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Georgia Receives Federal Funds to Improve Teacher Quality

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$3.9 Million Grant to Help Fund Governor’s Reform Commission, P-16 Goals

Atlanta — October 4, 1999

Georgia has received a $3.9 million Teacher Quality Enhancement State Grant from the U.S. Department of Education to improve student achievement and increase accountability regarding teacher quality in the state, goals aligned directly with the work of Gov. Roy Barnes’ Education Reform Study Commission.

The $3.9 million in funds will cover the period of September 1, 1999 to August 31, 2000. It is anticipated that the grant will be reallocated over a period of three years. Georgia received one of 24 grants, which totaled $33.4 million in all, awarded to states under the Teacher Quality Enhancement Program. The TQEP initiative is being implemented under Title II of the Higher Education Act of 1998. Nine of the grants were awarded to Southern Regional Education Board states, with Georgia receiving the second largest grant among its Southern peers.

Ron Newcomb, education assistant to Gov. Barnes, says the focus of the multi-million-dollar grant “goes hand in glove with what the Education Reform Study Commission is addressing.” “This grant serves a dual purpose,” Newcomb stated. “It provides the funding to achieve the Governor’s goals regarding student performance and increased accountability for teachers, while also addressing key issues of other educational partners who participated in shaping the grant request – issues such as supply and demand concerns, teaching out-of-field, and higher admissions requirements for the teaching profession. The funding could not have been awarded at a more fortuitous time in our reform process, and we are extremely pleased to receive it.”

Dr. Jan Kettlewell, assistant vice chancellor for academic affairs with the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia, will serve as the fiscal agent for Georgia’s grant. Kettlewell’s vision is to align the work of both the Governor’s Education Commission and that of the state’s P-16 Council. P-16 partners include the Georgia Department of Education, the Department of Technical and Adult Education, the Office of School Readiness, the Professional Standards Commission and the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education, as well as the Board of Regents.

According to Kettlewell, who also serves as co-facilitator of the P-16 Council, “This is the first time that various P-16 partners have pulled together in a unified direction to improve teacher quality.

“That is what makes this grant so significant,” Kettlewell stated. “It represents a strategic consensus that’s been achieved among the state’s educational partners regarding how we improve learning among Georgia’s children. That vision and collaboration has been rewarded with the necessary funding to achieve those goals.”

In June of this year, Georgia’s P-16 Council released its plan for placing a qualified teacher in every public school classroom throughout the state by the year 2006, and making all educational partners accountable for their role in teacher preparation and teaching quality. The 44-page report outlines a timeline, along with specific goals, objectives and desired outcomes, to be achieved by the respective educational partners. Kettlewell said that grant funds will be dedicated to achieving that plan’s goals.

Dr. Ed Crowe, director of Teacher Quality Programs for the U.S. Department of Education, said, “The intention of these grants is to help states focus on what parents want for their kids, which is a quality education for every child, and to develop a team of teachers and administrators in every school who can meet those expectations. Right now, that is a random occurrence in our education system. We’d like to change that.”

Crowe said that Education officials also want the grants to be used to strengthen alternative pathways to teaching and to reduce impending teacher shortages. According to projections, 2.2 million new teachers will be needed nationally over the next 10 years.

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