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Contact: Alan Richard
(404) 879-5544
Released: 1/12/2010

Virginia Governor, Governor-Elect Unite at Summit in Support of State Efforts to Improve Students’ Readiness for College, Careers

RICHMOND, Virginia — Virginia Governor Timothy M. Kaine and Governor-Elect Robert F. McDonnell called at a major statewide education summit for the Commonwealth to continue its work to prepare more students for success in college and career training.

The two leaders led a summit sponsored by the Commonwealth and the nonprofit Southern Regional Education Board on January 4 to keep Virginia moving toward the goal of improving high school students’ academic readiness for college and career training. The summit was held at the Library of Virginia and drew nearly 200 state leaders, policy-makers and educators.

"Governor Kaine and Governor-Elect McDonnell are showing remarkable leadership by putting politics aside and committing Virginia to sound new policies that will improve education," said SREB President Dave Spence, who spoke at the summit. "Improving students’ readiness to continue their education after high school is one of the keys to additional prosperity and progress for the Commonwealth and all SREB states."

Virginia and four other SREB states — Kentucky, Maryland, Texas and West Virginia — are participating in an SREB initiative to improve students’ college and career readiness. Supported by a major grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, SREB is working with Virginia to help the state develop clearly identifiable statewide standards of learning that most strongly indicate students’ readiness for college-level work, senior-year courses for students who need additional help with English/language arts and mathematics, and a plan for statewide professional development for teachers and school leaders on the readiness standards.

The goal is to ensure that college-readiness standards in reading, writing and mathematics are emphasized in every Virginia public high school classroom, reducing the need for college students to take remedial courses and boosting college graduation rates for two- and four-year degrees. Current research shows that a majority of American high school graduates are not well-prepared for college courses, and only a little more than half of full-time freshmen who begin four-year degrees at public colleges and universities graduate from those schools within six years.

The work in Virginia and other SREB states should change those trends.

"Virginia is working to make the high school diploma signal that students are better prepared to enter college and career training than ever before," said Governor Kaine, who served as the SREB Chair from 2008 to 2009 and leaves office this month because of term limits. "SREB is holding this summit in a state that’s doing things right, but we still can do better in helping more students succeed in college and finish the degrees they start."

"The Commonwealth should continue to move strongly in the direction of helping more students prepare for college and careers," said Governor-Elect McDonnell, who was elected in November and will take office later this month. "Job creation and work force development stem from having good schools, and this will be my top priority as governor working with SREB."

Other speakers at the summit included Dr. Pat Wright, the State Superintendent of Public Instruction; Dr. Daniel LaVista, the Executive Director of the State Council of Higher Education; Dr. Glen Dubois, the Chancellor of the Virginia Community College System; and Dr. Paul Trible, President of Christopher Newport University.

For more information about the summit or SREB’s work to improve students’ readiness for college and career training, contact SREB Communications.

The Southern Regional Education Board, or SREB, based in Atlanta, was created in 1948 by Southern governors and legislatures to help leaders in education and government work cooperatively to advance education and improve the social and economic life of the region. SREB has 16 member states: Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia. More information is available online at www.sreb.org.

Southern Regional Education Board
592 10th Street NW
Atlanta, GA 30318-5776
(404) 875-9211

For additional information, please e-mail communications@sreb.org