half the jobs in Georgia will require a post-secondary degree or certification, but only 42 percent of Georgians have such now, Rickman reported.

-- Early Learning: Ensuring High-Quality for Our Youngest Learners

Rickman said the return on investment for early education is high. The Georgia Lottery pre-K is improving, and now more systems are looking toward a high-qualify program for infants to 3-year olds.

-- STEM: Promoting Science, Technology, Engineering and Math

A focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics education, or STEM, is a workforce development priority, Rickman said. For every STEM graduate, two jobs are waiting for them.

"It's one of the fastest growing jobs in the field in the state and nation," Rickman said at the symposium.

-- Technology: The Next Generation of Learning

-- Flexibility and Choice: The Issues

One of the most popular choices being offered are charter schools, Rickman said.

The report is available in hard copy and online.

The Georgia Partnership will provide up to two copies for free upon request by emailing Bill Maddox at bmaddox@gpee.org. Postage reimbursement will be required for greater quantities. Written requests can be made to: Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education, 270 Peachtree St., Suite 2200, Atlanta, GA 30303.

The report also can be downloaded at www.gpee.org.