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February 22--  Georgia is one of ten states which has gained federal approval to come up with a better way to measure public education effectiveness and accountability.

{mosimage}Shelly Smith of Vidalia is the Executive Director of the First District Regional Education Services Agency (RESA).  She reports the ability to deviate from the federal "No Child Left Behind" requirements will mean a big change in testing for Georgia students.

"There will be end of course tests and that will be a much fairer look at what the student was supposed to learn and how well he retained it at the end of that course.  I think, for example, that asking students to take physical science in the ninth grade and then giving them a test in the Spring of the eleventh grade year when they are in the midst of chemistry means a lot of that has been lost.  So I think the kids are going to fare better, but I'll tell you one thing, the tests are going to be harder.  The tests we have been giving have required a lot of memorization.  The new tests will include hardly any of that.  It will all be high order thinking and the ability to solve problems, not the ability to recall information read," she said.

Smith is the only member of the State School Superintendent's advisory committee on the new program who is from below the "gnat line."  She says it will give some important information on funding disparities in the state.

"They are going to compare a school's performance to the number of dollars spent to educate students.  We have some schools in north Georgia which spend up to $12,000 per child to educate a student.  Their results are not nearly as good as some of our school systems and we spend somewhere around $6,000.  So I think we are going to compare very well in terms of cost per student expenditures compared to effectiveness," Smith believes.

The changes take effect next school term.