Athens Technical College Launches Newly Accredited Academy

Athens Technical College (ATC) has been awarded high school accreditation from Cognia, the high school accrediting agency in the state of Georgia. This coincides with the creation of the Athens Technical College Academy, which will offer two pathways to a traditional high school diploma or equivalency.

The newly created Dual Achievement Program (DAP), established by Georgia SB-204 earlier this year, offers high school coursework for students ages 16-21. The Career Plus High School Equivalency (HSE) offers high school coursework for students over age 21. Both pathways allow enrolled students to combine high school courses and college credit level coursework for an accredited high school diploma and college level credentials for quick entry into the workforce.

“This is an exciting new program for our institution and a great step forward in our goal of increasing adult education and closing the skills gap,” said ATC President Andrea Daniel. “We were eager to be one of the pilot colleges for these programs.”

Through Dual Achievement, which is separate from the dual enrollment program, students choose to simultaneously earn a high school diploma and either two technical certificates of credit, a technical diploma, or a college associate degree in a specific career pathway to meet high school graduation requirements.

The Cognia accreditation applies to both student pathways in the Academy. “Cognia Performance Standards are at the heart of continuous improvement and accreditation,” the organization states on its website. “They define the characteristics of a good education institution and provide guidelines for efforts that will energetically and visibly grow learners, teachers, leaders, and organizations.”

The Career Plus HSE has been in existence for just over a year and has graduated its first students, some of whom have transitioned to ATC to continue their post-secondary education. Dual Achievement is the Academy’s newest offering and is currently seeking students for enrollment. Students can register for the second part of term courses with the college that will begin on Oct. 13, and the spring semester will begin on Jan. 9, 2023.

There is no charge for high school-level coursework, and funding is available through the HOPE Career Grant to cover tuition for college-level coursework. There are no fees for the DAP students. Depending on the program of study, there may be costs related to the program, such as tools or lab equipment.

New head of secondary initiatives

Shantia “Tia” Benn began at the College as the executive director of secondary initiatives on Sept. 1. In this newly created role, she will oversee the ATC Academy as well as the dual enrollment program and other outreach initiatives for high school programs in the College’s 11-county service area.

“I am delighted to have Tia as part of our team and step into this role,” said Kristen Douglas, the vice president of academic affairs and institutional effectiveness. “She has extensive experience in college admissions, advising and high school relations, which will be paramount to our success.”

Most recently the high school coordinator at West Georgia Technical College, Benn has over a decade of experience in higher education at multiple institutions including Atlanta Metropolitan State College, Georgia State University and the University of West Georgia. She received a Bachelor of Business Administration from the University of West Georgia and a Master of Education in Higher Education Administration from Georgia Southern University.

Four options for high school credentials at ATC

Athens Technical College now offers four options to individuals without a high school credential at no cost to students who qualify. Each provides an opportunity to earn a high school credential or equivalency:

  • Traditional adult education leading to level completion and the GED or HiSET exam completion.
  • Career Plus HSE, which blends study and testing options with a technical diploma and/or certificates through the ATC Academy.
  • Dual Achievement Program, which allows students who withdraw from a secondary institution with six of nine core competencies the option of graduating from the ATC Academy with a high school diploma as well as a college credential.
  • Option B, which is part of dual enrollment and allows high school students to simultaneously earn a high school diploma from another secondary institution as well as a college credential from ATC.

If a secondary education student leaves high school before graduation, Athens Technical College staff can assist them in identifying the option that best meets their needs. For more information on the Academy, contact Benn at To sign up for adult education courses, contact Coretta “Corey” Miller at