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State Strategic Plan: Developing Life-, College- and Work-Ready Students
- Increase the percentage of Georgia students that are able to read at the third grade level by completion of third grade.
Within education, the birth-to-age-8 time frame is increasingly critical. When we fail to strategically invest resources in our youngest students, we are forced to spend more money trying to remediate them later, regularly taking great pains to simply drag struggling students across the finish line to a diploma. By prioritizing early childhood education, we ensure that our youngest students are positioned for academic excellence. Evidence shows that children who do not read by third grade often fail to catch up and are more likely to drop out of school and have higher unemployment rates later in life than their reading-proficient peers.
It is critically important that students are “learning to read” in order to be able to “read to learn,” and we can help them prepare both mentally and socially for reading proficiency by instilling language skills at a young age. We must fix our focus and resources on critical benchmarks in early childhood literacy and then do everything in our power to ensure that we are meeting them year after year.
- Increase graduation rates at Georgia’s post-secondary institutions of higher learning.
By 2018, more than 60 percent of job openings in Georgia will require some form of postsecondary education. The Complete College Georgia Initiative provides concrete steps to address both access and completion. We know this problem is significant: Less than a quarter of full-time students at two-year colleges ever graduate and only 44 percent at four-year colleges get their degree within six years. To meet this demand, we must increase the number of students with access to higher education and ensure that these students graduate with postsecondary degrees in a timely manner.
- Increase the percentage of teachers and principals that are considered effective.
The most important thing we can do for Georgia’s students is to make certain we place effective teachers in our classrooms with the tools they need to teach. We know that –more than anything else –effective teachers drive student achievement.
Georgia’s Race to the Top grant introduces the opportunity to pilot a fair, transparent and rigorous evaluation system for educators, which prioritizes student growth in the definition of teacher and leader effectiveness. The new teacher and leader effectiveness measures being developed in our Race to the Top partner districts will help us identify achievement in a way that recognizes a teacher’s accomplishment and help us identify educators who want to improve. Once the baseline data in our Race to the Top districts is collected, we must use it to bring a higher level of accountability, and appropriate support to meet the accountability expectations, to educational practice in Georgia so that we increase student learning and academic growth.
- Increase teacher competency and student proficiency and achievement in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
STEM education plays a critical role in our state’s competitiveness and future economic prosperity. We must encourage more of our best and brightest young people to pursue careers in these fields; we must improve the content knowledge and skills of our K-12 STEM teaching workforce; we must encourage partnerships between the public and private sectors as well between institutes of higher education and our K-12 schools to improve educational opportunities for students in these areas.