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Superintendent Speaks at National Economics Summit

MEDIA INQUIRIES:  - Dana Tofig, GaDOE Communications Office, (404) 463-1487,     February 27, 2008  -- State Superintendent of Schools Kathy Cox traveled to Washington D.C. today to participate in the National Summit on Economic and Financial Literacy at the National Press Club.   Sponsored by the  National Center for Economics Education , the summit brought together national and state leaders to discuss the need to build financial literacy in U.S. students. The Superintendent was on a panel with economic leaders and educators about effective teaching and testing of economics.   "It was a thrill to share what Georgia is doing to help increase our students' understanding of economics and personal finance," Superintendent Cox said. "Georgia is struggling right now with foreclosures and bankruptcies. As a state, we've made it a priority to give our students a strong economics education so they see their role in the larger economy and will be able to make smarter financial decisions."    Georgia is a national leader in economics education and is one of 17 states that requires all students to take an economics course in high school. Georgia is also one of only a handful of states that gives an economics test -- the End of Course Test in Economics.  In her opening remarks, Superintendent Cox said just having a class in high school is not enough. She said the state's new social studies curriculum has woven economics education into all grade levels. In her planned remarks, she said:      "As early as kindergarten and first grade, our students begin talking about the economy and their role in it. They discuss issues of scarcity, how money circulates and how people earn income and why they specialize in their jobs.     By third and fourth grade, students are learning that the government provides certain types of goods and services in a market economy and pay for these by taxes. The students also learn that they are an integral part of the economy – the government does not provide everything. They will also start learning about the benefits of building a personal budget and how to do so.     In fifth grade, the students get a strong grounding in how private business, government and banks have functioned throughout history and how they are functioning now. They will also build on the knowledge of how important it is to save and make smart spending decisions.     By the time a student gets through fifth grade, they have received a solid foundation in economics and personal finance. They know more about our economy, credit, savings and investment by the end of elementary school than most of us probably learned in our entire k-12 education – or ever learned at all. That continues in middle school and into high school."    The Superintendent also addressed the importance of teacher training and professional development. As the new social studies and economics curriculum is rolled out this year and next, the Georgia Department of Education is holding scores of training sessions around the state. So far, nearly 150 sessions have been held and more are planned.  However, the Superintendent said in her remarks that the state's partnership with the Georgia Council on Economic Education (GCEE) has provided powerful teacher training on economics that is having an impact. When Georgia first gave an Economics End of Course Test (EOCT) to seniors in 2004, only 44 percent of students passed the exam. In her planned remarks, she said:      "That is where the Georgia Council on Economic Education got more involved. They saw this as unacceptable and they offered their help not only in promoting economics education, but helping to train our teachers...I want you to know that our partnership with GCEE has really made an impact.     In fact, as the rest of our EOCTs have remained fairly flat, the economics EOCT has seen healthy improvement. Last year, 63 percent of our students passed the economics EOCT.     So, GCEE has really had an impact and it’s an example of how a support organization can make a huge difference."   Video of the Summit will be available in the coming days and will be posted here when ready.