Economic Impact of Annual COE Conference Tops $2 Million

In 2015, the College of Education’s (COE) annual National Youth-At-Risk (NYAR) Conference added $2.3 million in economic “output” according to a report just released by the Bureau of Business Research and Economic Development (BBRED). The conference, now in its 27th year, is Georgia Southern University’s largest and longest running conference. The economic impact was calculated for Savannah, Georgia, where the conference is held each year.

“We’ve known that the NYAR conference is an important annual event for professionals at all levels dealing with at-risk youth,” said COE Dean Thomas Koballa. “What we didn’t know is how important this conference is to the local economy, as well,” he added. The conference has been held in Savannah, Georgia, since 1989. It is Georgia Southern’s longest running national conference.

Data from the March 2015 conference was used for the report. Attendees came from 44 states and as far away as China.

According to conference co-chair, Dan Rea, “The conference is a valuable professional learning experience because it holistically trains educators to create safe, healthy, caring, and intellectually empowering educational environments for youth at risk.”

The 2015 conference drew 1,427 attendees, 196 of which were based in the Savannah area. The analysis found that $1.6 million in capital was “directly spent by visitors in the form of goods and services,” which set off another round of spending in form of business-to-business transactions of $1.43 million and individual-to-business transactions of $840,000.

Nearly 60 percent of the attendees responding to a survey said they would return to the Savannah area without the conference.

“Our goal first and foremost is to provide the best possible environment for learning and creating professional connections for those attending the National Youth-At-Risk Conference. This report shows that if you meet participants’ needs, there’s an additional payoff to the hosting city even after the conference is over,” said Koballa. “That so many of the attendees were impressed with the conference and site that they will return to visit Savannah speaks to the professionalism of all those involved with the conference,” added Koballa.

The National Youth-At-Risk Conference is organized by the National Youth-At-Risk Center at the College of Education and the Division of Continuing Education. It is one of five conferences sponsored by COE and held in Savannah. The others are: Global Education Summit; Rural HIV Research and Training Conference; Cross-Cultural Counseling and Education Conference for Research, Action and Change; and Curriculum Studies Summer Collaborative Conference.

BBRED is part of the Business Innovation Group at Georgia Southern University.

Online Graduate Education Degrees Earn Top Ranking

Georgia Southern’s College of Education online graduate degree programs picked up another top ranking, this time from SR Education Group’s, “2015 Top Online Education Degrees.” COE ranked 12 among nonprofit colleges and universities offering online education undergraduate, graduate and doctoral programs. COE offers nine online master’s in education degrees, six education specialists’ degrees and three endorsements. In addition, COE offers hybrid educational doctorate (Ed.D.) and master’s programs with both online and campus-based classes.

SR Education Group analyzed such data as tuition, high satisfaction as reported by recently graduated students and “degrees that lead to career advancement.”

The group looked at 51 nonprofit institutions offering online education degrees, and ranked 15.

In releasing the report, SR Education Group said, “These 15 NCATE-accredited institutions are some of the most selective online education programs in the nation… Low acceptance rates, coupled with accreditation from the premier accrediting agency for teacher preparation, make them competitive options for students seeking an online graduate education degree.” NCATE, the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education, is the accrediting agency for teacher and education leader preparation programs.

“Once again, we’re very pleased that our online graduate programs have been recognized for their quality and value,” commented COE Dean Thomas Koballa. “Our faculty has taken online learning to a new level of excellence in academics, hands-on experience and student engagement,” he added.

Find more on the SR Education Group and the 2015 rankings.


July 9, 2015

Report on National and State Education Agendas

As educators and educational leaders, you know how state and national legislation impacts the work we do. That’s why I want to bring you this update on some of what has been happening in these arenas during the past month.

