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Gwinnett schools awarded for economic studies

ATLANTA - Gwinnett County Public Schools' dedication to teaching students about economics helped the district receive the 2009 K-12 Economics Program of Excellence on Wednesday at the Georgia Council on Economic Education's annual meeting.

The school system won the award in part for its efforts at giving social studies and economics teachers access to instructional workshops and educational resources to reinforce their skills in teaching economics, according to a news release.

"Economics is a critical part of our world today," said Debbie Daniell, the district's director of social studies. "We have to prepare students to understand economic concepts, make economic decisions and make sure they can apply them at home, in the community, in the U.S. and the world. We are committed to making economics a premier segment in our curriculum."

Economics is infused across the curriculum at every grade level, Daniell said. In high school geography and world history classes, students learn the economic impact of historical events in various regions of the world. Middle school teachers incorporate concepts and activities from the Georgia Council's Wide World of Trade and Georgia Economic History workshops.

Last summer and fall, the school system sent nearly 4,000 elementary school teachers to training on how to incorporate economics and personal finance into their lessons. The training was designed to help the teachers understand economic principles as well as learn inventive ways to teach the subject.

"These challenging times demonstrate that economics is essential for every student," Georgia Council on Economic Education Executive Director David Martin said. "The commitment to professional excellence by school systems like the Gwinnett County Public Schools reflects the value they place on the teaching of economics."

In Gwinnett, 90 percent of students in grades three to eight pass the social studies strand of the Georgia Criterion Referenced Competency Tests (CRCT), which includes economics. Additionally, 90 percent of high school students pass the economics End of Course Test (EOCT).

"We'll continue to soar, since we have a comprehensive economics K-12 program in Georgia," Daniell said. "In the not-too-distant future, we expect to see a lot of improvement in student achievement in economic education because of the new (Georgia Performance Standards)."