ATLANTA — Most SREB states improved their high school graduation rates from 2002 to 2007 and on many other measures of educational progress, but states need to improve college completion and in many other areas, an important series of new reports from the Southern Regional Education Board show.
The in-depth reports, presented at the SREB Annual Meeting this week in West Virginia, outline the progress of each of SREB’s 16 member states on the SREB Challenge to Lead Goals for Education. The goals were approved by a commission of the region’s leaders in 2002 and call for major improvements in K-12 student performance, college readiness and other key areas of education.
"The region can be proud of its progress in education, but all policy-makers and education leaders in SREB states need to continue to make improving all points in the education pipeline a top priority," said SREB President Dave Spence of the reports’ official release on June 30.
Among many findings of the reports:
Nearly every SREB state has expanded public prekindergarten sufficiently to serve each state’s children in poverty — a major improvement since 2002.
Fourth- and eighth-grade reading and mathematics achievement on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) is up in the region.
Achievement gaps — between racial and ethnic groups and for students from low-income families — are beginning to narrow in many states.
Most SREB states added more rigor in high school, leading the nation in student participation in Advanced Placement courses and matching the nation in student success on AP exams.
"Still, many challenges remain for all states in the region," Spence noted.
All SREB states need to raise substantially the numbers of students who earn two- and four-year college degrees and career certificates in the coming years. Currently, only about half of full-time students who begin bachelor’s degree programs in state college and universities nationwide and regionally graduate from the same institution within six years, for example. The report calls for strengthening students’ transitions at key points in school, especially the ninth-grade transition into high school.
For more information on these topics or many others in the reports, contact SREB Communications. The progress reports for all 16 SREB member states are available at www.sreb.org.
SREB, a nonprofit and nonpartisan organization based in Atlanta, Georgia, advises state education leaders on improving education. SREB 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. Each is represented by its governor and four gubernatorial appointees.