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Update on Dual Enrollment bill

April 11, 2019 Leave a comment

HB 444, which would have created new guidelines and limitations for Georgia’s Dual Enrollment program — see my prior post for details — was tabled in the Georgia Senate and was not passed into law.

The Senate Higher Education Committee had written a substitute version of the bill, which made some noteworthy adjustments to the version that had been passed by the House. Among them:

  • Ninth and tenth graders could take Dual Enrollment classes at four-year colleges and universities, but only online — not in person on the college campuses. (In the House version, freshmen and sophomores would be ineligible for Dual Enrollment.)
  • Dual Enrollment would be capped at 32 semester hours total, with a maximum of 16 semester hours in any one semester. (The House version of the bill would cap the hours at 30.)
  • The Senate’s version eliminated all language about tapping into a student’s HOPE Scholarship allotment to pay for Dual Enrollment courses beyond the cap of 32 total semester hours. Instead, those additional classes — referred to in the bill as “noncovered dual credit courses” — would be paid at the student’s own expense.

Based on feedback I received in response to my prior post, I imagine the gifted community would prefer the eligibility of freshmen and sophomores that’s contained in the Senate version of the bill, even though it provides for online Dual Enrollment classes only.

Where I think parents of gifted kids won’t be happy with the Senate version is the removal of the option to use HOPE funds to pay for Dual Enrollment. Last month, I heard from some parents who were vehemently against the idea of having extra Dual Enrollment hours charged against their HOPE allotment. I’m guessing they’ll be even unhappier with having out-of-pocket payment as the only option for students who complete much of their high-school coursework by taking college courses.

Personally, I saw the use of HOPE funds as a reasonable compromise. While I recognize there are some highly gifted, highly mature students who are more suited to take their high-school classes in a college setting, I don’t think the state of Georgia should be on the hook to pay for more than one college degree for any student.

Those who contacted me seemed to hold the position that for their children, the Dual Enrollment classes weren’t really a college degree program, but rather a substitute high-school education with a level of rigor that wasn’t being provided through their public school. I sympathize with these parents, but I think that battle should be taken to the public schools, which need to offer appropriate education for all students. If a student truly is ready for full-time, college-level work on a college campus at 15 or 16, then yes, they should be allowed to “Move on When Ready,” to use the former name of Dual Enrollment. However, in doing so, they are in fact moving on to college, essentially skipping high school, and under that circumstance, I think it’s completely appropriate that they utilize the HOPE Scholarship as they embark on their college education.

As I wrote in my previous post, the state wants to adjust the Dual Enrollment program because its popularity is busting its allocated budget. For that reason, I’d expect the legislature to take this up again in the 2020 session.

If this is an important issue to you, I suggest you don’t wait until January of next year to give your input. Use the legislative off-season to contact legislators with your opinions and suggestions. This would include the bill’s sponsors, all of whom are listed on the bill’s dedicated page, and members of the House Education Committee and Senate Higher Education Committee. If one of these legislators is your elected representative, start there. If not, I suggest you contact one of the bill’s sponsors with your perspective.


Categories: Advocacy and policy

HB 444 would modify dual enrollment

March 12, 2019 3 comments

Dual enrollment is an important educational option for gifted students, especially those students whose home high schools don’t offer a wide variety of AP or advanced courses, or those who prefer the more serious environment of a college campus.

Students taking part in Georgia’s Dual Enrollment Program take classes at colleges or universities — public or private — at no cost, and earn both high-school credit and college credit for those classes.

HB 444, which passed the Georgia House of Representatives last week and is now in the Georgia Senate’s Higher Education Committee, would make two significant changes to dual enrollment:

  1. Dual enrollment at four-year colleges, whether part of the University System of Georgia or private institutions, would be open only to high-school juniors and seniors. This is a change from existing policy, under which freshmen and sophomores also are eligible. (Under the bill, sophomores could still take classes at the state’s technical colleges.)
  2. The Dual Enrollment Program would pay for a maximum of 30 semester hours (45 quarter hours) of college-level classes per high-school student. Once this cap of “covered” hours is reached, students could take additional dual enrollment classes by either A) paying out of pocket, or B) charging the additional dual enrollment hours against their future HOPE Grant or HOPE Scholarship.

