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Students get more credit options in 2012

Photo by Heather Middleton

Photo by Heather Middleton

Georgia students will have more options in curricular credits toward high school graduation, in accordance with "career pathway" legislation that passed handily in both legislative houses of the Georgia General Assembly.

House Bill 186 is designed to make the statewide high school curriculum more inclusive of career, technical and agricultural courses, according to State Rep. Steve Davis (R-McDonough).

Davis co-sponsored the bill with other state lawmakers, he said, to establish broader education options for students enrolled in courses traditionally considered non-core academic study. The bill gives those courses equal standing as traditional core courses.

"I'm excited, because it gives the student a lot more opportunity, and variations, in their educational experience within the public school system," explained Davis. "It's called rigor and relevance. If it's not relevant to them, it loses their interests."

HB 186 requires that "no later than July 1, 2012, the Department of Education shall develop, and the State Board of Education shall approve, state models and curriculum framework" for focused programs of study related to agriculture, arts, architecture, business, communications, engineering, finance, government, health science, information technology, logistics, public safety, and manufacturing.

"Students who successfully complete a course in career, technical and agricultural education ... shall receive course credit for both the career, technical and agricultural education course, as well as for the academic core course work embedded in such course," notes the legislation, which was signed into law Gov. Nathan Deal, on May 13.

Davis said the genesis of HB 186 can be traced back to last summer, when he joined several other state representatives and some state senators, on a bipartisan education study committee, which toured Georgia in a quest to uncover its various educational needs.

The state representative from McDonough, and Rep. Randy Nix (R-LaGrange), co-chaired the study committee, which was commissioned State House Education Committee Chairman Brooks Coleman (R-Duluth).

He said HB 186 was constructed on findings from surveys conducted in cities such as LaGrange, Valdosta and Stockbridge. Davis said the final bill was "a conglomeration of ideas" collected from educators, lawmakers, and other community stakeholders in public education.

HB 186 also outlines making available some counseling services to dual-enrollment students; providing career, technical and agricultural students with the opportunity to take end-of-course assessments; and offering high school students certification in soft skills, such as punctuality and the ability to learn, and work on a team.