Students and teachers worry about honors weighting - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Students and teachers worry about honors weighting

March 13, 2006

Albany-- Monday was a late work night under the Gold Dome in Atlanta. Bills must pass either the House or Senate by midnight to be considered for final passage this year. One bill would give hope to high school honor students by restoring extra points toward HOPE scholarships.

Senator Michael Meyer Von Bremen introduced a bill that would put that extra weight back into honors programs at public schools. That bill passed overwhelmingly in the Senate 53 to 0. It's now up to the House to make sure honors students are confident in their college futures.

Albany State student-athlete Radonye Douglas is on the fast track to completing his college education. "Last year I qualified for the 110 hurdles and last year I was on the team that took 5th in the nation and we're back-to-back conference champs," says Douglas.

A championship career that began with a little bit of HOPE. "It's real important because when other students that aren't as fortunate to get money on hand or take out loans, they can rely on the government for their schooling," says Douglas. The HOPE scholarship affords Radonye a college education but he's a firm believer that high school honors classes help him to jump these hurdles as well.

"It kind of overprepared me," says Douglas.

"That's what it's all about, preparing these kids for the next level," says Dougherty County Director of Gifted Education Dr. Letty Rayneri. That level may not be as easy for upcoming high school students. If weight isn't restored to honors courses, Dr. Letty Reynari says many students would be affected in the long run.

"When something is not difficult enough that matches their potential, they do end up coasting and they don't learn how to study and they don't extend themselves," says Reynari. If students don't get extra points for the extra efforts of an honors course, many would choose not to take those classes at all. Rayneri fears they wouldn't be as prepared for college.

"The statistics I've seen say that two-thirds of students who receive the HOPE grant go on to lose it later on in subsequent years," says Reynari.

Radonye is working hard to keep his and as a Junior, he's almost where he wants to be. "I'm not a star but I hold my weight," says Douglas.

It's a weight that's firm on the track with some extra help from HOPE.

More than 200 students are in gifted programs at Dougherty County high schools. Dr. Reynari says even if the state stops giving extra credit to honors classes, Dougherty County schools will continue to give extra points to honors students. Senator Meyer Von Bremen says he worries some parents may transfer their kids to private schools if the weight isn't restored.

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