To explain this second point, let’s say a high-school student has participated in dual enrollment since her junior year. By the time she reaches the spring semester of her senior year, she has taken 30 semester hours of classes at Georgia State University, all of which have been paid for by the Georgia Dual Enrollment Program. Now, she wants to take an additional 12 semester hours of classes at GSU. Under HB 444, she could either pay for those classes herself, or she could have them paid for by the Georgia Student Finance Commission (GSFC), in which case the 12 semester hours would be deducted from the maximum credit hours allowed to her under the HOPE program.

The caps on the HOPE Scholarship are a maximum of 127 semester hours or 190 quarter hours. This bill wouldn’t change those caps.

In our example above, the student taking an additional 12 semester hours at GSU could have those classes paid for by GSFC, applying them toward her HOPE allotment. If she goes on to receive a HOPE Scholarship, she would then have 115 semester hours remaining of HOPE Scholarship eligibility.

I contacted a legislative relations staff member with GSFC, who said it’s his interpretation that if a student exceeded the dual enrollment coverage limit, had additional dual enrollment classes paid for through GSFC, and didn’t end up receiving a HOPE Scholarship, they wouldn’t be required to reimburse the money to the state.

As with any legislation, changes to the bill are likely as it works its way through the legislative process.

My opinion? This is a good and necessary bill, crafted in response to an audit of the dual enrollment program that found explosive growth and spending, as well as some abuse of the program. Dual enrollment students taking one or two classes per semester at a college or university won’t bump into the 30-hour cap. Those who do reach the cap can still take additional classes without paying out of pocket by tapping into their future HOPE award.

The purpose of this bill is to keep the Dual Enrollment Program — and the HOPE program — solvent, and that’s crucial to Georgia’s gifted students.

Categories: Advocacy and policy

Online certificate in gifted education for parents as well as teachers

September 12, 2017 2 comments

When Arizona State University asked me to share information about their online graduate certificate program in gifted education, I was reluctant at first. I think of gifted ed certification as something for classroom teachers, and I think most of my readers are parents.

However, the university representative said this program of study would also be useful for parents who homeschool their gifted kids, or for parents who simply want to better understand their children’s learning needs and how to better advocate for their kids within a traditional school setting.

I’m all for parents becoming stronger advocates for their children — and, in time, for the general population of gifted children — so if you want to know more, download the PDF of the Graduate-Certificate-Gifted-Education-Program-Guide. To enroll, you must have a bachelor’s degree. The certification requires five classes and they say it can be completed in two years.

Arizona State U

New blog covers gifted education policy

September 14, 2016 Leave a comment

The Thomas B. Fordham Institute and the National Association for Gifted Children have joined forces with The High Flyer, a new blog about gifted education policy.

Policy papers are sometimes academic and dry, but I recommend you check this blog out anyway. Why? Because the more you know about what’s happening in gifted education in different states and school systems, the more effective you can be in bringing needed changes to your own school, district, or state, not only for your child, but for all gifted children.

08-05-the-high-flyer-blog-banner-fordham

 

Categories: Advocacy and policy

When academic awards season means hurt feelings for the gifted

May 12, 2016 9 comments

For the metro Atlanta area, May brings the end of the school year, and with that comes academic awards season. It can be a surprisingly difficult and disappointing time for gifted children.

Gifted kids will receive their Principal’s List awards for earning all A’s, but when it comes to those big awards — the special awards that are accompanied by a teacher’s speech about how wonderful the child is — gifted kids often are passed over in favor of students who have struggled through school.

I am all in favor of rewarding hard work in the face of adversity. I am often moved to tears when the teachers describe a child who, for example, started the school year not speaking English and now is reading independently. That child absolutely deserves praise for what they have achieved.

But how do I look into the saddened eyes of my child and explain that although she is at the top of her class academically, is helpful, respectful, responsible and well-behaved, she is never chosen for this standout award?

I try. I compare these awards to what on my sports teams were called the “Coach’s Award” or “Hustle Award,” an award the coach gave to a player who worked hard but who didn’t have the skills to be the best scorer, defender, or all-around athlete. The problem is, at least in my child’s school, there is only one special recognition award per class. So if the award goes to a kid who has struggled to get from the bottom to the middle, it will never go to a child who has consistently been at the top.

