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Great Public Schools Criteria for Georgia

Great Public Schools Criteria refers to the seven elements needed for closing the achievement gaps and raising achievement for all students. The seven elements are: (1) readiness to learn, (2) high expectations, (3) quality conditions, (4) qualified staff, (5) accountability, (6) parental involvement, and (7) funding.

Read more below about the Great Public Schools Criteria in Georgia.

Readiness to Learn

Full-day Kindergarten:

In 1993, the Georgia Pre-K program was established to provide Georgia's four-year-old children with high-quality preschool experiences. This program is funded by the Georgia Lottery for Education, and is expected to serve about 70,000 children in the 2004-2005 school years.  The goal of every Georgia prekindergarten classroom is to provide four-year-olds with the learning experiences they need in order to prepare for kindergarten. Children who are four years old on September 1 of the current school year, whose parents are Georgia residents, are eligible to attend Georgia Pre-K Program during this school year. Public schools and private child development centers voluntarily participate in Georgia's Pre-K program.

The following resources provide further information on the Georgia Prekindergarten Program:


School funding systems must provide adequate, equitable, and sustainable funding. Making taxes fair and eliminating inefficient and ineffective business subsidies are essential prerequisites to achieving adequacy, equity, and stability in school funding. ESEA programs should be fully funded at their authorized levels. Georgia's school funding tax structure is hurt by tax giveaways to corporations.
Protecting Public Education From Tax Giveaways to Corporations (PDF, 62 pp) (NEA, 2003)

Recruitment and Retention

Georgia has state policies that support differentiated pay for high-needs subjects, statewide financial incentives, hard-to-staff schools, paraprofessional teaching assistants to become certified teachers, alternative routes to certification, and teaching opportunities for retired teachers. There are also programs supporting maximum classroom size, classroom discipline, use of time in school day, teacher recognition programs, teacher exchange opportunities and certification/licensure of educators from outside the state.

Differentiated Pay for High-Needs Subjects: The state board of education shall identify schools and local school systems in the state where an insufficient supply of qualified teachers is available to deliver instruction in the fields of mathematics, science, special education or foreign language. Upon determination of shortages each year, the board shall request funds sufficient to provide for salary increases not to exceed one additional step on the state salary schedule for which the teacher would otherwise have been entitled for positions contracted for in those locations and fields during the school year. Funding shall be based on the number of eligible positions identified for the previous school year, subject to appropriation by the General Assembly. Upon receiving three such salary increases, a teacher shall become ineligible for additional salary increases under this section. 
Georgia Code §20-2-212.3

Statewide Financial Incentives: Any person who is currently teaching full time in a high-needs school and holds a valid Georgia teaching certificate and has successfully completed the prerequisite portfolio of student work and examination and has received national certification shall receive not less than a 10 percent rate increase in state salary for each year he or she holds national certification. The board of education established the Academic Coach Program to provide certificated public school teachers who exhibit excellence in the classroom with salary supplements or bonuses in exchange for mentoring other public school teachers. This will be repealed on June 30, 2009.  Georgia Code §20-2-212.5.
Georgia Code §20-2-212.2

Hard-to-Staff Schools or Subject Areas: HOPE (Helping Outstanding Pupils Educationally)scholarships are available to those who are enrolled in or seeking a degree in a critical shortage field and agree to teach in his or her critical shortage field in a public school in Georgia at the preschool, elementary, middle or secondary level for one academic year. The scholarship is for $2,500, not to exceed $10,000, and stipulates a cash repayment obligation incurred if the teaching service is not fulfilled. There is no minimum number of hours of enrollment required for eligibility for the scholarship and the program must be completed within five years.
Georgia Code §20-3-519.8

For Paraprofessional/Teaching Assistants to Become Certified Teachers: The state board of education is authorized and directed to devise a program to provide professional and staff development stipends sufficient to allow eligible licensed personnel, paraprofessionals and aides to participate in development programs to enable such employees to increase their education pertaining to their job classification or to obtain appropriate degrees to become certified teachers.
Georgia Code §20-2-217

Alternative Routes to Certification: Teacher Alternative Preparation Program (TAPP) is a classroom-based teacher preparation option for individuals who have the basic qualifications to teach early childhood, middle-grades, secondary or P-12 education but have not completed a teacher preparation program.
TAPP Alternative Preparation Program

Maximum Class Size Policies: Funding is determined by class size. The cost of instructional programs varies depending upon the teacher-student ratios and specific services typically required to address the special needs of students enrolled.
Georgia Code §20-2-161 and §20-2-182

Classroom Discipline Policies: A teacher shall have the authority to manage his or her classroom, discipline students and refer a student to the principal or the principal's designee to maintain discipline in the classroom. The principal or the principal's designee shall respond when a student is referred by a teacher by employing appropriate discipline management. Also, a teacher shall have the authority to remove from his or her class a student who repeatedly or substantially interferes with the their ability to communicate effectively with the students in the class or with the ability of the student's classmates to learn, where the students behavior is in violation of the student code of conduct or determines that such behavior of the student poses an immediate threat to the safety of the student's classmates or the teacher.
Georgia Code §20-2-738

Use of Time in School Day: Every teacher in grades K-5 shall be provided a daily lunch period of not less than 30 consecutive minutes and shall not be assigned any responsibilities during this lunch period. Such lunch period shall be included in the number of hours worked and no local board of education shall increase the number of hours to be worked by an employee as a result of being granted a lunch period. This duty-free lunch period shall not be calculated as a part of any daily planning period or other non-instructional time.
Georgia Code §20-2-218

Teacher Recognition Programs or Policies: Any person who has been selected as Georgia Teacher of the Year, as determined by the state board of education, shall be moved up one salary step on the state salary schedule or receive an equivalent percentage rate increase in state salary.
Georgia Code §20-2-212.1

Teacher Exchange Opportunities: School teachers in the local public school systems of this state may obtain a continuous leave of absence with pay for a period not to exceed 12 months when an exchange teacher through the J. William Fulbright Educational Exchange Program will occupy the employees' position during a leave of absence. The state is not liable for any compensation or the provision of other benefits to an exchange teacher while performing the duties of the state employee.
Georgia Code §20-2-313

Certification/Licensure of Educators form Outside the State: Georgia has specific requirements that must be completed for clear renewable certification. These requirements are incorporated into Georgia's approved teacher preparation programs. Educators new to Georgia are given five years to complete the following requirements: Special Education course work; Teaching of Reading course work; Computer Skill Literacy — test or course work; Certification Assessment — content knowledge assessment; Recency of Study/Experience — through education or teaching experience; Standards of Conduct — compliance with ethical standards.
GAPSC Special Georgia Requirements
Rule 505-2-.020
Rule 505-2-.15
Georgia Code §20-2-200 (b)(2)