Cyber High School Moves Forward

Ninth-grade classes for The Georgia Cyber Academy will begin next month following the state Board of Education’s approval of an amended application. (See OnlineAthens article here.) Now, 660 rising freshmen will be able to continue their studies online with the school, which currently has 6,000 students enrolled in grades 1-8. Currently, there are more than 1,000 students on the academy’s waiting list, according to an official of Georgia Families for Public Virtual Education.

Two other online schools, Kaplan Academy of Georgia and Provost Academy Georgia, have received charters but are not yet operational due to funding problems. To visit the Georgia Cyber Academy’s website, click here.

The Morning After At No. 1 Party School

The Red and Black reports a recent increase in alcohol-related arrests by campus police at the University of Georgia. A crackdown resulting in 20 arrests Thursday night—this brings the total to 43 since the school was ranked the nation’s Nol 1 Party School by the Princeton Review two weeks ago. This compares to 15 similar arrrests during the same period in 2009.

Word to the unwise: UGA’s student newspaper reports a similar trend at the University of Florida. In the year folloiwng their No. 1 Party School ranking in 2008, alchol arrests nearly quadrupled, from 63 to 228.

What are People Thinking About HOPE?

Georgia’s popular HOPE scholarship program faces growing deficits and is projected to deplete its billion-dollar reserve fund over the next few years if current trends continue. State lawmakers are worried about its future and are beginning to consider changes to keep HOPE afloat.

What do Georgians have to say about it? The majority of 500-plus people responding to an online poll at gainesvilletimes.com (see editorial here) favor limiting HOPE scholarship funds to higher-income students. The unscientific poll shows:

53% of respondents favor some kind of income limits for HOPE recipients;

27% want to raise standards for eligibility beyond the current 3.0 high school gpa;

10% favor cutting Georgia’s pre-K and technical school funding;

10% favor raising taxes to save the program.

Text me: Georgia Gwinnett Swaps Cell Phones for Office Hours

An article in today’s edition of Inside Higher Ed details Georgia Gwinnett College’s practice of handing out free cell phones to professors in an attempt to improve student-faculty communications and encourage students to stay in school. According college officials, the plan is working: 75 % of sophomores are returning to school, double the rate of other schools with an open-admission policy.

The program costs about $350,000, or roughly $1,000 per professor. As long as they put the cell phone numbers on their syllabi, Faculty members are not required to keep office hours–leading to increased productivity, school officials say.

The program is not without controversy. School officials recognize that the program may not be popular with state legislators looking to make further budget cuts during the recession. Some professors commenting on the story are leery of the program, citing privacy concerns and income-tax liability issues, and the further degradation of higher education, although others wish their colleges would give them free cell phones.

Georgia Students’ ACT Scores up Slightly

Georgia students taking the ACT test have improved their scores slightly over last year’s scores, according to figures released today by the testing organization. 

Perhaps the most significant figutre is the number taking the test. 

In Georgia, 39,436 of this year’s high school graduates took the ACT. This represents a 9% increase over last year’s numbers. Over the past five years, the number of Georgia students taking the ACT takers has risen 69 percent. For a Georgia-specific report on college-readiness, see here.  For Georgia’s state profile,  see here.

The increase in scores has been more modest.  The state’s average composite score rose one-tenth of a percent, to 20.7, just slightly less that the national average of 21. (Click here to see ACT’s Condition of College and Career Readiness report.) Georgia’s scores were good enough to tie it for 34th among 50 states–a marked improvement over the state’s bottom-tier performance on the SAT.

Despite the gains, by ACT’s standards, only 21% of Georgia students are ready to tackle college work in all four of its subject fields: English, Mathematics, Reading, and Science. Nationwide, students fare somewhat better, with 24 % meeting benchmarks in all four subjects. At the high end, nine Georgia seniors scored a perfect 36 on the test, down from last year’s 14.