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State offers incentive to STEM students
Some courses weighted to boost GPAs for Hope recipients
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As students at all grade levels prepare to showcase their STEM prowess at a competition Jan 31 and Feb. 1 at the North Hall Community Center, state officials are doing their part to induce more students to choose a field of study in science, technology, engineering and math.

This week, the Georgia Student Finance Commission announced a plan that will boost the grade point average by 0.5 to HOPE scholarship students pursuing rigorous STEM courses typically offered during the first two years of college.

The initiative comes by way of state legislation approved last year to incentivize students to choose science, technology, engineering and math courses. The GPA-boosting program begins this fall for approved STEM courses, if the student gets a grade of B, C or D in the course.

Kathy Mellette, a North Hall Middle School teacher who actively promotes STEM programs with other teachers throughout the county, said she’s seeing more students getting into such programs, and has no doubt that the state incentive will attract more.

Judging by the increased number of entries  in a technology fair held at North Hall Middle late last year, Mellette said interest in STEM is on the rise.

“The level of what our students are doing is going up,” Mellette said. “Our county is doing a good job advancing STEM, Gainesville included.”

Georgia higher education institutions, along with input from the state Department of Economic Development approved the “STEM weighted course list” that qualify for boosting the GPA of HOPE scholars.

Rep. Jan Jones, R-Milton, who sponsored the legislation to enhance STEM studies, said it will produce dividends for the state down the road.

“This initiative will encourage our young people to develop the 21st century skills demanded in STEM fields and make Georgia even more competitive in attracting high tech companies to locate and expand in our state,” Jones said.

Gov. Nathan Deal said the initiative will attract more students to a career path “where we have jobs waiting for them.”