As incoming president of Georgia Association of Colleges of Teacher Education (GACTE), I recently had the opportunity to participate in the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE) State Leaders Institute and Day on Capitol Hill events. For two days, I gathered with other state AACTE chapter leaders to develop and refine state action plans, learn about and discuss federal and proposed legislation and receive an update on CAEP (Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation) accreditation. On the final day, I met with Rep. Rick Allen (GA 12th District, including Statesboro) and staffers from Allen’s office as well as from the offices of Sen. Johnny Isakson and Sen. David Purdue and Rep. Buddy Carter (GA 1st District, including Savannah).

The Elementary and Secondary Education Act was reintroduced as the Student Success Act in the House of Representative and the Every Child Achieves Act in the Senate. Both House and Senate versions prioritize strong clinical preparation of teachers and measurement of teacher effectiveness. Troubling in the House bill is the elimination of the Teacher Quality Partnership Grants in the Higher Education Act and inclusion of the GREAT Act, allowing funds to be used to create new teacher preparation academies outside the requirements of higher education programs.

House and Senate hearings have taken place regarding the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, but no draft bills have emerged. Issues likely to be considered in a draft bill include college affordability and access, college choice and strategies to strengthen the higher education system.

I also learned that CAEP seeks to partner with colleges of education to create a culture of evidence that encourages innovation and addresses important questions about the practice of teacher education.

On the state level, Gov. Nathan Deal’s Education Reform Commission (ERC), chaired by Dr. Chuck Knapp, has been given an additional four months, until December 2015, to deliver recommendations from its funding committee. The governor intends in create a special legislative committee during the 2016 General Assembly to act on the recommendations, creating the possibility that it, rather than the House and Senate Education Committees, will have ultimate responsibility for the funding recommendations.

Of particular concern to educators is an indication that the ERC is heading in the direction of ending state funding for teacher training and experience (T&E) — the state salary schedule that financially rewards teachers for pursing advanced degrees. There is support within ERC and the governor’s office that Georgia end funding for T&E and that local school systems adopt new compensation models based on “teacher effectiveness.”

The changes being considered on both the national and state level have great implications for Georgia educators and educational leaders. As alumni and friends of the College of Education, I believe it is part of our mission to keep you abreast of new policy proposals. Please feel free to contact me if you’d like to discuss any of these proposals further.

Thomas Koballa, Jr., Ph.D.

Dean and Professor, College of Education

COE Ranks in Top Tier of Best Online Graduate Programs for Veterans

COE’s online graduate programs ranked number 63 in U.S. News & World Report‘s just released “Best Online Programs for Veterans.”

The rankings covered online bachelor’s degree programs and master’s degree programs in business, education, engineering, computer information technology and nursing. To qualify for the “Best Online Programs for Veterans” rankings, the 737 online degree programs featured first had to be among the top 75 percent of schools ranked in the “2015 Best Online Programs.” For those rankings, U.S. News “evaluated regionally accredited degree-granting programs on a number of factors, which, depending on the discipline, could have included their affordability, faculty credentials, student services and reputation,” according to a news release.

Programs had to be certified for the GI Bill and participate in the Yellow Ribbon Program, two initiatives sponsored by the federal government to help veterans reduce the cost of school. Public schools that don’t participate in the Yellow Ribbon Program still qualified if they offer in-state tuition to student veterans from out of state. Click here for more information on the “Best Online Programs for Veterans Rankings.”

COE Graduates Over 300 Educators and Educational Leaders at Spring Commencement

Additional 97 graduate students scheduled for summer commencement.


COE sent over 300 educators and educational leaders into area and regional school systems this month with graduation ceremonies at Georgia Southern University. For most COE degrees at both the undergraduate and graduate level, candidates must also pass state certification exams to graduate and teach in their fields. COE represented 241 out of 600 graduate degrees conferred.

“As always, we’re extremely proud of all of our graduates,” commented COE Dean Thomas Koballa. “They’ve chosen an exciting, and challenging, career path and one that is sure to make a difference. Educators at all levels touch so many lives,” he continued.

Nearly 100 candidates will receive graduate degrees this summer, bringing the total number of graduate degrees conferred spring and summer to 338.


College of Education • P.O. Box 8013 • Statesboro, Georgia 30460 • (912) 478-5648