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"ExPreSS" Program Serves Thousands of Students

 MEDIA CONTACT  - GaDOE Communications Office, (404) 463-1487, dtofig@gadoe.org - Follow us on  Twitter  and  Facebook        July 6, 2009  – Nearly 1,400 students are a big step closer to graduation thanks to an innovative partnership between the state and local school districts.     The Exam Preparation for Science and Social Studies (ExPreSS) program was a state-funded effort aimed at students who had not passed the Georgia High School Graduation Tests (GHSGT) in Science or Social Studies. More than 2,000 students received two weeks of intensive instruction June 8-18 and then had the opportunity to retest on June 19.     The overall pass rate on this retest was 68 percent; more than double last year's pass rate on GHSGT retests in science and social studies.     "We knew that with just a little bit of focus and intensity many of these students would pass the test and be a step closer to getting their diploma," said State Superintendent of Schools Kathy Cox. "I'm very pleased with the results and I am grateful for the collaborative efforts of many great educators across the state."     Public high school students take GHSGTs in English language arts, mathematics, science and social studies and must pass all the exams, as well as the Georgia High School Writing Test, in order to graduate. Science and social studies are the two GHSGTs that Georgia students have struggled with the most.  Superintendent Cox heard from many school systems that, due to financial constraints, they were not able to offer extra help to high school students this summer.     "I felt that the ExPreSS program was a way that the state could directly help our students and provide our school systems with a little relief," she said.     There were 2,043 students from over 100 school districts that attended the ExPreSS program – 1,072 for social studies and 971 for science. The instruction took place at 29 sites around the state. The classes were led by 180 educators: 89 science teachers and 91 social studies teachers.     In social studies, 73 percent of the ExPreSS participants passed the retest. By comparison, the 2008 summer retest pass rate on the Social Studies GHSGT was 27 percent.     In science, 63 percent of the ExPreSS participants passed the retest. By comparison, the 2008 summer retest pass rate on the Science GHSGT was 29 percent.     "It took a lot of collaboration, teamwork and flexibility to make the ExPreSS program happen and to get these kind of results," said Superintendent Cox. "We are in the process of reviewing what went well and what we need to improve and, if the budget allows, we look forward to serving even more students next year."     In May, the State Board of Education approved up to $1.5 million in state funds to pay for all aspects of the ExPreSS program. About $900,000 of that money was to pay for teachers who received $4,000 each and may receive a $500 bonus if 80 percent or more of their students passed the retest. It is not known how many teachers will receive the bonus yet. Aside from salaries, the funding went toward supplies, transportation costs and other expenses.   MORE INFORMATION  -  "ExPreSS" Locations  -  Instructional Plans and Activities for ExPreSS Program