The “Crushing Tall Poppies” blog addressed this dilemma in a recent post, “Not the Underdog, Yet, the Underdog.” The author, Celi Trépanier, is a former teacher and a SENG (Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted) facilitator. She argues that it’s human nature to give additional support and encouragement to children who are struggling, but points out that this can translate to neglect of well-adjusted, high-performing kids in school. She writes:

Cutting down the tall poppies does not level the playing field; it promotes an unfair and inequitable situation. What many seem to forget is gifted children are human and they are children—children who have feelings, who have flaws, and who can also have physical and learning disabilities. Gifted children, like all children, need positive feedback, encouragement, and they need to be nurtured and supported like every other child. When support, encouragement and positive feedback is denied to a gifted child based on the assumption he or she probably does not need anything more, they grow up feeling left out and shunned.

And so we go into awards season, my child hopeful, me filled with the dread of another disappointment, of trying to explain once again why her success isn’t enough to earn her the recognition she craves.

Urge our senators to support gifted research

March 20, 2015 Leave a comment

Would you give ten minutes to support gifted education?

Here’s how: E-mail our U.S. senators in support of continued funding for the Javits Gifted and Talented Students Education Act.

Javits Act funding supports research into how gifted students learn, and how we can improve teaching methods.

Senators Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Bob Casey (D-Pennsylvania) have written a letter to the Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor-HHS-Education, asking that the 2016 budget continue to fund the Javits Act.

Showing support for Javits funding is crucial, because previous budgets have cut or eliminated it. Although Javits funding was as high as $11 million a year in the early 2000s, it dropped to $7.5 million per year later that decade, and was cut out entirely for the years 2010-2013. In 2014, Congress allocated $5 million to Javits, and in the 2015 budget, thanks to the leadership of Senator Barbara Mikulski of Maryland, gifted research was funded at $10 million.

Don’t let Javits funding get slashed or eliminated again in the next budget.

Your letter to our senators can be short and simple. My suggestion:

  1. Open with the call to action: to sign the Grassley-Casey letter in support of Javits funding.
  2. State your connection to gifted education. For example, that you have a gifted child, or you teach gifted children.
  3. Voice your support for research to ensure that gifted children are well served by our schools.
  4. Restate the call to action.

Send an e-mail to U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson

Send an e-mail to U.S. Senator David Perdue

We need to take action on this by March 26, 2015.

Gifted kids are a minority. They need our advocacy.

Categories: Advocacy and policy

Incoming Ga. superintendent seeks student advisers

January 7, 2015 Leave a comment

Here’s a chance for your gifted student to have his or her voice heard, and to advocate for better gifted education in our schools:

[The following is a press release from the Georgia Department of Education]

Superintendent-elect Woods Seeks Student Advisers

MEDIA CONTACT: Matt Cardoza, GaDOE Communications Office, (404) 651-7358, mcardoza@gadoe.org or Meghan Frick, GaDOE Communications Office, (404) 656-5594, mfrick@doe.k12.ga.us

INTERESTED STUDENTS: Ron Culver: rculver@doe.k12.ga.us

Link to application

January 5, 2015 — State School Superintendent-elect Richard Woods is accepting applications for the 2015 Student Advisory Council.

The members of the Student Advisory Council meet three times during the school year with the State School Superintendent to discuss how decisions made at the state level are affecting students throughout Georgia. Members are advisers and act as liaisons between the Department of Education and the students of Georgia. Superintendent-elect Woods will be conducting the meetings, which will also feature various DOE personnel providing further information.

“Meeting with students and getting their advice will be a top priority of mine as State School Superintendent,” said Superintendent-elect Woods. “I am committed to making decisions that are in the best interests of our students, and hearing from them directly is how I can ensure that happens.”

All students in grades 7-12 are eligible to apply. Meetings will be held in February, March and early May (dates are subject to change). Applicants should be able to attend all meetings.

To be eligible for the Council, applications must be received by Friday, January 16, 2014.

 

 

 

Categories: Advocacy and policy