In a speech to Vinings Bank last week, Georgia State School Superintended John Barge tackled the topic of Georgia’s true place in quality of public education, one frequently under assault from critics and detractors.

Terming public education “the great equalizer”, in terms of outside circumstances or income differentials, Barge pointed to various statistics showing Georgia to be better on education than the conventional wisdom would suggest. Citing “Education Week”, which uses over 120 factors to rank public education systems, he claimed that Georgia is actually 7th in overall public education. Further, he stated that the Peach State is “13th in the nation in terms of students who do well enough on Advance Placement  tests to be exempted from college courses.”

On the oft-referenced soundbite of Georgia being 48th in the nation: “There’s only one indicator that Georgia ranks 48th on and that’s SAT scores,  but here’s the rest of the story…If you look at the top 10 (states), not a single one of them test more than the  top 9 percent of their (seniors)…Georgia’s participation rate was 80 percent.” Additionally, if the top 5 percent of Georgia test takers are compared with the number one state in the nation (Iowa), which only tests 5 percent, “Georgia students outscored them by 195 points”.

Barge also laid bear details on College and Career Ready Initiative, which the state will begin implementing in the fall of 2013. In an attempt to reduce the dropout rate, the Initiative will largely serve as organizational model for high schools in Georgia.

Allowing students to “choose from 17 career education tracks”, Barge said the point isn’t to “lock kids in a career”, but to “help them find an interest and prepare for post-secondary education”.

-Brandon Howell