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King: Welcome back to school
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Welcome back students, teachers, parents, volunteers, and staff; we look forward to another great school year. Please take note of the following changes for high school students this year. First, the Georgia Department of Education plans to phase out the Georgia High School Graduation Test and will put more emphasis on the End of Course Test for graduation requirements. Students currently take an EOCT as part of their grade. Second, the NCAA made changes on accepting credit recovery for athletes who wish to play college sports. Lastly, requirements to obtain the HOPE Scholarship for college funding have changed to include more rigorous and Advanced Placement coursework. These changes are outlined in our Parent Handbook for you to review with your child.

We have focused on increasing rigor for all students and have increased the number of students choosing to enroll in honor courses and AP. Our Criterion Referenced Competency Test results indicate our students are outperforming the state in every subject and every grade tested. All three of our high schools and the Rockdale Career Academy were named AP Honor Schools by the Governor's Office of Student Achievement. We will continue our commitment to providing students with rigorous and challenging coursework so they are well prepared for a successful future.

We maintain our highest graduation rate since the accountability measurement was established in 2001 by providing a variety of learning opportunities so that each student can pursue their goals and aspirations. These include the Magnet School for Science and Technology, Career Academy, Open Campus, Virtual Campus and innovative credit recovery options. We are expanding Virtual Campus course offerings to keep pace with students who thrive in this type of learning environment. Our Early Learning Initiative provides children and families with the necessary skills for our youngest learners to be prepared and ready to enter kindergarten. In addition, The Early Learning Center at RCA just received the highest national accreditation possible. We opened the Rockdale County High School Annex which allowed for more classroom space and expansion of the Magnet program. The new state-of-the-art labs give students the ability to work on college-level research and science projects. We will continue to see campus improvements which are funded through the SPLOST.

Our Strategic Plan serves as the blueprint for our work and continuous improvement. Many of the programs mentioned above were developed through the implementation of our first five year plan. Work on our next five-year plan has begun using a microcosm of the community who came together to review, revise and renew our mission, vision, beliefs, objectives and strategies. Additional stakeholder groups are working to put action plans and steps in place for each of the new strategies. We appreciate the support of the parents, teachers, students, community members and staff who have dedicated their time and expertise to strengthen our school system.

Once again, I would like to urge parents to stay involved with their child's education and encourage their student to work hard and dream big. Thank you for your support and involvement in education.

Dr. Samuel King is the Superintendent of the Rockdale County School System.