Education & Workforce
The science behind a strong Science and Technology workforce.
The pace of automation and the switch to high-tech jobs is accelerating. 67% of jobs in Georgia are STEM related, and 60% of those job holders do not need to have a bachelor’s degree. Georgia needs a literate workforce that can up-skill, re-skill, and grow the skilled workforce as the economy changes.
To ensure that Georgia’s citizens can keep up with the science and technology workforce demands, it is critical to build an educated, technical, STEM-ready, skilled workforce and maintain a pipeline of students learning employment-ready skills.
To do that, we need to think about the actual people in the pipeline, from their home environment, to their health, to the infrastructure that supports them, to the parents and caregivers that can create a positive or negative cycle of learning.
Alas, only one-third of Georgia 3rd graders can read proficiently, and literacy is the key to unlocking most doors to success. As two-thirds of Georgian's are not fully literate - this is not an inner-city or rural or rich or poor or Black or white issue. This is an every Georgian issue.
Since 2021 Science for Georgia has been on a journey to advocate for the use of evidence based best practices when educating and supporting Georgia’s current and future workforce. In 2023, the Georgia General Assembly passed two bills (SB 211 and HB 538) aimed at improving literacy in Georgia based, in-part, on our efforts to communicate and raise awareness of these best practices. We are thrilled to see science in action.
Below is a timeline chronicling our efforts.
- Low Literacy (Adults) / At Grade Level (Students) – Understand the words, answer simple questions, read through material in a certain amount of time.
- Fully Literate (Adults) / Proficient (Students) – Ability to comprehend text and learn (i.e. workforce ready)
- Evidence-based best-practice (EBP)– a practice generally agreed upon by researchers to be a practice that is studied via rigorous trials, replicated in multiple settings, and withstands the test of peer-review.
- Whole Child Pest Practices - Evidence-based best-practices to improve reading outcomes all along the pipeline. These are not just instruction methods, but programs that address at least one of Get Georgia Reading Campaign’s Four Pillars: language nutrition, access to support and services, positive learning climate, and teacher preparation and effectiveness. (examples: Talk With Me Baby, Broadband Access, Reading Resource Coordinators).
- Literacy Instruction Best Practices – As people learn to read, they are building mental muscle that enables them to read words and sentences with speed, accuracy, and comprehension. Evidence-based literacy instruction utilizes the “muscle building” techniques: building from letter sounds, to combination sounds, to whole words, to entire sentences. At the same time, it builds a library of defined words. By the end of third grade, when given a block of text, proficient readers have the mental muscle to easily read the words and know what those words mean; therefore, they can comprehend the block of text to learn.
March 2021 - The Beginning
Spearheaded by our fabulous intern Paige we worked with the Georgia General Assembly to declare March “Georgia Reading Awareness Month”, compiled a resource guide, and summarized why 3rd grade is an important literacy inflection point.
From left to right, Rep Becky Evans, Amy Sharma (Science for Georgia), Karolina Klinker (Reach Out and Read), Louis Kiphen (Science for Georgia), Randy Gorod (Sci4Ga - holding a photo of Paige Greenwood), and Rep Matt Dubnik.
From left to right, Rep Gregg Kennard, Amy Sharma (Science for 4Georgia), Karolina Klinker (Reach Out and Read), Louis Kiphen (Science for 4Georgia), and Randy Gorod (Science for 4Georgia - holding a photo of Paige Greenwood).
Summer 2021 - Speaker Series and Roundtable
Science for Georgia, Science is US, Technology Association of Georgia, Urban League of Greater Atlanta, Partners in Change, and Literacy for All hosted a four part series featuring policy makers, business leaders, educators, community groups, and academics.
This series culminated in a closed-door Roundtable. This group of legislators, educators, academics, and civic leaders recommend four things:
Spring 2022 - HR 650 Passed!
On Mar 18 2022 - The Georgia General Assembly passed HR 650 – a house study committee on Literacy Instruction. HR 650 passed the Georgia House 130-0. It created a study committee on literacy instruction. Sci4Ga got some seriously marvelous shout-outs in the day 31 floor speeches (starts at 45:25).
Watch the testimony about it - on Feb 16, Science for Georgia Executive Director, Amy Sharma, spoke before the House Education Committee (remarks begin around 31:15)
Amy Sharma was appointed to the study committee.
Summer / Fall 2022 - Committee Work
For the committee, Science for Georgia pulled together an introduction to evidence-based literacy instruction and information from various programs that were achieving success in Georgia.
Things you can do right now
How You can Help Kids Enter Kindergarden Ready to Read
Reading proficiently at 3rd grade is the best indicator of high school graduation. To do this kids need to enter Kindergarten ready to learn.
Reading to kids 15 minutes a day is the best way to a strong start.
Several partners have provided a set of e-books, e-learning, and tips & tricks for kindergarten readiness.
Affordable Early Childhood Education
20% of Georgia children live in poverty. Georgia has capacity for only 15% of those children in Head Start
Early Childhood Daycare and Pre-K Programs are a win, win - nurturing children's development and enabling parents to work a steady job. These help break the cycle of poverty. In Georgia, low-income children that enrolled in preschool had a higher academic achievement and proficiency on 3rd grade test scores.