Graduation rules change sought for military kids

Richmond County school officials told lawmakers Wednesday that some changes on graduation requirements for military families would be helpful.

Some students in military families, for instance, arrive in Augusta only to finish out their education in Germany, Superintendent Dana Bedden said during a special breakfast with members of the school board and legislative delegation.

They leave Georgia schools because there isn't enough time to catch up on required state testing and required courses, leaving them in jeopardy of not graduating, he said.

School officials asked legislators to enact a reciprocity agreement, so that students moving to Georgia as juniors would be allowed to complete high school under their previous state's graduation requirements.

"It may not be big numbers, but every year it's several people," said Virginia Bradshaw, executive director for middle schools.

Dr. Bedden also encouraged legislators to provide all the resources necessary for the Georgia Department of Education to fully implement End of Course Tests. This would eliminate the need for the Georgia High School Graduation Tests.

House Bill 1187 enacted in 2000 requires the switch to the End of Course Tests, which the superintendent called more educationally sound.

Students take End of Course Tests the same year they take the class. The graduation tests are first administered in the junior year, which can be a couple of years after the class.

Among other requests, the board is also asking the delegation to hold the line on education funding and resist more cuts.

In years past, the school board has presented a laundry list of requests, many of which came with hefty price tags, but the board pared down its requests due to the downturn in the economy.

"We wanted to keep things pretty simple given the things we're facing in Georgia and across the nation," Dr. Bedden said.

Reach Greg Gelpi at (706) 828-3851 or greg.gelpi@augustachronicle.com.