Friday, December 11, 2009

Rural Ga. schools wonder if they have the money to meet new standards for math, English, science

New graduation standards may hit rural Georgia schools particularly hard, say rural school officials. School officials in several middle Georgia counties told Andrea Castillo of The Macon Telegraph one challenge for rural schools is a smaller tax base, limiting the academic and cultural resources the schools can offer. Georgia has the third-highest rural student population in the country, Castillo reports, citing information from a Rural School and Community Trust report we noted in November. More than 500,000 Georgia students attend rural schools and account for more than a third of the state’s student population.

Starting with current sophomores, all Georgia high schoolers will need to complete four years of math, English and science courses, Castillo notes. Previously, students could choose between a college preparatory or a technology/career preparatory diploma with varying course requirements. Trey Seagraves, assistant superintendent in Crawford County, worries the new requirements will cause iyts already low graduation rate to drop even lower.

"A lot of times when you have a high poverty rate and the community is economically disadvantaged, parents may not have resources to prepare students for school," Seagraves told Castillo. "I don’t think it’s a matter of not wanting to, it’s not being able to." Still other educators explained that rural school districts provide their own advantages. "You know the children. You see the families, even if you don’t see them in the school," Lawanda Gillis, director of curriculum and instruction and Title I director in Dodge County, told Castillo. "You see them in the grocery store or church. You don’t have that in larger towns." (Read more)

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