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Hall County school program will allow dual enrollment

"Hall County students are on the cusp of a new chance to succeed in education, even if they don’t finish high school.

At the Board of Education work session Monday night, members decided to move forward with a proposed partnership with Lanier Technical College that will allow students to dual enroll and obtain both a GED and college credit. The board approved $25,000 to kick-start the program.

"These will be students who had trouble finishing high school and who are chronically behind," Hall Schools Superintendent Will Schofield said. "This will give them the opportunity to work on college coursework."

Schofield said the partnership will start small and focus on two programs, welding and cosmetology. The time crunch to get the program going before Lanier Tech begins classes on Aug. 22 is tight, but Schofield has high hopes.

"We are excited about this initiative. This is a different message than they’ve ever heard before (about the GED)," he said.

"Once you’re in post-secondary education … you can transfer those credits to other institutions and it becomes your ticket to continue."

The program will not affect the number of graduates on Adequate Yearly Progress reports, but instead will be more than raw data. It’s a chance to change the lives of students in the county without the board taking any "pat on the back," Schofield said.

The program, which is the first of its kind in Georgia, received high praise from Gov. Nathan Deal. Deal filmed a video promoting the partnership that will be presented to students today at Lanier Charter Career Academy. Board members were shown a preview of the video.

"I’m encouraged to learn about the unprecedented opportunity you’re being offered," Deal said. "Those completing this program will be ready to enter the workforce with marketable skills."

Another initiative possibly coming to Hall County schools this year is the Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing. ImPACT would be given to student-athletes participating in contact sports, such as football, to determine how a student’s memory is affected after a sports-related concussion.

"When they go to a doctor to get checked out, they can take the baseline and post concussion results to the doctor and they can make a more accurate assessment of what their condition actually is," said Gordon Higgins, director of community relations and athletics for Hall County Schools.

Higgins said Cobb County piloted a similar program in five sports and received positive feedback.

"I had a family member who’s taken that test several times," board member Sam Chapman said. "It’s a real good thing with health issues in the long run."

Board members expressed interest in getting ImPACT in place before football season starts, but Schofield said it depended on which schools had the most ability to get the job done in time. Schofield said the board would move forward with ImPACT testing by first getting Hall County coaches, athletic trainers and parents on board.

"We think football is the natural place to start," he said. "Pros require it, now NCAA requires it. It’s just a matter of when high schools will go forward."

This article was first published on gainesvilletimes.com.